The art of earning a straight red card is something that takes as much time and skill to achieve as driving your vehicle into a utility pole. The majority of times the straight red can be traced to a simple lapse in judgment for just a split second with the player immediately realizing the gravity of the situation. Such was the case with a critical call in the marquee match-up of the weekend, Manchester City v Arsenal . In the 5th minute of the match 19-year-old Dedryck Boyata, starting ahead of regular Joleon Lescott , took down Marouane Chamakh just shy of the 18 yard box as the last man before the goalkeeper. Referee Mark Clattenburg showed restraint in talking with his linesmen before making the decision to flash the red to Boyata leaving City to play with just 10 men for the majority of the match. If Lescott had started this match the result may have been completely different because a veteran player would have recognized the difference between giving up an early goal and playing with 10 men. It is one thing to earn a straight red card in the 88th minute in 1-1 match for a game saving tackle, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday. Boyata needed to realize that Joe Hart was behind him and in a one-on-one situation, Hart has a better than average chance of stopping the ball. This point was proven by the fact that Joe Hart stopped a penalty kick from Cesc Fabregas in the 40th minute to keep City in the match. This lapse in judgment by Boyata cost City more than a goal, it likely cost them 3 goals since the team played down for the majority of the match. Even after a strong first half, the Gunners used meticulous passing and a late game of keep-away to win the match 3-0. For Arsenal it was a much needed win to push them back into second place in the tables. For City, the result took some wind out of their sails and due to goal differential, the team slid below Arsenal and Manchester United into 4th place.
John Henry and the new ownership group at Liverpool were able to chalk up their first victory with a 2-1 beating of Blackburn. Fernando Torres apparently realized that he was still a player and not just a spectator at the Liverpool matches, scoring his first goal in six-matches in the 53rd minute which ended up being the difference. The own-goal from Jamie Carragher made the stat line seem a lot closer than the match actually was with Liverpool dominating in possession (60%), corners (15), shots (20) and shots on goal (8). The win could end up being the catalyst for change at Liverpool, but even with the victory they are still in 18th place and in the relegation window. However, a win at Bolton next week could push the team back into the middle of the pack and earn some much needed validation for Roy Hodgson.
Just when things were getting tight at the top, Chelsea gets a win, City loses to Arsenal, and Man U gains ground. Here are the standings at the top and bottom after 9 weeks:
1. Chelsea – 22 pts, +23 GD (7-1-1)
2. Arsenal – 17 pts, +11 GD (5-2-2)
3. Manchester United – 17 pts, +8 GD (4-5-0)
4. Manchester City – 17 pts, +4 GD (5-2-2)
17. Blackburn – 9 pts, -2 GD (2-3-4)
19. Liverpool – 9 pts, -5 GD (2-3-4)
18. Wolverhampton – 6 pts, -7 GD (1-3-5)
20. West Ham United – 6 pts, -10 GD (1-3-5)