Thursday, August 20, 2009

Burnley Stuns United

Burnley couldn't have asked for more from their first win in the top flight in thirty-three years, stunning Manchester United 1-0 behind Robbie Blake's blistering strike. Burnley somehow managed to make that lone goal hold up, with goalkeeper Brian Jensen playing the hero for saving the penalty oddly taken by Michael Carrick. The Clarets certainly announced their return to the Premier League with style. Meanwhile, United have to be concerned, having only scored one goal in 180 minutes and turning in two fairly listless performances. The schedule does not allow the Red Devils time to ease into the season; their next four fixtures are away to a Wigan team that won at Villa, home for Arsenal, away to Spurs, and home for Manchester City. Arsenal and Tottenham look particularly sharp at the moment, and the City fixture will be fascinating. United need to find another gear fast.

Liverpool took out their disappointment from the opener on Stoke, winning 4-0 at Anfield. Torres opened the scoring four minutes in and the Reds were in control throughout. If Glen Johnson continues in his current form, he'll quickly shed the "overpriced" tag that accompanied his move from Portsmouth. Johnson scored the second goal and had a hand (or boot) in the third and fourth. Despite the three points, Liverpool still have defensive concerns with Skrtel out two weeks, and were forced to start 18-year-old Daniel Ayala. In order to solidify the back line, Benitez acquired center back Sotiris Kyrgiakos from AEK Athens. Benitez also had to rebut sudden rumors he was quitting, saying he is "100% commited to the club."

Tottenham also won Wednesday, throttling Hull City 5-1 on the road. Hull will finish somewhere in the bottom half of the table, but were playing at home and gave Chelsea all they could handle over the weekend. But Spurs dispensed of the Tigers easily, with Jermain Defoe finishing a hat trick in the 90th minute. Their reward is the opportunity to sit atop the early season table. Only 36 matches left.

Looking ahead to this weekend, United need a result and improved play at Wigan. Spurs travel to West Ham in a match of two sides looking to move up the table this year. Fulham host Chelsea at Craven Cottage Sunday, while Villa visits Anfield on Monday.

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