Manchester City's title hopes are up in stock this week, thanks to their 4-2 home win over Arsenal. They played some wonderful flowing football, dominating play toward the end of the match. After coming over from Arsenal during the summer, Emmanuel Adebayor particularly showed his ability on the pitch. He prevented a goal while manning the post during a corner. His beautiful flowing move left Bendtner, then Eboue, then Gallas in the dust before he slotted the ball in front to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who sadly struck the ball wide to prevent a highlight goal for the ages. He then scored soon after on a delightful header. Obviously the post-match focus was on Adebayor's wonderful play and how he let talent be the best revenge against his former club.
Or, maybe not.
Two ugly incidents have instead dominated the headlines: 1) Adebayor's stomp on Robin Van Persie's face 2) Adebayor running to the complete other side of the pitch to the Arsenal fans to celebrate his goal, prompting a near riot. In the aftermath of the match, Mark Hughes said that he hoped "that the game itself will be the shining light rather than any one incident." Not likely, Mark. In post-game remarks, Adebayor did apologize for the run across the field. So let's deal with that first. The FA Chief Executive said he was "unimpressed" with Adebayor's actions and that he would look at them. The Manchester police then had a go at Adebayor as well, saying he intentionally aggravated the crowd, leading to a steward being knocked unconscious. Perhaps if it were just the celebration the striker might get off the hook. However, the boot to his former teammate's face was an even more appalling act. Van Persie has attacked his former teammate, saying in a statement, "I am sad and disappointed by my former team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor's mindless and malicious stamp on me. He set out to hurt me and I feel lucky that I have not suffered a greater injury. The contact was only centimeters from my eye." Adebayor says it was not intentional. Mark Hughes defended Adebayor, because what else is he going to do.
The replay doesn't do the Togo striker any favors. While it is impossible to know exactly what was going on in his mind, the stomp certainly looks deliberate. The speculation is that he will be suspended for at least three games, and possibly longer than that. Frankly, three games isn't near enough. Mark Hughes has to defend his player, but none of his claims for leniency pass the laugh test. He said that other player's have celebrated similarly (and gotten suspended), that Van Persie did the same earlier after his goal (not even close), that Adebayor should be cut slack because he is an emotional player (what?), the referee had a great view and didn't issue a card for the play on Van Persie (clearly he did not), that Arsenal fans subjected their former player to a great deal of abuse (shocking), and that Adebayor was actually celebrating with the small group of City fans near the giant group of Arsenal fans (utterly preposterous). Even if those things were true, Adebayor stomped on another player's face, and appeared to do it on purpose. That's really the end of the discussion. He couldn't face a long enough suspension as far as I'm concerned.
Back to things dealing with football and not acts of thuggery, it's possible Hughes won't have Adebayor, Robinho, Tevez or Roque Santa Cruz for next week. That sounds like a good time for...a derby against Manchester United.
Speak of the Red Devils, they again showed their mettle with a 3-1 victory against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, despite the sending off of Paul Scholes in the second half. Sir Alex complained after the game and appeared to have a case, as Scholes went to ground but appeared to be trying to pull away from the challenge. United also survived a brilliant strike from Jermain Defoe to open the scoring in the first minute, with Ryan Giggs spectacularly equalizing from a free kick. Both teams had good chances, but Anderson and Rooney converted. That's why they're the champions.
A brief roundup elsewhere: Liverpool dominated Burnley, but Chelsea needed an extra time strike from Malouda to rally from behind against Stoke and remain perfect. Aston Villa continued their rally in form with a win in the Second City derby against Birmingham City, and now sit with nine points from four matches. Everton continued their dismal start with an away loss to Fulham and currently sit in the relegation zone. Not the expected start for a side that finished fifth last year.
After European play mid-week, next week's fixtures are highlighted by Liverpool on the road at West Ham, Chelsea hosting Tottenham, and of course the Manchester derby. So as you can imagine, the game ESPN is showing is Burnley-Sunderland (??). Ugh. Also this will be the third ESPN match in a row featuring Burnley. Does someone in Bristol have a cousin on that team or something? Although on the upside, I'll be a lot less annoyed during the seemingly inevitable technical difficulties during the Burnley-Sunderland match.