1. High drama at Stamford Bridge even before the kick off. Wayne Bridge was never going to shake John Terry’s hand, but more revealing was Craig Bellamy’s reaction as he walked past the adulterer. Just in case anyone hadn’t heard him, the Welshman reinforced the point during his post-match interview. The football showed that Terry’s come very close to being a liability at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Only days after being embarassed by Diego Milito at the San Siro, the deposed England captain looked all at sea against Carlos Tevez, committing another error to allow the Argentine a run on goal. Amongst all the Bridge/Terry hype, there’s been little focus on Tevez, who delivered a superb display only hours after returning from his homeland to attend to his premature daughter. Quite astounding.
2. You could understand Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s outrage on Saturday night. Immediately after the game is obviously a difficult time to calmly rationalise what had just happened at the Britannia Stadium and Arsenal have lost three players to serious injuries from terrible tackles over the last few years. But nobody should castigate Ryan Shawcross. There’s plenty of people who describe Stoke’s style as an affront to the Premier League, but they are after all only upholding the traditions of the English games. It was a mistimed rather than malicious challenge from a distraught defender, whose tears won’t have been quelled by news of his England call-up. One can only hope Aaron Ramsey, a seriously bright prospect, recovers fully.
3. The Welsh midfielder won’t play any part in the title run-in but in this topsy-turvy season you suspect Arsenal just might. They showed real character to get a result at Stoke after all that had happened and close to within three points of Chelsea. They have the easiest closing schedule of any of their title rivals and this would the ideal way for Wenger to deliver a riposte to all those pundits who have been barracking him for not winning a trophy since 2005. Given the mesmorising quality of Arsenal’s football, they have the ability to go one of those league unbeaten runs that could make the title race very interesting indeed.
4. Portsmouth’s suffering supporters deserved some cheer and, on Saturday at Burnley, they got it. Pompey’s players might just revel in the absurdity of their situation and they produced a remarkably professional performance in light of what’s been going on around them to record an excellent win. One of the Pompey fans I spoke to on Saturday night talked of how highly they regard Avram Grant, who sometimes comes over as aloof. There was nothing detached about his joy at the final whistle.
5. Spurs are buzzing around that fourth place with intent. They dominated the first half at White Hart Lane yesterday – and – worryingly given our FA Cup date with them next week – look irresistable going forward. Little Luka Modric will be a real problem come Saturday and he scored a delightful second goal that seemed to put the game beyond Everton. That reckoned without the fighting qualities of David Moyes’ side and were it not for a truly stupifying miss from Landon Donovan then the visitors would have walked away with a point. Forcing Tottenham onto the defensive will be key at the weekend.