The hopelessness of the Premiership peloton’s pursuit of the frontrunners was highlighted again this weekend; as usual Chelsea provided the weekends routing of a newly promoted side – this time 4-0 against Blackpool – while Manchester United delivered the thrills with Dimitar Berbatov’s hat-trick marking a significant point in his as-yet unfulfilled United career. United fans will not forget the three goals that put aside Liverpool who are now left in lowly 16th position, but the neutrals will remember his instinctive but breathtaking two touch overhead finish that put his side 2-0 ahead. The undistinguished remained as much; Arsenal drew with Sunderland , and Manchester City’s form continued to be consistently inconsistent as the pack jostled for position beneath them. City might have been pleased with the 2-0 defeat of north-west rivals Wigan Athletic, but reports of striker Emmanuel Adebayor squaring up to manager Roberto Mancini on receiving news he was starting on the bench will not help progression for the Eastlands outfit. In contrast, fans and pundits will have enjoyed the performance of Tottenham Hotspur’s new signing Rafael van der Vaart, who spirited the defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers and showed football fans that some good has come from the broken leg of Luca Modric.
Encroaching into the scorelines this weekend was the news that two fans faced police charges after fighting on the pitch at Saturday’s game against Watford at the New Den. Shortly after Watford right-back Lloyd Doyley was booked for a strong challenge, a 22 year old member of the armed services and Millwall fan chased Dooley up the field of play, where he was mauled down and dragged off the pitch by stewards and Millwall striker Neil Harris. Another scuffle then ensued involving the stewards and other Millwall fans seeing the first fan being struck about the head, resulting in a second Millwall fan being arrested on suspicion of assault. Both fans have been banned from the ground.
News of money and morals has also lit up the recession-proof summit of English football this weekend.
Chelsea has revealed that that multi-billionaire owner Roman Abramovic will no longer bankroll the wages and signings made by the club, with the players having to take a slash in their bonuses as the club attempt to stabilise the its finances and become self-sufficient. The news marks an end to the incredible investment Abramovic initially made at the club, which saw him spend £230 million in two years. Another with capital to consider is Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who will have heard the news that Premier League officials are due to meet to discuss his refusal to speak with the BBC, and are considering fining him up to £25,000 every time he declines to speak. Fergurson has not spoken to the BBC since 2004, when he took against a documentary made by the BBC about him and his son Jason, a football agent.
Finally, for perhaps the first time in history animal rights activists have taken interest in footballing matters and attacked Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych after the Ukrainian government announced plans for a mass cull of stray animals from the streets of Kiev. Poland and Ukraine will host the European finals in 2012, and the planned slaughter was intended to clean up the streets before the onset of mass tourism.