Chelsea are beginning to enjoy living in the lap of luxury. Their new owner, Roman Abramovich, has spent extravagantly - for which he was given an extended standing ovation by Chelsea's adoring fans before kick-off - and to judge from yesterday's 4-2 home victory over Tottenham, he used some of the £100 million or so he has shelled out to acquire some desirable but inessential items.
The line-up his manager, Claudio Ranieri, chose to start with at Stamford Bridge yesterday included only Damien Duff and Adrian Mutu from the summer signings, with Claude Makelele and Joe Cole on the bench. The Argentinians Hernan Crespo and Juan Sebastian Veron had been all the way to Venezuela for a World Cup qualifying match during the week, so they were allowed to put their feet up.
Chelsea usually can do just that against Spurs, who have not beaten them in the League since 1990, but for half an hour Ranieri's men were run ragged as Tottenham went ahead through Frédéric Kanouté. Spurs cannot afford luxuries, like slack defending, and once Chelsea had taken the lead with goals by Frank Lampard and the outstanding Mutu the result was never in doubt. Mutu added his second, and Kanouté claimed his second, before Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wrapped up the points for the Blues.
Tottenham's manager, Glenn Hoddle, could soon be feeling blue if his side do not bounce back from their worst start to a Premiership season. It is all very well him being upset; the fans and the board will not tolerate the rate at which goals are being conceded. "All four were very poor goals defensively to give away," Hoddle said. "To allow a team to have three one-on-ones against our goalkeeper in any game is poor defending. There were some individual errors where we made wrong decisions and let them in. Unless we improve it doesn't matter how much good football we play, we shall be on the back foot." And Hoddle will be on the back nine of a golf course, somehow wondering which job to apply for.
But then Ranieri is under pressure, too, isn't he? Surely Chelsea have been casting around for a new manager and even approached Sir Alex Ferguson, didn't they? Not according to chairman Ken Bates, who insisted yesterday that there were no plans to replace the Italian. And, he said, "we wouldn't try to sign a 61-year-old", putting "old" Fergie firmly in his place. That place is Old Trafford, was Ferguson's response to a line of chat that he had stirred up himself. "It would be something absolutely catastrophic for me to leave the club," he said. "My whole life is Manchester United." So unless he starts wearing a sarong...
He was wearing his usual stern expression for much of yesterday, watching his United side strive to suppress Charlton, but Ruud van Nistelrooy brought out a smile by becoming, like Mutu, one of the day's two-goal strikers in United's 2-0 win.
Michael Owen chipped in with two as Liverpool won 3-1 at Blackburn Rovers, who made the visitors' task easier by playing for 77 minutes with 10 men, Lucas Neill having paid for going in high on Jamie Carragher. Alan Shearer netted two penalties as Newcastle United steadied themselves with a 2-2 draw at Everton, and James Beattie claimed both goals as Southampton pinned Wolves to the bottom of the Premiership by beating them 2-0 at St Mary's.
Arsenal are top, but what they wouldn't have given for two goals from anyone as they drew 1-1 at home to a Portsmouth side who showed why they are unbeaten so far this season. Teddy Sheringham put Pompey ahead, but Robert Pires won a penalty for Thierry Henry to equalise. In a way Henry scored twice, having to retake after burying the kick first time.
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