Emmanuel Adebayor sent Arsenal five points clear at the top of the Premier League as Arsene Wenger’s side won 2-1 against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Adebayor headed the winner to extend Arsenal’s lead over second placed Chelsea after Mathieu Flamini had cancelled out Craig Gardner’s opener at Villa Park.
The Gunners were rocked when Gardner side-footed home Gabriel Agbonlahor’s cross in the 14th minute, but they refused to be knocked out of their stride and recovered to confirm their best start to a Premier League campaign.
Flamini equalised in the 23rd minute as Tomas Rosicky knocked Emmanuel Eboue’s cross back to the French midfielder, who smashed the loose ball past Scott Carson.
That was the cue for Arsenal to turn on the style and they took the lead in the 36th minute. Bacary Sagna floated in a cross and Adebayor rose above two markers to thump home a powerful header.
Chelsea’s resurgence continued as Joe Cole’s late goal clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win against West Ham.
Cole broke his former club’s resistance in the 76th minute when he ran on to Salomon Kalou’s flick and just beat the offside trap before rounding Robert Green and shooting high into the roof of the net.
Avram Grant’s side were well below their best at Stamford Bridge but produced a gritty performance that extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches.
Grant has been keen to talk up his team’s entertainment value since he replaced Jose Mourinho, but this was more reminiscent of the no-frills performances that became Chelsea’s trademark under the Portuguese coach.
Steve Bruce made an instant impact on Wigan as he started his reign with a 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the JJB Stadium.
Bruce was taking charge of his first match following his protracted move from Birmingham and was able to stop Wigan’s run of eight successive defeats.
It had looked like being a depressing day for Bruce as high-flying City took the lead after 53 seconds.
Titus Bramble’s miscued clearance let in Geovanni and the Brazilian rounded Chris Kirkland before slotting home. But Wigan hit back after 25 minutes when Paul Scharner met Jason Koumas’s cross with a diving header.
Bruce was made to sweat for his point as defender Mario Melchiot was sent off for violent conduct in the final minutes but the hosts held on.
”I certainly could not have imagined a worse start,” Bruce said. ”It was horrific but in fairness the lads could have folded but they had the courage to make a fist of it after that.”
David Bentley increased the pressure on Sam Allardyce as the Blackburn winger’s double strike set up a 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Allardyce will be feeling the heat after his side’s fifth successive match without a win. The beleaguered Newcastle boss was jeered after the home defeats against Portsmouth and Liverpool and the travelling fans were unhappy again at Ewood Park.
Obafemi Martins put the visitors in front in the 47th minute. But Bentley equalised in the 54th minute with a superb free-kick.
Bentley’s second was nearly as good as he drilled in a fine low strike in the 67th minute. Tugay put the result beyond doubt in the 90th minute.
Paul Jewell suffered a painful start to his Derby reign as Anthony Stokes’s stoppage time goal gave Sunderland a 1-0 win over the Rams at the Stadium of Light.
Jewell’s rock-bottom side looked set for a point until Stokes popped up with his first goal of the season.
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp endured a frustrating end to a trying week as his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Everton at Fratton Park.
Four days after being one of five men arrested by the City of London police force as part of an investigation into allegations of corruption in the game, Redknapp was given a rapturous reception by the home fans as he took his seat before the match.
But he won’t have been overly impressed by what he saw as Portsmouth were unable to find a way past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. It was their third consecutive goalless league draw at home.
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate breathed a sigh of relief as Tuncay’s late equaliser earned a 1-1 draw at Reading.
Southgate has been heavily criticised by fans after a woeful 10-match run without a win. He wasn’t able to end that streak but at least avoided defeat despite falling behind to Dave Kitson’s strike.
Steve Coppell’s side took the lead in the 54th minute when Kevin Doyle flicked on Marcus Hahnemann’s goal kick to Kitson and the striker turned to fire home.
Middlesbrough managed to salvage a point in the 83rd minute after Luke Young lobbed in a cross to Tuncay and the Turkey midfielder headed home his first goal for the club.
Liverpool host Bolton and Tottenham play Birmingham on Sunday.
Manchester United entertain Fulham on Monday. — Sapa-AFP