Football Sport

EPL round 13: Benítez’s Stamford Bridge journey kicks off with a draw

Written by Leanne Lu

Defeat by Juventus in the Champions League saw Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking last week. Rafa Benítez became the ninth manager under Roman Abramovich in just 12 years. But the Spaniard caused a shockingly hostile reaction even before the kick-off, due to the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool when Benítez was in charge of the Reds. With deafening boos and “RAFA OUT” banners all around the Bridge, Benítez’s first game after taking over as the interim manager played out to a nil-nil draw. Nevertheless, this was the first clean sheet since Chelsea beat Nordsjælland 4-0 in the Champions League, the first glimmer of a pay-off from Benítez’s disciplined and cautious tactical tendencies.

Hostility from the stands darkens Rafa Benítez's first game in charge

Hostility from the stands darkens Rafa Benítez’s first game in charge

This draw gave Manchester United, who beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at home, the chance to retake the league pole position. Although QPR led 1-0 for a good stretch of the game, the Red Devils managed yet another comeback with three late goals. Rangers remain the only club in the league without a win. No wonder club chairman Tony Fernandes sacked Mark Hughes last week, and replaced him with former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp in an attempt to save the situation.

After 13 league games, the biggest dark horse is West Bromwich Albion. Steve Clarke, who was Kenny Dalglish’s Assistant Manager and left Anfield along with his Scottish compatriot last summer, is now doing well in the Midlands. West Brom beat Sunderland away from home to secure third position in the league, with rich boy Chelsea one point behind them.

Steve Clarke, the man behind West Bromwich's surprising rise

Steve Clarke, the man behind West Bromwich’s surprising rise

Two clubs of the traditional top four continued their mediocre form. Arsenal couldn’t find the net against Aston Villa, while Liverpool’s visit to Swansea ended in a drab draw. Totthenham Hotspur ended a run of three defeats by beating West Ham United 3-1.

This week will see two rounds, one mid-week and one on the weekend, giving the premier league clubs some headaches. Rafa Benítez will be looking for his first win when Chelsea travels to Fulham, while Liverpool’s unbeaten run of eight games might be ended at White Hart Lane.