Results: Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Birmingham City, Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City, Aston Villa 0-2 Wigan Athletic, Fulham 2-0 Liverpool FC, Manchester United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Portsmouth 1-2 Charlton Athletic, Newcastle United 3-2 Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers 2-0 West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United 2-1 Middlesbrough, Everton 1-1 Chelsea
Chelsea went into the 22nd-23rd October 2005 weekend defending a 100% record. Nine teams had tried; nine teams had failed to take any points off Jose Mourinho’s champions, who were already threatening to turn the title race into a one-team demonstration. The Blues were nine points clear of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and had conceded just three goals in their opening nine matches.
They travelled to bottom of the table Everton at Goodison Park and only the most hopeful of Toffees’ supporters expected nothing else but another win for the defending champions. Everton were up for the fight though and keen to prove that their lowly position was a false indication of their talents. They led at half-time through a James Beattie penalty. Frank Lampard equalised although there were question marks about the legality of the throw-in from Asier del Horno in the build-up to the goal. Didier Drogba then had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside as Everton held on for a 1-1 draw and ended the Blues’ perfect start to the campaign.
It was a London 1-2-3 at the end of the weekend. Alan Curbishley’s Charlton Athletic continued to punch above their weight and maintained their perfect start away from The Valley. Their fifth consecutive victory on their travels was achieved at Fratton Park, coming from behind to defeat Portsmouth 2-1. Second half goals from Darren Ambrose and Dennis Rommedahl cancelled out Dario Silva’s first goal for Portsmouth, leaving the south coast side just a point clear of the bottom three.
Tottenham dropped to third but still recorded a fine 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United. An inch-perfect free-kick by Jermaine Jenas in the 72nd minute saw Spurs earn a deserved point at the Theatre of Dreams. Home form was a concern for Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side had won just once at home from their four outings on their own patch so far.
It was a weekend where the London clubs took the headlines. Arsenal celebrated Thierry Henry’s achievement as the club’s all-time top goalscorer after his exploits in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week in Prague. Henry played a part in one of the strangest incidents of the season as the Gunners squeaked past Manchester City 1-0 at Highbury. Robert Pires scored a penalty to settle the match but it was a second spot-kick that caused the biggest talking point. It appeared Pires had attempted to roll the ball forwards to Henry to finish what should have been a clever move first pioneered in the 1980s by Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. Unfortunately, Pires scuffed the ball which moved off the spot and a free-kick was given to the opposition by referee Mike Riley. It was lucky for all parties that Arsenal did claim the three points.
24 hours later, West Ham United beat Middlesbrough 2-1 with a ghost own goal from Boro defender Chris Riggott. The referee’s assistant judged Riggott’s deflection from Paul Konchesky’s free-kick had crossed the line. Replays showed clearly that Mark Schwarzer had prevented this and even West Ham’s opening goalscorer Teddy Sheringham admitted afterwards that the ball hadn’t crossed the line by some distance. Boro boss Steve McClaren was not amused.
In a massive Tyne & Wear Derby, Emre’s glorious free-kick helped Newcastle United to a vital 3-2 victory over Sunderland which kept the Black Cats in the bottom three and gave some much-needed relief to under-fire Newcastle boss Graeme Souness.
Another manager also under pressure was Birmingham boss Steve Bruce. His team continued to underperform and a 2-0 loss in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off to Blackburn Rovers kept them firmly planted in the bottom three, with just Sunderland and Everton below them. It was a position the Birmingham supporters would get used to as the season progressed.
What else happened in October 2005?
- Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad for crimes against humanity.
- Daniel Craig is announced as the sixth official James Bond actor.
- The European Court of Human Rights rules the United Kingdom’s ban on voting rights for prisoners is unlawful.
- An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale occurred in Kashmir, Pakistan, killing over 175,000 people.
- Southend Pier, in the East of England, is devastated by a fire.
- British playwright Harold Pinter is confirmed as the 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- NTL, the largest British cable television company, announces its multi-billion pound purchase of Telewest, creating one of the largest companies in the British media industry.