Results: Leicester City 1-0 Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Everton, Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County, Newcastle United 3-0 Aston Villa, Southampton 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United 0-2 Fulham, Liverpool FC 3-1 Manchester United, Arsenal 2-4 Charlton Athletic, Chelsea 2-1 Ipswich Town, Leeds United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
The top seven in the 2001-2002 Premier League season were covered by just four points going into the 11th set of fixtures. The slightly surprising early pacesetters were Aston Villa. John Gregory’s side had won four of their last five fixtures to top the table by a single point.
However, their leadership of the table would only be temporary and by the end of the weekend, we’d have new leaders in the form of the league’s only unbeaten club. Villa had the chance to put some distance between them and the chasing pack as they played on Saturday afternoon at St James’ Park against Newcastle United. However, they were no match for Sir Bobby Robson’s free-flowing side, losing 3-0. Craig Bellamy continued his burgeoning reputation with two goals and Alan Shearer rolled back the years with a spectacular volley which completely beat Peter Schmeichel. After four successive seasons loitering in mid-table, Newcastle were in the chasing pack and just three points off top spot.
So, Leeds United had the opportunity to take command of the title race. They welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to Elland Road. Spurs had managed to string three successive victories together before this fixture and sat in seventh and on the coattails of the established elite. They led here too through Gus Poyet’s beautiful curling shot. However, Leeds responded with an Ian Harte equaliser before Harry Kewell wrapped the match up for David O’Leary’s young chargers nine minutes from full-time. It finished 2-1 and Leeds were heading for the summit. They were unbeaten and looked like a serious title player at this stage of the season.
On the same Sunday afternoon, England’s biggest rivals went head-to-head at Anfield and it was Liverpool FC who prevailed. They beat Manchester United 3-1 to record a fourth consecutive victory against the Red Devils. Michael Owen had recently returned from a hamstring injury and showed no signs of weakness here with two goals. There was also a blockbuster free-kick from John Arne Riise which ranks among this game’s greatest-ever goals.
Arsenal could have taken advantage of United’s third defeat of the season but they experienced a clumsy afternoon of their own against Charlton Athletic, especially in the defensive department. Richard Wright inexplicably punched the ball into his own net and Claus Jensen chipped him from distance on a painful afternoon for the man considered to be the heir to David Seaman’s possession of the goalkeeper jersey for both club and country. Charlton’s 4-2 victory was one for clinical fans over stylish gameplay. Home form was the weakness for Arsenal so far, with just one victory at Highbury from five outings.
Much-maligned striker Ade Akinbiyi chose the fixture with Sunderland to finally grab his first goal of the season. He needed two swipes at his shot but it went into the net and Leicester had their first home victory of the campaign as they beat the Black Cats 1-0 infront of the Sky Sports cameras. That meant not only did the Foxes climb off the foot of the table but they were now out of the bottom three. Replacing them at the bottom were Derby County who were thrashed 5-1 by Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium.
What else happened in November 2001?
- The music world mourns the death of former Beatles singer and guitarist George Harrison, who dies in Los Angeles, aged 58 after a battle with lung cancer.
- The first instalment in the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone makes its premier debut in London.
- 12 British plane-spotters are held by Greek authorities on charges of spying.
- 260 people are killed when an American Airlines flight crashes in Queens, New York moments are take-off from JFK airport.
- The national airline of Belgium, Sabena, goes bankrupt.
- The governing body of the UK Singles Chart, Chart Information Network Ltd. (CIN), changes its name to The Official UK Charts Company.
- Richard & Judy’s new teatime programme debuts on Channel 4.