The five-point European review
There were no shortage of big derbies to keep European football fans entertained this weekend, with Arsenal getting the better of London rivals Chelsea, Lyon seeing off Saint-Etienne, and Juventus edging out Derby d’Italia foes Inter Milan.
In Spain, defeat for Liga revelations Levante allowed Real Madrid to head the table, while Barcelona and Lionel Messi got back in among the goals. And in Germany, leaders Bayern Munich reasserted their authority after last weekend’s surprise defeat.
FIFA.com fills in the gaps on those stories in its latest five-point European leagues review.
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal, Matchday 10 in England
After last weekend’s pulsating Manchester derby, all eyes were on London on Saturday as Chelsea entertained Arsenal. Unbeaten at Stamford Bridge this season, the Blues started firm favourites against Arsene Wenger’s men, who had collected only one point from four away outings this term and last won on the road in April.
Though the hosts led at the break, with John Terry restoring their advantage after Robin van Persie had cancelled out Frank Lampard’s opener, the Gunners turned the form book upside down in a thrilling second half. Goals from Andre Santos and Theo Walcott gave them an unexpected lead before the hour mark, only for Juan Mata to pull the home side level with ten minutes remaining. Van Persie then settled the issue, making the most of the space afforded him by an over-generous Chelsea defence to strike two late goals to complete a classy hat-trick.
“We achieved the target of winning a big game away from home and did it with style,” said an understandably delighted Wenger afterwards. “That’s the football we want to play.”
No sooner had Bayern Munich’s impressive unbeaten run come to an end than the Bavarians set about embarking on another one. Urged to get back to winning ways by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who conceded two goals for the first time since joining the club in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Hannover, the Bundesliga frontrunners responded by putting four goals past Nurnberg without reply at the Allianz Arena.
Juventus remain out front in Serie A after downing Inter Milan 2-1 in the latest Derby d’Italia, Claudio Marchisio scoring the winner at the San Siro, his fourth of the season. A symbol of the unbeaten Juve’s renaissance, the 25-year-old midfielder has taken only nine games to beat his previous best goal tally for a single campaign.
Goalless in three games, Lionel Messi quickly quelled any concerns about his form by helping himself to a quick-fire hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-0 demolition of Mallorca on Saturday. La Pulga’s latest triple salvo took him within one goal of a double century for his club.
Without a goal this season as he took to the field against Freiburg on Friday, Michael Ballack set the record straight after just two minutes to give Bayer Leverkusen a welcome three points. Things did not go all the veteran midfielder’s way, however. Sustaining a broken nose during the game, he will now miss this week’s meeting with Valencia in the UEFA Champions League, a competition in which he has excelled.
Following a largely forgettable start to the season, Alou Diarra finally came good for Marseille this weekend. Coming on in the second half of their visit to Dijon, with his side having let slip a two-goal lead, the France captain headed home eight minutes from time to give L'OM a 3-2 victory, their third consecutive win in all competitions.
10 - The number of goals Gonzalo Higuain has scored in ten league games this season, the same as Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentinian’s latest strike was the only goal of Real Madrid’s visit to Real Sociedad and took them top of La Liga.
11 - The number of matches Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain have now gone unbeaten following their 4-2 defeat of Caen at the Parc des Princes.
29 - In making his debut against Mallorca on Saturday, 17-year-old Gerard Deulofeu emulated Andres Iniesta and Raul, both of whom made their first appearances in the Spanish elite on the very same date, 29 October. That coincidence bodes well for the latest prospect to roll off the Barcelona production line, who has already been likened to team-mate Messi.
5. Memorable moments
Gourcuff and Briand, the heroes of the Gerland: Any player who scores in the Lyon-Saint-Etienne derby can be assured of the appreciation of their fans for some time to come. The oft-maligned Jimmy Briand and the returning Yoann Gourcuff were the men feeling the love from the Gerland faithful on Saturday after their late goals saw ten-man Lyon to a 2-0 win over Les Verts.
Tumbling Theo: Falling to the floor as he bore down on the Chelsea defence, Theo Walcott picked himself up straightaway and proceeded to weave his way through the disconcerted Blues defenders. Surging into the box, the quicksilver England winger then fired an unstoppable drive just inside Petr Cech’s near post to put his side 3-2 up and on the road to a stunning win.
Game of two halves for Hennessey: In superlative form in the first half of Saturday’s match at Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper Wayne Hennessey was at fault for both the league leaders’ opening goals in their 3-1 win. The Wales custodian’s fluffed clearance allowed Edin Dzeko to put City ahead, with Aleksandar Kolarov then profiting as Hennessey, a former youth player at the Manchester club, failed to hold on to David Silva’s drive.
Levante back to earth with a bump: Levante’s fairy tale spell at the summit of La Liga came to an end on Sunday following a 2-0 reverse at Osasuna. Surprise leaders after a run of seven straight wins, the team with the smallest budget in the league reluctantly yielded top spot to Real Madrid.
Landmark for Pizarro: The most prolific foreign goalscorer in the history of the German top flight, Werder Bremen’s Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro struck his 150th Bundesliga goal as his side prevailed 3-1 at Mainz on Saturday.