This weekend was a return to form and some semblance of normalcy for the Premier League’s old guard.
Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger were facing revolt on Friday – Chelsea in the dressing room, Arsenal in the stands of Emirates Stadium.
Both the Gunners and the Blues had been put through the media wringer over the week in the fallout from ignominious Champions League defeats and disappointing, though not quite equally, FA Cup performances.
Villas-Boas was facing serious pressure regarding his future at Stamford Bridge, while Wenger was receiving unprecedented dissent from teh Arsenal fans for.
Whether this criticism was warranted or not, the two London sides were in the midst of misery that neither is quite so accustomed to and were in serious need of some sort of response going into their respective fixtures.
It would take the partisan perspective of a fan to decide definitively which side’s plight was the most desperate but the spectre of Arsenal’s failure had taken on the image of their north London rivals, exacerbated by the success of Harry Redknapp’s side.
Chelsea’s demons had twere of a more reflective nature, as in-fighting and internal power struggles appeared to be pushing the club to the brink of failure that has not been associated with the Blues for a number of years.
Frank Lampard has been a key figure in the Bluess recent consternations, so it seemed in a way fitting that he should cap off a dominant display by his side, the like of which has not been seen for a significant period.
Villas-Boas’ side brushed aside strugglers Bolton Wanderers as they should have done with the squad of players they have, but the relief around the Bridge was palpable enough.
Arsenal on the other hand were given the tough task of dealing with their resurgent rivals, who had been compounding Gunners’ misery but churning out exciting and crushing victories at the other end of Seven Sisters Road.
It seemed as though it would get not worse for Wenger’s side when they found themselves looking at a two-goal deficit with just 35 minutes gone and the prospect of being outside the top four once more, with a staggering 13 points between them and Tottenham.
It is difficult to quantify exactly the effect such a comeback will have psychologically on both sides but you doubt it would be anything but the obvious.
The gap has now closed to seven points between Spurs and their fellow Londoners chasing, with the daunting task of facing Manchester United next week.
United themselves gave us a familiar old routine when they left it unitl injuryt time before snatching the win at Norwich City. It was unlucky on the newly-promoted Canaries but it is such ruthlessness that has been key to the success of numerous Sir Alex Ferguson sides.
Ryan Giggs provided us with more sepia-tinted reminiscing fodder when he scored the winner to finish off his 900th appearance for the Red Devils.
The difference this result will make in the overall fortunes of all sides concerned will be seen in the next few weeks but, in terms of points, it has not made a huge difference to the probable outcome at the end of the season.
What they did do though, is give us a reminder of what things once were in the English Premier League.
Arsenal scoring five at home in a rampant performance, Tottenham throwing away a multiple-goal lead in spectacular fashion, the Gunners seeing of their rivals and Chelsea rolling over a lesser side without much fuss at home.
You would be forgiven for having a double-take at the date because these were scenes more reminiscent of about five or six years ago.
Whether history fully repeats itself or not will be down to Spurs’ reaction at home to the champions next weekend and whether Arsenal can turn round their abysmal away form in the trip to Anfield.
Whatever happens from now on, this weekend was a weekend for remembering the old status quo and a taste of the old glory for the Premier League old guard.
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