By Tim Harris
ARSENAL, Tottenham, and Chelsea completed a trio of big London clubs who fell foul in their Premier League clashes over the weekend.
A freak set of results left a black cloud hanging over London, as two of its giants were slain on home soil, and their biggest titan returned from the City of Manchester Stadium having also tasted defeat.
Arsenal were beaten 3-2 by newly promoted West Brom, and Spurs fell 1-0 at the hands of West Ham – who barely survived the drop last season.
And while Chelsea were bettered 1-0 by slightly classier opposition in the form of Manchester City, it still stands as their first defeat of the Premier League campaign.
So what exactly plagued the London clubs?
All three teams were deprived of key talent through injury. Arsenal are still without Theo Walcott, who was scoring for fun prior to being sidelined. Captain Cesc Fabregas was also absent from the Gunners line-up. Consequently, Arsenal lacked a lot of the flair that they usually unleash at the Emirates.
Tottenham are currently unable to field Jermaine Defoe, so must rely on Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko to come up with the goals. Robbie Keane made a cameo appearance off the bench against West Ham, but to little effect. Spurs need their top striker back.
Chelsea lost the services of Saloman Kalou and Yossi Benayoun in midweek. And when Frank Lampard failed to recover in time to face City, Carlo Ancellotti was left with a raging injury headache.
Carling Cup hangovers
Tottenham and Chelsea both suffered premature exits from the Carling Cup just a few days previous, which inevitably provoked a negative effect on team confidence.
Spurs conceded Carling Cup defeat in extra-time to Arsenal, while Chelsea allowed Newcastle to score in the dying minutes at Stamford Bridge to register a shock win.
Losing a game at the death, or though the slog of extra-time can be very damaging psychologically for a team; and this knock-on effect really showed in the league.
With crucial Champions League group matches just around the corner, all three managers will have had one eye on midweek.
Arsenal and Chelsea are Champions League regulars, and have the expansiveness in their squads to cope with playing increased numbers of matches.
However, Tottenham are newcomers this season to the biggest European stage, and Harry Redknapp has been forced to juggle certain players to ensure that his most treasured talents remain fit.
So defensively, Spurs were missing some familiar faces. Ledley King, Younes Kaboul, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto were all left out.
Stand-in Tottenham defenders Bassong and Corluka were quickly exposed by West Ham.
It is all well and good pinpointing excuses for the big teams failing to perform, but credit must be awarded to West Brom and West Ham for finding that extra gear to claim victory.
Jonas Olsson held the West Brom backline strong, and while Arsenal did manage to find late goals, the Swedish defender ensured the Baggies held out until the final whistle.
West Ham showcased a display that will fill their supporters with improved confidence, as they showed organisation and stability in the midfield. This gave them the ability to keep digging and grab the winning goal.
A turning point?
It is unlikely that results such as these will be repeated too often in the Premier League. Teams with the calibre and class that Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea possess, will always have the quality to bounce straight back to winning ways.
All three clubs have the right manager at the helm, and the fans to get behind them.
The results seen over the weekend were, unfortunately, but inevitably, just a blip on their records.