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Monday, Sep. 17, 2012
Chelsea held to draw by QPR
LONDON — Chelsea dropped its first points of the season in a 0-0 draw against local rival Queens Park Rangers while the non-handshake between Anton Ferdinand and John Terry upstaged big home wins by Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal's 6-1 thrashing of Southampton and a 4-0 victory for United over Wigan — sparked by Paul Scholes' goal on his 700th game for the club — allowed both teams to leapfrog defending champion Manchester City, which was held 1-1 at Stoke.
A top four filled with the likely title contenders is led by Chelsea, whose perfect start to the campaign ended with the stalemate at QPR in a game overshadowed by Ferdinand's snub of Terry in the pre-match handshake.
It continued their feud following a racism row that began last season when Terry, the Chelsea and England defender, was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand in the corresponding match at Loftus Road.
Terry was acquitted in court in July but awaits a Football Association charge relating to the same case, and feelings continue to run high.
Ferdinand blanked both Terry and Ashley Cole, who gave evidence on behalf of his Chelsea teammate in the court case, in the team handshake while Terry was booed and jeered throughout by a hostile crowd.
"Everybody focused on the football and of course there would be high emotion but both sets of players played very professionally," Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said. "As far as we are concerned, our players offered (their hands to Ferdinand) and if the other player doesn't want to receive it, then we move on."
After three straight wins, Chelsea will not be too unhappy with a point after being stretched for long periods by a west London neighbor which has only picked up two points from four games this season.
Park Ji Sung headed a great chance straight at Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech before Bobby Zamora wasted another second-half opportunity after intercepting a dreadful back pass by John Obi Mikel. After dribbling around Cech, Zamora's shot was cleared off the line by Terry.
"We acquitted ourselves really well," QPR manager Mark Hughes said. "We were assured and calm and we dictated to the European champions for long periods."
Chelsea is a point clear of United, whose third straight victory came after four second-half goals at Old Trafford.
The 37-year-old Scholes scored his 163rd goal for United to put the team ahead in the 51st minutes before strikes by Javier Hernandez, Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell — the last two scoring on their debuts — in a 20-minute span. Hernandez missed a fifth-minute penalty in a sluggish first half for the hosts.
"We had to start all over again after the missed penalty," Ferguson said. "They slowed the game down a lot, but we weren't playing at the speed we play at. The second half we did after becoming more aggressive and played some penetrating football."
Arsenal condemned last-place Southampton to a fourth successive loss with a masterful attacking display that could help fans forget about the departure of Robin van Persie, who was on the bench for United on Saturday ahead of the start of the Champions League next week.
Gervinho, playing as a central striker instead of his usual place on the wing, scored twice while Arsenal was helped out by two own goals. Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott were the other scorers at Emirates Stadium.
"We have a chance for the title but first we must show consistency," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team is a point behind United and level on eight with City. "We have the quality to do it but we have to show how much we can do it."
Real slips up again
BARCELONA, Spain — Sevilla struck early and held on to deal Real Madrid a 1-0 loss as the defending Spanish champions fell eight points behind pacesetter Barcelona on Saturday.
A short-handed Barcelona, meanwhile, routed Getafe 4-1 as Lionel Messi went on with half an hour to play and added to Adriano's opener with a pair of goals before David Villa netted to keep the Catalans perfect in league play.
Madrid, which has won just once in four rounds, was unsettled at the start at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and Piotr Trochowski capitalized to score from a corner two minutes in, breaking Sevilla's streak of seven straight defeats to Madrid.
"We got what we deserved after a horrible game," said Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. "My players' heads are not focused, for many of them football is not a priority. But I am the coach, and if there are heads that are not focused it is my fault."