Spurs strike late, score three against Wolves
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Spurs strike late, score three against Wolves

Three goals in the last 13 minutes by Rafael van der Vaart, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Alan Hutton gave a relieved Tottenham Hotspur a 3-1 home victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Saturday.

other Updated: Sep 18, 2010 23:16 IST

Three goals in the last 13 minutes by Rafael van der Vaart, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Alan Hutton gave a relieved Tottenham Hotspur a 3-1 home victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Saturday.

Spurs, who made their Champions League debut with a draw against Werder Bremen on Tuesday, looked to be suffering a European hangover as Steven Fletcher put Wolves ahead just before halftime.

But the home side always looked on top and deserved the points from their late onslaught.

Everton lost at home in the league for the first time since November as a superb 45th-minute strike by Hartem Ben Arfa gave Newcastle United a 1-0 win and left the hosts second-to-bottom with two points from five games.

Birmingham City's unbeaten start to the season ended at The Hawthorns as West Bromwich Albion came from 1-0 down at halftime with three goals in 10 minutes to win 3-1, while Aston Villa against Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers against Fulham and Stoke City against West Ham United all ended 1-1.

West Ham off the mark after 1-1 draw

West Ham United secured their first Premier League point of the season, in their fifth game, when they drew 1-1 at Stoke City on Saturday.

The Londoners travelled to Stoke badly needing to get off the mark after four losses, and without manager Avram Grant, who was observing the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

They were the better team in the first half, taking the lead after 32 minutes when Scott Parker scored from close range following a scramble in the box.

Stoke, who picked up their first points with a win over Aston Villa last Monday, levelled with a Kenwyne Jones header three minutes after the break and were much the better side in the second half.

United, Liverpool not in form before match

With Chelsea making a perfect start to their title defence, Manchester United and Liverpool can't afford another draw when they meet on Sunday on the back of an unimpressive opening month of the season.

Chelsea have won four straight Premier League matches, but United have only won twice and are already four points adrift while Liverpool have just one victory and lag the leaders by seven. United have thrown away four points in two games by conceding late equalisers, including throwing away a 3-1 lead in the 90th minute at Everton last weekend.

“Sunday is a big game — the disappointment of last Saturday has to resonate with the players,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “They can't make mistakes like that again.”

United will be boosted by the return of Wayne Rooney, who was dropped last weekend over fears Everton fans would abuse the striker in light of a sex scandal, and defender Rio Ferdinand, who came back from a three-month injury layoff to play in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Ferguson views fixtures with Liverpool as the biggest in the season for United, with the northwest rivals sharing the record of 18 English titles.

United look closer to No. 19, having finished runners-up last season after a three-year winning streak. Liverpool, though, haven’t won the title since 1990 and Roy Hodgson has a lack of funds to strengthen the side he took control of in the offseason. Liverpool's only win came against promoted West Bromwich, while they have lost to Manchester City and drawn with Arsenal and Birmingham.

Liverpool's hopes of winning will rely on striker Fernando Torres rediscovering his goal-scoring touch after being heavily criticised for a lacklustre display at Birmingham last weekend. “I'm afraid criticism is something he will have to learn to live with,” Hodgson said. “Everything that happens at the club is put under a microscope and that includes player performances.

“Fernando Torres has no problems with that. He's an excellent player and is very much committed and focused on this season.” After the Old Trafford match, leaders Chelsea should have little trouble disposing of Blackpool, who were thumped 6-0 by Arsenal last month.

United striker Dimitar Berbatov will return to face Liverpool after Ferguson's “calculated risk” to rest him and other in-form players backfired in the Champions League.

Berbatov, who has scored three goals in four league matches this season, will be part of what Ferguson sees as the biggest drawcard on the English fixture list.

“He's expressed himself this season very well, he's enjoying his football and he'll play on Sunday,” Ferguson said.

Midfielder Paul Scholes is also expected to start, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar should be back and Antonio Valencia's absence could give Nani a start on the right wing.

First Published: Sep 18, 2010 23:14 IST