We’ll begin in Spain where league leaders Real Madrid traveled to Barcelona to defend their one point lead at the Nou Camp. ‘El Clasico’ was set to be an interesting affair as World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo returned from injury to face Messi and the Catalans. After a scoreless first half, Zlatan Ibrahimovic replaced striker Thierry Henry shortly after play resumed for Barcelona. The move by manager Pep Guardiola paid instant dividends as the superstar Swede cracked home a beautiful side footed volley from Daniel Alves’ cross to put Barca in the driver’s seat. Barcelona fans were made to sweat the remainding thirty minutes when Sergio Busquets was sent off for a second bookable offence. Despite creating several chances, Madrid were unable to find a way through and Barcelona escaped with the three points returning them to top of the table, two points clear.
Spain was not the only country to see a clash of soccer heavyweights, as first place Chelsea visited challengers Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London. The London derby was tipped to be tough fixture for Arsenal (despite being at home) due to their laundry list of injuries, especially in attack as Nicklas Bendtner remained sidelined and Robin Van Persie has now been ruled out for a number of months. In a down pour Arsenal held firm at the start, but eventually crumbled after Didier Drogba struck, followed by Thomas Vermaelen’s own goal and a superb Drogba free kick for his second.