Saturday saw plenty of goals and talking points as the players resumed battle for the title – and survival – in the Premier League following the International break.
Although we are still in the early stages, the league looks to be as competitive, unpredictable and entertaining as it ever has been. So many big names have arrived in England this year, that the Spanish Primera Division, which has arguably become the top league in Europe over the last five seasons, will be left in the wake of the Premier League’s dazzling array of entertaining matches.
The first of the weekend saw Arsenal – whose recent purchase of the less than clinical Danny Welbeck from Manchester United has done little to reassure fans concerned by their lack of a goal threat up top – host last year’s champions Manchester City.
Arsenal started brightly, their crisp passing causing an under strength Man City midfield all kinds of concern. They had the chance to capitalize on the pressure City were feeling, when a loose ball by David Silva saw Welbeck race through on goal. He was one-on-one with Joe Hart, but instead of burying the ball in the huge gap available, Welbeck opted for an eloquent chip which – perhaps slightly unluckily – struck the post and fell into Hart’s arms. It was an opportunity spurned, which will have left United’s Louis van Gaal feeling vindicated in letting one of United’s young homegrown players move to a rival, citing a lack of the killer instinct. Arsenal’s wave of pressure was ridden effectively in the end and a swift counter attack combined with some terrible tracking back saw City’s Aguero show Welbeck how to finish to give his side a 1-0 lead at half time.
Arsenal clawed their way into the lead with two goals from a resurgent Wilshere, and Alexis Sanchez. Both goals were contested by Pellegrini, complaining that there were fouls in the build-up to each, but in truth any kind of halt to proceedings would have been very soft indeed. Arsenal looked to be holding on once they took the lead. Welbeck became tired, and City eventually equalised with seven minutes to go. Dimechelis with a powerful header unmarked from a corner. And City went on to strike the post twice in the closing stages as they could easily have taken all three points. A sit was, a draw was probably a fair result just about, although if City had Yaya Toure available you have to think they would have strolled it.
Chelsea March On
Elsewhere, Chelsea continued their 100% wining start to the campaign, and in the process ended the excellent Swansea City’s own record. They were a goal down early after John Terry put through his own net, but a hat-trick from the unstoppable Diego Costa – whose combination play with Fabregas will make all the difference this year – saw Chelsea run out convincing 4-2 victors. Swansea look strong though, and they will certainly finish in the top half this year. The same cannot be said for Newcastle though, a miserable 4-90 defeat at the hand of a good looking Southampton side heaped yet more pressure on Alan Pardew. The Newcastle manager looks set to be shown the door as his approval rating is practically non-existent, and his side sit at the bottom of the table.
Liverpool went down at home to Aston Villa. This is hardly a shock, the same has happened for the last three seasons. Agbonlahor showed strength to hold off his marker and stab the ball home to secure the win. Liverpool will struggle this year, Suarez carried them through most of last season, but just couldn’t quite take them over the finishing post on his own. Sturridge is out for the next few games, they have a Champions League schedule to cope with, Balotelli just isn’t an appropriate replacement for the Uruguayan, and players such as Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Markovic are decent enough mid-table players, but Liverpool will struggle to touch the top four this year without doubt.
Other results included a 0-0 draw between Palace and Burnley, an excellent 1-0 victory for the impressive Leicester against Stoke at the Britannia, a 2-2 draw for Sunderland against up-for-sale Spurs, and a solid 2-0 victory for Everton away to West Brom.
Arsenal 2-2 Man City
Chelsea 4-2 Swansea
Crystal Palace 0-0 Burnley
Southampton 4-0 Newcastle
Stoke 0-1 Leicester City
Sunderland 2-2 Tottenham
West Brom 0-2 Everton
Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa
Sunday & Monday Preview
Only one game on Sunday this week, but it’s a huge one. Harry Redknapp takes his QPR side to Manchester to face a United side packed to the brim with new, big money signings. Falcao, Rojo, Luke Shaw, Di Maria, Blind and Herrera all look set to start. How Van Gaal will fit these players in with Rooney and van Persie remains to be seen –however it seems clear that Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj are unlikely to feature prominently for the remainder of the season if everyone is fit. Falcao is the main point of interest, and if he stays injury-free he will destroy most defences in this league. His penchant for the spectacular deserves to be witnessed on the most historic and grandest stage in World football, and if he starts, you’d expect him to open his account as a 35 year old Rio Ferdinand comes back to Old Trafford for the first time since being told he was done.
Monday’s game is slightly less attractive to the neutral, however, as Hull city face West Ham in what could be an extremely physical affair, with slightly less quality on show than Sunday’s offering. Hull look in decent form so far, and will be hoping that young starlet Tom Ince comes to the party and shows some of the quality he undoubtedly has.
Manchester United 4- 1 QPR
Hull City 1 -1 West Ham United