Liverpool continue to fall back in line with the midtable regularity with which we have become accustomed. They were comfortably despatched by a resurgent West Ham side 3-1 at Upton Park to heap yet more misery on their fans who, despite losing last year’s best player and signing arguably a group of decidedly average and questionable ones with the money gained, still held out some hope for being able to repeat the challenge which Luis Suarez single-handedly orchestrated last season. It now seems quite apparent to most that even making the top four could be a step too far for last year’s runners up.
Elsewhere, Southampton continued their impressive start – despite Liverpool plundering their squad with the Suarez money – as they overcame a resilient 10-man Swansea who lost Wilfred Bony to a first half sending off. They came out on top with former Celtic midfielder Wanyama securing the three points in the 80th minute. They now sit second.
Arsenal banished the ghosts of Germany in midweek to come away from Villa Park with a 3-0 victory following an amazing three minute spell which saw Welbeck lay on one for Ozil, the German repay the favour, and an own goal from Aly Cissokho. Welbeck looked good upfront and Wenger will hope that the first goal for his new club will help him to kick on after missing a couple of very good opportunities in his first couple of games for the North Londoners.
The other three games from Saturday finished in draws, with a stunning Nico Kranjcar free kick rescuing a point late on for Harry Redknapp’s QPR side who struggled against a solid Stoke team that dominated in midfield, and really should have gone home with all three points. Alan Pardew was also rescued by the returning Papiss Cisse who came off the bench with his side 2-0 down to Hull at home, and Pardew’s job 90% gone, to score twice and save his boss from a quick departure post-match. In all likelihood, Pardew won’t last until Christmas. Newcastle are very poor, the fans (perhaps somewhat misguidedly) expect a top 10 finish, and we live in a time where supporter protests can often herald the beginning of the end for a manager, although Newcastle fans have a habitual tendency to protest about to protest about most things, even the temperature of the centre of their half-time pie. Burnley and Sunderland also played out a 0-0 draw but the less said about that, the better.
QPR 2 – 2 Stoke City
Aston Villa 0 – 3 Arsenal
Burnley 0 – 0 Sunderland
Newcastle 2 – 2 Hull City
Swansea 0 -1 Southampton
West Ham 3 – 1 Liverpool
Another sterling spectacle of football awaits us on Sunday, as title favourites Chelsea visit last season’s champions Manchester City, and United travel to an energetic and newly-promoted Leicester. Everton and Tottenham are also in action against Crystal Palace and West Brom respectively, but the focus will undoubtedly be on United first, and City against Chelsea second.
Falcao could get his first start today, with rumours rife that van Persie could be left in the cold. His performance wasn’t great in the 4-0 drubbing of QPR last time around, and with Rooney rightly being referred to by van Gaal as the “only indispensable player at the club,” it’s hard to see who else could make way for the brilliant Colombian. Mata had seemed certain to find most of his time being spent on the bench after the new signings of Di Maria, Falcao, Blind and Herrera – Assistant Manager Giggs is rumoured not to be a fan – but he has scored nine goals in nine games in the League and has impressed with his attitude since van Gaal joined. United will be up against it at the Walkers Crisps Stadium, but despite Leicester’s impressive start to the season, you’d expect them to come out comfortably on top in what should be an enthralling encounter.
Once United are done, all attention switches to the Commonwealth Games Stadium in Manchester as City – punished for negativity in midweek by a dominating Bayern Munich – try to hold off the stunningly explosive Spanish combination of Fabregas and Diego Costa. Mourinho has been busy this week casting doubt over the fitness of his star striker, but one suspects this was merely an attempt to cover up his complacent approach to what should have been a routine Champions League victory over Schalke at Stamford Bridge. Costa was left on the bench, and Chelsea mustered a 1-1 draw. The same result is expected today, which will help neither side. Also expect a convincing win for Everton, and a draw between Tottenham and West Brom.
Leicester City 0 – 3 Manchester United
Tottenham 1 – 1 West Brom
Manchester City 1 – 1 Chelsea
Everton 2 – 0 Crystal Palace