Weekend in 100 words or less
A dire Saturday was patched up with some fascinating matchups Sunday morning, but unfortunately poor officiating has dominated headlines this weekend. No we do not need goal-line technology or video replay. They would definitely be great additions to helping match officials, but we can do without them. Yes there is something called human error, but at this level, providing a few extra officials, or competent ones would suffice. Arteta’s goal, Suarez’s late winner disallowed, Torres’ sending off and Chicharito’s offside goal should’ve never happened. But imagine how boring football would be if everything was perfect?
- Mark Clattenburg ruined a great game – You need no words to describe the magnitude of Manchester United against Chelsea as the two heavyweights faced off at Stamford Bridge. Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea’s trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata in a 4-2-3-1 took on Sir Alex Fergusons 4-4-1-1 with Wayne Rooney playing in behind the in form Robin Van Persie. United began the game in fine fashion with two quick goals both exposing David Luiz’s defensive capabilities and Chelsea down the left hand side. Although Chelsea’s trio have been great going forward, they’re a bit slow getting back into shape and United took advantage of that. Chelsea going forward struggled to keep up with United’s quick fluid passing and they couldn’t break down United’s 5-4-1 with Rooney dropping into the midfield and Valencia closer to Rafael when United didn’t have the ball. United sat on their lead as they did at St James Park, but it did not work as Chelsea slowly grew into the game. Thanks to several top class saves from David De Gea, United nearly went into the half with a two-goal lead. When you give the Chelsea trio the ball and allow them to attack you, they’ll punish you and today they did. Rooney recklessly took down Hazard at the edge of the box, and Mata stepped up and curled in a fantastic free kick that beat De Gea. Chelsea continued their onslaught in the second half and equalized courtesy of a Ramires header as he out jumped Cleverley to meet Oscar’s cross. At this point we had ourselves a cracking game of football, until Van Persie turned Luiz and sent in Ashley Young alone and Ivanovic recklessly clipped him down. Clattenburg had no choice but to issue the Serbian a red card, and Chelsea were coping, but what happened next turned the tide. Fernando Torres got the ball from deep and ran at the United defenders, who’ve shown they’re vulnerable when running towards goal this season. Torres beat Johnny Evans but was clipped in the process. Clattenburg wrongfully showed Torres red and Chelsea was down to nine. Fergie responded by bringing on Chicharito and the Mexican international rose to the occasion yet again at Stamford Bridge by directing Rafael’s cross past Petr Cech who initially made a great save to deny Van Persie. Chelsea were on top prior to Torres being sent off, but we will never know how the game would’ve ended. Clattenburg made a decision that ended up ruining a great game of football between England’s elite. Nonetheless, United pick up three points with the win and not only did they hand Chelsea their first loss of the season, but now sit one point behind the league leaders.
- Chelsea should be okay – Like every team in this league, Chelsea do have issues. Defensively they tend to switch off at times and with Fernando Torres looking like he’ll never regain form, they lack a goal-scoring striker. With that being said, they’re better off then most teams in the world, and do remember this is a team in transition. Albeit, those problems, this team has the ability to score goals and yet again they came from behind against a top Premier League side and were unfortunate not to pick up at least a point. There’s still plenty of work to do, but the trio of Oscar, Mata and Hazard continue to impress and have the ability to change a game in a second. They do have a chance at revenge against United Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, but they face a tricky test at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea next week. With two losses in a row, it’ll be interesting to see how Di Matteo’s men respond!
- Even Stevens in Merseyside derby – Derby day on the Merseyside never fails to disappoint, and guess what, it didn’t! It was Everton’s 4-4-1-1 with Kevin Mirallas out left for the suspended Steven Pienaar against Liverpool’s 4-3-3 with Luis Suarez leading the line. Liverpool took caution in this game as like United they sat deep, in a 4-1-4-1 and looked to attack on the counter. Everton were surprisingly pressing high and this worked to Liverpool’s advantage as the pace of the wingers and explosiveness of Suarez left them exposed. Liverpool took the lead as they skipped down Coleman’s flank and Suarez picked up a crossed ball that met no one and he lashed his shot of Leighton Baines and into the back of the net. The goal wasn’t impressive but the celebration made up for it. (Check my blog for his celebration) His second goal of the day came from a fantastic Steven Gerrard free kick as Nikita Jelavic failed to pick up Suarez. Just like the game later on, it looked like Liverpool’s two early goals were enough, but they woke up the Toffees. Everton began to exploit Liverpool’s right hand side that lacked experience. Mirallas in particular with help from Baines got the best of 19-year-old Wisdom and his lack of support left him exposed. Raheem Sterling previously picked up a yellow after attempting to track Baines and Suso wasn’t up for it. A strike from Osman that came from Jones failing to punch a corner out of danger, and a Naismith tap-in thanks to poor defending from Jose Enrique and Suso rightfully allowed Everton back into the game. The second half was fascinating as Brendan Rodgers changed his shape and went with a 3-5-2 that saw Sebastian Coates become the third CB, and Jonjo Shelvey move into a midfield three. Unfortunately for Everton Mirallas suffered a knock in the first half and was unable to play a factor in the second half. Now Liverpool had 3v2 against the Everton forwards, and with the Everton full backs cautious about getting forward, the Liverpool back line didn’t face much of a test. The reason why the Everton full backs didn’t get forward as much was because it would leave pacy Sterling and Suarez against two Everton CB’s. It was a dull second half in terms of entertainment, but the tactical battle made up for it. In terms of controversy we received our dose in injury time when linesman Simon Bennett wrongfully ruled Luis Suarez goal offside. The replays show Suarez was onside and unfortunately Liverpool was robbed three points.
- Gunner’s fortunate….very fortunate – Coming off a midweek loss to Shalke, Arsene Wenger welcomed back Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna into the fold. The reason why I state that they were fortunate is, despite all the possession the Gunners had, virtually they did nothing with it. Their tempo was slow, they lacked width because the fullbacks weren’t getting forward, Aaron Ramsey was played out wide for some odd reason and they didn’t look like they had the quality to break down QPR. Arsenal had a few chances but QPR keeper Julio Cesar made some fantastic saves to keep the game level. Stephane Mbia’s moronic challenge on Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen after winning a free kick with 11 minutes to go was the game changer as Mbia was sent off! QPR looked capable of nicking a winner, but with 10 men at the Emirates it was always going to be an uphill battle. It took Arsenal five minutes to grab the winner from Mikel Arteta, but yet again poor officiating prevailed, as Arteta was in an offside position when he tapped the ball into the net. On a positive note, Wilshere and Sagna were good and they add more quality to the Wenger’s side. Arsenal picked up three points but this is another result that will serve as a band-aid over the real issue. Arsenal weren’t good enough yet again, their movement off the ball was poor, they struggle to create chances against teams that sit deep and defensively they had a few brain farts that QPR failed to convert.
- Champions STILL undefeated – It feels like it wasn’t too long ago when Manchester City were trouncing teams for fun at the Ethiad. They failed to do so this week and nearly dropped points in a match that nearly put me to sleep. After that entertaining 3-3 draw last year against Sunderland, teams go to the Ethiad with belief that they can score goals. Swansea approached the game fearless, and was unfortunate to come a way with a goal. A quality strike from Carlos Tevez separated the sides and has left Michel Vorm out for 6-8 weeks, which is a massive loss for Michael Laudrups side. City was constantly misplacing passes and struggled to settle into the game as Swansea pressed and defended well as a unit. The commentators kept insisting and tend to always have this thought that City are poor because Yaya Toure sits deeper in the midfield. Yes in some cases they’re right, but this weekend City were mediocre and lacked cohesion going forward. The win puts some pressure off of Mancini, but they’re still multiple questions to be asked of him as City continues to play below par.
- Not only does Villa make me cringe, but their fans as well – Paul Lambert faced Norwich for the first time since leaving the club and was lucky to pick up a point. Villa took the lead with their first real chance of the game as Gabby Agbonlahor did well to get the ball wide to Joe Bennett who whipped in a great ball to Christian Benteke. Benteke’s first touch was golden and he calmly placed his shot into the back of the net. Villa was pathetic, in possibly every aspect of the game. They continue to struggle to create chances and their passing was abysmal. They were second best in this game with 11 men, and down to 10 men things got worse. Norwich did well getting the ball in wide areas and Wes Hoolahan got into dangerous positions as we was a constant threat throughout the match. Surprisingly, Villa led the game for 52 minutes, but Joe Bennett receiving a second yellow for blocking off Elliot Bennett left Villa in a hole. Justice was served as Michael Turner who was at fault for Villa’s goal, nodded a Hoolahan header past Guzan with 11 minutes left. Apart from a defensive lapse, Norwich was the better side, and Villa continues to disappoint. Villa is not a great team and they do not have great players, but three points against teams like Norwich at home is a MUST!
- Spurs get back to winning ways as goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey were enough to sink Southampton at St Mary’s 2-1. They continue to get results from home when not playing their best football, and currently sit fourth in the table. It is a long season, but AVB looks to be getting it right this time around. Can he keep it up?
- Southampton nearly beat the two powerhouses in Manchester early on in the season, but aside from that they’ve been dire. With only the winless QPR keeping them from being at the bottom of the league, few can argue that they deserve better. 26 goals conceded in nine games are unacceptable and at this rate they might set the record for most goals conceded in a season. (89 in a 38 game season Derby County 2007-2008) Nigel Adkins NEEDS to find a way to tighten up his back line and FAST!
- Steven Fletcher and Peter Crouch didn’t score this weekend, which is why Stoke drew Sunderland 0-0.
- A six-goal thriller at the Madjeski stadium brought some light into a dull Saturday morning of Premier League football. Two goals in the final five minutes salvaged Reading a vital point at home after Dimitar Berbatov looked to wrap up three points for Martin Jol’s men.
- Wigan’s win against West Ham this weekend ends a six game winless run at home in the Premier League. West Ham continues to struggle to create goals away from home and lose to Wigan for the second time this season.
- Norwich has conceded in a Premier League record 38 consecutive away matches in a row.
- QPR have failed to win in their last 13 Premier League away London derby matches.
- Peter Crouch is the only Stoke player to have scored at the Britannia Stadium this season. He has scored all three home goals.
- Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Norwich means Villa have won only ONE of their last 19 Premier League matches
- Stephane Mbia was given QPR’s 9th Premier League red card in 2012, equaling the record for most red cards in a calendar year (Everton 1995, West Ham 1999)
- Clint Dempsey’s goal against Southampton leaves Fulham, Arsenal and Swansea as the only current clubs he hasn’t scored a Premier league goal against
- Reading’s Mikele Leigertwood scored his second Premier League goal 2835 days after his first in 2005. He is now top scorer for Antigua and Barbuda in the Premier League
- Brad Friedel became the 8th and Rio Ferdinand the 9th player to play 40,000 minutes in the Premier League.
Top 5 Players of the weekend
- Luis Suarez
- Robin Van Persie
- Julio Cesar
- Carlos Tevez
- David De Gea
Goal of the week
That was this weekends EPL recap. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. Stay posted to my blog for stories throughout the week.
Follow Me @TEEWHYox