Weekend in 100 words or less
Order looks to be restored in the Premier League as another weekend comes to an end. The pressure continues to mount on Nigel Adkins, Mark Hughes and Martin O’Neil as results continue to go the other way. Manchester United complete another remarkable comeback, City save it for late, Chelsea choke when it matters and Arsenal…. well they’re continuing to be Arsenal. It also must be said that defending overall, specifically from set pieces has been poor. In short, despite some diabolical defending, the two teams from Manchester are beginning to build their gap.
- 32 minutes of Hernandez completes another United comeback– Manchester United have been handed the ‘Comeback Kings’ title by their large fan base and this weekend they displayed why. United had the chance to go 4 points clear at the top when they visited Villa Park this weekend and Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a strong 4-2-3-1 with Paul Scholes returning into the XI. Paul Lambert’s Villa was a side with confidence after an impressive against Sunderland last weekend. Christian Benteke led the line, while the duo of Barry Bannan and Ashley Westwood, both 22 years of age sat deep in the midfield. As expected United dominated possession, but they were unable to carve open a resilient Villa side that sat narrow in a 4-5-1. United were spreading the ball to wide men Ashley Young & Antonio Valencia, but they were nullified by Villa fullbacks Matthew Lowton & Enda Stevens. Also Steve Ireland was performing his defensive duties as he kept Paul Scholes quiet in the first half. In the final moments of stoppage time Benteke pushed aside Chris Smalling and found Andreas Weimann who smashed his shot past David De Gea. Villa doubled their lead in the early in the second half when Rafael fell asleep, which allowed Weimann to tap in Gabriel Agbonlahor’s cross from two yards out. Ferguson took off Ashley Young at half for the in form Javier Hernandez, and boy did he deliver. Along with Robin Van Persie striking the crossbar twice in a minute, Hernandez scored two goals and created a Ron Vlaar own goal in 32 minutes. Villa’s young squad troubled United on many occasions, but they ran out of gas, and conceded three goals in 32 minutes thanks to some woeful defending. Hernandez has now scored seven goals in his last five Manchester United appearances, as the Red Devils remain top of the table.
- Dzeko does it again as Spurs concede late again – Last year it was a Mario Balotelli spot kick at the death that sunk Spurs and their title hopes. This year it was Bosnian striker Eden Dzeko that saved City. It was Spurs who took the lead from a Steven Caulker header, as City conceded another goal this week from a set piece. City like United controlled the game, but was unable to find an equalizer. Mancini made a bold decision by introducing Maicon and going with a back 3. Not only was Maicon providing width and sending dangerous balls into the box, but it allowed David Silva and Yaya Toure space in the middle of the park. Ultimately City relied on two moments of individual brilliance, as Sergio Aguero equalized with a superb strike past Brad Friedel. Throughout the game City were caught offside as Spurs played a high line, their problem was they failed to get Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon into the game. Moussa Dembele was and still is dearly missed. With 3 minutes remaining, Silva played in an exquisite ball to Dzeko and he fired his shot in the roof of the Spurs goal. AVB’s Spurs concede in the final quarter of a game for the seventh time this season, and have lost three of their last four games. Dzeko scored his fifth goal of the season, four of them earned City three points. The win sees City climb the table as they sit one point behind their city rivals at the top of the table, and yes, they’re still UNDEFEATED!
- The month of November is Chelsea’s kryptonite – Over the last three years the Blues have claimed 13 points from a possible 30 in November, as a Luis Suarez equalizer saw Chelsea drop two valuable points. Chelsea welcomed back captain John Terry into the XI as his four-match ban had been served. Brendan Rodger’s sidelined up in a 3-5-1-1 like they did in the second half against Everton. Luis Suarez & Raheem Sterling started upfront and Jamie Carragher made his first Premier league start this weekend. Rodgers’ tactical change had nullified Chelsea’s creativity, as Liverpool had most of the ball but they failed to penetrate the Chelsea backline. Chelsea took the lead from a Juan Mata free kick that Terry nodded home, courtesy of some awful defending from Daniel Agger. Unfortunately for Terry his night would come to an end, as the Chelsea captain was stretchered off the field when he collided with Suarez. Chelsea had the opportunity to double their lead at the end of the half when Mata was 1 on 1 with goalkeeper Brad Jones, but the Spanish international fired his shot over the net. Rodgers’ noticed his that his 3-5-1-1 wasn’t working going forward, so he reverted to a 4-2-3-1 by introducing Suso who replaced Sahin. Liverpool began to take a hold of the game and captain Steven Gerrard thrived in a deeper role. It was Suarez who equalized from a corner that Carragher flicked on to him and he nodded the ball into the net from two yards out. The game overall lacked quality, and Chelsea will rue the several chances they squandered as they now drop to third place. Liverpool will be content with the point as their second half performance was better. The formation change was key, as Liverpool was able to get the ball to Sterling, Enrique and Suso in positions where they can attack the Chelsea defenders. It also allowed Suarez more space to drift into, which gave Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic nightmares.
- Arsenal REALLY don’t like two goal leads – Arsenal looked to bounce back to winning ways as they hosted Fulham in one of their many London derbies. With Wilshere suspended after being sent off at Old Trafford last week, Francis Coquelin played beside Arteta in a 4-3-3. Fulham lined up in a 4-4-2 with Bryan Ruiz playing off of Dimitar Berbatov. Like they did away to Shalke midweek, Arsenal took a two-goal lead when Olivier Giroud and Lucas Podolski found the back of the net. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Martin Jol’s side knows how to score goals, and so they did. Arsenal conceded another set piece from a Berbatov header, and then Fulham equalized minutes later, as Berbatov crossed a ball to the unmarked sub Alexander Kacaniklic who headed the ball down past Vito Mannone. Arsenal’s problems got worse in the second half as Mikel Arteta was dispossessed by Bryan Ruiz and then brought Ruiz down which forced referee Phil Dowd to award a penalty. Berbatov calmly converted his penalty and Arsenal found them behind. Giroud saved Arsenal from a disaster as he headed home his second of the night from a Theo Walcott cross. Controversy loomed in injury time as referee Phil Dowd awarded Arsenal a penalty when Andrei Arshavin’s shot hit Chris Baird’s arm. Arteta stepped up and had his penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer to end the game. It’s Arsenal’s worst start to the Premier League season as they’ve picked up 16 points from 11 games. Along with poor defending, Ruiz and Berbatov dropping deep caused Arsenal problems throughout the game. They were provided an extra passing outlet, and Arsenal was unable to contain them. Fulham continue to score goals for fun, and Ruiz did a great job marking Arteta out of the game.
- Steve Clarke continues to impress as West Brom defeated Wigan 2-1 at the DW stadium. Clarke’s men stay in fifth place and seven points away from the top of the table. They’re bound for a dip in form at some point this season, but Clarke has shown that he’s capable to coach at this level. They play some great football at home and they know how to win on the road. The objective this year apart from survival is Europa league football, and the Baggies look more than able of achieving their goals.
- Southampton is going down? Well they still have time to turn things around but Nigel Adkins might not be the man to keep them safe. The Saints hosted Swansea over the weekend, and despite the numerous chances they created, the Saints failed to pick up three points. Swansea was far from their best, but Laudrup’s introduction of Nathan Dyer paid off as he dispossessed Maya Yoshida in his third of the field and equalized. It was two massive points dropped from the Saints, and even when they’re playing well, they can’t seem to keep the ball out of the net.
- Everton scored two goals in three minutes, as they came from behind to defeat Sunderland at Goodison Park. Marouane Fellaini was the heartbeat of the comeback with his superb strike, and cheeky back heel assist to Nikita Jelavic as the Toffees stay in the top four for another week. The Toffees have lost once in 2012 in the Premier League, where as Sunderland have not won on the road since February. On the bright side, someone other than Steven Fletcher scored for the Black Cats. Oh, and Martin O’Neil’s days are numbered.
- Remember Charlie Adam? His goal gave Stoke City a narrow 1-0 victory against QPR. Stoke City snapped a 4 game winless streak, thanks to some diabolical QPR defending from a setpiece Apart from the result, the real question is, will QPR win a game this season?
- Former Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan haunted his old side as his first half goal gave West Ham a 1-0 victory over the Toon. West Ham now move into sixth in the table, whereas Newcastle continue to struggle to create goals.
- Reading & Norwich drew 0-0 this weekend, and I respect those who took the time to watch these two sides play.
- David Moyes’ took charge of his 400th EPL match – the 4th manager to reach this milestone after Ferguson, Wenger & Redknapp
- Charlie Adam scored his first goal for Stoke, and first EPL goal in 13 months since netting for Liverpool at West Brom in October 2011.
- Arsenal has missed 5 of their last 10 EPL penalties for a 50% conversion rate. The average league-wide conversion rate is 75% EPL
- Paul Scholes was a fresh-faced 20-year-old when Manchester United last lost at Villa Park in the league. He also starts this game.
- Robin van Persie has scored 122 goals in 153 games for club & country since Jan 1 2010 and 56 in his last 65 league games
- Manchester United has scored 8 goals from headers this season in the PL, most of all teams. Seven different players scored these 8 goals.
- John Terry scored his 50th goal for Chelsea in all competitions.
- Six of Edin Dzeko’s seven official goals for Manchester City this season have come after coming on as a substitute. It was also his 11th EPL goal as substitute.
Top 5 Players of the weekend
1. Javier Hernandez
2. Marouane Fellaini
3. Dimitar Berbatov
4. Bryan Ruiz
5. Olivier Giroud
Goal of the week
That was the action in the Premier League this weekend. Hopefully you all enjoyed it more than I did.
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