Colin Armstrong takes us through the weekends English Premier League action and looks at how the new arrivals to the league fared. Do you agree or disagree with Colin? What were your highlights of the weekends action? Let us know in the comments section below, or tweet us @90minutecynic.
It’s week five of the Premier League season and the ten league games were spread across Saturday and Sunday this weekend as we were all given Monday night off from football as the fixtures start to come thick and fast. There was the treat of a Manchester derby, the London derby between Chelsea and Fulham, as well as the latest instalment of the rivalry between Arsenal and Stoke City among the matches for everyone to get their teeth into (now that I mention it, Suarez is back next week!).
The weekend brought 29 goals and the first sacking of the season as Paulo Di Canio, who brought-in a total 14 players this summer (spending almost £20m), faced the chop less than ten league games into his career at Sunderland. It’s the Premier League, it’s madness.
Toffees Get Their Own Back On The Hammers.
Roberto Martinez wasn’t everyone’s choice to fill the void left by David Moyes at Everton but the hard working manager has already stamped his philosophy on the Toffees who remain the only unbeaten side left in the top flight. Deadline day signings of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy have left the loyal supporters excited looking forward to a big season on Merseyside.
The weekends opponents and hosts West Ham have had an indifferent start to the season (not winning since opening day) and seeing record signing Andy Carroll injured early in the campaign with a foot problem that leaves the London side light up-top.
The match was a slow-grower but towards the end of the first half a Ravel Morrison shot was deflected into the net after great work from winger Matt Jarvis to put the home side a goal to the good going into the break.
The half-time substitution of Naismith and Jelavić for new-boys James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku changed the tone of the game as Everton grew in stature. Taking advantage of a set-piece on the edge of the box, Leighton Baines curled a delightful free-kick into the top left-hand corner of the net with half an hour to go to put the visitors level.
Everton continued to pile forward but fell victim to some West Ham pressure and conceded a soft penalty with a tackle on Kevin Nolan that club captain Mark Noble confidently dispatched to put West Ham ahead. Chasing another goal to tie the game, Everton got another free kick on the edge of their opponents box that saw goalscorer Noble get sent off for a second yellow card.
Leighton Baines stepped up confidently and placed the ball into the top-right hand corner with a sublime shot to bring Everton back into the game, two shots two goals for the dynamic full-back. Not wanting to settle for a point, Everton poured forward and got the winning goal through debutant Lukaku who headed the ball into the net (knocking himself unconscious in the process) to give Everton the win and ensure the Merseyside club remain the only unbeaten side in the premier League, 3:2 it ended at the Boleyn ground.
This Is Not A United City Any More
It’s the Manchester derby, a fixture that for many has grown in significance due to the cash-fuelled rise of Manchester City over the last five years but it might not yet match the Liverpool/Manchester United derby just yet. With these ‘big’ fixtures sometimes producing a bland 0:0 (like Utd v Chelsea at Old Trafford earlier this season) the on-looking masses were hoping to see some excitement. A derby of firsts for both managers, Pellegrini and Moyes, and a number of players including Fernandinho, Navas, Negredo and Fellaini.
City bossed the game. From the first minute the hosts were in control and were being continually flanked on the left as Smalling and particularly Valencia, failed to cope with the City attack. Sergio Agüero opened the scoring with a sublime volley (not unlike Sone Aluko’s strike against Newcastle) to put the home-side ahead and make it 50 goals in 2 season for Manchester City, a magnificent return from the Argentine. City stamped their authority further with a close range effort from Yaya Toure giving them a two-goal advantage at the half time interval.
City smelled blood and continued to control the game in the second half. Woeful defending from Ferdinand and Vidic allowed Agüero to tap in from close range just a minute after kick-off, it was game over, even though it was United, it was game over. Not wanted to sit on their hands for 45 minutes, the home side found the net again, a first-time volley from Samir Nasri made it 4:0 to Manchester City with a full half hour to go.
Manchester City could have had a few more and wouldn’t have been unmerited to be 5 or 6 goals to the good but they conceded late on to a great Wayne Rooney free-kick (the second in two weeks) that spoiled Joe Hart’s clean sheet but generally went unnoticed and uncelebrated as City romped to victory 4:1 on the day.
David Moyes cannot take all the blame after a summer that saw Manchester United fail to address their problems in midfield, despite signing Fellaini who cannot single-handedly rejuvenate the squad. However, having being dominated in the first 60 minutes of the game, totally outplayed, why did the United manager leave the likes of Hernandez and Kagawa, players who most feel are too good to not be playing, on the bench and make just one substitute in Tom Cleverly for Ashley Young? Shinji Kagawa’s omission is something for the red half of Manchester to consider, much as fans in London question Juan Mata’s continued exile from the Chelsea team.
Having beaten Manchester United 6:1 and now 4:1 in derbies over the last few seasons, Manchester City can look back fondly at a result that could really kick-start their season. The City defence looks infinitely more secure and organised with the return of the irrepressible Vincent Kompany and will be right in-the-mix for the title at the end of the season with the quality of squad at Pellegrini’s disposal.
Player of the weekend: Sergio Agüero stole the show this weekend with a great performance caped with a brace in the derby. Honourable mentions go to Aaron Ramsey and Leighton Baines.
Goal of the weekend: Paulinho (Tottenham) v Cardiff City, not a bad way to open your account for your new club, a back-heel winner in the last minute.
Mesut Özil created 7 of the 14 goal scoring opportunities for the Gunners and had a hand in all three goals (providing an assist for two and his saved free-kick was put in by Ramsey).
Alvaro Negredo provided two assists for Manchester City this weekend, added to his two league goals it marks a great start to his spell in light blue.
Aaron Ramsey has scored seven goals with his last eight shots on target for Arsenal scoring in seven of the last eight games, the best scoring form of his career so far. He also had a 96% pass completion rate against Stoke, impressive.
Eden Hazard has created the most chances this season so far with (14) an average of a goal-scoring chance every half hour. Fellow Chelsea teammate Schurrle is fourth, creating 12, behind Kyle Walker (13) and Adam Johnson (12).
Elsewhere in the league
Aaron Ramsey shone (96% pass completion) and scored in an Arsenal victory over Stoke that saw the home side oddly find the net from three set-pieces against the Potters, 3:1 it finished at the Emirates.
Swansea City capped off a week that saw them play three times, including a 3:0 bashing of Valencia away in the Europa League, with a victory away at Crystal Palace, Michu and Dyer got the goals in a 2:0 win at Selhurst Park.
After over 20 shots on goal that magnified a great performance from Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall a brilliant back-heeled finish from Paulinho in the third minute of stoppage time gave Tottenham a deserved victory over the newly promoted side, it was 1:0 in the end at the Cardiff City Stadium.
An injury to goal-machine and battering ram Christian Benteke didn’t hamper a great performance from Aston Villa who overcame a spirited Norwich City side with a goal from new signing Kozak to win 1:0 at Carrow Road.
Liverpool dropped of the top of the table and out of the top four losing at home to Southampton who found the net through Croatian international defender Lovren to spoil Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season and give the Saints a 1:0 win at Anfield.
A great performance from Hull spoiled the party as on-loan Loic Remy netted his first two goals for Newcastle only to see Sone Aluko score a delightful goal in the closing stages to mark an away win for the Tigers and make Steve Bruce perform a small dance, 3:2 it finished at St James’ Park.
West Bromwich Albion who scored their first league goal in stoppage time last weekend punished a poor Sunderland side thrice to cruise to a 3:0 victory at the Hawthorns. Sunderland manager Paulo Di Cannio, who approached the away fans after the drubbing, was sacked the next evening.
Finally Chelsea secured a home win over neighbours Fulham with goals from playmaker Oscar and bizarrely John Obi Mikel giving Mourinho’s men a 2:0 result at Stamford Bridge.