Premier League Winners and Losers: Week 2
This blog’s weekly look at the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Arsenal and their strikers: All summer Arsenal have been linked with various strikers, yet signing none of them, leaving many fans disgruntled. However, fans may want to rethink their demands in light of Giroud and Podolski’s recent performances (http://footballtalklife.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-week-in-football-rejuvenated-strikers-and-transfer-naughtiness/). The pair have now scored 5 in 3, with both of them scoring in an excellent win against Fulham, carrying on their form from their midweek victory over Fenerbahçe.
Cardiff and Frazier Campbell: Where did that come from? Tipped by many as relegation fodder (including this bloghttp://footballtalklife.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/the-usual-suspects/), Cardiff have caused have now caused people to rethink their predictions by overcoming big spending Manchester City. Cardiff fans will want to give former Manchester United striker Frazier Campbell a big thank you, as he bagged a brace in the 3-2 victory, to continue the remarkable form he has shown since signing for the Bluebirds in January. Cardiff will need more committed performances like this one, and more goals from Campbell if they are to survive this season.
Chelsea: Mourinho will be criticised for his decision to start without a recognised striker against Manchester United and for ‘parking the bus’. However, against the champions, at Old Trafford, a point is a good achievement for any team. Chelsea will want to improve as the season progresses, but their title challenge is unlikely to be dependent on beating Manchester United at Old Trafford. Another positive this week for Chelsea is the capture of Willain from under the noses of Tottenham Hotspur.
Darren Bent: He had a very difficult time in his last season at Aston Villa, scoring only 6 goals, rarely playing and featuring almost exclusively from the substitute’s bench. However, Bent will hope he can now put that behind him, scoring for new team Fulham against Arsenal to open his Premier League account for the season.
Hull: A solid win against a Norwich side who impressed last season and have strengthened well over the summer. Robby Brady continued his impressive form for Hull since signing from Manchester United, calmly converting an early penalty which ultimately proved to be the winning goal.
John Terry: He didn’t play three consecutive games at any point last season, out of favour under Benitez, but since the Special One’s return, Terry has started all three of Chelsea’s games this season and put in another solid performance against Manchester United.
Liverpool: Daniel Sturridge has been in blistering form at the start of this season, scoring his second goal of the season against Villa on Saturday with a great solo effort. It has been a perfect start to the season for Liverpool, the only reason for concern will be that they haven’t scored many goals (2), despite dominating games and creating numerous chances. Liverpool will need to be more clinical in future games if they are to maintain a challenge for the Champions League places.
Stoke: For the most part, Stoke were outplayed by Crystal Palace; rarely maintaining possession, rarely creating chances and looking every inch like a team on their way down to the Championship. It was back to route one though, and Stoke managed to score two late goals to snatch the points from Palace.
Sunderland: The Black Cats were not the best team in their match against Southampton, a fact acknowledged by their manager Paulo Di Canio, so Sunderland fans will be pleased that a goal by their new Italian midfielder Giaccherini was enough to ensure a point.
Tottenham: Another limp performance by Spurs, but another win, this time against Swansea who have faced a very difficult start to the season. Robert Soldado continued his impressive start to life as a Tottenham player, converting a penalty to give the points to Spurs. That is 4 goals in 3 games now for the Spaniard, who does tend to score in streaks, before often going several games without a goal, much like Defoe. Spurs fans will hope that Soldado’s current hot streak continues long enough for the club to bring in replacements for Bale.
West Ham: A point against Newcastle isn’t a spectacular result, but it is enough to earn West Ham a place in the winner’s column. West Ham were probably the worse side in their game, so this should go down as a point earned rather than two dropped, especially away from home.
Aston Villa: It has been a very tough week for Villa, suffering losses to Chelsea and Liverpool. However, Villa can take heart from their performances against both teams, keeping both games tight and only losing by a goal. Benteke has continued his fine goal scoring record and if a much improved Villa can continue their impressive form, they should have no relegation worries.
Crystal Palace: By far the better team against Stoke, Palace will need to learn from their defeat if they to survive in the Premier League this season. They will have to defend better, especially against set pieces in the future or else continue to throw away leads and points. One positive for Eagles fans was Chamakh opening his account for the season, after a torrid few years. (http://footballtalklife.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-week-in-football-rejuvenated-strikers-and-transfer-naughtiness/)
Everton and West Brom: After a goalless draw, both of these teams are in the loser’s column this week. Everton were definitely the better team on the day, but were simply not clinical enough. Marouane Fellaini looked distracted and infective, and Everton quite simply did not do a good enough job of converting chances into goals. It has been a difficult for West Brom, with new striker Anelka now considering retirement after the death of his agent. A point away at Everton isn’t by any means a terrible result for West Brom, but they are in the loser’s column because of how tootheless their display was.
Fulham: Thoroughly outplayed, Fulham were easily dispatched by Arsenal on Saturday. Fans might have hoped for more at home, but when Arsenal hit form like they did against Fulham, they can be irresistible at times. Martin Jol will have to dust his side down and take what positives he can, such as Darren Bent opening his Fulham account.
Manchester City: The embarrassing loss to Cardiff just confirmed what everyone already knew about Manchester City; that they are excellent going for them, but fragile defensively if the first choice players are injured. Against Cardiff, both Nastasic and Kompany were out, and Lescott and Garcia quite frankly did not do a good enough job at deputising for the pair, especially at set-pieces. These defensive fragilities are not helped by continued gaffes by Joe Hart so far this season, and despite huge spending already, it is obvious that Pellegrini still has work to do if City wishes to challenge for the title, both in the transfer market and on the training ground. Argentine and former Bayern centre back Martín Demichelis has been linked with a move to City. Although it is ridiculous that City now look like paying for a player that just a few months ago was available for a free, the team does need defensive cover of Demichelis’ pedigree.
Manchester United: Chelsea were always going to be difficult to beat, as is any Mourinho side, but United will be disappointed that they after controlling the match for the majority of the game they weren’t able to take all three points. Beating their rivals at Old Trafford could be important in United’s bid to retain their Premier League and Moyes will be disappointed that his team were unable to find a killer ball in the final third. Clear chances were few and far between for the Red Devils; Welbeck spurned a great opportunity and John Terry recovered well at the back on the rare occasion that Rooney and Robin van Persie combined to carve Chelsea open.
Newcastle: They have made a poor start to the season, with a disruptive summer that included the return of Joe Kinnear and the Cisse ‘Wonga controversy’ and again were not good enough against West Ham. Newcastle were lucky to come away with a point from the game and fans will expect more from their team, especially at home. Hatem Ben Arfa was the sole bright light for Newcastle, with the team lacking creativity and cohesiveness.
Norwich: Having spent well in the summer, fans will have hoped for a better start to the season from their team. Things started badly for Norwich, going behind to an early penalty, but when Hull went down to ten men just five minutes later, Norwich had the time and the players to gain at least a point against Hull.
Southampton: At home and having spent heavily, Southampton should have done better against Sunderland. They had plenty of chances in the game against Sunderland and were the better team of the day, so fans will have been disappointed that their impressive forward line were unable to score the goals to win the three points.
Swansea: They performed admirably against Tottenham, but Swansea have suffered their second defeat of the season. Fans can take heart from their performance against Spurs and the team will have to their best to not let heads drop, with defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United nothing to worry about.
Yannick Sagbo: He made a good start to life at Hull, winning the penalty that ultimately won the match for Hull, but his day was spoilt as just five minutes later, he was sent off for some off the ball nonsense.
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