Premier League Winners and Losers: Week 4
Arsenal – Ever since they lost to Aston Villa in the first week of the season and were effectively written off by most of the footballing world for their lack of transfer activity, life has been pretty rosy for the Gunners. Despite injuries, the Arsenal have gone from strength to strength, racking up win after win, and this weekend’s victory over Sunderland was no different. Arsenal looked shaky at the back at times, but going forward were irresistible; Giroud continued his rejuvenated scoring form this season, Aaron Ramsay put in another impressive bagging a brace, with all of the play orchestrated by brilliant new signing Mesut Ozil.
Everton – In a match where all of the focus was on Chelsea and Samuel Eto’o’s debut, it was Everton that stole the limelight, capitalising on Chelsea profligacy to record a 1-0 victory at home. Mourinho’s side were certainly the better side on the day, but Everton put in a determined and battling performance, managing to nick a goal as Chelsea scorned chance after chance.
Manchester United – In a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, Manchester United did everything one would expect from the reigning champions, despatching Ian Holloway’s men with the minimum of fuss. Palace can quite rightfully feel hard done by after losing a man and a goal to a controversial penalty decision, but few could truly argue that United didn’t deserve all three points having dominated the majority of the game.
Newcastle United – The Toon are finally starting to find their feet this season after what was a difficult summer, notching up their second win of the season with an impressive away victory against Aston Villa. Newcastle certainly allowed Villa their fair share of chances, particularly in the second half, conceding the majority of possession to the Birmingham side. However, Newcastle were much more incisive than the Villains going forward inspired by the brilliant Ben Arfa, with seven more shots in total including 8 on target to Villa’s 1.
Stoke – They can’t score to save their lives, even if Kenwye Jones has flattered to deceive in cup games, but Stoke keep on getting the points and earned a hard fought point at home to Manchester City this weekend. No one could argue that it was a point well deserved, with Stoke having the best of the games’ chances despite having less possession. However, it remains to be seen how long Stoke can keep scraping points whilst they continually spurn chances.
Swansea – People have been quick to criticise the Swans this year, following their tough start to the new Premier League season. However, having had to face title holders Manchester United as well as Champions League hopefuls Liverpool and Tottenham, Swansea are exactly where one would expect. Swans fans might be slightly disappointed to see a lead lost through the sloppiness of Shelvey, but against the Anfeild club, a point should be considered a good result and following on from a win against West Brom, the Swans now have some positive momentum.
Tottenham – As dominant a display as you are likely to see, Tottenham’s superiority in every department is hardly reflected by the 2-0 score line. An excellent debut by new signing Christian Eriksen put the gloss on a fine performance, with two goal Sigurdsson another standout player for the North London side. One concern for Villas Boas is that once again his sides’ chance conversion rate is low, with Tottenham only scoring with 2 of their 23 shots.
Wayne Rooney – It looked as if he was on his way out of Old Trafford all summer, having found himself on the periphery of the squad last term despite hitting double figures for assists and goals. However, Rooney has stayed in Manchester and looks determined to reclaim his crown as main man at United this season, continuing his sumptuous form so far this season with a goal against Palace at the weekend and another two against Bayern Leverkusen during the week.
West Brom – It is still very much early days, but Steve Clarke’s men have made a torrid start to the season. The reason for their awful form is obvious; West Brom’s goal in a 1-1 draw saw the Baggies score their first goal so far this season. Goals win games and the lack of goals at the Hawthorns sees West Brom in the relegation zone after four games. However, West Brom have finally broken their scoring duck and a draw away at Fulham sees them taking steps in the right direction.
West Ham – Having been absolutely battered at St Mary’s on a not so Super Sunday, the Hammers will be relieved that they were able to hold on for a goalless. The lesser team all over the pitch, to gain a result showed great solidarity on the part of West Ham. What will concern Big Sam though is that with Andy Carroll out for yet another long layoff, West Ham seem completely incapable of sticking the ball in the back of the net.
Aston Villa – Despite being in full control of possession, Villa failed to convert this into chances and largely spurned what opportunities they did manage to fashion, with Weimman and Agbonlahor in particular culpable. Having now lost three games on the trot since beating Arsenal in the first week, Lambert will hope his side can recreate that early form to steer clear of another relegation battle this term. There is plenty of cause for optimism, especially with Benteke continuing his dominant form since January.
Cardiff and Hull – It is perhaps too early in the season to label a match a six pointer, but the key to surviving a relegation dog fight has always been to beat the teams around you and a 1-1 draw doesn’t really do much good for Hull or Cardiff. The contest was fairly even; Hull had more shots on goal, but Cardiff edged possession. A draw was probably a fair result, with either team capable of nicking the points. Goals are much harder to score in the Premier League, as all the promoted sides are now discovering, but both Bruce and Mackay will be happy with how their midfield men; Huddlestone and Medel respectively, are settling in.
Chelsea – The self-proclaimed ‘Happy One’ may not be so chipper after the week his Chelsea side have had. Eyebrows have been raised since Mourinho allowed Lukaku to leave on loan to Everton on deadline day, with the former interpreter obviously placing his trust in new signing Samuel Eto’o. However, with the Cameroonian international spurning numerous chances as Chelsea have slumped to defeats against both Everton and Basel, fans will not have been reassured. Mourinho now faces the task of getting his lads to actually convert the chances they have been fashioning, or else Chelsea may face another season of unfulfilled potential.
Crystal Palace – Outplayed and outclassed by Manchester United, Crystal Palace just need to dust themselves off and focus on their next game. Holloway may be tempted to dwell on and grumble about the controversial penalty that punished his side, but a loss was all his side’s play deserved and worrying about refereeing decisions will be of no benefit to his side.
Fulham – 1-0 up against a side that had yet to score a goal in the league this season, Martin Jol must be very disappointed that his side were unable to hold on for the win. On reflection of play, a draw was probably a fair result, but Fulham fans will have expected a win at home against a side in such bad form and to concede two points to a last minute equaliser will have been a kick in the teeth.
Jonjo Shelvey – Well, well, well, wasn’t it an eventful weekend for Jonjo Shelvey? Three assists and a goal would have marked an excellent day for the Voldermortesque midfielder, if two of his assists hadn’t been for the opposition. From hero to villain in a matter of minutes, Shelvey scored for the Swans before sloppy passing gifted his former club not one goal but two. Shelvey went someway to making amends by providing an assist for Michu with sixty minutes gone.
Liverpool – The Premier League’s early pace setters were fortunate to gain a point against Swansea thanks to a helping hand from their former player Jonjo Shelvey. Liverpool were certainly the lesser team on the day, with the Welsh side having better possession and more chances. The Anfielld club lacked invention once Coutinho left the pitch, and the probing Brazilian will be a big loss whilst out injured. Liverpool will hope with Luis Suarez soon to return that they can maintain their early form to mount a serious challenge on the top four.
Manchester City – A draw to Stoke is not a good result for title hopefuls and the result was compounded a poor performance, in a game where Stoke actually had the better chances to win the game. Pellegrini is unlikely to be too concerned however, City currently lie fourth in the Premier League table and made a winning start this week to their latest Champions League campaign, so there is no reason panic just yet.
Norwich – The Canaries will be a little disappointed with their start to this year’s Premier League campaign, and whilst a loss to Tottenham is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, Norwich will perhaps have expected to put up a little more of a fight. Thoroughly outplayed, Norwich will want to quickly forget this game and instead focus on where they will earn their next points.
Southampton – Surprisingly goal shy would perhaps be the best way to summarise the Saint’s performances so far this season. Having been so prolific last term and adding another quality forward in the form of Pablo Osvaldo this summer, no one would have predicted Southampton to have had trouble finding the net this season. But whilst Rickie Lambert has been performing admirably in an England shirt, he and his side have had trouble scoring in the League and it is costing them points, including two against West Ham on Sunday.
Sunderland – A case of just too many new faces has seen Sunderland make a very poor start to the season. A loss to Arsenal is by no means a disaster for the Black Cats, but despite being dominated in the possession department, Sunderland managed more shots than Arsenal, but a lack of accuracy let them down. Rooted to the bottom of the table, Di Canio needs his side to gel and quickly.
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