Premier League Winners and Losers: Week 5
Arsenal – Ozil does look a great buy, doesn’t he? The German had a hand in all three of Arsenal’s goals, as once again the Gunners conceded plenty of chances but showed a superior clinical edge. Surprisingly, it was the home side’s aerial dominance that helped them onto a win. Arsenal used the Potter’s tactics against them, scoring all three of their goals through the excellent deliveries of Mesut Ozil at set pieces. Ramsay once again got in on the act to continue his startling scoring form. Arsenal also continued their proud tradition of promoting youth, as young German Serge Gnabry was handed his debut in place of the injured Walcott. Gnabry grew into the game, without shining to brightly and will no doubt be more confident in his next appearance.
Aston Villa – Despite conceding the majority of possession away to Norwich, Villa had chances galore in an action packed, if low scoring game. In the end, the only goal of the game fell to Libor Kozak, who quickly atoned for an earlier miss by converting Agbonlahor’s pass. One reason for concern though was top scorer Christain Benteke’s injury. Lambert will hope the brilliant Belgian will return to first team action as Villa look to put aside a League Cup thumping by Tottenham, to continue to climb the league table.
Chelsea – The Blues were dominant this weekend against Fulham without ever getting out of first gear. There was a palpable around Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea head into the game on a bad run of form. When Oscar finally broke the deadlock there was an air of relief about the Chelsea team and they visibly relaxed, beginning to show the cutting edge they lacked in the first half. To the amazement of fans and pundits worldwide, it was Mikel who grabbed Chelsea’s second goal, scoring his first goal for over 240 appearances. After a surprise defeat to Everton last time out, this week has eased the tension of Mourinho, who’s team also hit four without reply in the League Cup versus Swindon. Although fans will continue to tut as long as Eto’o goes without goal, especially with Lukaku making a great start to life at Everton.
Everton – Life certainly hasn’t been dull under new manager Martinez. However, despite Everton’s eventful start to the season, the Toffies followed up on last week’s surprise victory over Chelsea, with three more points from a thrilling encounter with West Ham. It was no more than the Merseyside club deserved, who found themselves twice behind through goals by a rejuvenated Ravel Morrison and Mark Noble despite dominating possession. Everton fought back admirably, levelling thanks to two unstoppable free kicks by Leighton Baines. Everton kicked on to win the game, Lukaku making his mark on his debut, scoring a late header and knocking himself unconscious in the process. Fans will have been delighted by the Belgian’s impact, who changed the game following his introduction and quickly struck up a bourgeoning relationship with one of this season’s standout performers Ross Barkley. However, despite finding themselves in fifth, Everton are conceding way to many goals, shipping four in total this week after a 2-1 defeat to Fulham in the League Cup and if the Toffies hope to stay in the frame for Europe they will need to be tighter.
Hull – A great week all round for Hull. It started off with a smash and grab away to a complacent Newcastle side. Hull were probably the worse side versus United, but were clinical in taking their chances, with Brady and Aluko particularly impressive, as the Tigers made sure they punished Newcastle’s mistakes. Steve Bruce’s men are now in the lofty reaches of mid-table after five games and the Geordie will no doubt be delighted with the platform Hull have given themselves. Even so, fans mustn’t harbour any delusions, Hull face a long, hard slog for survival, but are on course so far and as a bonus managed to avoid a cup upset with a professional victory over Championship side Huddersfield.
Manchester City – Two games, nine goals scored and a brilliant week for the blue half of Manchester. With two new managers facing off in this season’s first Manchester derby, it was Pellegrini who came out on top, continuing a run of five games unbeaten versus Manchester United with only one goal conceded. City dominated in a game that was far more one-sided than perhaps expected. Despite the Red Devils improving in the second half, City were always comfortable. Bolstered by the return of centre back Vincent Kompany, City had none of the defensive jitters they have shown in other games this season, as the Belgian formed part of a sensation City spine, with Toure and Aguero both also sensational. Next up was a demolition job against Wigan, with City showing no sign of letting their momentum. Fans will be glad to see Jovetic and Navas now both off the mark for their new club, whilst Toure is quickly establishing himself as the Premier League’s latest dead ball specialist after scoring yet another free kick.
Southampton – After being such a free scoring side last term and having added Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo, the Saints have been surprisingly goal shy this term. Their lack of goals has seen them slip under the radar a little and Pochettino’s men punished Liverpool’s overconfidence at Anfeild, taking advantage of defensive complacency to record a 1-0 win. Southampton followed the Liverpool victory with a 2-0 cup win over Bristol, with James Ward-Prowse once again at the heart of things, setting up both goals to continue his fine form this season. The young Englishman had stated his intent to break into the Saint’s first team in the summer and he has certainly made the most of the opportunities handed to him so far.
Swansea – The Swans have come under plenty of scrutiny so far this season about whether they can recreate their startling form of the past two seasons and whether new striker Bony can form a partnership with star man Michu that brings the best out of them both. That remains to be seen, with the Ivorian not featuring this weekend, but Michu certainly proved that last season was no fluke, bagging a goal and inspiring his side to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Tottenham – The North London club have followed an unusual pattern so far this term; an unconvincing narrow league win, followed by a clinical cup performance. This week was no different. Spurs dominated against Cardiff for long periods in the league, but were unable to show much cutting edge, before finally scraping a 0-1 victory thanks to a late effort by summer signing Paulinho. Villas Boas’ side then made the trip to Aston Villa and clinically took the Birmingham club apart, despite having less possession. Spurs ran out 0-4 winners and for those wondering what the reason is for Tottenham’s disparate cup and league performances need look no further than Jermaine Defoe. The England international has been highly impressive in cup games and got another two goals against Villa, but Soldado has been preferred in the league. Defoe does run hot and cold, but with the striker this hot, Villas Boas will have a hard time leaving him out of the side.
West Brom – After a disastrous start to the new season, things seem to be finally improving for West Brom. Albion condemned Sunderland to yet another defeat and got Paulo Di Canio the sack as they finished 3-0 winners at the Hawthorn. West Brom were in part inspired by new signing Sessegnon who had a point to prove having been sold by Sunderland on transfer deadline day. The Benin international made a mockery of the lazy tag given to him by Di Canio, putting in an all action display for Albion and capping his great performance with a goal.
Cardiff – Not a fun week for the Bluebirds, or Red Dragons as their badge now shows. Cardiff performed admirably against Tottenham and despite being dominated for large parts of the game, Mackay’s men defended well only to have a valuable point snatched from them late on. It didn’t go much better for Cardiff in the League Cup either; after fighting back from 2-0 down to 2-2, another late goal, this time by West Ham’s Vaz Te dumped the Welsh side out of the competition.
Crystal Palace – Sat in the relegation zone is a situation that Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace will probably have to get used to. Although its only five games into the season, the Eagles currently just don’t seem to have what it takes to survive at this level. Unless Holloway come up with some new ideas quick, Palace will find themselves experiencing many home defeats as they did against Swansea this weekend with a 0-2 defeat.
Fulham – Martin Jol’s men found themselves on the receiving end of a wounded Chelsea this weekend and went onto lose 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Fulham fans will be thinking what could have been, having kept the game tight and tense before Oscar’s opener, but Chelsea did find the goal and Fulham capitulated after that, with it being one way traffic then on. A point for optimism was a cup victory against in form Everton, with Fulham reminding the world that they do have the players to score goals with both Bent and Berbatov on the score sheet in a 2-1 victory.
Manchester United – It was never going to be easy replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, especially given Manchester United’s tough opening fixtures, but David Moyes has heaped pressure on himself by first losing to Liverpool and then watching helplessly as Manchester City took his team apart. What will really concern fans is not just losing to their city rivals, or even the 4-1 score line, but the nature of the defeat. If United had performed well but been undone by a more clinical opponent, the defeat would still have been bitter, but perhaps easier to take. However, this was not the case, United were thoroughly outplayed in every department, with Wayne Rooney once again the sole bright light, grabbing a consolation goal with a terrific free kick but in general, appearing a frustrated figure. There is a growing disgruntlement among Manchester United fans with Moyes’ apparent refusal to rotate the squad, with the likes of Zaha and especially Kagawa surprisingly under featured. A lack of rotation was a feature of Moyes’ Everton reign, but with the number of fronts United are competing on, it is a policy the Scot needs to revise. A slight silver lining for Red Devil’s fans will be the performances of United’s loan stars, with Nick Powell scoring for Wigan and Jesses Lingard bagging four on his debut for Birmingham.
Norwich – Having controlled possession for so much of the game, it will have really hurt Norwich to have lost at home to Aston Villa. Having spent heavily this summer, Norwich fans will be disappointed with their start to the season and in particular the lack of goals having bought Hooper and van Wolfswinkel, as well as Elmander signed on loan. Hooper did get off the mark with two goals against Watford in the League Cup, as he rescued Norwich from any embarrassment in what was a tight 2-3 match.
Paulo Di Canio – Sunderland brought in Di Canio from Swindon at the end of last season to rescue them from the drop. Sunderland new that with Di Canio they would acquire a fiery, passionate manager who was obsessed with fitness and discipline and would publicly call out his players if they were underperforming. This weekend they seemed to sack him for those exact same reasons. Having backed Di Canio despite his fascist leanings and given him a sizable transfer war chest this summer, it does seem odd that the Italian wasn’t given longer than five games, apparently ousted after a player revolt.
Sunderland – It has been an appalling season so far for Sunderland and the 3-0 defeat to West Brom, inspired by the recently departed Sessegnon proved to be the final nail in manager Di Canio’s coffin. Sunderland fans will no doubt hope that with Di Canio gone, the Black Cats will become a more settled side and start getting the results. Caretaker Kevin Ball was able to make sure there was no further embarrassment this week, guiding Sunderland to a 2-0 win over Peterborough in the League Cup.
Stoke – Being beaten by Arsenal away is nothing to be ashamed of, what should really worry Potters fans is that all three of the Gunners’ goals came through set pieces. Next pigs will fly, as Stoke were dominated by Arsenal aerially and simply could not cope with Ozil’s excellent delivery. Hughes has yet to improve Stoke going forward, but signs are starting to show that they are not as solid as they were under Pulis; a certain recipe for disaster.
West Ham – Having twice gone ahead at home versus Everton, Hammers fans would have expected their side to hold on for the win, even if they had been the weaker side for much of the game. The introduction of Lukaku, the sending off of Mark Noble and two magic free kicks by Baines put an end to West Ham’s hopes of winning or even getting the point. West Ham had another scare in the League Cup against Cardiff when they again conceded a lead, this time two goals, but did eventually snatch the win.
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