Gameweek 7 of the Barclays Premier League ended with a close shave for Man United, an upset for Tottenham, and Arsenal & Liverpool topping the table with equal points and goal difference.
1) Manchester United Get A New Hero: Adnan Januzaj
David Moyes would have probably broken into a cold sweat when Craig Gardner capitalised on some absolutely shambolic defending at the back to score the match’s opener in the 5th minute. One needs to remember that this team is last season’s title winners, whose first six Premier League matches have resulted in only 2 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. Sir Alex Ferguson had asked fans to get behind Moyes, but voices of dissent would have sprung up had United lost this match (which would have left them in the bottom 5 of the table). Thankfully, this was the night that 18-year old Adnan Januzaj decided to announce himself. The lanky winger stepped up to provide two goals in a span of 7 minutes, effectively leading the Red Devils to a much needed victory.
Sunderland fans would be very worried right about now; they are sitting at the bottom of the Premier League with only one point (from a draw against Southampton) to show from their first seven matches. It is especially shocking when you look at some of the players they have on their roster: a team having Steven Fletcher, Fabio Borini, Jozy Altidore, Emanuele Giaccherini, Adam Johnson and Sebastian Larsson to call upon should be getting more than their meager return of 5 goals from 7 matches. Sunderland have been linked with a host of managers since the sacking of Paolo Di Canio, as Gus Poyet, Rene Meulesteen, Gianfranco Zola, Tony Pulis and Alex McLeish have been touted for the role recently; whoever steps into the managerial shoes needs to sort out the team quickly if the club are to avoid the drop this season.
2) West Ham Make Toothless Tottenham Pay
West Ham United served up the surprise result of the weekend with a 3-0 walloping of Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Andre Villas-Boas decided to give Jermain Defoe a chance to lead the line ahead of Roberto Soldado, who has not been justifying the £26M the club had splurged on him. But it didn’t have the effect he was hoping for, as Tottenham failed to capitalise on any of their opportunities in the relatively quiet first 60 minutes. After West Ham scored from a corner in the 66th minute, their second came within 7 minutes as Ricardo Vaz Te scored a somewhat lucky goal (his shot ricocheted from Hugo Lloris back onto his leg, before bouncing into the net).
Former Manchester United youth Ravel Morrison single handedly created and scored West Ham’s third goal with a winding counter-attacking run which bamboozled Dawson and Vertonghen, ending with a beautifully chipped ball over the onrushing Lloris. The youngster’s dribbling was impressive, but even more so was his composure. Spurs will have to regroup and rethink their strategy: this loss marks another game where the London club failed to provide a steady feed of balls to the front-man, despite having some great creative & attacking midfielders like Eriksen, Lamela, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Holtby and Chadli. Out of their 4 victories so far in the Premier League, 3 have been 1-0 results.
3) Arsenal & Liverpool Tied At The Top
Liverpool had an easy outing as they faced off against Crystal Palace, who are already looking set to move back out of the Premier League by the end of the season. The Merseyside club passed around Palace with relative ease in the first half, and were perhaps guilty of getting a tad too complacent after going 3 goals up. The Luis Suarez – Daniel Sturridge team up continues to look like the club’s biggest weapon at the moment, and Brendan Rodgers deserves credit for modifying his formation to accomodate two strikers. His 3-4-1-2 setup had Jordan Henderson putting in a good shift in the central midfield role left vacant by Lucas Leiva’s suspension (due to 5 yellow cards in the season), while Raheem Sterling also did fairly well on the right flank.
Arsenal fought a cagey battle with giant slayers West Brom, in a match that seemed fairly evenly matched for the most part. Just when fans thought Aaron Ramsey couldn’t stop scoring and Mesut Ozil couldn’t stop assisting, they both did. Instead, it was Englishman Jack Wilshere who rescued a point for the Gunners, albeit from a deflected shot, after Claudio Yacob’s header had put West Brom in front in the first half. Tomas Rosicky, who was a second half substitute, gave the impression that he may still have a few years of top-level football left in him; his touch, movement and passing was slick and effective. Olivier Giroud failed to capitalise on two good chances, and was replaced in the 85th minute by Nicklas Bendtner who has changed his appearance (with a new beard and new ponytail pigtail hairstyle) , presumably in the hopes that he’ll get mocked less if people don’t recognise him.
Despite the draw, Arsenal have retained the top-spot of the Premier League table, though they are tied on both Points and Goal Difference with Liverpool (they are ahead in on Goals Scored).
4) Southampton Beat Swansea To Reach Top 4 Spot
Southampton continue their stunning run of form with a 2-0 win over Swansea City, who have been struggling for favorable results this season. At the start of the season, few would have anticipated the run of performances that Mauricio Pochettino’s side have put together. Their biggest asset has been their defense, as they kept another clean sheet against the Welsh club. With his side already looking very good as a unit, the manager will be hoping that the Rickie Lambert and Pablo Osvaldo pairing also starts bringing home the bacon (read: goals); that would make them a formidable side indeed.
Swansea City’s surprisingly poor position in the Premier League table would be worrying the manager and fans right about now: they are currently tied on points with 18th place Norwich City. The Wilfried Bony – Michu attack isn’t proving nearly as lethal as compared to when Michu was leading the line alone (last season) as a False-9. Swansea will have to pull up their socks if they want to finish in the top half of the table.
5) And Elsewhere . . .
Manchester City‘s slick attacking was on display once again as they got three past Everton, with Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero again looking like a deadly duo, both getting a goal each. While Everton suffered from being unable to play Gareth Barry against his parent club, Romelu Lukaku again showed that he’s got a bright future ahead of him as he scored the match’s opener in a lively match that ended 3-1 in favor of City. Meanwhile Lukaku’s parent club, Chelsea FC, showed that their wealth of talented attacking midfielders means that they don’t even need their strikers to score. Demba Ba started, and Samuel Eto’o was a 73rd minute substitute, but it was the line behind the striker that shone with goals from Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian in their 1-3 win over Norwich. Fulham nabbed 3 points (with a goal from Darren Bent) in the dying minutes of their controversial match against Stoke City, a match that had three penalty calls that went unheeded. Hull City and Aston Villa played without their respective top scorers so far (Robbie Brady and Christian Benteke), resulting in a goalless 90 minutes. Newcastle United‘s French striker Loic Remy, on loan from QPR, helped them seal an important win over Cardiff City with a brace in the first half. Peter Odemwingie pulled one back around the one-hour mark, but Newcastle held on for a deserved win.
Manchester City 3 – 1 Everton
Cardiff City 1 – 2 Newcastle United
Fulham 1 – 0 Stoke City
Hull City Tigers 0 – 0 Aston Villa
Liverpool 3 – 1 Crystal Palace
Sunderland 1 – 2 Manchester United
Norwich City 1 – 3 Chelsea
Southampton 2 – 0 Swansea City
Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 3 West Ham United
West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Arsenal
- Southampton’s Artur Boruc had another great game in goal, with 7 saves, and claiming 3 crosses in the box.
- Jordan Henderson has shown that Central Midfield is his best position, where the completeness of his game is best on display: 92% pass accuracy, 100% aerial battles won and 7 tackles in the game.
Stats courtesy Whoscored.com
Goal of the Week
Willian and Ravel Morrison both scored amazing goals this weekend; one a outrageous curling shot from the edge of the box, the other a sly chip after a brilliant run: