Now that the Premier League is well and truly underway, TheHardTackle takes a look at an eventful weekend where normal service resumed in terms of results. Well, almost.
Manchester United hold firm, Chelsea leave unscathed
Manchester United played at home under a manager not named Ferguson for the first time in 27 years, but much of the focus in the occasion was on Wayne Rooney. Surprisingly, though, the Merseysider started for Manchester United for the first time this season; and even more surprisingly, completed the entire game. Ironically, Rooney was cheered by both sets of supporters – United supporters sang his name, while the Chelsea faithful screamed “We’ll see you next week” back. The bigger bag of surprises was opened by The Special One. Juan Mata was not involved – whether this is an indicator of things to come is yet to be seen. Also, there was no recognized centre forward on the pitch for 65 minutes. When asked why, he said “Exactly.”
Given the hype that has surrounded both managers as well as Wayne Rooney’s future, one would be forgiven for thinking that the game at Old Trafford was a sideshow. At times, it was. There were no goals on either side. Both managers have enjoyed a reputation of being able to organize a defence well; and this shown through as defenders had a field day.
Dream start for Cardiff City
The last time Cardiff City played in at the highest level of English football, England had never won a World Cup. They endured a disappointing start to life in the Premier League last weekend, with a 2-0 defeat at Upton Park to West Ham United. Home form, though, would be crucial to their survival in the division. In this regard, they began their quest for survival with the ultimate test – hosting Manchester City, champions of two seasons ago.
Cardiff City won promotion to the Premier League on the back of a strong defence; and this shone through as they defended stoutly against the 2011-12 champions. However, a stunner by Edin Dzeko prompted a response from the ironically nicknamed Bluebirds that saw them become the second promoted team to win on the weekend. As confessed by manager Manuel Pellegrini after the game, poor defending from the makeshift defence saw them concede two goals from two corners, both scored by Frazier Campbell. With the Citizens having to rely against Joleon Lescott and Javi García in central defence, The Engineer might want to make a move in the transfer market over the next one week.
‘Crisis’ at Arsenal? What ‘crisis’?
The summer thus far has seen Arsenal sell/release/loan 17 players out of the club, while bringing in just one, for free. The paper-thin condition of the squad is highlighted by them having to place the 5ft 9in Bacary Sagna in central defence against local rivals Fulham. However, a difficult week for the Gunners has seen them not just all but secure Champions League qualification, but also notch their first win of the season.
Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, have been renowned for ‘pretty football’, but Saturday’s win over Fulham saw them exploit their lesser known strength – counter attacking. The Gunners defended deep within their own half and broke through with the pace of Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski on the wings; and it paid rich dividends. Fulham have begun to play a much more expansive style this season and were hence unable to keep up whenever they were hit on the counter. Lukas Podolski looked like he was out to declare his immediate future with the Gunners, with two well-taken strikes.
Liverpool and Spurs maintain perfect starts
Villa Park has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Liverpool; but the Reds headed out to Birmingham knowing that they had a tough task on their hands. Aston Villa, meanwhile, have sent out a message over the opening week that they are no pushovers. Liverpool struggled to turn their domination of the ball into goals, as Daniel Sturridge once again provided the breakthrough midway through the first half. Villa, though, were much stronger in the second half; but a standout defensive display from Lucas and a strong showing by The Kop’s new cult hero Kolo Toure saw them win another game that they would have lost in previous seasons. Simon Mignolet made another crucial save in the dying minutes. It could so easily have been two draws in two thus far.
After one of their most productive summer transfer windows ever, Tottenham Hotspur have begun the new season with yet another clean sheet and yet another win. Once again, Spurs relied on a penalty conversion by their club record signing Roberto Soldado; as they have failed to score from open play thus far. Facing Welsh side Swansea City may have prompted the belief that Spurs would play like the away team, but the North London side had the bulk of the chances on offer as they maintained their 100% record.
Fulham 1 – 3 Arsenal
Everton 0 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
Hull City 1 – 0 Norwich
Newcastle 0 – 0 West Ham
Southampton 1 – 1 Sunderland
Stoke City 2 – 1 Crystal Palace
Aston Villa 0 – 1 Liverpool
Cardiff City 3 – 2 Man City
Tottenham 1 – 0 Swansea
Man Utd 0 – 0 Chelsea
- By featuring against Arsenal on Saturday, Scott Parker became the first player in Premier League history to play for five London-based teams in the league.
- With his winner against Crystal Palace, Ryan Shawcross has scored in all six of the Barclays Premier League seasons he has featured in.
- Cardiff City are the first team to defeat Manchester City in the Premier League before December, since 2010.
- Tottenham did not earn a single penalty in the 2012-13 season. They have won two penalties this season, both converted by Roberto Soldado.
- The last time Manchester United drew at home in the Barclays Premier League, David Moyes was the manager in the away dugout, with Everton.
Play of the Week
Check out Emanuele Giaccherini’s first goal for Sunderland. It is our goal of the week purely for the ‘you-take-him-no-you-take-him’ marking that preceded it.