Week 10 of the Premier League saw the league leaders Chelsea continue their unbeaten run at the top, Southampton continue an impressive run to stay second and home wins for Arsenal and Manchester City.
As the season is starting to get into gear, teams getting into winning or losing habits, the Premier League season is starting to throw its usual share of surprises. Last season’s in-form team Liverpool are struggling without their now departed striker, while the “selling club” Southampton are sitting pretty at the top. Burnley FC remain the only club without a win in the top flight, while fans saw Manchester United make their worst start to a season since 1986. West Ham’s superb start also continued with a come-from-behind point at the Britannia Stadium as QPR gave Chelsea a fright at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool struggle against resurgent Newcastle
Although the Manchester derby was the talking point of the weekend’s action, the best result of the weekend was undoubtedly for Newcastle United. Alan Pardew’s men continued their mini-revival with a nervy win over struggling Liverpool. With little murmurs starting to go around Anfield about Brendan Rodgers’ position as manager, Liverpool were expected to get a point at least, if not three at St. James’ Park. However, thanks to a 73rd minute goal from Spaniard Ayoze Perez, the Magpies managed to snatch those points away from them. Although the latter dominated the game in terms of possession and overall play, the former’s fans could care less about that. The highest-scoring fixture in the Premier League saw only one goal this time around, but it was enough to keep Liverpool stuck at seventh place, while the Magpies on the back of a three-match winning streak now sit relatively safe at eleventh.
A first-half sending off for Chris Smalling meant that United were left fragile at the back. What caused the crack in it was Marcos Rojo’s injury in the second half, leaving young Paddy McNair to fill in for him. An inexperienced defence could not make up for a world class attack on the day as Manchester City and their leading scorer Sergio Aguero pounced on a chance in the 63rd minute to put the home side ahead. In what was a game of frayed tempers, referee Michael Oliver could have easily given City at least two penalties – or so the home fans claimed. A superb save by David DeGea earlier in the first half had prevented City from going into a lead, but the Spaniard could not stop Gael Clichy’s perfectly measured ball for Aguero being nestled in the back of the net.
The returning club captain Wayne Rooney could also not inspire his troops along with his star-studded starting lineup of Angel Di Maria and Robin van Persie. On the other hand, in what can be seen as a crisis at Old Trafford, the team now do not have any fit first-choice defenders available for their next game. This win ends City’s winless streak of four games and also the worst start for any Manchester United team since 1986 – a year which saw Sir Alex Ferguson take over as manager.
Arsenal see off spirited Burnley
Winless Burnley have been made to wait for their first three points of the season thanks to a clinical – albeit a slightly nervous – win for Arsenal at The Emirates. Sean Dyche’s side were written off even before they kicked a ball, but surprised everyone when they kept Arsenal out for 70 minutes. At that mark, Chilean Alexis Sanchez fired in from a close range header, quite quickly followed by a Callum Chambers goal two minutes later. The resistant Burnley defence crumbled under the pressure as Sanchez scored his second of the night in the 90th minute to seal back-to-back league wins for Arsenal for the first time this season.
Arsenal fans will not only be pleased about the result but also about the return of Theo Walcott, who made his first appearance at The Emirates since January. The win also sees Arsenal fans settling in to the top four but only just because of a better goal difference than West Ham.
Chelsea made to sweat for three points by QPR
Harry Redknapp has never won against Jose Mourinho and by the end of Saturday evening, the record stayed intact. Although it was far less convincing than what the latter would have hoped for, the Portuguese manager would be pleased that his team responded to QPR leveling up at 1-1.
A beautiful outside-of-the-boot goal from the Brazilian Oscar put Chelsea in front before half time. Cesc Fabregas providing a perfectly weighted ball to Oscar, who calmly struck the ball home from an acute angle. The home side definitely looked the better side in that half, but the visitors gave a good account of themselves with their quick counters and good defending. A second-half resurgence saw Charlie Austin pounce on a loose ball in the box to back-heel his way to a goal leading to wild celebrations in the away end. However, a reckless challenge by Eduardo Vargas in the 75th minute on Eden Hazard inside the box meant the Belgian coolly slotted in his second goal in the Premier League from the spot. Chelsea then shut shop and saw off a defiant QPR to collect all three points and cement their first place.
Around the grounds
Everton played out a 0-0 draw at home against Swansea City which means the Toffees are now unbeaten in three matches while the visitors dropped a place on the table to 6th.
Southampton carried on an impressive run which sees them at the top of the Premier League form table, a place above their actual standing on the table. Ronald Koeman has motivated his side to go from strength to strength after a summer of being labelled a “selling club”. A 1-0 win at Hull saw them win seven out of their last eight league matches and even keeping City at bay to fight for second place.
Christian Benteke saw red in a hotly contested affair at Villa Park against Tottenham. Villa went up early in the first half but two late goals from Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane saw Spurs pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Hammers also saw a late comeback enough to earn them a point at Stoke thanks to late goals from Enner Valencia and Stewart Downing to keep them unbeaten in the last four games.
West Bromwich Albion also managed to get all three points at Leicester thanks to a 47th minute own goal from Esteban Cambiasso.
In what will be crucial month before the hectic fixtures of December begin, teams will now be looking to start a good streak which will help them see through the winter. Chelsea, Man United and City all face tough away games this month, which means the likes of Southampton will be licking their lips at the prospect on leading the Premier League for some time. Whether they really pull a rabbit out of the hat and be there or there about come May, only time will tell. Till then, the fans know that the only thing certain about the Premier League is, well, its uncertainty.