The first gameweek of Premier League 2015 saw Manchester United visit Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium on a cold Thursday afternoon, a London derby, and Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis watching from stands as their respective new teams drew against better teams. In general it was a bad week for the London teams as Arsenal and Chelsea both lost against Southampton and Tottenham; while QPR, West Ham United and Crystal Palace could only manage a draw.
Tottenham stun Chelsea
As 2014 ended, Premier league leaders Chelsea held a 3 points lead over second placed Manchester City. An earlier clash between Manchester City and Sunderland at Etihad saw City eliminate that gap and draw on level with Chelsea and going into this match Chelsea had not lost to Tottenham since December 10, 2010. However Harry Kane and company had other plans. The England under-La21 striker scored two, made one assist and earned a penalty for his team as Chelsea lost 5-3 against a side they were expected to beat comfortably. Chelsea had never conceded 4 goals while Mourinho was in-charge and only once has any team under Mourinho conceded 5 goals. Out of the 5 goals Tottenham scored 4 were scored by Tottenham academy graduates. Besides Kane; Rose, Townsend and Chadli were also on the score sheet. The usually authoritative Matic failed to create any impact in this game. Cahill was also not at his usual best conceding a penalty and was left in a daze by Kane. While Chelsea retained their attacking threat it was the slackness of their usually composed defense which cost the game. With the lead at the top gone and goal difference equal to Manchester City’s, the only reason Chelsea retain number one position in the Premier League table is due to the alphabetical ranking of clubs.
Szczesny gives Southampton a New Year’s gift
With a 2-0 win over Arsenal, Southampton have strengthened their fourth position in the Premier League table. Since their unexpected loss to Sheffield United on December 17, 2014 in the League Cup Southampton have won 3 matches and drawn one. Arsenal on their part has not won three matches in a row this season. The first goal came courtesy of errors from Koscielny and Szczesny. Koscielny allowed Mane to get in behind him following Ward-Prowse’s high ball which also resulted in Szczesny leaving his line and then retreating. Mane lifted a curling chip over the goalkeeper to finish a wonderful move. Wenger was left shaking his head. Arsenal had chances of their own as Cazola, Oxlade-Chamberline and twice Sanchez tested Forster twice. After Sanchez’s second attempt Southampton doubled their lead through Tadic after another error from Szczesny allowed the Serbian midfielder to latch onto a poor clearance and score Southampton’s second. The game was not bereft of controversy as Sanchez was fouled by Gardos at the edge of the area. Wenger claimed it to be a penalty but the referee only awarded a freekick which Sanchez took. It stuck the cross to end the match 2-0 in favor of Southampton. It was quite simply not a good day for Arsenal.
Lampard saves City blushes against Sunderland
It is easy to understand why the fans of New York City FC, the sister concern of Manchester City FC, were enraged after learning Frank Lampard would not be joining their team until the end of the current premier league season. As per the previous arrangement Lampard was to join New York City after the end December but the Abu Dhabi based owners have decided to extend his stay beyond winter due to his crucial goals, which have ensured that Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table has been shredded. In this match City was cruising 2-0 till the 66th minute through wonderful goals from Toure and Jovetic. But like previous week against Burnley, City conceded two goals from a seemingly comfortable position. This time it was through two former City players who did the damage. Rodwell and Johnson scored within two minutes of each other to bring Sunderland level with City. City sorely missed their defensive rock and chief organizer Kompany and a better team would have tested the City keeper more often than Sunderland managed to do. In between the two Sunderland goals Pellegrini introduced Lampard in place of the goal scorer Jovetic and within 3 minutes he headed a Clichy cross to win the match for City. It is quite clear that even at 36, Lampard still retains a keen eye for goal and has become indispensible for this team when it comes to getting them out of the hole.
Momentum is no longer with Manchester United
After winning 6 matches on the trot there was a talk of Manchester United joining the two horse Premier League title-race. But Manchester United have won just 1 of their last 4 matches resulting in a 9 point gap between themselves and the top two. United were lucky to get a draw thanks partly due to some poor refereeing and partly due to poor finishing from Stoke strikers. Stoke took the lead through a corner as Peter Crouch hit it towards the goal and Shawcross managed to apply a smart touch to take it away from de Gea. United were shaky in defense, lacking pace and build up play was poor. Manchester United had just 6 shots in the entire game and just 2 on target and scored through Falcao when he connected with Carrick flick from a Rooney corner during the first half. For rest of the game Manchester United’s play can be best described as flat. They no longer look a team who can challenge for the title but should count themselves lucky if they manage to hold on to the third position after winning just 2 of their last 12 away games.
Premier League Gameweek 20 round up
- Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United
- Aston Villa 0-0 Crystal Palace
- Hull City 2-0 Everton
- Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City
- Manchester City 3-2 Sunderland
- Newcastle United 3-3 Burnley
- QPR 1-1 Swansea
- West Ham United 1-1 West Brom Albion
- Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea