English Premier League Review – Week 6
The top story from last week was at it again. Fernando Torres showed Chelsea fans his tremendous skills, and then left them shaking their head. Torres opened the scoring with a beautiful chest-trap and volley in tight space from a fantastic ball from Juan Mata. Then, he helped create the goal from Ramires that put the Blues up 2-0. Minutes later, Torres inexplicably went for a two footed slide tackle and picked up a straight red card. Sure, Ramires scored a second and even substitute Didier Drogba managed to get on the board deep into stoppage time in the 4-1 victory. But the win was expected, at home against a newly promoted club. What is inexplicable is what to make of Fernando Torres.
Man City and Everton played the most intriguing match of the weekend, intriguing because you had to wonder the longer the match lasted, how frustrated would City get from Everton’s defensive prowess. It took an inspired substitution by Roberto Mancini, sending in Mario Balotelli for the in-form Edin Dzeko. Balotelli rewarded his manager with a goal from a great lay-off from Sergio Aguero eight minutes after entering the contest. Another sub, James Milner (can you believe City’s depth?!?!?) put the finishing touches on the match from a classy David Silva play. Pending the result of Stoke-ManU, City was on the top of the EPL, at least for a couple of hours.
Manchester United headed into Stoke City as the hottest team on the planet, a perfect 5-0 start with a +17 goal differential. However, they were without their leader, Wayne Rooney, who was out with a hamstring injury. Dimitar Berbatov took Rooney’s spot, but last season’s EPL scoring leader was largely ineffective. Then, United lost Javier Hernandez after a rough tackle by Jonathan Woodgate after only 10 minutes. Michael Owen came in for Chicarito and set up Nani for a pretty goal after 27 minutes. Stoke were never out of the contest, and it took a couple of fingertip saves from David De Gea to maintain ManU’s lead. That is until Peter Crouch rose high to head in a goal off a Matthew Etherington corner, scoring for his sixth EPL team.
At White Hart Lane, Rafael Van Der Vaart turned an awful Wigan pass into a goal for Spurs after only three minutes. Then, Gareth Bale tallied his first goal of the season rising high and burying a corner midway through the first half. Tottenham was in complete control and Wigan was fortunate to be down only 2-0 at the break. They played better in the second half and were rewarded with a Mohamed Diame goal on 52 minutes. Any thoughts of getting a result were dashed, however, when Steve Gohouri picked up a second yellow with a half hour left to play and the Spurs went on to the 2-1 win.
The funniest chant of the day took play at the Emirates, when Arsenal took the lead in the first minute of the second half on the first of Robert Van Persie’s two goals. The crowd sang “We are not relegated!” a chant you never thought you would hear from Gunners’ fans. Van Persie’s second goal was his 100th of his Arsenal career, and came shortly after David Wheater received a straight red card. Alex Song finished the scoring for the Gunners, but an injury to Theo Walcott put a damper on the win.
Liverpool won 2-1 over Wolves at Anfield, but the real story of the game was the emergence of Liverpool hero Steven Gerrard, who came on in the 82nd minute for his first EPL action of the season. Early on Charlie Adam’s strike was deflected into the Wolverhampton net for an own goal, and Luis Suarez continued his fine play doubling the score in the 38th minute. Early in the second half Steven Fletcher hit for the Wolves, but Liverpool carried most of the game and deserved the 3 points.
West Brom – Fulham 0-0 ’nuff said. Senegal international Demba Ba netted a hat trick for Newcastle in their 3-1 victory over relegation zone Blackburn. David Hoilett scored for the Rovers to prevent the shutout. On Sunday, Richard Dunne scored the ninth own goal of his EPL career (that MUST be a record!) in injury time to give QPR a deserved 1-1 tie with Aston Villa. Barry Bannen scored on a penalty in the 58th minute to give Villa the lead.
The lone Monday game took place at Carrow Road, where Norwich won their first home game of the season and posted their second victory in a row, 2-1 over Sunderland. Elliot Bennett made a fine run into the area and crossed to Leon Barnett, who had a simple tap in for the first goal at 31 minutes. Three minutes into the second half Steve Morison nailed a screamer from 20 yards out to double the Norwich advantage. Keiran Richardson tallied for Sunderland four minutes from time but it was not enough.
The top of the table still looks the same with both Manchester teams on top, followed by Chelsea, but there is a surprise team sitting in the 4th spot – Newcastle United. This is a completely different team from last year and they are really feeding off their fanatical fan base. Newcastle is playing Wolves this weekend in what promises to be an interesting game. Arsenal faces Tottenham in my other game to watch this week. As always, before we get into next week, let’s look at the top performers from this week:
*David Silva – having a fantastic year for City and his assist on their second goal was a thing of beauty
**Nani – another fantastic goal from Nani who looked dangerous all game
***Demba Ba – what can I say? If you score a hat-trick, you are the top performer in my book