Here’s David Ahluwalia‘s take on another exciting weekend in the Premiership that saw a thrilling North London derby, Luis Suarez showing both the good and ugly sides of his game, and defeats for Manchester United and Chelsea away from home saw Manchester City rise to the top of the table for the first time this season.
Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham
(Mertesacker 24’, Podolski 42’, Giroud 45’, Cazorla 60’, Walcott 90’; Adebayor 10’, Bale 71’)
Arsenal managed to record their first Premiership win since their victory over QPR on October 27th with a strong display against 10-men Tottenham. Emmanuel Adebayor once again scored against his former employers in the tenth minute to mark is 10th North London derby goal after Wojciech Szczesny parried Jermaine Defoe’s low effort into the Togolese striker’s path. However, Adebayor’s game ended soon after following a high and reckless lunge on Santi Cazorla resulted in a straight red card from referee Howard Webb – much to the delight of the Arsenal faithful. Soon after some skilful trickery by Theo Walcott on the right hand side saw his cross met by the powerful head of Per Metresacker to put the Gunners back in the game. Olivier Giroud had the chance to put Arsenal in the lead soon after but his effort was straight at his fellow countryman Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal. As the half was drawing to a close Arsenal pushed on and got their reward when Lukas Podolski managed to squeeze in a shot into the bottom corner after some good passing play from Mikel Arteta and a fortunate deflection off former Gunner William Gallas. There was enough time left in the first half for Giroud to get on the score sheet too to make it 5 goals in 5 games.
Given their recent disappointment at giving away a 2 goal lead against Schalke in the Champions League, Arsenal began the second half in the same manner they ended the first, with Cazorla ending off a slick counter-attacking move to make it 4-1 on the hour mark. Ten minutes later though the nerves began creeping up again and after being given far too much time and space, Gareth Bale was able to strike from range to give Spurs some motivation to push on. However Bale was subject to angry criticism from Defoe shortly after when he shot wide when he really should have passed to his team mate which would have almost certainly made it 4-3. The introduction of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Giroud with 5 minutes to go meant that Walcott was put in his preferred centre forward position and he managed to crown off a resounding victory with a goal late on. Although he is beginning to state his case for a starting role upfront, his Movember attempt leaves a lot to be desired.
West Brom 2 – 1 Chelsea
(Long 10’, Odemwingie 50’; Hazard 39’)
Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion continued their fantastic start to the season and prevented Chelsea from their first league win in the last 4 attempts with a 2-1 victory at The Hawthorns. Shane Long got the hosts off to a flying start with his 6th goal of the season coming after some good work from James Morrison saw Long able to escape from some mediocre David Luiz defending and head home. Roberto Di Matteo felt slightly aggrieved after moments before Eden Hazard’s shot appeared to hit Jonas Olsson on the arm. Daniel Sturridge had a number of chances to score but his swerving volley just after the 30 minute mark was denied by Boaz Myhill. Chelsea equalised ten minutes later when Eden Hazard was able to head home from a tight angle from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross. Victor Moses continually showed his strength and was able to cause problems for the Albion defence, but di Matteo’s decision to rest key players with the game against Juventus on Tuesday let him down. Five minutes into the second half Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie gave the Baggies the lead after meeting Shane Long’s cross. Chelsea had another penalty appeal turned down following a more than hefty shove on Victor Moses was deemed fair by Michael Oliver. Boaz Myhill prevented Sturridge from equalising as the match wore on, and despite bringing on Oscar and Juan Mata, Chelsea were unable to stop West Brom continuing their best start to a season in thirty years.
Manchester City 5 – 0 Aston Villa
(Silva 43’, Aguero 54’ (pen) 67’, Tevez 65’ (pen) 74’)
A crushing second half display led by Manchester City’s Argentine duo of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez gave Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa side a hammering at the Etihad Stadium. After a frustrating first 40minutes in which Vincent Kompany nearly scored a spectacular own goal and Christian Benteke troubled Joe Hart with a header, City took the lead via a scrappy David Silva goal just before half time. The second half however was a very one-sided affair, not helped by the totally bizarre decision from assistant referee Adrian Holmes to award City a penalty for handball against Andreas Weimann, despite there being no contact nor any appeals from the City players. Sergio Aguero duly converted the spot kick and the lead was extended further 9 minutes later when Carlos Tevez scored from the spot in an almost identical fashion after Barry Bannan handled in the box. Aguero managed to strike at Brad Guzan’s near post 2 minutes after, and Tevez was able to tap in from 2 yards after a good low cross from Samir Nasri to compound a miserable afternoon for Villa and increase the pressure on Paul Lambert. The result sees City climb to the top of the table and Villa slide into the relegation zone following Reading’s victory over Everton.
Newcastle 1 – 2 Swansea
(Ba 90’; Michu 58’, De Guzman 87’)
Swansea were able to record their second away victory of the season over Newcastle side that were missing Senagalese forward Papiss Cisse after his home country’s FA invoked a clause preventing him from playing after his absence in their game midweek against Niger due to an alleged back problem. The first half saw chances for both sides as Demba Ba had a good chance for the home side but glanced his header wide and Hatem Ben Arfa hit the side netting with a strong left-footed drive, whilst Swans had chances via Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez. Miguel Michu gave the away side a lead in the second half just before the hour with a powerful header for his 8th goal of the season after a poor clearance from Tim Krul went straight to Hernandez whose cross found the Spaniard to finish well. Late on in the game substitute Danny Graham’s shot was parried by Krul into the path of Jonathan de Guzman to double the lead. Ba managed to grab a consolation goal in the dying seconds after Sylvain Marveaux’s effort came off the bar, but it was too little too late and resulted in Newcastle losing their second game in the last three at home.
Liverpool 3 – 0 Wigan
(Suarez 47’, 58’, Jose Enrique 67’)
Luis Suarez once again showed what an asset he is to Liverpool with another two goals to help his side to a comfortable 3-0 over Wigan. Suarez, who has now scored 10 of the Anfield club’s 17 league goals this season, now finds himself top of the entire Premiership’s goal-scoring charts. Wigan were subject to some hard luck in the first half when a totally accidental clash between Raheem Sterling and Ben Watson resulted in the Latics’ midfielder breaking his leg. Although the first half may have been frustrating for the Anfield faithful, their patience was restored when they turned on the style in the second half and Suarez lived up to his responsibilities by carrying the Liverpool attack. Having said that, the much-hyped-over Sterling had a fine game, and it was he who managed to steal in on a short back-pass from Jean Beausejour to set up Suarez for the opening goal after half time. Suarez then doubled his tally after an well-placed through-ball from Jose Enrique just before the hour. The Spaniard then managed to open his goal-scoring account for Liverpool after getting on the rebound of a parried Suarez effort. However well he played, Suarez was later accused of a stamp on David Jones by Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, somewhat marring what was otherwise another excellent performance for the Uruguayan frontman.
QPR 1 – 3 Southampton
(Hoilett 49’; Lambert 23’, Puncheon 45’, Ferdinand (og) 83’)
Despite news after the game that he will not quit nor be sacked just yet, the pressure on Mark Hughes went up another notch after slumping to a 3-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Southampton. Nigel Adkins’ side gained their first away points of the season in an impressive display in a game that had been given the rather cringey nickname of ‘El Sackico’, given the pressure on the Saints’ manager in recent weeks. Although Adel Taarabt looked to be impressive in the first half, QPR fans will be bitterly disappointed at their side’s lackluster attempt to silence their critics and give themselves a much needed confidence boost. However, it was Jason Puncheon who put in the work to give his side victory. The 26-year old was lively all game, and it was his parried shot that resulted in Rickie Lambert bravely heading in from six yards out. At the end of the half Puncheon got himself a well deserved goal, sending in a fantastic effort from 25 yards which gave Julio Cesar no chance. Mark Hughes’ decision to bring on Jamie Mackie at half time signaled the need for a quick recovery, and it came just 4 minutes into the second period as Canadian Junior Hoilett headed in after some Lukas Fabianski-esque goalkeeping from Saints stopper Paulo Gazzaniga. Saints didn’t let that deter them and Puncheon and co continued to cause problems with some 21 shots occurring, and a cross late on from Morgan Schneiderlin was turned in by Anton Ferdinand. The 90 minutes ended with a chorus of boos from the home fans, one of whom was holding a banner asking for Harry Redknapp to bring his services to Loftus Road and save Rangers from falling apart.
Reading 2 – 1 Everton
(Le Fondre 51’, 79 (pen)’; Naismith 10’)
Reading finally got their first Premier League win against high-flying Everton, giving the Toffees only their second league defeat in twenty-one games. The visitors dominated the first half, and went in front for the first time in six games when Steven Naismith gave them the lead after 10 minutes. Everton pressed on throughout much of the first half, and should really have extended their lead after chances for Steven Pienaar, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Leon Osman all went close. David Moyes may feel his side were hard done by after Sean Morrison was deemed not to have handled Jelavic’s effort. Brian McDermott’s team came out in the second half much stronger, and given that many of Everton’s players featured in the week for their respectice international sides the fatigue was clear to see. Adam Le Fondre connected with a swerving Nicky Shorey free kick to equalize six minutes into the second half, and with just 11 minutes to go Seamus Coleman needlessly fouled Le Fondre in the box who happily converted the penalty to leave the Royals fans finally leaving a ground with a victory smile.
Norwich 1 – 0 Manchester United
Anthony Pilkington’s brilliant header gave Norwich another giant-killing victory at Carrow Road. United never really got going and seemed to lack a sense of creativity in the middle of the park – but when the chances came former Cambridge United keeper John Ruddy was equal to the test to stretch Norwich’s recent defensive record to 4 cleans sheets from 5. The only real contribution from veteran Ryan Giggs was a lofted ball into the box, only to see Robin Van Persie look like a drunken antelope and make a complete hash of a chance to volley home. On the hour mark, Norwich took the lead when on-loan Spanish winger Javier Garrido crossed in for Pilkington to send a looping header over Anders Lindergaard to send Carrow Road into delight. Given United’s tradition of coming from behind to get points (15 so far this season), the Canaries new that there was still work to be done. However, Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner put in solid defensive performances to keep the United frontline quiet (Bassong nearly scored an own goal himself), but they held on to bring joy to the watching Delia Smith.
Fulham 1 – 3 Sunderland
(Petric 62’; Fletcher 50’, Cuellar 65’, Sessegnon 70’)
Sunderland managed to pick up all 3 points for only the second time this season after a second half attacking performance the fans have been longing for. Considering before this game Demba Ba was one of their highest scorers, it will also be encouraging to see the likes of Stephane Sessegnon get on the score sheet. The fact that Fulham were down to 10 men for an hour of the game due to Brede Hangeland’s red card played a significant role, but Martin O’Neill will hope his men can come away from this game with some confidence ahead of next weekends clash with in-form West Brom. Prior to the dismissal Sunderland appeared to be playing the same old dreary game fans have become used to. Ironically their first goal came straight from a Fulham chance, with John Arne Riise’s effort cannoning off the bar only for it to result in a swift counter-attacking move from the away side with Steven Fletcher scoring his 6th goal of the season. Sunderland themselves have only scored 10. Fulham’s equalizer was a mixed bag, after substitute Mladen Petric converted via a deflection off Hugo Rodallega, he came off injured himself and reduced his side to 9 men. Adam Johnson’s corner just 3 minutes after was powered in by Carlos Cuellar, and just 5 minutes after that Stephane Sessegnon scored his first goal in 19 games with a smooth 25 yard strike. The win sees Sunderland gain their first away victory since February, and the Black Cats will hope for more to come.
West Ham 1 – 1 Stoke
(O’Brien 48’; Walters 13’)
Stoke continued their record of 16 away games on the trot without a victory, and probably felt like this could have been the game to end that. A sluggish first half performance from West Ham saw Julian Walters sweep home Glenn Whelan’s corner as Peter Crouch caused problems elsewhere. Kevin Nolan may feel he could have done better when his chance was straight at Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic, before Steven Nzonzi rattled the home side’s crossbar before the break. Half time saw a far more pumped West Ham side turn up, and they equalized 3 minutes after the interval when Joey O’Brien converted from Gary O’Neill’s cross for his first Premier League goal. The game was slowly grinded out and with few chances for Andy Carroll he goes into next week still waiting for his first Hammer’s goal.