The Big News
The big news this week is Samir Nasri’s imminent departure from Arsenal to Premier League rivals Manchester City. With a year left on his contract and negotiations stalling over wages, Samir has decided to leave for a fee of £25 million pounds, and is expected to sign a contract worth £175k per week. For me, this was a good piece of business by Arsenal. It’s a great fee for only a year left on his contract, it was clear he just wanted more money and it’s good to see a team stick to their guns. Replacements would be in the form of Eden Hazard, former Lille teammate of new Gunner Gervinho, who would provide great speed and creativity from out wide. With Nasri and Cesc Fabregas gone in the space of a week, people are predicting a downfall, but I think if Arsene brings players in, they could be in a better position than before.
Now here is a review of Week 2 in the English Premier League:
Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur
The first home game of the season for the champions ends in a comfortable victory. In what was a very even first 60 minutes, both sides looked comfortable on the ball, solid in defence and both goalkeepers were tested. But after Welbeck’s well taken header, the Red Devils dominated the game. The second coming from a good piece of passing prowess, then a magnificent back-heel from Welbeck and a nicely placed finish from Anderson, and the third from the head of Wayne Rooney, putting gloss on a good victory for United. Welbeck was very impressive, especially after scoring, running with a swagger and belief, and having the audacity to try the bicycle kick and back-heel showed it. Phil Jones was very solid, Smalling could become a right back, and Anderson is growing into a very good central midfielder. As for Tottenham, another day and they would have won. Bale looked strong, Van Der Vaart was dangerous as usual, and Livermore was incredibly impressive, with good pace and judgement. What ruined them was Lennon’s indecision at the byline, and he needs to improve that to keep his place in this talented Spurs side.
Manchester City 3-2 Bolton Wanderers
In another good performance, Manchester City keep up their 100% start to the season with a valuable three points away at Bolton. In the first half, City were in dominance yet again, keeping the ball away from Bolton and creating dangerous chances. And they went in front through some clever passing allowing David Silva to slot home, which was then followed by a second courtesy of a Gareth Barry thunderbolt, which is a sentence I’d never thought I would type. However, straight from the kick off Bolton replied through Klasnic, with a good strike from Petrov’s cross. But after half-time Dzeko restored City’s two goal advantage, holding off Zat Knight with good strength and hitting a strong shot past Jaaskelainen. Bolton had a concelation goal through a Kevin Davies header, but there was really only one likely winner in the game. City looked good going forward again, Silva looking dangerous, Johnson impressive when he came on and Aguero doing almost everything but score. Dzeko was the man of the match for me, he has grown at City and has now settled and showing why he was such a hot property in January. He is bullying defenders again, using his height and power to force defenders to act rashly. What was worrying was the defence conceding twice. Bolton weren’t much of a threat, yet 2 of their 3 shots on target were goals, which should concern Mancini. Bolton will have difficult games ahead against Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, so will be glad they got that good victory on the opening day, they will still provide trouble at home for any side.
Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
Arsenal continue to slide after a loss in their first home game against Liverpool. Again, this big clash was fairly equal for 70 minutes, neither really quite having the cutting edge to score, but still looking a dangerous prospect. Carroll had a few chances, Arsenal created occasional opportunities, but neither really looked like opening the deadlock. Until Frimpong went in for a silly challenge of Charlie Adam, earning him a second yellow card and his marching orders. Before that, he had a relatively good game, but his youthful exuberance got the better of him in the end. After that, Liverpool were the only side going to win. An opener came from a freak clearance from Miquel, which rebounded off Ramsey and into the back of the net. The clincher came from good movement and passing between Lucas and Raul Meireles ended in a simple tap in for Suarez. Both looked like they had been offside in the build up, but this was just not to be Arsenal’s day. They need signings, and quickly, and they certainly have the funds to do so. Liverpool are still gelling, but they are a much better team than last season, I think we still have to see how they will turn out.
Chelsea 2-1 West Brom
Somehow, someway Chelsea managed to escape this tricky fixture with three points. From the off, Chelsea looked nervous, the crowd were quiet, and West Brom got off to a flyer. Shane Long pickpocket Alex, who was in his own little world, ran unopposed and slotted confidently past Petr Cech. And it could have been two later on in the half, when Long was free again, but his cross to Tchoyi to slot home was too strong. Then, in the second half, Chelsea got a foothold in the game, and finally began to create chances. With that, came their first goal of the season through Anelka, with West Brom unable to stop him, but the deflection off Olsson keeping it away from Ben Foster’s grasp. And inevitably, in the last 10 minutes Chelsea went ahead through Malouda, which turned out to be the winner. Chelsea did just enough to win this game, but only just. On another day, if West Brom had gone 2-0 up, this could have been a nightmare. Villas Boas has acted by bringing in Mata, which is a good sign, and should mean that Chelsea will put up a better challenge for the title. West Brom have been great in the first two games, but in both have left empty handed. With Stoke visiting The Hawthorns next weekend, providing they put in the same caliber of performance, West Brom should be picking up their first points.
Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle United
The Tyne-Wear derby was another feisty affair, with Newcastle eventually coming out on top. In the first half, Sunderland were in the ascendancy, with Sessegnon testing Tim Krul from long range regularly, and with the traditional fouling happening from both sides. But the biggest talking point of the first half was Larsson’s magnificent save from Joey Barton, which clearly should have been a penalty. But for all Sunderland’s dominance in the first half, it was punished in the second from a terrific free kick from Ryan Taylor. Although Mignolet was in a bad starting position, the free kick was placed right into the top corner. And then Phil Bardsley had a moment of madness against Coloccini, earning a second yellow and a red card. It was a nitty gritty game to be honest, with a draw probably being a more fair result. For me, Ryan Taylor had already been booked and threw elbows all day, and should have been off the field before the free kick, but again sometimes you just don’t get those decisions. Both will be away from danger, but both need to be a bit more clinical in the final third.
Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn Rovers
After an indifferent start to the Alex McCleish’s reign at Aston Villa, the fans were treated to a romp against the flat Blackburn Rovers. It all began very quickly, as Villa used their pace to get in behind Blackburn and put them on the back foot. And then came the first goal, with a terrific lofted strike by Gabby Agbonlahor cutting inside from the left. Aston Villa continued to press and through some decent passing and movement came their second from Emile Heskey, of all people. After the interval, Villa took their foot off the gas and allowed Pedersen to score just at the start of the second half, but all doubt of a victory for those in claret and blue were vanished when Darren Bent capitalised in the 67th minute. Villa looked impressive in this game, they had vigor and a desire to go out and win the game, and all three of their strikers scored, which can only be another plus. Blackburn looked poor, are seriously missing Samba, and need another centre back. Whether George Johns be the answer, we will have to see, but Simon Vukcevic will add some creativity in the middle.
Everton 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
After having their opener disrupted by the rioting in London, Everton had their curtain raiser against newcomers QPR. In the first half, Everton were impressive, rushing forward in flowing attacks with Leighton Baines coming very close with a superbly executed free kick. But then, against the run of play, disaster struck. An uncharacteristic mistake from Phil Jagielka allowed Tommy Smith to curl past Tim Howard, scoring QPR’s first goal back in the Premier League. After that, Everton tried their hardest to score a reply but could not quite find the creative spark to earn them a point. A traditionally slow start for the Toffees, but Ross Barkley looks like another talented youngster coming from the scousers ranks, which may help subside the disappointment of no signings over the summer. QPR will be buoyed by the fact they took three points here and with new owners, this could be a stepping stone to them avoiding the trap door this season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Fulham
In another uplifting display, Wolves grabbed a deserved win against Fulham. The first half was a good game, with both sides looking good on the attack, but looked like we were heading for a 0-0 at half time. How wrong this was, as Kevin Doyle steamed in just before the interval to slot home a goal which lit a fire underneath Wolves. Up they attacked again, and after Johnson was close to scoring, Jarvis finished the rebound and sent them into the break with a two goal lead. In the second half, Fulham tried to apply pressure to the Wolves back line, but were consistently denied. An outstanding block from Ward prevented Fulham from a certain goal, and with that Wolves reached the six point barrier a full two months before they achieved the feat last season. They look a different side this year, with great belief in their attacking flair, and they now have a solid defence with Johnson and Ward looking especially motivated. Fulham don’t quite look the finished article yet, although if they do manage to sign Papiss Demba Cisse from Freiburg, they could become a very difficult prospect indeed.
Norwich City 1-1 Stoke City
In Norwich’s first home game back in the big time, they had to settle with a point against Stoke City. They began brightly, spreading the play well and switching between wings with ease, with Stoke struggling to keep up with the pace. And then came the goal from Richie De Laet, rising ahead of everyone from a deep free kick, heading past Begovic and the stadium erupted. They continued to play well for most of the match, until Stoke were controversially given a penalty, which was clearly outside of the area, and due to being the last man, Leon Barnett was sent off. Although Jon Walters missed the penalty, Stoke pressed for the rest of the game, and finally were rewarded when Kenwyne Jones scored in the very last minute. Norwich were good, but should be disappointed that they couldn’t quite hold on, but will get points if they play like that more. Stoke were poor, they seemed to lack concentration against a team they should hope to be beating, and will need to improve against sides that they should be getting points from.
Swansea 0-0 Wigan
The very first game ever to be held outside of England ended up being a slight dissapointment. Swansea played well during the game, but never really looked like having the goalscoring touch, their players looking like the occasion had got to them. Wigan, on the other hand, never really did much either. Rodallega didn’t start again, Moses did play well but no one else really did anything. There was a penalty mid way through the second half, but Ben Watson’s penalty was saved by the again terrific Michael Vorm. Both still need improvements, and they both need to start beating teams around them to have any chance of staying up. I particularly worry for Wigan, starting with Norwich and Swansea they would have wanted to win both, or at least one, so two points should be very worrying indeed.
That’s it for this week, please feel free to comment, subscirbe, and return to read next week.