The Big News
This week’s big news is the return of the Champions League and Europa League, as the tournaments begin properly over this week in the Group Stages. This past Tuesday and Wednesday saw the Champions League start, with Chelsea coming out victorious and Arsenal, along with the Manchester clubs, all drawing. It was a good start to the competition, with some suprises such as Inter’s loss at home to Trabzonspor and Barcelona drawing to AC Milan, but I’m certain there will be a few more upsets and dominant performances to come. As for the Europa League, that starts tonight, with Tottenham, Fulham, Stoke and Birmingham City all in action. It’s good to see the European games back, and both competitions are full of top quality sides, and the Premier League sides involved add to the deep pool that is European Football.
Now, on with the review of Week 4 in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Bolton 0-5 Manchester United
In an away game many Manchester United fans were wary of, the Red Devils ran out rampant winners after putting five past Bolton. From the start it looked to be going one way, with Chicarito scoring after five minutes, cutting across England centre-back Gary Cahill and getting there before Jussi Jaaskelainen. Bolton kept good possession during the first 20 minutes, but every attack seemed dangerous, and within that came the second. After good work from Phil Jones, who was superb at right back, he put in a superb ball that Rooney managed to get on the end of between the two Bolton centre backs. Jones continued to threaten down that left, bursting through the midfield and defence with ease and coming ever so close to scoring. Unfortunately for Bolton, Jaaskelainen’s save landed at the feet of Rooney again, who slotted home the third. Come the second half, United kept on pressing for a fourth, which eventually came from a poor strike from Carrick that fell to the feet of Hernandez again, who finished like a traditional poacher. The fifth was Rooney’s hat-trick, after good wor from Giggs down the wing, a pull back to Rooney who stroked the ball into the corner. It was another flowing attacking display from United that, bar the Benfica game, looks to have defences in fear, but Bolton were just not ready for it. Klasnic looks sharp, forcing a few saves from De Gea, and Reo Coker smashed the crossbar, but other than that the only offence came from Davies’ boot, who’s stay on the pitch for longer than 30 minutes seemed to be beyond belief. Man United look imperious, and Bolton need to let this obviously difficult start affect their confidence.
Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic
Two undefeated sides met at the Etihad Stadium, but there was really ever going to be one side in it. Aguero was on form again and it took him 13 minutes to notch the first goal, after some wonderful work from Silva, Aguero put it through Figueroa’s legs and into the net for 1-0. Then came Tevez’s chance to make himself more endeared to the City fans after his determination to leave in the summer after Aguero was brough down in the box. But, Carlos fluffed his lines and the poor penalty was saved by Al-Habsi. But, City just looked stronger and stronger, as Lescott and Toure hit the post in the same move, then came on Nasri and the second goal came almost instantly afterwards. Almost his first touch put in Aguero, who scored his and City’s second, with Wigan swiftly sinking. And with that, Silva created another glorious chance for Aguero to get his hat-trick, and there was never to be any other outcome. Wigan were simply outclassed in this game, only really had one chance and were always on the back foot. City look great still, but with United it seems to be anything you can do, I can do better at the moment.
Sunderland 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea were not at their best in this game, but they never really had to be. They started well, keeping possesstion and allowing Juan Mata to be the creative influence. They were given a free-kick 18 minutes in, which struck the post from Mata, and after a lovely ball from Strurridge and some hilarious comedy defending, John Terry struck home to put Chelsea in a deserved lead. And they continued to press throughout the game, and got their second when Meireles played a stunning ball in which Sturridge replied with a cheeky backheel past Mignolet to put them two goals to the good. Sunderland were poor, but they did get a concelation through South Korean international Dong-Won Ji in the dying embers, but it wasn’t enough. Phil Bardsley was also lucky to originally escape without punishment for stamping on Mata, but the FA have now charged him with violent conduct and is now suspended for four games. This compounds’ Steve Bruce’s misery, after Asamoah Gyan wandered off for 200k a week on loan to Al-Aid, and they are yet to pick up a win this season. Chelsea are still winning without being outstanding, and their biggest test will be this weekend against Manchester United.
Arsenal 1-0 Swansea City
There was no two ways about it, Arsenal were lucky. They played okay through the game, with Arteta slotting into the squad with ease, but they never had it all their own way. And it took the most outrageous mistake from Michael Vorm to give Arsenal the lead, as he threw the ball into his defender and Arshavin dispatched the chance into the open net. Swansea never looked out of the game, with Sinclair hitting the post and Graham having two great chances to get the Welsh sides first goal of the season, but it wasn’t to be. For Arsenal, Mertesacher looked shaky, Gibbs looked nervous and Koscielny is worryingly poor, and they need to gel as soon as possible. Swansea need to find some goals, or they will quickly be dragged into a relegation battle.
Stoke City 1-0 Liverpool
Stoke continue their unbeaten record with a great three points against Liverpool, who somehow didn’t manage to score. Suarez was on top form again, stretching the Stoke defence at any chance, and he may have had a case for a penalty when Delap handled the ball, but at the speed of play, it would have been incredibly hard to judge. Then, Stoke were ironically given a penalty, rightly, for Carragher having his arms all over Walters, who picked himself up and slid the penalty past Pepe Reina. In the second half, Henderson was put through for Liverpool, and somehow he and Adam couldn’t get past Begovic and his diving-infront-of-bullets defenders. Suarez was then outraged that Liverpool weren’t given a penalty for a Upson handball, but it would have been more than harsh. The Uruguayan had a chance late on to earn a point for the reds, but in the end Stoke held on for the win. Stoke look very good, have made great buys in the summer, and will be difficult for anyone to face this season. Liverpool, again, faltering against a team they should beat, and the main reason no-one will realistically back them in challenging for the title.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Adebayor has scored on his debut for both Arsenal and Manchester City, and in this game he made sure his Tottenham debut would get off to that same great start, as Spurs beat Wolves. It was a decent game, with both sides not afraid of getting forward, but the game lit up after the second half after a great ball from another Tottenham debutant Scott Parker gifted Adebayor his first goal in a Spurs shirt, and from then they didn’t look like losing. Defoe added to the scoreline later on, and Tottenham look much improved with Parker and Adebayor in the side, and with Van Der Vaart to come back yet, they could yet push for Europe. Wolves shouldn’t be too worried, and as long as they pick back up next weekend, they will still be in and around mid table.
Everton 2-2 Aston Villa
In a very good and eventful game, Everton and Villa played out a draw. From the off, Everton looked the better side, even though they were playing with a makeshift strike force. In that front line came the first goal, as Cahill and Osman linked up for the latter to finish off the chance and put the Toffees in front. After the break, Villa got more into the match, and managed to equalise through an absolute stunner of a strike from Stylian Petrov. From what must have bee 30+ yards out, he belted the ball with immense quality as it curled away from Howard’s grasp and into the bottom corner. But almost straight after, Everton gained a penalty and Baines put Everton back into the lead. Alas, it was not to be a victory for Everton as Agbonlahor managed to finish from a great ball by Albrighton, and the points were fairly shared. Both teams look solid going forward, but they need to tighten up a little at the back to turn draws into victories.
Norwich City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
In what was an odd game, West Brom got their first win of their season against an unlucky Norwich. Right at the start of the game, Norwich’s defence fell asleep, allowing Peter Odemwingie to get his first goal of the season. From then on, Norwich seemed the team on the up, again playing their expansive football down both wings, but to no avail. Then, in the second half, a moment of contreversy as Steven Reid fell down under Morrison’s challenge earning West Brom a penalty. It was a ridiculous dive, and he stopped Morrison running through later on in the game, and he is quickly becoming one of my more unfavourable players in the EPL, but justice was served when Declan Rudd saved from Odemwingie. Then came another moment of insanity, as Tamas swung an elbow at Vaughan as a cross came in, unseen by the referee. The amount of pundits that felt it was an “accident” was unbelieveable, and Tamas should have 100% been sent off, and has been now charged by the FA. Norwich really need a win, because the lapses in defence are beggining to cost them points, and that may result in relegation. As for West Brom, they finally got their overdue win, and should be okay from now on.
Fulham 1-1 Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn managed to get out of this game with a point, while Fulham would have been left wondering how they did not win. Fulham were on top from the word go, but Duff had a very poor game and the amount of times he had the ball down the wing and ceased to deliver the final ball was unbelievable. And with that, as always with football, Blackburn got the first goal. Hoilett worked the wing and pulled back for Rochina, who hit a corker of a shot into the top corner. It may have been undeserved, but Steve Kean will take anything at this time. Fulham finally got their breakthrough on the half hour mark, as Bobby Zamora pulled a little space and finished brilliantly. Through the second half, Fulham pressed but couldn’t break the Blackburn barrier. The end of the game was marred due to a unfortunate injury to Hoilett, and Steve Kean’s accusation that Schwarzer should have been sent off for a 50/50 challenge. Both teams really need to improve, but one in this game looks more likely than the other.
QPR 0-0 Newcastle
In a game that I didn’t really see, QPR seem to have improved over the summer. Leon Best had a very good chance in the first half that went wide, and Shaun Wright-Phillips had a very good game down the right wing, passing players with ease and almost scoring himself. Jay Bothroyd probably should have scored in the game, and had been given a gift from SWP that he wasted. But the biggest talking point was Barton, who’s only real involvement in the game was to get put on his arse by Cheik Tiote, much to my delight. QPR looked better in the highlights, and Newcastle seem to be a better side this season without Barton, so both have improved with him moving on.
That’s it for this week, I will be more punctual next week by posting on a tuesday, please subscribe, comment and join me again next week.