West Midlands’ piece of art, Dominance at the Etihad, Wenger’s ugly win, shocking decisions from the refs and heads near the axe
A fixture that always had goals in it is the West Midlands’ derby between West Brom and Aston Villa, only 2 of their previous 13 fixtures ended in a goaless draw, and on Monday night with only goal difference separating both teams, a masterpiece was in the making. Shane Long’s brilliant touch gave him the opportunity to get an early goal, which he scored ruthlessly, then a short pass from Leandro Bacuna led to the second goal for Long, Stephane Sessegnon could have twice made it 3-0 to the Baggies but the Beninese midfielder failed to score. A treble change from Paul Lambert affected Aston Villa positively, Karim El-Ahmadi’s flick over Myhill gave the Villains some hope, then a beauty of a strike from Ashley Westwood equalized the score at 2-2
Eleven games into the season, and only Stanley park and 3 points were the difference between the two major sides in Liverpool. A win in the Merseyside derby for Everton would have seen them equal their rivals on 23 points, however The Toffees had only won 2 games against Liverpool since 2006. Luis Suarez’s goal tally jumped to the number 9 as his beautiful free kick gave Brendan Rodgers’ side the lead again just after Kevin Mirallas cancelled Coutinho’s opener. Defensive mistakes from both teams in the second half indicated that the scoreline won’t stop at 2-1, back to back goals from Lukaku put the side in blue in front after Joe Allen had missed a sitter that would have arguably ended the game. A simple man marking error in a set piece was the only thing that held Everton back, as Sturridge’s header went past Tim Howard.
Gus Poyet’s arrival at Sunderland surely benefited the team as Di Canio’s army like methods wasn’t the best for him nor the players, however one thing that could not be retrieved is Stephane Sessegnon who was sold on deadline day to West Brom. Sunderland, who were the second worst away team before this fixture had to travel to the Britannia to face Stoke City, Charlie Adam opened the score after a couple of good passes from the men in red and white. The most controversial decision of the week was Wes Brown being sent off after a great tackle that was never dangerous or near Adam, a 10 men Sunderland with about 50 mins to go the second was inevitable for Stoke.
Spurs travelled to Manchester in hope of ending City’s 100% home record, but the aftermath was abysmal. 13 seconds into the game Jesus Navas registered his name with his first goal for City, a fine offensive spell from Tottenham was met with the second goal as Negredo’s pin ball eventually ended up in the net. Two from Agüero, another from Navas, and Negredo closed the scoresheet at 6 with City continuing their home dominance and edging closer to the top, which is only 6 points away. On the other hand, AVB was embarrassed of his team display that led to Spurs losing the best defensive record in the country.
One of the best – if not the best – passing team in the league had to travel to the Emirates to face an inform Arsenal side, who are cruising with the 1st place. This team would be Southampton who aren’t only entertaining with beautiful football, but also solidarity at the back with only 5 goals conceded in 11 games. The Saints’ fine start was electrocuted with a woeful gaffe from Artur Boruc who tried to dribble the ball past Giroud, but ended up embarrassing himself and giving Arsenal the lead, the Gunners’ defensive improvement in the second half neutralized the effect of Jay Rodriguez and Ricky Lambert. With Giroud striking again from the spot, Arsenal reached the number 28 on the points list.
Fulham and Norwich’s dull and winless performances could soon see their managers – Martin Jol and Chris Hughton – sacked if they couldn’t improve their display on the pitch, and most importantly their points tally. Fulham’s home game against Swansea wasn’t what Martin Jol would have wished for, albeit a good first half, an Aaron Hughes own goal and a Jonjo Shelvey strike ensured that Fulham won’t leave the drop zone. Meanwhile, Newcastle had to entertain Norwich at St.James’ Park after beating both Chelsea and Spurs. Two defensive errors from Norwich’s back 4 and England’s number two John Ruddy worsened Chris Hughton’s place, as his side was seen a potential mid table team after a successful transfer window. Crystal Palace’s search for a manager finally came to an end, after they appointed former Stoke City coach Tony Pulis, who was in the stands at the KC Stadium watching his to be team face Hull. A 10 men Palace clinched the 3 points through a Bary Bannan goal, despite Hull striking the post in the dying minutes through Jake Livermore.
Sam Allardyce’s striker nightmare is still haunting him with Andy Carroll and Mladen Petric injured, and Carlton Cole not near match fitness, therefore another strikerless XI was fielded from West Ham when they had to welcome José Mourinho’s Chelsea on Saturday evening. Chelsea were a bit not into the game until Guy Demel gifted them a penalty, Lampard slotted it home. Oscar’s out of the class performance, and Lampard’s 4 in the last 4 against the Hammers ended it with 3 goals to nil. Manchester United’s start of the season isn’t their best of starts, never mind the unconvincing displays in a couple of games, their trip to Wales was seen as a challenge for David Moyes’ side with injuries and lack of midfield depth hammering his side. Rooney’s opener was equalized with two superb passes through United’s half letting former United man Fraizer Campbell through on goal. United’s dominance in the air for about 55 mins gave them the lead through Evra just before half time, Peter Whittingham’s wonderful crosses kept flying in till the end of the game which saw Kim Bo-Kyung denying United the 4th place spot.
Team of the week: Szczesny; Sagna, Gabbidon, Evra; N’Zonzi, Westwood, Lampard, Oscar, Nasri; Long, Agüero.
Last week referees had some strange decisions being called, the others not called but the problem mainly was the penalties at Stamford Bridge and the Liberty, Chelsea and Stoke were awarded penalties in the last minute that were harsh on West Brom and Swansea. Managers of the opposing teams as predicted were furious with the decisions, the odd thing was Mike Riley the referees’ chief apologizing to Steve Clark on the penalty at Stamford Bridge.
If you look at it from a different view, now Mike Riley has to apologize for every referee error every week, get out his contact book on Monday morning, call 4-5 managers to apologize. I don’t think it was necessary for the press to know that Mike Riley has apologized, he could have done it privately and that’s it. With shocking decisions this week, and 2 red cards appealed, the FA will have to take some action towards this problem.
Well, this isn’t our talking point of this week, however it had to be mentioned as poor refereeing could affect certain situations. One thing about football, as a player/manager/fan you should always forget about the refs’ mistakes and concentrate on the football and tactics. Here are a couple of points taken from this week’s games:
– Seamus Coleman was almost absent on Sunday against Liverpool, Martinez’s defensive edge was afraid from the effect of leaving Coutinho without a marker, however Coleman is one of Everton’s major weapons, running at Flanagan with Mirallas also on the wing would have troubled Liverpool on this side of the pitch. I think Martinez should have stood with what he had and didn’t think about the opposition.
– At 2-2 Brendan Rodgers made a substitution that exposed Liverpool’s defensively, he brought on Sturridge instead of Lucas who was absolutely great in terms of covering and sitting in front of the defence. The scoreline wasn’t that crucial to play Suarez-Moses-Coutinho-Sturridge against a side which has pace in Deulofeu-Lukaku-Mirallas, a Sturridge-Coutinho swap or Sturridge-Henderson swap would have been ideal.
– Spurs conceded an early goal which shook their defence a little bit, AVB’s comment on the period after the goal was ” We had a very, very good reaction to the goal we conceded “. I tend to agree and disagree with this comment, Spurs reacted positively in terms of offense but defensively it was horrendous. Between the first and the second goal, City stayed back and played with 7-8 players in their half depending on the speed of Navas/Nasri-Agüero-Negredo compared to that of Kaboul and Dawson, Sandro and Paulinho were caught more than once as it can be seen in the Nasri play which Sandro eventually intercepted with a text book tackle. The problem is AVB had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago when he was 1 nil down at home to West Ham, high paced players in Ravel Morrison and Ricardo Vaz Te glided past Dawson and Vertonghen which ended in a 3-0 win for West Ham. AVB should have spotted when City were playing deeper and alerted Sandro to not push further forward.
– 20 minutes to go in the United-Cardiff game, and United players are giving dull free-kicks in their own half to a side which has Peter Whittingham and has scored 37% of their goals from set pieces, I think the last sentence explains itself.
– Paul Lambert made a treble change at the 57 minute mark bringing on Delph-Agbonlahor-Weimann instead of Sylla-Tonev-Kozak, the changes were predictable but what was astonishing is how Lambert used Delph to double with Clark on Amalfitano which nullified the frenchman.