Here’s what happened in the English Premiership over the weekend, in case you missed it…
Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest review a busy Saturday in the English Premier League.
Play of the day
Mohamed Diame’s goal for West Ham United against Arsenal on Saturday was the play of the day on Soccer Central Matchday.
Cisse: goal or no goal?
Did Papiss Cisse’s header cross the goal-line?
Chelsea 4, Norwich City 1
Eden Hazard and Oscar were the story for Chelsea early this season, with the pair of newcomers winning plaudits for setting in so quickly at Stamford Bridge. But now Juan Mata has come to the fore, the Spaniard wielding his magic for the Blues in the last few games. Mata was at his very best Saturday against Norwich, delivering a perfectly-weighted ball for Hazard to slot home, and then pulling off a clever little flick inside the box for Branislav Ivanovic to smash home. And to think, Mata can’t even crack Spain’s starting lineup.
Match fact: Chelsea is the only team in the league this season to not have conceded a goal in the second half. Also, with just three points from seven games, Norwich is off to their worst-ever start to a Premiership season.
Manchester City 3, Sunderland 0
Finally, the Blues keep a clean sheet, and without injured captain Vincent Kompany, who was sidelined with a calf injury. More good news was that Micah Richards, who made a surprise return from an ankle injury, looked very good in deputizing for Kompany. That will no doubt instil the back line with some much needed confidence. Oh, and how did Carlos Cuellar escape with only a yellow card for his horror tackle on Carlos Tevez?
Match fact: With Saturday’s win, Manchester City ran its home unbeaten run to 33 league games (30 wins and three draws). Also, Sunderland is winless in their last 11 road games in the league (six draws and five losses).
Swansea City 2, Reading 2
The good news for the Swans was that Wayne Routledge and Miguel Michu displayed the great form they showed in the first two games of the season for the first time during the club’s current winless skid. The bad news is that the Welsh side continues to leak goals — 11 in their last five games – and have not kept a clean sheet since losing defender Neil Taylor to a season-ending injury. Manager Michael Laudrup maintains he’s not going to change Swansea’s attacking playing style, but surely he has to do something to make the Swans a harder team to break down.
Match fact: The previous meeting between these sides was the 2011 Championship playoff final when Swansea won 4-2 to win promotion to the Premiership. Also, all 12 of Swansea’s goals in the league this season have come from open play.
West Bromwich Albion 3, Queens Park Rangers 2
QPR continues to struggle, but at least they’re doing it with some style. For the second week in a row, Adel Taarabt scored a highlight reel goal, taking a great chip pass from Esteban Granero on his chest before volleying it home. After a bit of a slow start, Granero has really come on in the last two matches and if the Spaniard can continue to grow and be an influential player, QPR just might beat the drop.
Match fact: QPR have earned just three points from 51 away from home in the league (three draws and 14 losses). Also, QPR have now gone 20 road games in the league without registering a clean sheet.
Wigan Athletic 2, Everton 2
It will never be mistaken for the best strike partnership in the league, but the Arouna Kone-Franco Di Santo duo is one to keep an eye on in the months to come. The Ivorian and Argentine have shown a real chemistry in their first season together and have already combined for six goals for the Latics. Watch the video and check out the way that Kone expertly holds up the ball while fighting off a defender, and then feeds a pass back to Di Santo who anticipates the move and blasts home from close range.
Match fact: Wigan has recorded just one win in their last 14 league meetings against Everton (with six draws and seven losses). Also, Wigan has now conceded two goals in each of their last five league matches at home.
West Ham United 1, Arsenal 3
Arsenal’s newcomers were the story in this one, with Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla all having a hand in the goals. Giroud finally bagged his first league goal as a Gunner, finishing off a lovely cross from Podolski with a deft finish, and then setting up Theo Walcott’s goal with a sublime pass. Podolski and Cazorla have settled in quite nicely but Giroud has been slow to acclimatize to his new surroundings. Hopefully for Arsenal that this composed and quality performance against the Hammers proves to be the turning point for Giroud.
Match fact: Arsenal is now undefeated in their last nine league contests against West Ham (with seven wins and two draws). Also, West Ham has suffered just two losses in their last 17 league games at home (with eight wins and seven draws).
Southampton 2, Fulham 2
What were you thinking, Jos Hooiveld? Southampton’s Dutch defender scored his second own-goal of the season, allowing Fulham to tie the score at 1-1 and allow the Cottagers back into the game. Message to all defenders: when a blistering and low shot (this one from the foot of John Arne Riise) comes rocketing into the box but appears to be going wide, just let it go by you. Fight the urge to get a touch on it to knock it away, and definitely don’t turn your foot inward towards goal as you’ll only end up redirecting the shot past your goalkeeper as Hooiveld found to his dismay.
Match fact: Fulham is now winless in their last five visit to St. Mary’s (four draws and one loss). Also, this was Fulham’s first away draw in the league during the 2012 calendar year (with four wins and eight losses).
Liverpool 0, Stoke City 0
It was the same old story for the Reds at Anfield versus the Potters: plenty of scoring chances, but no finishing. Steven Gerrard’s long-range effort was turned away by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who made a great save, but Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel all squandered opportunities inside the penalty area that they should have buried. Liverpool has nine goals this season, but it’s not far-fetched to suggest that they could easily have twice as many.
Match fact: Liverpool haven’t won back to back league games since December 2011. Also, Stoke has never won in 50 away matches against Liverpool in the English topflight (11 draws and 39 losses).
Tottenham 2, Aston Villa 0
Like last week, Villa manager Paul Lambert left Darren Bent on the bench, bringing him on when his team trailed. There would be no comeback this time, however, as Spurs bagged a second goal through a great individual effort from Aaron Lennon just moments after Bent came into the game. Villa simply isn’t a good enough team to leave a player of Bent’s calibre on the sidelines for 66 minutes, especially with Christian Benteke proving wasteful in front on net.
Match fact: Hugo Lloris started in goal for Spurs, bringing an end American goalkeeper Brad Freidel’s run of 310 consecutive matches in the Premiership stretching back to May 2004. Also, Spurs are now unbeaten in their last eight league games against Aston Villa (five wins and three draws).
Newcastle United 0, Manchester United 3
The main talking point of the match was the Papiss Cisse incident. Did the whole of the ball cross the goal-line? Replays were inconclusive, further underlining why goal-line technology is needed. But it’s interesting to note that there would have been no controversy had United goalkeeper David de Gea dealt with the original cross. The Spaniard is a very good shot-stopper, but on one more than one occasion he looked less the confident on dealing with crosses pumped into the box, flapping at them in frenzied desperation.
Match fact: Newcastle has lost just twice in their last 14 league matches at home. Also, the Magpies were unbeaten in their previous three matches against Manchester United – they haven’t gone unbeaten in four since 1989.