At 5pm on Sunday, all of the top ten Twitter trends in the UK were football based; Arsenal, Manchester Derby, Van Persie, Rooney – the list goes on, even to the extent of #MoyesOut. A bit extreme after just a second loss, but nonetheless, it looks like football continues to dominate the country. And we were treated to another weekend of top Premier League action with some brilliant performances from the likes of Negredo, Baines & Mesut Ozil.
Arguably now the biggest game of the Premier League calendar, the Manchester Derby was the one of the most anticipated of the season so far. After a tough start, including facing Chelsea and Liverpool as well as City, United were dealt an extra blow in the lead up to the game, with star man Robin Van Persie having to pull out with a thigh strain. From the first whistle, United failed to find their fire power, and in terms of creativity, Manchester City had the upper hand, producing 14 scoring chances compared to United’s 9, and throwing in a total 7 set play crosses. Although some would have preferred the selection of Edin Dzeko compared to new signing Alvaro Negredo for this particular occasion, I feel that the Spaniard put in an impressive performance. Having the most shots on goal for City (5 of which 3 were blocked), and managing to grab 2 assists, it became evident that Pellegrini didn’t make the wrong choice.
Although Manchester United’s performance was far below what was expected, Wayne Rooney didn’t deserve to be on the losing side; dropping back to get involved in 11 ground duels, does show that his passion is still there, and a positive that United fans can take from this game. However, City eventually put 4 past United, with Rooney’s consolation spoiling a clean sheet, and The Citizens will be wanting to remind Van Persie of his quotes from earlier this week, where he declared this fixture the title decider, even at this early stage of the season!
Ozil shines as Gunners Go Top
Arsenal jumped to the top of the table after another impressive Ozil performance, where he had a hand in all 3 goals. Although Stoke had a fair balance of possession, there were 2 stand-out performers for Arsenal who gave the London club the upper hand. The man who is impressing at the moment is Aaron Ramsey, and he didn’t disappoint. Being involved with the most touches, and winning back possession 4 times in midfield, it’s clear that the Welshman is giving his all for the Arsenal cause, and it’s showing after notching his 7th goal in 8 games. Another player who continues to grow in the Premier League is Mesut Ozil. He created 7 of Arsenal’s 14 goal opportunities, as well as maintaining 86% passing accuracy. The significance of creative players (both defenders and midfielders) has proven to be an important prospect so far this season, a look at the others who have produced the most are compared below. But so far, it looks like the 42m paid for the German was well worthwhile, especially when the Gunners’ fans look at the Premier League table after this weekend’s games.
Baines at the Double
Everton left it late to secure a second win under Roberto Martinez. In a hard fought game, it was Leighton Baines who stepped up to claim the win for The Blues with two late, yet stunning, free kicks to beat Jussi Jaaskelainen. Although West Ham played their part in the 3-2 defeat, it was Everton’s main man Baines who was assisting at the back too. He won all of his attempted 5 tackles, looking to be very important to their season going forward – especially after being a rumoured target of Manchester United in the Summer. Everton are now the only team in the league who still hold their unbeaten record for this season.
Paulinho the Hero
Another side who had to leave it late were Spurs; scoring in the 3rd minute of stoppage time at the end of the second half. Andre Villas Boas’ side found it hard to break down Cardiff after an astounding performance by goalkeeper David Marshall, making a total of 11 saves throughout the game. His hard work was not rewarded, however, when Paulinho struck late to give Spurs the win. They now sit second in the table, only behind Arsenal on goal difference.
Saints March Through Anfield
The shock result of the week was Southampton’s win at Anfield. After a strange move by Brendan Rodgers to play 4 centre half’s together, Liverpool struggled to track the opposition in the wide areas. A goal from Lovren was enough to seal the win for Southampton, as injury problems continue to mount up for Liverpool after their great start. Rodgers admitted that the only positive from the game was that it was the last game of main man Luis Suarez’s suspension, as he returns for the big League Cup game at Old Trafford on Wednesday.