A new teenage sensation Roy Hodgson has already tried to claim for England, a historic win for West Ham, and Arsenal managing to just hold on to the top of the Premier League table. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks the top talking points from the weekend gone by.
A draw for Arsenal away at West Brom was enough for them to stay at the top of the table; although level on points with Liverpool, they’re on top by way of goals scored. Manchester United won, Chelsea won and Tottenham lost in a Premier League weekend that was as entertaining as the previous two.
After two losses on the trot, the Hammers went to White Hart Lane to claim an unlikely 0-3 win, a fantastic result. It’s the first time they’ve scored over three goals in a Premier League game at the line since 1994. It was quite the weekend.
One conclusion stands head and shoulders above all the others: if this carries on, it’s going to be one heck of a season. Just four points separate one and seven and, barring the struggling Sunderland and Crystal Palace, the bottom of the log is equally feisty with just five points’ difference between seven and 18. To pick just five talking points from this weekend is almost cruel, but here’s a crack at it anyway.
Everton failing in the final third and their defensive struggles
Don’t panic, Everton are still looking like they’re adjusting to life after David Moyes just fine. Romelu Lukaku is in sublime touch and Chelsea are probably trying to work out what kind of clause they could trigger to get him back at Stamford Bridge after sending him out on loan. On Saturday against Manchester City, though, Everton became sluggish and a bit lacklustre as the game progressed.
After an early lead, which was cancelled out almost immediately, Everton looked like they just started to drop in confidence a little. By full time, their final-third passes were just 66% successful. Prior to their unbeaten run being broken, that average was 74%. City kept their defence tight and strangled Everton’s passing game in that area allowing them just 116 passes there on Saturday, whereas they were on 159 before.
Equally concerning is Everton’s defensive record in their last three games. After keeping three clean sheets on the trot, the Toffees have let in seven goals in the last three. While City certainly were superior, more could have been done to prevent some of their goals and Everton looked to be playing as individual defenders rather than a team trying to keep a lid on a side with some of the best attackers in the world.
Regardless, the Toffees had a number of appalling refereeing decisions go against them, which might have seen the result turn out differently.
Loic Remy’s fine form
Three games, five goals and two of them coming with Newcastle United under pressure: Loic Remy is certainly a worthwhile addition to a Newcastle side which has been somewhat inconsistent this season. He scored two goals in the space of eight minutes against Cardiff and looked a far better player than in the previous two games he has played. Remy was silky smooth for Newcastle on Saturday, and was a menace to the defence.
He took five shots, a quarter of the side’s total. He is as apt at helping set up goals as he is in scoring them, although his teammates often squander the chances he helps create. Pappis Cisse hasn’t scored for 13 games now, but Remy has filled the attacking role with great aplomb.
Adnan Januzaj: someone for David Moyes to smile about
If you mentioned the name Adnan Januzaj to anyone before the start of Saturday’s game, very few would have known who he was. The 18-year-old Belgian moved to United in 2011. He’d been playing for Belgium team Anderlecht since he was 10. He’s been playing for the reserves for a while and even won the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year award for 2013. Januzaj scored a brace and barring his tumbling dive earlier on, the youngster looked like he has some promise.
Although this does create expectation in a United side that has been struggling, it will at least give Moyes something to smile about for a little while. Moyes’ other attackers look to be flatlining against Sunderland and in the first half, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie took zero shots and set up zero chances. United have also conceded at least once in their last seven Premier League games. They’re not the only team to have failed to keep a clean sheet five times this season. Moyes has a lot of work ahead of him, but at least it’s not all doom and gloom.
Chelsea finally set the Ba
Chelsea picked up their first away win of the season as Demba Ba returned for the Blues in sensational style. Ba was constantly pressing forward and always on top of Norwich’s defence. Chelsea should have finished off the Canaries well before the half-time break, but it took until the second half for Jose Mourinho’s men to take full advantage. Ba completed 16 successful passes as Chelsea finally seemed to have found some oomph and eventually finished with a 3-1 victory.
The Blues were constantly taking shots, finishing with 22 in total. The win perhaps isn’t that much of a surprise, as Chelsea have beaten Norwich five times in their last six meetings, drawing the other game. It was the ideal opportunity for Mounrinho’s men to get their tails up, and they did just that. Chelsea’s passing game still needs work, though, especially when it comes to keeping the ball – they managed just 55% possession.
As was the theme of the weekend, though, Chelsea were helped by some dubious refereeing. A penalty decision and two corners didn’t go the Canaries’ way, but overall, Chelsea looked more threatening. What is surprising, though, is the number of goals Norwich conceded. In their last 23 home games, they have conceded just 22 goals, with nine clean sheets in that run.
A test of Arsenal’s resolve
In the first half against West Brom on Sunday, Arsenal were nowhere to be seen. Compared to the side who ran circles around Napoli midweek during the Champions League, Arsenal paled in comparison. The Gunners had created just one real chance in the entire half.
They have set themselves up as the club to be beaten, and that will mean that any team with a little bit of chutzpah will have to be even more tenacious than usual. The Baggies closed down their passing game and Arsenal didn’t have an answer, especially not when their hosts had nine men forward to subdue them. Arsenal were very lucky to get away with not having a penalty decision go against them in stoppage time, when Laurent Koscielny looked to have deliberately bump into an opposition player without actually getting near the ball for a header.
It’s not that Arsenal were horrendously bad, it’s just that West Brom seemingly knew how to shut them out. Jack Wilshere, tenacious as he is, has scored his first goal in 54 Premier League games, which is at least one positive. Another positive is that for the few minutes that Nicklas Bendtner was on the pitch, he actually showed acute awareness in anticipating the ball in the box.
Premier League Week 7 Results
Norwich 1-3 Chelsea
Southampton 2-0 Swansea
Tottenham 0-3 West Ham
West Brom 1-1 Arsenal
Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester city 3-1 Everton
Cardiff 1-2 Newcastle United
Fulham 1-0 Stoke
Hull 0-0 Aston Villa
Liverpool 3-1 DM
Photo: Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj (L) shoots to score his second goal against Sunderland during their English Premier League soccer match at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northern England, October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis .
"Joyfully to the breeze royal Odysseus spread his sail and with his rudder skillfully he steered." ~ Homer