West Ham 3 – 0 Fulham
Andy Carroll announced his presence at Upton Park with convincing authority as the Irons triumph over the Cottagers in this week’s London Derby. Carroll dominated the visitor’s defense and made Brede Hangeland look very ordinary for the 68 minutes of the match. The Irons got the first goal in the first minute when Carroll flicked on a long, clearing kick from James Collins and the ball fell in the path of Ricardo Vaz Te. Vaz Te then played the ball over to Kevin Nolan who calmly finished the move in the back of keeper Mark Schwarzer’s goal. The goal happened so fast, the Upton Park Bubbles hadn’t even finished fading away. It was all pretty easy for West Ham from there. The second goal came in the 29th minute when Winston Reid got on the end of a Matthew Taylor corner and easily flicked it into the lower corner of the Fulham goal. It was easy pickings for Reid as the Fulham defense was all concentrated on Carroll, who once again, out jumped Hangeland to help the ball on to Reid. The third goal came in the 41st minute when James Collins’ free-kick in toward was headed clear by Hangeland and fell to the feet of Taylor. Taylor hit a great strike from the edge of the penalty area and found the target low and to keeper Schwarzer’s lower right side. Fulham look lost with out former players Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele. They never really threatened in this match and the introduction of Dimitar Berbatov in the second half for Mladen Petric did little to change things. The match did not end on a good note for Iron’s boss Same Allardyce as it Carroll appeared to have picked up an injury and had to be taked off at the 68th minute. Word is that he will miss both of England’s World Cup qualifying matches. However, when he does return, he looks like good fit for West Ham in their quest to stay up in the Premiership.
Swansea 2 – 2 Sunderland
Black Cats’ new signing Stephen Fletcher grabs a brace and ends the Swans 100% Premier League record. The Swans were eager to impress their home fans at the Liberty Stadium and all seemed to have started well for them. Wayne Routledge should have been awarded an early penalty and Nathan Dyer had a sure goal denied by Black Cat’s keeper Simon Mignolet. But the Swans were dealt a serious blow in the 16th minute when Neil Taylor suffered a serious injury from a challenge from Sunderland defender Craig Gardner. Swansea fans were absolutely furious at the referee for not punishing Gardner for the challenge. Taylor required prolonged treatment and had to be carried off and given oxygen. The incident seemed to get to fans and players alike and in the 40th minute, Fletcher got his first when he grabbed a horrible back pass from Swans defender Ashley Williams and slotted the finish past the helpless keeper Michel Vorm. Swans did manage to equalize deep into first half stoppage time as Dyer’s gentle chip pass was volleyed home by Routledge. But Sunderland were awarded a free kick right before the half time interval. Sebastian Larsson kick seemed to evade everyone except Fletcher who had been hanging out by the back post. He tapped home the gift and the Black Cats were back in the lead when the half time whistle blew. All credit to Swans boss Michael Laudrup in getting his boys to focus and pick themselves up for the second half. They could have easily rolled over, but they kept pressing and Black Cats’ keeper Mignolet had to save an excellent volley from Dyer and later sigh with relief when a rehearsed corner routine saw Leon Britton volley over the bar. Things got testy later on when Swans defender Chico Flores appeared to make a studs-up challenge on Black Cats midfielder James McClean, leaving the latter in a heap. Boss Martin O’Neill went nuts when the home side refused to put the ball out of play so his player could receive treatment. The equalizer for Swans came in the 66th minute when Michu headed home a Jonathan De Guzman cross past keeper Mignolet. Any hope of Swans grabbing a late win were dashed when Flores was sent off for a wild high-footed challenge at Louis Saha’s head. But even with ten men for the last 18 minutes, Swans continued searching for the winner. So, away goes the 100% record, but it should be noted that Swansea are for real this season and it will not be easy to get any points from them.
Tottenham 1 – 1 Norwich
I think Harry Redknapp is laughing his butt off which ever London golf course he is spending his Saturdays. Andreas Villas-Boas has gotten Spurs off to their worst start in four years. The match seemed to drag at a slow pace for an hour as Spurs could put together any consistent attack and the Canaries spent long periods defending in their own end. There were frustrated consternations from the home fans when Villas-Boas moved the left-footed Gareth Bale to the right of midfield and the right-footed Aaron Lennon to the left of midfield. The resulting play saw Spurs very narrow and unable to break down a stalwart Canary defense. So it went until the 55th minute when Emmanuel Adebayor came on for Gylfi Sigurdsson. Things seemed to pick up a bit as Adebayor was able to hold the ball a bit longer and Spurs got a shot or two on goal. The Canaries should have opened the scoring in the 61st minute when Anthony Pilkington had his shot brilliantly saved by Spurs keeper Brad Friedel. New signing Mousa Dembele, who had come on at half time for an under performing Raniere Sandro, opened the scoring in the 68th minute when he struck form 18 yards out from a Jermain Defoe pass. The home fans expected for Villas-Boas’ boys to go on and notch their first win, and he did try to bolster the midfield by bringing on Tom Huddlestone to replace striker Defoe. But once again, slack defending and really crappy ball control bit Spurs in the butt again in the 84th minute when Jake Livermore conceded a stupid free kick by unnecessarily fouling Steve Morrison. Pilkington took the free kick which Spurs made an absolute mess of in trying to clear their lines. The ball ended up at Robert Snodgrass’ feet and he happily equalized in the bottom right corner of the Spurs’ goal. Things got worse for Spurs in the 88th minute when Huddlestone was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Jonathan Howson. So Spurs have no wins in four matches, the fans are not happy with Villas-Boas, and things are not going will at White Hart Lane. Stop laughing Harry.
West Bromwich Albion 2 – 0 Everton
Is this the same Everton that man-handled Manchester United on the first week of the season? Is this the same bunch that made Aston Villa look so bad at Villa Park last week or easily man-handled Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup on Wednesday? Toffee’s boss David Moyes will not be happy with the way his boys pushed around the Hawthorns stadium ground on Saturday. The first half seemed to start ok for Everton. Midfielder Steven Pienaar was his usual pesky self and nearly opened the scoring in the 4th minute when he forced a fine save out of Baggies keeper Jonas Olsson. The first sign of trouble for Everton came in the 19th minute when Tony Hibbert had to be brought on for an injured Darron Gibson. The Baggies almost took the lead in the 29th minute when striker Shane Long got on the end of a Liam Ridgewell cross from the left and headed against the crossbar. They almost scored again in the 44th minute when midfielder James Morrison managed to get through the Toffees defense and was one-on-one versus keeper Tim Howard. But Howard was able to block the hard shot to keep the score level at the half time break. Marouane Fellaini should have put Everton in the lead at the 55th minute after captain Phil Neville headed a poor clearance from Baggie defender Liam Ridgewell back into the box. The Belgian striker made a great turn to create the chance, but his shot went across the face of the goal. In the 60th minute, Fellaini made a worse miss when he latched on to a low cross from substitute Kevin Mirallas and promptly put his side-footed shot over the bar. That’s when the Baggies took the match in hand and opened the scoring in the 65th minute. Ridgewell get Peter Odemwingie going in space on the left of midfield. Odemwingie picked out Shane Long who beat defender Sylvain Distin to the low cross and Long was able to get it past Howard. Gareth McAuley secured the win in the 82nd minute when his glancing header from Chris Brunt’s corner kick left keeper Howard grasping for air.
Wigan 2 – 2 Stoke
Peter Crouch saves a point for Stoke as they visit Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday. The Latics got the lead in the fifth minute when Potters’ defender Robert Huth has penalized for handing in the box. Shaun Maloney coolly finished the spot kick. But in the 40th minute, the Latics conceded their own penalty kick when Mayor Figueroa was penalized for hand-ball and Jonathan Walters equalized. The Latics went back into the lead in the 49th minute. Franco Di Santo grabbed the clearance and sent Arouna Kone on his way. Kone went brilliantly up the field with the ball and managed to elude the Potters’ defenders. He was able to hold the ball in the Stoke area until Di Santo arrived, made a fine square pass, and the latter expertly put the home side back in the lead. That should have been that, but Cameron Jerome, who had come on for Michael Kightly, was able to get a pass over to Walters. Walters then crossed in from the left and Crouch was able to nod home the equalizer. Stoke should have won it, when Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi saved Gary Caldwell’s deflected free kick at the match end.
Manchester City 3 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
The BPL Champions grind out a win at the Etihad on Saturday. Yaya Toure gave Citeh the lead in the 16th minute. He grabbed Carlos Tevez’s rebounded shot and turned it in with a half volley. The Champions dominated the first half and it looked like QPR boss Mark Hughes would experience another spanking at the hands of his old team. Samir Nasri came the closest to making the second goal when his close range shot was parried by keeper Robert Green. The second half saw QPR improve a bit and striker Bobby Zamora got an equalizer in the 59th minute when picked up the scraps from a scramble in the Citeh penalty area. But things did not stay equal for long. In fact Citeh attacked directly from the kickoff and Tevez, after brilliantly keeping the ball in play, made a fine cross to Edin Dzeko, who wasn’t properly picked up by the QPR defense, who headed Citeh back into the lead in the 61st minute. That should have been that, but QPR refused to give in. Defender Ryan Nelsen’s volley narrowly went wide of the Citeh goal. Nelsen had another chance to score when Esteban Granero whipped in a great free kick that Nelsen nearly was able to touch into the Citeh goal. The nerves of the Champions were jangling a bit until the points were wrapped in injury time (we’re going to call this Mancini time). Tevez, who had just moved back into an onside position deflected home Dzeko’s shot and that was that. So the Champions remain unbeaten and are two points off the top off idle leaders Chelsea.
Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal
The Gunners travel to Anfield and end their goal scoring drought in emphatic fashion on Sunday. It was the 99th anniversary of Liverpool Legend Bill Shankly and the Reds celebrated by equaling the record of the 1962-63 side. That side had collected just one point from each of their three opening matches. The Gunners have not lost at Anfield in the last five matches and went into the lead when Lucas Podolski beat keeper Pepe Reina in the 31st minute. It was Podolski’s first goal in an Arsenal uniform and he made a fine run into the Liverpool area after he was sent on his way by Santi Cazorla. His finish was a clinical strike that went under Reina and into the net. A few minutes later, Red fans were sure that Raheem Sterling had earned them a penalty kick when he latched on to a Luis Suarez pass and zoomed in on goal. Gunner defender Per Mertesacker got his tackle in and just did manage to knock the ball away. Although Sterling did go down, replays showed that Mertersacker did not bring him down. The closest Liverpool came would to equalizing was when Luiz Suarez’s shot on goal in the second half was parried over the bar by replacement keeper Vito Mannone. The Gunners secured the win in the 68th minute when Santi Cazorla’s shot rebounded off keeper Reina and underneath into the net. As the match wound down, the Arsenal fans were chanting: “Sacked in the morning, you will be sacked in the morning” at Liverpool boss Brenden Rogers. I wonder if the same was chanted at Shankly when he first started.
Newcastle 1 – 1 Aston Villa
Paul Lambert and the Villains grab their point of the BPL campaign at Saint James’ Park. Starting Villain keeper Shay Given was dropped in favor of American Brad Guzan. The Magpies must have figured the Villains would be easy pickings, but the first half saw Villa put up a great fight. In fact, they went in front in the 22nd minute when an unmarked Ciaran Clark headed in Barry Bannan’s cross. Guzan made a good accounting for himself in the Villa goal and made a brilliant save off the line from Papiss Cisse. Magpie boss Alan Pardew changed the formation to a 4-3-3 to get some more attacking in on goal. The result made the home side more dangerous in attacking the Villains goal. It was a moment of shear brilliance from Hatem Ben Arfa that got Newcastle. He seized onto a loose ball, eluded the Villa defenders and hit a 20 yard wonder strike to keeper Guzan’s left. However, Guzan made a bid to remain the starting Villain keeper when he got to Yohan Cabaye’s free kick attempt that was headed for the upper left corner of the Villain net.
Southampton 2 – 3 Manchester United
What a way to celebrate 1000 league matches in charge at Manchester United! Robin van Persie grabs a hat-trick and the Red Devils steal three points from the Saints at Saint Mary’s stadium on Sunday. It started out a bit slow as United, without injured striker Wayne Rooney, tried to find some way to cope with the loss. There was a bit of eyebrow raising when Alex Ferguson started Anders Lindegaard in goal in place of David de Gea. Rio Ferdinand was back from injury to partner with Nemanja Vidic and so the Red Devils defense seemed to be safe. Things seemed to get better for United when Van Persie almost opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a volley that went just wide of the Saints’ goal. But Southampton have shown so far that they are not easily intimidated and in the 16th minute striker Rickie Lambert out jumped United right back Rafael to head home the opening goal. United midfielder Shinji Kagawa nearly got the equalizer a bit later as his 20 yard shot on goal was parried past the post by Saints keeper Kelvin Davis. But in the 23rd minute Van Persie leveled the score with his first when midfielder Antonio Valencia crossed from the right and Nathaniel Clyne’s slip allowed the ball to land and the striker’s feet. He took one touch to gain control and slammed the shot home past the sprawling Saints’ keeper Kelvin Davis. That should have kicked the Red Devils into gear. They came close several times with efforts from Van Persie and Kagawa, but they kept giving the ball away and making defensive mistakes at the wrong time. One of those times was the 55th minute when United defender Patrice Evra slipped and fell, allowing Morgan Schneiderlin to easily head the Saints back into the lead. They had several chances to put the match beyond the visitor’s reach. Rafael cleared away a Lambert effort. Rio Ferdinand blocked James Ward-Prowse’s attempt and Ferguson had seen enough. He brought on Paul Scholes for Kagawa and Luis Nani for Tom Cleverley. As soon as he came on, Scholes changed the match for United. He made a wonderful chance for Van Persie who fired his shot straight at Saints keeper Davis from a tight angle. United should have had the equalizer in the 68th minute when Van Persie was fouled in the Saints penalty area. He stepped up to take the kick and tried to wrong foot keeper Davis and roll it into the opposite corner. Davis easily saved the weak effort and it looked like the Saints were going to get their first BPL win at the expense of the Red Devils. But Van Persie did get the equalizer in the 87th minute when Ferdinand’s header came off the post and RVP directed the rebound home. Van Persie completed his hat-trick in stoppage time when Nani made a fine move in from the left, crossed to the Dutchman who nodded the effort home. A bit of trivia for United Supporters: Dutch Legendary Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his first home debut goal versus Fulham. He scored his first hat-trick versus Southampton. Robin van Persie scored his first home debut goal last week versus Fulham. Can RVP out do the legend of Ruud?