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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 1

 Posted by on August 20, 2014 at 11:31 pm  England, EPL
Aug 202014
Premier League

Manchester United 1 – 2 Swansea

The Louis Van Gaal Era starts off with a thud at Old Trafford. It was the former Holland manager’s first competitive BPL. Van Gaal, who had taken over for the fired David Moyes in mid-July, was given a very hard lesson on just how hard the top league in England actually is. There was a lot of hope amongst the United supporters as the summer tour of the United States had gone so well. It was also the debut for new Swans’ boss Garry Monk as well. Monk knew, like most BPL managers, that a win at Old Trafford would be a wonderful accomplishment. The Red Devils started the better side, with new captain Wayne Rooney nearly scoring in the 12 minute from a Darren Fletcher pass. Things got complicated in the 23rd minute when new Red Devil right winger Jesse Lingard had to be replaced by Adnan Januzaj due to an injury. In the 26th minute Rooney had a header of an Ashley Young cross saved by Swans’ keeper NAME. Any optimism fans in the Stretford End had for their team evaporated in the 28th minute. Swans mounted an attack and due to a mix up betweem Chris Smalling and Fletcher, Ki Sung-Yueng was left on his own to tap in Glyfi Sigurdsson’s pass to open the scoring. The home side came out hard in the second half and nearly leveled the score when Januzaj’s left footed shot from a Rooney assist missed just off to the right of the goal. United defender Jones had a chance in the 52nd minute when his header of a Juan Mata cross was blocked away by the Swans’ defense. Rooney leveled the scored from the resulting corner kick when hit a brilliant shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. Januzaj should have put the hosts into the lead in the 61st minute when his shot from a Phil Jones pass missed off to the left. Rooney also had a change in the 66th minute when his free-kick shot hit the crossbar. But the one weakness that United had last season bit them again when Wayne Routledge drove straight through the Red Devils defense and found Sigurdsson who scored the winner in the 72nd minute. Even though they had a couple of chances to equalize toward the end of the match, it was obvious that Van Gaal has to make some moves while the transfer window is still open. Will the Glazers let him?

Leicester City 2 – 2 Everton

Substitute Chris Wood earns Leicester a point on their first match returning to the BPL. This is a match that Toffees boss Roberto Martinez will count as points lost. This was the side that had surprised so many last season and looked strong as they made Romelu Lukaku’s move from Chelsea permanent. This is also the side that have “Captain America”, goal keeper Tim Howard. So how could they not have won this match over newly promoted Leicester? Well, the home side fought pretty hard and gave the visitors all they could handle. They nearly scored the opening goal in the 17th minute when Howard had to save a Lenardo Ulloa right-footed shot from a Kasper Schmiechel shot. That woke up the Toffees and they nearly scored in the 20th minute when Leighton Baines had his shot blocked and Sylvain Distin’s attempt to score from the rebound was saved. They did score from the resulting corner kick when Aiden McGeady slotted his shot into the top right corner of the goal. But the home side levelled the score in the 22nd minute when Ulloa slotted home a corner kick into the bottom right corner of the goal past Howard’s reach. The visitors re-took the lead as half-time approached when Steven Naismith slotted home an assist by Steven Pienaar. That should have been good enough for the win for the visitors, but Leicester City just wouldn’t give up. They nearly scored from a Ulloa 53rd minute header and an Anthony Knockaert 58th minute header. Martinez tried to shore up the Everton defense by Kevin Mirallas for Pienaar and Seamus Coleman for McGeady. But the home side were able to level things in the 85th minute when chaos in front of the Everton goal resulted in Wood, who had come on for Ulloa, poking home a loose ball to level the score again. So Leicester City have given notice that they will not be easy push overs and they might actually survive this season.

Queens Park Rangers 0 – 1 Hull City

The Tigers welcome Rangers back to the BPL with a win at Loftus Road. This was supposed to be the debut for 35 year old Rio Ferdinand, who had been signed by QPR boss Harry Redknapp after the defender’s contract at Manchester United was not renewed. The one thing that Redknapp and QPR were trying to avoid was what happened the last time they were in the BPL. Two seasons ago they started their season with a 16 match winless streak that lead to them being relegated to the Championship. QPR nearly started out well in the 14th minute when new transfer Loic Remy’s shot from a Joey Barton pass was saved by Tigers’ keeper Allan McGregor. They had another chance in the 17th minute when Alejandro Faurlin twice and Charlie Austin each had shots on goal blocked by the Tigers’ defense. And so it went for the first half and the score was zero when the half time whistle blew. But just when it looked like QPR might start their latest BPL campaign with a good result, James Chester headed in a Stephen Quinn cross to put the Tigers into the lead in the 52nd minute. QPR were handed a potential life-line in the 83rd minute when Tigers’ defender James Chester was penalized for hand-ball in his penalty area. But Charlie Austin’s penalty kick was brilliantly saved by keeper McGregor. QPR would press hard for the equalizer. But alas, it would never come. While the loss was not as bad as the last time QPR were in the BPL (they were humiliated 0-5 by Swansea), it’s still a loss and that’s got to weigh pretty heavy on ole ‘Appy ‘Arry.

Stoke City 0 – 1 Aston Villa

Andreas Weimann’s second-half goal is good enough for the win for the Villains. This was a great win for Villains’ boss Rickie Lambert. It was only their second win away from home in 2014 and may have done a little bit to quiet some of the noise about wanting Lambert out as manager. After spending the last two seasons fighting relegation, Lambert hired Roy Keane to be his assistant. This move may also attract a buyer for the club as owner Randy Lerner has been trying to sell since this past summer and they need to maintain their BPL status for him to gain any value from the sale. The match itself was a bit ordinary with the winner coming in the 50th minute when Weimann hit an angled shot that got past Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic. So while this is just the first week of the season, one of the stories that we will definitely be watching is the off-pitch fun as it unfolds at Aston Villa.

West Bromwich Albion 2 – 2 Sunderland

Sebastian Larsson’s late second half goal salvages a draw for the Black Cats. The one thing that Guy Poyet has taught the Black Cats was to never give up. That lesson was what kept them in the BPL and it was a lesson that was needed on Saturday. They started out so well against the Baggies. Lee Cattermole hit a great shot into the top right corner from distance to put the visitors in front in the fifth minute. They nearly doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Valetin Roberge’s header from a Larsson cross missed just off to the right of goal. The Baggies were able to recover from their initial shock and forced a save from Black Cats’ keeper Vito Mannone in the 39th minute when Craig Gardner hit a shot from just outside the penalty area. They would equalize in the 41st minute when Black Cats’ defender Valentin Roberge was penalized for fouling Baggies’ striker Victor Anichebe in the penalty area. Saido Berahino converted the spot kick for the home side. He nearly got them the lead a bit later as half time approached when his shot was saved by keeper Mannone. The Baggies would take the lead in the second half when Berahino would poke home a loose ball from a save from a Graham Dorrans 73rd minute shot. That should have been good enough to assure the home side the victory, but Poyet made several changes. One of those changes was to bring on USA International striker Jose Altidore for defender Wes Brown in the 80th minute. The substitutions had the desired effect for the visitors as they pressed the home side hard for the equalizing goal. That goal came in the 85th minute when Patrick van Aanholt set up Larsson to power home from close range. So it looks like the Black Cats will be tough to beat again this season.

West Ham 0 – 1 Tottenham

Ten-man Spurs get the win over their cross-town rivals. This was the first BPL Derby of the season. For those new to the BPL, West Ham and Tottenham are cross London rivals whose fans do not like each other at all. So you can imagine how tense this match was going to be at the opening kick-off. It was Spurs who had the first attempt at goal when Christian Eriksen had his eighth minute shot saved by Irons’ keeper Adrian. But it was the home side that dominated the first half. Ricardo Vaz Te had two chanced to score in the 22nd and 23rd minute, while Chiekhou Kouyate narrowly missed a 25th minute header. The Irons should have taken the lead in the 27th minute when they were granted a wonderful opportunity. Spurs defender Kyle Naughton blocked a Kevin Noan shot with his hand in their penalty area. He was sent off for the offense and West Ham were awarded a penalty kick. But alas, as the song says, fortune is always hiding for West Ham. Mark Noble missed the spot kick off to the right of the goal and the score remained zero. The second half should have seen the home side pressing hard to take advantage of being up a player. But, the Irons just couldn’t get anything on net and things went really bad for them in the 62nd minute when James Collins received his second booking for a foul on Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor. The match went downhill for West Ham from that moment. It took Spurs a while, but they finally got the winner deep into stoppage time when Eric Dier scored from a Harry Kane through pass. There have been some rumors that Irons’ boss Sam Allardyce is in trouble with the ownership. This loss won’t help him at all.

Arsenal 2 – 1 Crystal Palace

Jason Puncheon’s second half red card leads to a goal for Aaron Ramsey and a win for the Gunners. Palace came into this match still reeling off the shocking resignation of their manager Tony Pulis. Pulis had saved them from relegation last season and wanted the owners to give him a large chunk of money to spend in the summer transfer market. When they refused, he quit. So the thought was that the Gunners would be able to make easy pickings of Palace on Saturday. But this game of ours is so weird. Palace took the lead in the 34th minute when Brede Hangeland headed a Puncheon cross into the Gunners’ net past keeper Wojciech Szczesny. It took the home side a while to get over that shock goal, but they did equalize in first half stoppage time when Laurent Koscielny headed an Alexis Sanchez free kick into the bottom left corner of the Palace goal. Palace nearly took the lead again in the 56th minute when Puncheon’s left foot shot from a Marouane Chamakh pass was pushed aside by keeper Szczesny. Palace would have done well to have escaped the Emirates Stadium with a point. Just when it looked like they were on the way to doing just that, Puncheon was sent off for a second booking in the 89th minute for a bad foul he committed on Nacho Monreal. The Gunners were able to take advantage of being up a man and earned a corner-kick deep into stoppage time. Although Mathieu Debuchy’s shot was saved by Palace keeper Damian Martinez, he couldn’t stop Ramsey from slotting home the rebound for the winning goal. So it would seem that Palace are going to be fighting for their BPL lives again this season.

Liverpool 2 – 1 Southampton

The Reds start the post-Luis Suarez era with a win at Anfield. He had won the BPL “Golden Boot” last season for scoring the most goals. But the Uruguayan International striker had gotten himself banned for four months by FIFA for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in their World Cup match. Brendan Rodgers then decided to sell the striker to Barcelona since he wouldn’t able to use him until January. So the question most fans in the Kopp end were wondering was who could they look to for goals? That question got answered in the 23rd minute when Raheem Sterling was put through on goal by Jordan Henderson. The young winger was able to slot home the goal into the bottom right corner of the goal to put the Reds into the lead. Sterling, who was one of the few bright lights for England in the World Cup, nearly made it two deep into first half stoppage time. He and Henderson hooked up again and forced a fine save from Saints’ keeper Fraser Forster. But the one thing that kept Liverpool from lifting the BPL trophy last season was their defending and it got exposed in the 55th minute when Saints’ defender Nathaniel Clyne was able to curl a shot into the top right corner of the Reds’ goal past the reach of keeper Simon Mignolet. But it looks like the Reds might have something in their attack as they regained the lead in the 79th minute. Sterling was the author again, this time he headed a through pass for Daniel Sturridge to slot home into the bottom left corner of the goal. So, maybe the Kopp has had enough of Suarez?

Newcastle 0 – 2 Manchester City

The Champions get an easy win over the Magpies. Some folks question if Citeh can defend the BPL. They didn’t make a lot of moves in the transfer market and there are some that think Jose Mourinho will get the better of Manuel Pelligrini this time. Well, Sunday’s match wasn’t that much of a test for the Champions as they eased into the lead in the 38th minute when David Silva slotted home an Edin Dzeko pass. Silva, who was still trying to shake off his World Cup hangover, showed he is the engine of the Citeh attack. The Magpies, try as they might, were never really able to put anything together that the Champions had to worry about. Sergio Aguero scored the second goal right at the end of the match. He was put through on goal by Fernandinho and even though his first stop was saved by Magpies’ keeper Tim Krul, he was able to poke home the rebound. So it would appear that anyone wanting to wrestle the BPL trophy from Citeh is going to have to really work hard to get it from them.

Burnley 1 – 3 Chelsea

The Blues welcome Burnley to the BPL with a nice punch to the face. If anyone is going to be able to win the BPL this season, it looks like it might be Jose Mourinho lead Chelsea. It didn’t seem like the Blues were quite awake on Monday when they fell behind to Scott Arfield’s right footed goal from a Matthew Taylor assist in the 13th minute. But that may have been Mourinho’s way of being nice to the BPL newcomers. The Blues’ equalized in the 17th minute when Diego Costa made a fine left-footed finish into the center of the goal. They took the lead in fine form in the 21st minute when new transfer Cesc Fabregas hit a beautiful through pass for Andre Schurrle and the German winger was able to slot home the goal. Fabregas was the creator of the third goal in the 33rd minute when he hit another fine cross for an unmarked Branislav Ivanovic to poke home. There was a cameo appearance by legend Didier Drogba in the 83rd minute when he came on for Eden Hazard. The Ivorian International, who came to Chelsea on a free-transfer nearly scored in the 88th minute when his long range shot missed off to the left of the goal. So it would seem that “The Special One” has begun the quest of winning the BPL with an emphatic statement. We shall see…

Lanny Short

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