Arsenal’s Rivals Drop Points: A Perfect Weekend Indeed
The Premier League weekend began with strugglers, Queens Park Rangers, battling hard to get a point against a Peter Crouch-inspired Stoke City. Despite his advancing years, the lanky forward still put up a virtuoso performance. However, Nico Kranjcar’s free kick was a thing of beauty. With several fixtures being played by 3.00pm, Arsenal fans watched as their team ran Aston Villa ragged with those three minutes of absolutely brilliant football that led to quick-fire goals before putting the home side at arms length till the ref blew his final whistle.
Mesut Ozil is one player that has been going through a lot lately with the German coming under heavy criticism for his lethargic style of play. It’s not as if he has been that horrible (compared to the likes of Aaron Ramsey that has been absolute shit this season) but when things aren’t going well at the club, there must be that one scapegoat that would be on the spotlight. So watching him latch unto Danny Welbeck’s pass and placing it past Brad Guzan was fulfilling.
The provider, Welbeck, was another player that was under a measure of pressure to deliver in his new club. Yes, he joined from Arsenal’s eternal rivals, Manchester United, and he’s a young lad but playing in the position where top strikers like Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie made names for themselves comes with its own dose of pressure, bearing in mind that Arsenal is a team renowned for its creativity from its midfield. The post denied him a dream debut goal and he was culpable for a series of misses in his second game for the club, so it was a delightful affair seeing Deadline Day Danny take his goal well from a trademark pass from Mesut Ozil.
With the Gunners getting their first Premier League win in four games that sent them back to the top four, it was a case of seeing how their other title challenging rivals would turn up.
The late fixture on Saturday saw the free-spending Liverpool come up against West Ham and Arsenal fans had half an eye on Carl Jenkinson, a player that was sent to the hammers to continue his football education. Even with the new-look back line that had Javi Manquillo, Alberto Moreno and big-money signing, Dejan Lovren, West Ham banged in two goals in the first seven minutes or so, before Raheem Sterling scored what proved to be Liverpool’s consolation goal.
Morgan Amalfitano’s goal was the final nail in the Liverpool coffin and the stats showed that despite spending Heaven and Earth following the loss of Luis Suarez, the Reds have lost three of their opening five fixtures, which is rather shocking if you ask me.
Sunday’s fixtures had a tasty feel about them, as the “newly-improved” Manchester United visited the King Power Stadium to play against Leicester City while Arsenal’s cross town rivals, Tottenham, hosted West Brom in what seemed to be like a stroll in the park. West Brom had a strong penalty claim and even had a goal disallowed but in the end, it was a James Morrison strike that was enough to hand the visitors all three points at the White Hart Lane.
With Manchester United playing their host of stars against Leicester, many felt that they were going to run riot on their hosts and in just 19 minutes goals from Robin van Persie and Angel di Maria (Oooooh, what a goal!) set the tone for seemed like a United victory but Ulloa’s pin-point header reduced the deficit for the home side. When Ander Herrera flicked the third in, one must have expected Leicester to lie down and play dead but a David Nugent penalty restored some hope and out of the blue, the experienced Argentine, Esteban Cambiasso, fired in the equalizer.
Jamie Vardy was having a stormer as he was directly involved in all Leicester’s goals and it was somewhere in the script that he was going to turn up with his own goal and the way he placed the ball past David de Gea was stuff of legends.
Ulloa rounded up the scoring with another penalty and the final result sent shockwaves through the football world.
The final two fixtures saw Everton host Crystal Palace and the big game of the weekend between Manchester City and Chelsea. While my eyes were glued to the City vs. Chelsea game, I kept tabs on the proceedings in Goodison Park and when Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring, I wasn’t surprised. However, three goals from Mila Jedinak, Frazier Campbell and Yannick Bolasie stunned me and after seeing Leighton Baines score yet another penalty (soft penalty indeed), it seemed to go down to the wire but Crystal Palace held their nerves to go back to London with all maximum points.
At the Etihad, Andre Schurrle’s opener was cancelled out by Frank Lampard of all people and Manuel Pellegrini’s post-match comments were mind-blowing to say the least,
“It was very similar to the Stoke team, with a big team playing against a small team with very good players, trying to defend, trying to keep the score [nil-nil]. They had nine players in front of their box. I said last week that it will be very difficult for us to defend the title because every team will play the way Chelsea did. I repeat that I think they had no intention to win the game. They came just to draw and they scored on the counterattack against 10 players.”
At the end, it was a perfect weekend for the Gunners as all their rivals dropped points. I can only wish to have more of such weekends.
Don’t you just love the English Premier League?
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