Premier League Roundup and Man Utd Preview
It’s been close to a week since I published anything on this blog but you’d have to forgive me. Work hasn’t been that forgiving and there’s no one to hold the fort anytime I’m unavailable because of work.
It’s been a very interesting weekend in the Premier League that started with Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace side that continues to grow in strength. West Brom put up quite a resolute defensive display but in the end, they buckled under immense Palace pressure with Yannick Bolasie and Yohan Cabaye scoring the goals that sent the Eagles to third place.
Then there was the flurry of the five 3.00pm fixtures and I focused on the Manchester City vs. Newcastle game while keeping half an eye on the proceedings elsewhere. Stoke earned themselves a valuable away victory over Aston Villa which in turn would continue to pile the pressure on Tim Sherwood. The Villans have lost four in a row since the draw with Sunderland and are currently in 18th place. Bournemouth had to begin life without Callum Wilson and the fans were elated to see his replacement, Glenn Murray, get on the scoresheet but some poor play from the goalie, Artur Boruc, allowed Odion Ighalo to give the Hornets an equalizer. Murray had the chance to grab a spot in the back pages with a penalty but Heurelho Gomes continued his fine form with another great save to ensure that his team went home with the spoils of battle.
Leicester continued their fine form since the blip against Arsenal with a hard-fought win over Norwich. Jamie Vardy ensured that he leads the Premier League scoring charts with his seventh of the season through a spot kick and Jeffery Schlupp added an extra goal to extend Leicester’s cushion. When Mbokani pulled on back for Norwich, it was pretty much intense stuff as Leicester battled hard to defend their lead and it proved successful. The win puts Claudio Ranieri’s men in fourth place, just three points off the leaders, Manchester City. Dick Advocaat played his last game for Sunderland as they failed to hold onto a lead against West Ham. The Black Cats had gone in front through Steven Fletcher and Jeremain Lens doubled their money with a sumptuous lobbed effort over the hapless Adrian but West Ham put a fight back with goals from Corporal Carl Jenkinson and Dimitri Payet. The Hammers caused was helped with the fact that Lens received his marching orders from two bookable offences.
To the main 3.00pm game, I watched a remarkable piece of goalscoring display from Sergio Aguero as he let out all his frustrations on Newcastle. The Argentine maverick had not scored since opening the scoring against Chelsea as far back as August and many were starting to think if he was going to attain the very high standards he has set since he joined the club. It started rather awkwardly for the Citizens as Aleksandr Mitrovic finally proved why Steve McClaren paid so much for him with a neatly executed headed effort but it was the Aguero show afterwards as the Argentine genius banged in five goals in 20 minutes and there was even time for Kevin de Bruyne to sandwich a goal in between Aguero’s scoring fest.
That win sent Man City to the top of the pile and provided that Arsenal doesn’t lose to Manchester United today, they will remain on top. The best viewing of the house came at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hosted Southampton in one of the most exciting games I’ve watched in a while. Willian continued his great dead ball finishing ability with another free kick from quite some distance but Steven Davis leveled the scoring with a first-timed volley that waltzed past Asmir Begovic in goal. Sadio Mane continued his fine form with a neat finish that went between the goalie’s legs and Graziano Pelle scored the goal his brilliant play deserved to give the Saints a rather surprising win against Chelsea at the Bridge.
Jose Mourinho’s post-match press conference was rather emotional as the Portuguese manager blamed the referees in typical Mourinho fashion, in his bid to deflect away from what was yet another shocking performance from the defending champions. He also issued an indirect threat to the Chelsea upper management that they can sack him if they want to, but he isn’t going to walk away like he always does.
Today, there would be three Premier League games available for viewing with the Merseyside derby taking center stage before Arsenal hosts Manchester United in what would be one of the games of the season. Arsenal vs. Man Utd games are always intense, and I don’t expect anything different from today’s game. Following yet another shameful defeat to Olympiakos in Europe, the Gunners would be hoping that they perform better today and you would expect Arsene Wenger to field his strongest possible XI with the likes of David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning to where they belong – the bench.
With Laurent Koscielny suffering a hamstring injury, I’d expect Gabriel Paulista to feature alongside Per Mertesacker with the Spanish duo of Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin providing width from the flanks. Francis Coquelin seems to have healed completely even though he struggled a bit against the Greek side and he will play alongside Santi Cazorla while Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and the in-form Alexis Sanchez will provide support to Theo Walcott.
Let’s hope for an exciting game of football.
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