The Premier League took a rather pleasant turn this week – there was a copious amount of entertainment, controversy and most importantly, goals. There were some important victories too for a number of clubs who were looking to kick-start their season.
Firstly, Manchester United are still without a competitive win under new manager Louis van Gaal after they were only able to draw 0-0 with Burnley at Turf Moor. The debut for Angel di Maria, while promising, also ended in a disappointing style with the winger needing to be substituted after suffering from a calf complaint.
Manchester City suffered a rare home loss to a determined and impressively resolute Stoke City team after former Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf sealed a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium with a quite brilliant counter-attacking goal. There were also goals galore at Goodison Park where Everton were undone by an impressive Chelsea who have started the season in a fantastic fashion with the game ending 6-3 to the visitors after a two-goal blitz inside the first 3 minutes.
Liverpool were also impressive after ending Tottenham’s 100% start to the season under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. With new signing Mario Balotelli making his first start for Brendan Rodgers’ side, Liverpool ruthlessly dispatched Spurs and cruised to a 3-0 away win with goals from the impressive Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Spanish left-back Alberto Moreno.
This award must go Portuguese who set his Chelsea side up to attack Everton from the off and they got their reward with 2 goals in just under 3 minutes. He realised the only way to avoid a potential banana skin at Goodison Park was to unleash the serious attacking potential of his Chelsea side on Everton and they collected their just rewards with a thumping 6-3 win. However, looking at the error of his ways he’ll probably revert to type for the remainder of the season and look to grind out 1-0 wins from now on!
So, Pochettino has gone from hero to villain within the space of a week – football eh? Anyway, Pochettino simply had no answer to Liverpool’s tactics as well as their pace and thrust up front. Brendan Rodgers, who is fast becoming one of the most tactically aware manager’s in the Premier League, exploited Tottenham’s need to play narrow by playing a diamond formation and thus breaking on Spurs with relentless ease.
To be honest two teams could win this award for two very different reasons. While both played, seemingly, on the counter-attack Liverpool’s extra quality gave them an edge over a Spurs side who simply had no answer to that quality. Stoke on the other had to rely solely on the pace and power of Mame Biram Diouf to provide the cutting edge against the champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Ryan Shawcross was superb in the centre of the Stoke defence while man-for-man they matched City all over the park. As much as City were uncharacteristically quiet at home, Stoke were superb in the defence of their goal.
Diouf deserves this award simply for the way his run ended – in the back of the net. He outmuscled, nutmegged and outpaced a number of City’s defenders to reach the City goal and while the finish wasn’t exactly ‘buried’ (Joe Hart will be disappointed to say the least) he was aware enough to slide it through Hart’s legs and into the net, giving his side a vital and unexpected 3 points.
This weekend highlighted the need for better refereeing training if anything else as there was a number of questionable decisions throughout the weekend. Firstly, there were two in the early kick-off featuring Burnley and Manchester United in which Ashley Young was shoved over in the penalty area with no reward and then a handball decision that was not given, also in the area.
The Manchester City-Stoke City match also featured a number of questionable decisions, one for each team. In the first half Mame Biram Diouf was tripper just inside the area while Yaya Toure was caught, all the while theatrically, in the opposition box in the second-half. Everton’s Tim Howard should have been sent off for a blatant handball outside of his box against Chelsea while Joe Allen’s dive against Tottenham resulted in Steven Gerrard giving his side a vital 2-0 lead in that match.
Simply, referees need to be better and while the element of controversy brings debate into the game, which is what we want, referees need to be consistent in their decision-making. Penalties are penalties regardless of who is on the end of them.
Categories: Premier League