Blog by: Srihari
The third round of the Barclays Premier League, ended with Liverpool maintaining their 100 % start to the season after beating Manchester United and big spending Tottenham Hotspur losing 1-0 away to Arsenal. So let us look at the five winners and losers from the weekend.
The build-up to the latest North London derby was all about how Spurs have spent wisely, whilst their neighbours haven’t spent a penny and were going to suffer for that. But Arsenal got the better of their rivals yet again with a performance that proved just why Arsenal have collected the most number of points in the Premier League in 2013. With the incoming Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, Arsenal are definitely the biggest winners from the weekend.
Going into the clash against Manchester United, Liverpool had a solid start to the season with two Daniel Sturridge goals helping them claim 1-0 victories over Stoke City and Aston Villa respectively. But in the game against United, they started brightly but went off the boil but once again won via the same score line, thanks to who else but Sturridge, who has been nothing short of a revelation since his move in January. If he continues his good form, Liverpool will look even more of a threat, once Suarez returns.
Once again, the Everton left back, showed just why he is their creator in chief, having made 13 crosses, the most by any player in the league this week. His forays from the back helped set up innumerable chances, which were not properly utilized by their strike force, which is conspicuous by the absence of Fellaini, who has been played as a defensive midfielder under Martinez.
The Welsh centre-back was in fine form against Sunderland, as he opened the scoring before half time with his only shot. But, as the game went on, Gabbidon gathered all his experience to weather the Sunderland attack with some crucial interceptions. He made 19 clearances and won 7 aerial duels, on his way to being the Man of the Match and help Crystal Palace notch up their first victory of their league campaign.
After a disastrous opening day drubbing at the hands of Manchester City and a nail biting 0-0 draw against West Ham in their first home game, Newcastle finally managed to score their first goal of the season and notched up their first win thanks to a Hatem Ben Arfa strike. And although they haven’t spent much money in the summer, the fact that they might keep hold of Cabaye and have the likes of Ben Arfa and Coloccini coming back to the squad should bring them some solace. Add to that, the fact that their January signings are slowly clicking into gear, means that Newcastle can finally look ahead to good season.
For all his talk about inheriting a strong squad from Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scot has failed to address the one area of weakness in Ferguson’s squad, central midfield. And it was here that they were overrun by Liverpool and his midfield duo of Carrick and Cleverley were forced to look clumsy. Under pressure, they misplaced several passes, with Cleverley being the main culprit. After a disappointing start to the season, Moyes must be kicking himself for not signing one of Fellaini, Fabregas or Alcantara so far.
After guiding West Brom to their best ever Premier League finish last time around, Clark must have hoped for a better start to the season. But, instead, the team looks to have picked up from where they left off as three games into the season, they are yet to score a single goal. Even with tons of TV money coming in, they haven’t spent a single penny of it and that might yet come back to haunt them, especially seeing that their forward line isn’t capable of firing in the goals, that will help them stay up in the top flight.
Fulham have yet again, flattered to deceive and after their home loss against Arsenal, they were expected to put on more of a show against a Newcastle side, who were there for the taking. But, their languid front-line were unable to take control of the game and ended up losing their second successive game, after ceding possession for majority of the game. Martin Jol certainly has his work cut out for him, this time around.
Paolo Di Canio
After having spent a ton of money, bringing in almost an entire new squad of players, Di Canio is running on ice, with his excuses, after each week’s performances. The Black cats have struggled to come up with any real noteworthy performance this season. With the manager’s insistence on admonishing the players in public, it looks like he will lose the dressing room in no time, if he doesn’t stand up and take the blame for some of the football being produced by his players.
After having spent over £100 on players this summer, Spurs would have been expected to give Arsenal a run for their money and come back home with all three points. But, they did neither and as the game wore on, they were susceptible on the break and they had too few players on defensive duty and too many players gunning for glory. Their new signings must gel quickly if they are to get into the Champions League spot.