After a week of Cup fun and games, the Premier League returned. Fans could return from trees, high walls and overlooking houses adjacent to non-league grounds and actually had to pay to get into games. Apart from the City fans who didn’t go to Arsenal.
The early kick-off was the ‘Arry derby as QPR welcomed Spurs to Loftus Road. QPR seemed to quash the attacking threat of their visitors in a game which saw few clear chances.
Julio Cesar made a good early double save, thwarting Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor but was never really tested in a solid defensive display. Spurs weren’t too troubled defensively either.
Jon Walters had a miserable day on his 100th Premier League appearance as Stoke suffered a heavy defeat to Chelsea at The Britannia.
Kenwyne Jones fluffed an early chance and Walters booted the ball off his own face in an event similar to a moment in a fifth year PE class that I have never been allowed to forget. At least Jon didn’t end up bleeding profusely.
Anyway, on the stroke of half time the opening goal came for Chelsea. Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross was headed into the Stoke net by the hapless Walters.
Stoke thought they had been awarded a second half penalty when Azpilicueta brought down “Matty” Etherington, but the flag of Sian Massey denied the spot kick.
Chelsea’s lead was doubled with a second own goal from Walters from a corner on 62 minutes, the Potters striker by now wishing that Ireland were part of the Africa Cup of Nations so he could make a sharp exit.
Andre Marriner pointed to the spot again, but this time it was at the other end and the penalty was given. Juan Mata was judged to have been fouled and Frank Lampard blasted in the spot kick on 65 minutes.
Eden Hazard produced a wonderful strike from 30 yards on 73 minutes before Walters fired a late penalty into Row Z to compound his misery on a poor afternoon for the Potters.
In keeping with the season of ludicrous results, Reading produced a late rally to beat West Brom. James Morrison was the provider for Romelu Lukaku to open the scoring from close range on 19 minutes, and the two combined several times throughout the game.
The duo were denied an assist and goal by the offside flag, then by the post, then by the crossbar before Lukaku finally doubled his tally after good work from his pal James allowed the on-loan Chelsea striker to fire past Ben Foster from the edge of the box after 69 minutes.
The Royals were not down and out however, and an incredible end to the game left the Baggies pointless.
Firstly, Jimmy Kebe stooped at the far post to pull a goal back in the 82nd minute. Kebe was then felled in the box by Jonas Olsson, and Adam le Fondre netted the penalty with two minutes remaining.
Pavel Pogrebnyak sealed the unbelievable comeback in the 90th minute, leaving the Baggies shell-shocked.
Sunderland saw off an unusually poor West Ham with relative ease at the Stadium of Light. Sebastian Larsson’s superb strike from 25 yards in the 12th minute put the Black Cats ahead in the only exciting moment in the first half.
In the second half the Hammers fell further behind after some calamitous defending. Stephane Sessegnon found James McLean on the counter attack and the Irish winger’s shot was not dealt with with any sort of competency, allowing Adam Johnson to squeeze the ball into the back of the net in the 47th minute.
In the 74th minute, Sessegnon and McLean combined again for Sunderland’s third, the former’s trundled shot looked like it would end with embarrassment but McLean diverted it into the net from a tight angle at close range.
Don’t worry Hammers fans, you’ve got Chamakh, Carroll and Carlton Cole, what could go wrong?
If you’re a fan of goals, the rest of Saturday’s action wasn’t really for you. Everton and Swansea played out a goalless draw at Goodison Park; the Toffees wasted countless opportunities and failed to score for the first time in 19 league games.
Michel Vorm was at his best to deny Victor Anichebe and Nikica Jelavic while his opposite number Tim Howard tipped a shot from Michu onto the bar as Spain boss Vicente del Bosque looked on admiringly. And perhaps longingly, who knows.
A frustrating afternoon for David Moyes, but it was the Toffees’ first clean sheet for four months, so a gold star for that.
It ended goalless too between Norwich and Newcastle in a game that it’s not really worth acknowledging existed.
Norwich had the better of the few chances, Russell Martin hitting the post from long range and Anthony Pilkington forcing Tim Krul into a late save. Nothing to see here folks.
Let’s liven this up. A controversial Rickie Lambert penalty in the 34th minute was enough for Southampton to take three points at Aston Villa and consign Paul Lambert’s men to the bottom three. Villa had suffered an embarrassing defeat to League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday – sorry for bringing that up again, Villa fans.
The only goal of the match came after Jay Rodriguez auditioned for Tom Daley’s universally mocked show Splash! by appearing to dive in the box.
Villa fought hard in the final 15 minutes as they sought an equaliser, with Christian Benteke squandering several late chances and falling to yet another defeat.
Fulham and Wigan shared the points at Craven Cottage. Giorgos Karagounis scored a magnificent goal against Blackpool last weekend in the FA Cup and unleashed another rocket in the 22nd minute to put the home side in front.
Franco Di Santo equalised in the 71st minute. A free-kick was taken quickly (perhaps too quickly to be legal) and Di Santo worked his way from the left wing to the edge of the box to hit a sweet shot beyond Schwarzer.
Maynor Figueroa headed a late Bryan Ruiz shot off the line to preserve a point for the Latics.
Hold on, that sounds like the SUPER SUNDAY klaxon! First up was the big derby as Manchester United took on Liverpool. The game simmered into life as Robin Van Persie opened the scoring after 19 minutes. Slick passing from United ended with RVP sweeping the ball past Pepe Reina in a first half which United just about edged.
Patrice Evra has turned into a goal scoring machine recently, and he headed in a Van Persie free-kick (with a slight deflection off Nemanja Vidic) on 54 minutes, just as Liverpool had started to look more dangerous thanks to the introduction of Daniel Sturridge at half time.
It was Liverpool’s new signing who scored just three minutes later to pull a goal back for the visitors, reacting quickly as David De Gea could only palm a Steven Gerrard shot towards the advancing striker.
United seemed to have lost their footing in the game but held on to claim all three points.
The suspect package found in the Emirates car park before Arsenal played Manchester City wasn’t the only bomb scare of the day as Laurent Koscielny saw a 10th minute red card for rugby tackling Edin Dzeko in the box. Dzeko took the resultant spot-kick but his shot took a touch off the inside of Szczesny’s legs and off the post, trundling precariously along the goal line and into the grateful arms of the Polish keeper.
The luck wasn’t to last long as James Milner found the back of the net on 21 minutes. The Arsenal defence were sound asleep as City took a quick free kick, Milner sneaking in to get on the end of a great pass from Carlos Tevez and lash the ball past Szczesny.
Dzeko doubled City’s lead on 32 minutes as Szczesny could only tip Tevez’s effort to the Bosnian for a simple tap-in.
Arsenal’s first half display resembled that of a fake gun that shoots a flag with the word “bang” on it rather than the cannon they display on their club badge, but they came out after the break fighting and looked slightly better in the second half.
Vincent Kompany was sent off after 75 minutes, renewing hope within the Gunners faithful, as the City skipper lunged into Jack Wilshere. The decision will be debated for an infuriatingly long time.
Substitute Joleon Lescott thwarted Theo Walcott on the line as the clock struck 90 and City left the Emirates with a vital win – their first win away to Arsenal since 1975.