By Ross CraeFollow @JfGpodcasts
This week’s round-up is the product of a Calpol induced viewing of Match of the Day on a shaky online BBC stream and thus includes all manner of dreadful clichés and pundit jibber-jabber. It was another cracking round of fixtures in the greatest league in the world…
Manchester United welcomed Norwich to Old Trafford, and gave them a thumping just to say thank you. The Canaries looked fine in the first half, but right at the end of the half Shinji Kagawa prodded home from close range to give United the lead.
He wasn’t finished for the afternoon, grabbing a second in the 76th minute. Wayne Rooney collected a long ball forward and squared it to give the Japan international an easy yet cool-as-you-like finish. Kagawa completed his hat-trick on 87 minutes, striding into the box and clipping the ball exquisitely over Mark Bunn.
As if wanting to steal the show, Rooney fired in a delightful dipping shot from 30 yards out in the 90th minute to complete the rout.
The obvious highlight of any weekend is a clash between Stoke and West Ham. The Hammers lost two players to injury within first 10 minutes, Matt Taylor on the receiving end of a Peter Crouch attempted bicycle kick and Joe Cole just breaking.
They took the lead, however, through substitute Jack Collison at the end of a half where there had barely been a sight at goal. It’s the perfect time to score, of course.
Charlie Adam hit crossbar in stoppage time with a superb effort but the Potters were less than magical.
Uncle ‘Arry got a win on his birthday in the veritable six pointer of Southampton v QPR. It may have been his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino’s birthday too, but the birthday fairy could only give three points to one lucky manager.
Against the run of play, Loic Remy opened the scoring in the 14th minute, latching on to a ball from Junior Hoilett and sending a powerful finish past Artur Boruc with pinpoint accuracy.
On the stroke of half time, Jay Rodriguez hit a powerful long range shot which Julio Cesar could only fumble to Gaston Ramirez, who dinked the ball into the net to give the Saints an equaliser.
Jay Bothroyd gave the Rs the lead again in the second half, collecting a cross in from Ji-Sung Park and firing home from close range in the 77th minute.
Robert Green replaced the injured Cesar late on, and saved QPR’s bacon, stopping a point blank header from Maya Yoshida to give the Loftus Road side their third win of the season.
Fulham travelled to Sunderland and surrendered a two goal lead to draw with the Black Cats. Referee Mark Halsey gave an early penalty for Craig Gardner’s foul on Moveslike Dejagah, with Dimitar Berbatov casually netting from the spot on 16 minutes. As he often does.
The Cottagers’ second came from a counter-attack, Dejagah’s initial shot parried by Simon Mignolet with Sascha Riether was on hand to tap-in on 35 minutes.
Sunderland weren’t dead and buried yet, though, and managed to conjure up a comeback. Philippe Senderos tugged Danny Graham to the ground in the box and Gardner atoned for his earlier mistake and fiercely struck the spot-kick past Mark Schwarzer in the 37th minute.
In the 70th minute Stephane Sessegnon scored the equaliser, the Black Cats breaking after Mignolet denied Berbatov at the other end. After this, Martin O’Neill took the customary swig from a nearby water bottle. As he often does.
Stuart Taylor and Jan Mucha were the unfamiliar faces in goal as Everton hosted Reading. Both were without their regular custodians due to injury and it was the first time that Tim Howard had missed a Premier League game in one hundred years. Much like actual Royals, Reading were left feeling less than great by Saturday evening.
The opener came from a familiar hairy Belgian as Marouane Fellaini met a sublime cross from Seamus Coleman with a bullet header to give the Toffees a 42nd minute lead. Steven Pienaar added a second on the 59th minute, cutting inside onto his left foot before unleashing a shot from 20 yards that flew past Taylor.
Kevin Mirallas provided Everton’s third on 66 minutes, played in by Pienaar and dispatching a clinical finish before Hal Robson-Kanu’s 84th minute header gave the Royals some consolation.
Swansea, fresh from fairytale league cup glory, welcomed Newcastle to their lovely corner of Wales. It was back to the day job for the Swans and it was a fairly uninspiring contest.
The Magpies were the better side for most of the game, forcing Michel Vorm into action time and time again.
But everyone knows that Swans would beat Magpies in a fight, and Luke Moore finally broke the deadlock in the 85th minute with the aid of a slight deflection off Yohan Cabaye.
Demba Ba scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat West Brom. The Senegalese striker struck in the 28th minute, with a child named Oscar sending a teasing ball in to David Luiz at the far post, who knocked it down to Ba who was most certainly first to react, prodding it past Ben Foster.
Oscar looked bright, and had several good chances but there were to be no more goals for The Interim One’s men. Fact.
Wigan was the place to be on Saturday afternoon (said no-one ever) if you wanted to see Liverpool go on the rampage. Stewart Downing (yes, you read correctly) opened the scoring with his head in the second minute. Pepe Reina’s long ball forward found Coutinho who delivered the ball for Downing to nod home from close range.
Normal service resumed as Luis Suarez added a second, Coutinho’s slide rule pass into the feet of the Uruguayan was met with a cool finish past Ali Al-Habsi in the 18th minute.
Wigan were at times shambolic, with James McArthur and Emerson Boyce coming to blows shortly after Boyce had forced Reina into a good save.
Suarez doubled his tally with a free-kick that deflected in off Shaun Maloney and the post on 34 minutes and, just three minutes into the second half, the little scamp had a hat-trick, bursting forward and finishing with aplomb past Al-Habsi.
Reina made a few great saves, but the Latics were lacking all over the pitch.
On Sunday there was the small matter of a north London derby as Arsenal visited Spurs. After a rip-roaring start, the game fizzled along until the opening goal in the 37th minute. And yes, it was Gareth Bale who scored, a ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson splicing the Arsenal defence open and allowing the Welshman to fire past Wojciech Szczesny.
Just two minutes later, the Gunners rear-guard was caught out again as Aaron Lennon doubled Spurs’ lead with an almost identical goal.
It was a thrilling encounter, with both sides creating chances and end-to-end football. Arsenal pulled a goal back five minutes into the second half; a free-kick delivered into the box by Theo Walcott was met by the head of Per Mertesacker and found the back of the net via the head of Bale. One for the dubious goals panel that.
It wasn’t enough for the visitors though, and Spurs move up to third and widened the gap between the two fierce city rivals.