Story by Steve Berry
After a soggy week of international fixtures which mainly caught the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it was a relief to get the Premier League back under way. And despite the rumblings about wearing t-shirts and moronic Leeds fans, it was football that stole the show. With some fantastic matches, starting off with a sensational derby between Spurs and Chelsea, struggling Norwich stun Arsenal and a fierce Tyne – Wear derby.
Tottenham 2 – 4 Chelsea
Andre Villas-Boas had to endure a miserable reunion with his old club, with the man who was meant to make his Chelsea campaign, Juan Mata, tearing Tottenham apart. Chelsea took the lead 17 minutes in when Gary Cahill scored a stunning volley past the reinstated Brad Friedel, after William Gallas failed to head the ball clear. The second half started much more brightly for Spurs with ex- Chelsea captain Gallas knocking in at the far post from Jan Vertonghen’s flick back. Jermaine Defoe then gave the home side the lead, scoring his 200th career goal from an Aaron Lennon cross.
Chelsea though, soon regained the lead with two quick goals from the sublime Juan Mata, first slotting in after Gallas again couldn’t clear his lines and then again when Eden Hazard played a beautiful ball in for the Spaniard to finish cooly. Daniel Sturridge then wrapped the game up tapping in a fine cross from that man again, Juan Mata.
Fulham 1 – 0 Aston Villa
Aston Villa’s miserable start to the new campaign continued with a defeat to a resurgent Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was a fairly drab affair with Villa showing why they’ve only netted six goals in eight games as they looked ineffectual up front despite the return of Darren Bent to the first XI. Chris Baird scored the only goal of the game late on driving in John Arne Riise’s corner with his head.
Liverpool 1 – 0 Reading
Brendan Rodgers recorded his first win at Anfield as Liverpool boss, beating former side Reading who are still searching for a Premier League win. In truth it was a poor match, and the home fans will be expecting much better from the Rodgers revolution. But it was a welcome three points capped by 17 year old Raheem Sterling’s first for the club with a crisp finish from Luis Suarez’s through ball and an excellent performance from the England youngster.
Man United 4 – 2 Stoke
Wayne Rooney marked 10 years to the day of his introduction to the Barclays Premier League by scoring for both sides in a win that keeps United in second place. Rooney headed in at the wrong end 11 minutes in when he inadvertently knocked the ball in past the hapless David De Gea. Rooney though recovered quickly from his mistake levelling 27 minutes in from a Robin Van Persie cross to score his first league goal of the season. The Dutchman then converted from Antonio Valencia’s ball in, to give the Red Devils the lead just before half time.
The second half started brightly when Danny Welbeck finished with aplomb after Rooney’s through ball caught out the sleepy Stoke defence. Michael Kightly gave the Potters hope following poor defending from Rio Ferdinand, with ex- Wolves man almost running through the 33 year old. Rooney, again though carried on his goal scoring from midweek for England, tucking in at the back past form a corner.
Unfortunately though Rio Ferdinand stole the headlines for all the wrong reasons after his decision not to wear a “Kick it out” t-shirt, which manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he will be punished for.
Swansea 2 – 1 Wigan
A four minute goal rush saw Swansea record their third win of the season and put to bed talks of a rift between players and the manager. After a first half in which literally nothing happened, the feeble few Wigan fans must have wondered why they bothered with the trip to Swansea. The second half was just as miserable for the Latics when Pablo Hernandez opened the scoring for Swansea with an excellent turn and shot, following an impressive run from Wayne Routledge who has been thriving this season. The Swans doubled their advantage when Miguel Michu headed in unmarked to score his sixth of the season, two minutes later. Wigan though almost immediately got back into the match after Emerson Boyce scored a fantastic mid air back heel. The Latics were unlucky not to come away with a point when Arouna Kone’s goal moments later was called offside despite replays showing he clearly wasn’t.
West Brom 1 – 2 Man City
Edin Dzeko heightened his reputation as a ‘super-sub’ when he came off the bench to break Baggies hearts with two late strikes. James Milner made life difficult for the reigning champions after receiving his marching orders early in the game, taking down Shane Long who was through on goal. Long was a thorn in Man City’s side all afternoon and broke the deadlock for the home side 67 minutes in, finishing smartly form Peter Odemwinige’s splitting through ball. Romelulu Lukaku should have at least doubled West Brom’s lead but missed chance after chance, the most impressive being an inventive over head kick Joe Hart had to be on top from to react to.
The game changed however 79 minutes in with the introduction of Edin Dzeko for Gareth Barry, and the Bosnian showed why he should be starting when he headed in past a flailing Ben Foster. And in the 90th minute Man City countered quickly from a West Brom corner before getting the ball to Dzeko who finished smartly.
West Ham 4 – 1 Southampton
West Ham continued their good start to the season with a comfortable thrashing of Southampton. Again the second half brought fans back to life after another quiet first half, with Mark Noble opening the scoring with a fortunate free kick in the 46th minute. Kevin Nolan doubled the lead two minutes later tapping in Yossi Benayoun cross. Saints captain Adam Lallana got his side back in the game with a great swivel and finish to halve West ham’s advantage. But Noble then put the Hammers out of reach converting a penalty after Jose Fonte gave it away for a handball while pressing Andy Carroll. Maiga sealed the match off with a flourish beating most of Southampton’s defenders with a fantastic solo effort.
Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal
Norwich pulled off the surprise of the weekend in the late Saturday kick off by punishing a shaky Arsenal to record their first win of the season. Grant Holt scored the only goal of the game, 20 minutes in, capitalising on Vito Mannone’s fumble from Alexander Tettey’s long range drive to score his third goal in three games. And the Canaries could be considered unfortunate to only score the one with Michael Turner missing a sitter with a header from a corner and Grant Holt spurning two one on one opportunities in the second half. Arsenal looked miles off the team who had been so dangerous against West Ham and now find themselves 10 points off leaders Cheslea.
Sunderland 1 – 1 Newcastle
A late Demba Ba own goal rescued Sunderland a point against 10 man Newcastle in a feisty Tyne- Wear derby. Yohann Cabaye got the visitors under way three minutes in, slotting in after Simon Mingolet pushed away Demba Ba’s shot. Cabaye’s midfield partner Cheick Tiote didn’t have as good an afternoon however. The Ivory Coast international saw red following a high foot on Steven Fletcher, after referee Martin Atkinson had already blown for a Newcastle free kick. Sunderland struggled to create many real chances but managed to salvage the draw in the 86th minute when Ba inadvertently converted John O’Shea’s header.
QPR 1 – 1 Everton
Queen’s Park Rangers are still on the search for their first win of the season despite a strong showing at home to Everton. Junior Hoilett opened the scoring early on, making a darting run to finish with a deflected shot. Everton grabbed the equaliser when Julio Cesar pushed in Sylvain Distin’s header. The Toffees managed to hold on until the final whistle despite going down to ten men, after Steven Pienaar received a second yellow for a very soft challenge on Jose Bosingwa.