Football News: Premier League Saturday Review

 

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Chelsea 1 - 3 Liverpool.

The early kick off saw the under pressure Jose Mourinho facing off against the new boy Jurgen Klopp for the first time in league football. With Ramon Calderon's comments, in a Bein Sports interview, about how Real Madrid had tried to bring Jose back in the summer and how they still wanted him back, adding more pressure for the under fire Blues boss, this was a good time for Liverpool to travel down to 'that London' and face last season's champions. You could be forgiven for forgetting just how poor Chelsea have been so far this season as they swept into an early lead, following a lazy, surprisingly for him, attempt at a challenge by James Milner, which allowed the cross to come in to Ramires, who caught Alberto Moreno on his heels to nip in and head the West London outfit into a very early lead. Right then you could be forgiven for thinking it was back to business as usual, as Chelsea followed their usual Jose pattern and dropped deep to defend the lead and looked to his on the counter.

This is not a normal Jose-era Chelsea though, this is a fragile unit on the verge of collapse in every match. With Jose's running battles with the officials overshadowing performances, the players seemed far too busy looking for the half time whistle to stop a late attack by Liverpool which led to a lovely equaliser from Coutinho, to make it 1-1, both scored by Brazilians. As Chelsea went off complaining that the minimum 2 minutes of added time was not a maximum and a whole 22 seconds was played past that minimum time, Liverpool looked revitalised. The second half was more of the same, Chelsea sitting back and allowing Liverpool to dominate them, while hoping to hit them on the break. Controversy soon followed as the referee, Mark Clattenburg showed leniency, first by not even speaking to Diego Costa following a kick out at Martin Skrtel right in front of him, in fact he rushed in to make sure there was no afters and left it at that. Clattenburg then showed leniency once again as Lucas Leiva, already on a yellow card, was found guilty of a foul that, more often than not, leads to a booking. Again, no further action was taken by the referee.

Last season, a sense of injustice would have fuelled Chelsea as they powered to victory, this season that same sense of injustice seems to rob them of the will to win. The players seem slower, sluggish even, as they allowed Liverpool to take over completely and Coutinho to add his second of the game. Even worse was to come for Mourinho's men as Christian Benteke added a third for the Reds, which was allowed to stand despite Adam Lallana clearly being in an offside position and affecting Asmir Begovic's view of the shot, as he was right in front of him and even had to jump over the shot. At the end Jose just wanted to turn it into a witch hunt against the officials, deflecting yet again from the poor performance of his team. Sadly, for Chelsea fans anyway, it looks like that tactic is no longer working for him and he needs to rethink it. All of that overshadowed what was Klopp's first Premier League win and Liverpool's first win against Chelsea in seven matches.



Crystal Palace 0 - 0 Manchester United

Yet another drab performance from Louis van Gaal's team, who were missing Phil Jones because he was 'in the red zone' according to the manager, left van Gaal as red in the face as the team's kit. As Man Utd's sideways and backwards passing dominated possession, and very nearly put me to sleep, the one thing that stood out to me about this game, apart from the boredom I was undergoing watching it, was how red in the face LVG was getting as the game went on. United dominated possession, but the quality of attacking play was all coming from Palace, who were unlucky not to pick up all three points against a stubborn but utterly tedious Red Devils side. Paul Scholes may have suffered a backlash from LVG over his comments about the style of play, but it is difficult to argue with what he said. This was way beyond merely boring as a performance.

Five shots in total and just one on target tells its own story for Man Utd yesterday, they look utterly devoid of any attacking threat whatsoever. Even worse reading for United fans is that Palace had as many shots hit the target as Man Utd had in total, something you could never have imagined happening before van Gaal arrived. It is clear even the away fans have had enough of the negative tactics, chanting "we're Man United, we want to attack". Still, van Gaal is of a different mind, as he says the fans are being entertained, it is difficult to understand where he gets that idea from though.

Manchester City 2 - 1 Norwich City

Manuel Pellegrini's side were lucky to escape with the victory here, after a dreadful late error from England keeper Joe Hart handed Norwich an equaliser in the 83rd minute. The Citizens were leading courtesy of a powerful header from Nicolas Otamendi, which saw the centre half almost hang in the air to meet a corner. An error from Norwich's England keeper, John Ruddy, led to Russell Martin conceding a penalty and receiving a red card and Yaya Toure stepped up to score from the spot to give Man City the lead. The Canaries kept on going though, creating a few chances, giving Hart the chance to redeem himself slightly with a good save, before Raheem Sterling was taken down in the box, right at the death, to give Man City a second penalty. With Yaya having been taken off, Aleksandr Kolarov stepped up, to Sterling's evident disgust, but failed to convert the chance.



All of this action followed a listless first half, where Norwich did well to keep Man City quiet and chances were at a premium. In the end though, Man City, despite desperately missing the talents of their playmaker David Silva, did enough to deserve the three points, which keep them top of the table on goal difference over Arsenal. Norwich have now lost four games in a row in the league and look like a team destined to go straight back down, with a real lack of quality in their side.

Newcastle United 0 - 0 Stoke City

Another drab goalless draw for a United, this time the black and white stripes of the Toon, rather than the red shirts of Manchester, were the ones struggling for a goal. In this case though, despite Newcastle being at home, unlike Man Utd, the result has been much better received as Newcastle's early season struggles have left them desperate for any kind of sign of improvement. A rare clean sheet, against a Stoke side that have shown themselves to be a dangerous team this season, is a sign that maybe Steve McClaren can turn things around and drag the Magpies up the table. Stoke, though, will be disappointed with their performance, as Newcastle dominated the game and the Potteries side have Jack Butland to thank for their point.

The point did little to further either manager's cause as Newcastle are still stranded in the relegation zone and Stoke in the bottom half. At least it was a sign of a revival for Newcastle, who desperately need something to give the club a lift after the derby day defeat.

Swansea City 0 - 3 Arsenal

A big win for Arsenal, not in terms of the scoreline, but in terms of what it represents for a club that have often threatened to challenge for the title only to stumble at places like this. Three second half goals kept this season's title tilt on target, with the top spot only being kept from them by goal difference. With Mesut Ozil playing some delicious football, Alexis Sanchez returning to form and Santi Cazorla looking like a truly special player, Arsenal are not lacking for creativity at all. Despite this, the first half was a stalemate, with neither side being able to open the scoring, with Margaro Gomis squandering the best chance to open the scoring.



The Swans lived to regret that as Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 49th minute with yet another header and then Laurent Koscielny seized on an error by Swansea's former Gooner's keeper Lukasz Fabianski to score. The Swans were convinced there was a foul in there which should have led to the goal being disallowed. Joel Campbell opened his Arsenal account with a late goal to seal the win, as the Swans pushed forward for an equaliser. While Arsenal are delighted to enhance their title credentials with yet another win, things in South Wales are starting to look worrying. They look a team completely devoid of any confidence whatsoever, in particular the misfiring Gomis, who dithered when through on goal and looked like a man with no self belief. Monk will need to sort that out quickly, before Swansea get dragged into a relegation battle.

Watford 2 - 0 West Ham United

Away day specialists West Ham finally came unstuck against a well organised Watford side who picked up a win courtesy of a brace from Odion Ighalo. Watford look comfortable in the Premier League, while West Ham looked anything but as mistakes and poor play littered their performance. It was an error from Andy Carroll, who dithered on the ball in his own penalty box, which led to the first goal. The Hammers just look like a team that flounder when the pressure is on and they are expected to win. Slaven Bilic had to admit that his team were well beaten by a Watford side that looked a better side and the win has moved them into the top half of the table. The Hertfordshire side will now be hoping the injury to Ighalo is not bad enough to see him miss many games. Bilic, meanwhile, has to deal with a suspension to James Collins, who was sent off late in the game with his side already 2-0 down.



West Bromwich Albion 2 - 3 Leicester City

Once again Leicester prove their never-say-die attitude, as they come from behind to pick up three more points and keep them right up in the right end of the table. Tony Pulis's team, as always with a Pulis team, were strong but lacking in quality, pace and movement, making up for it in power and strength. Unfortunately for the Baggies, they came up against a side they were unable to bully into submission. Salomon Rondon's opener came from a header in the 30th minute, and they managed to hold on to the lead until the 57th minute. Then came the magic feet of Riyad Mahrez, who pulled the Foxes level, before adding his second to put Leicester ahead seven minutes later. Worse was to come for West Brom, as Jamie Vardy continued his scoring streak with a goal in his 8th game in succession to make it look like a comfortable end to the game. Leicester do not do comfortable wins though and they conceded a late penalty, which substitute Rickie Lambert converted, to put pressure on Leicester for the final minutes.

West Brom were outplayed from start to finish, though Pulis has looked to blame the referee for not giving them another penalty and red card for the Leicester player. It must be said though, he should look at his awful tactical approach, which saw his side look second best. As for Leicester, when do people stop claiming their 3rd place is due to Nigel Pearson's work, and start giving some credit to Claudio Ranieri? Yes Pearson had instilled a will to win in the team, but they were fighting relegation under his stewardship, not fighting for a top four place. Maybe it is time to accept that the 'Tinkerman' is deserving of some respect for the work he has done, so far at least.

Written by Tris Burke

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