English Premier League: Highlights and Lowlights from the Weekend
This week in B/R's English Premier League highlights and lowlights, it's all about the acronym.
RvP shoots. RvP scores. RvP takes penalty and misses. RvP doesn't care.
RvP shoots again and scores again. RvP takes a header and scores again.
Everyone goes nuts, MUFC win, the whole EPL fawns and Gooners—despite their own satisfying win at LFC—set their eyelids on fire.
Sound about right?
Read on for the rest of the highlights and lowlights from the English Premier League weekend.
Latest Comeback Fueled by a Brilliant Hat-Trick
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Mighty Manchester United trailed newly promoted Southampton 2-1 with five minutes left Sunday.
No matter. That's Fergie time—and, after Sunday, apparently RvP time too.
Robin van Persie, United's signature £24 million summer signing, scored in the 87th minute to equalize and added the winner—a brilliant header from a corner—in the second minute of stoppage time.
Combined with his 23rd-minute goal, the late goals gave RvP his first hat trick for his new club. It also gave his new club three valuable points when defeat had seemed likely if not certain.
And all this after, well…
It wasn't all good news for Robin van Persie on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Dutch striker took a poor penalty in 69th minute with Manchester United trailing Southampton 2-1.
RvP tried a Panenka-style chip, but placed his shot too close to diving Southampton keeper Kelvin Davis, who swatted the ball away expertly.
Best Thunder Strike
RvP's hat trick was impressive, but the weekend's best, most thunderous strike came courtesy of Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa.
With Newcastle trailing 1-0 in the second half, Ben Arfa controlled a failed Villa clearance, beat a defender with a simple dribble and uncorked a howitzer blast into the top corner at the far post.
It was breathtaking. See for yourself in the video at left.
Arsenal new boys Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla combined for both of the Gunners' goals Sunday in a 2-0 victory at Liverpool.
Podolski scored the first after a first-half counter. Cazorla assisted with an inch-perfect final ball. That goal can be seen in the video at left.
The two combined again for the second with a one-two on the edge of the Liverpool box in the second half. Reds keeper Pepe Reina gave that one, which can be seen here, a helping hand.
Together, the goals suggested Podolski and Cazorla are starting to gel just three league matches into their Arsenal careers. That should give Gooners reason to smile.
Other positives included the performance of Abou Diaby in midfield and yet another clean sheet—that makes three in three matches—for the defense.
Now, if only Olivier Giroud could get on track.
Worst Start in a Half-Century
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While Arsenal were basking in the post-game, Arsene-Still-Knows glow, Liverpool were devastated.
With no wins in their opening three matches, Brendan Rodgers and the Reds are off to the club's worst start since 1962-63 (via The Independent).
It might not get better for a while, either. Liverpool failed to bring in a new forward on transfer deadline day after letting Andy Carroll leave on loan (more on that momentarily).
Rodgers' revolution could yet become a success, and it's too soon to talk crisis. It's not too soon, though, to say Liverpool are a club driving down that road.
Most Immediate Impact, Followed Immediately by an Unwanted Break
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On Thursday, England forward Andy Carroll signed with West Ham United on loan from Liverpool.
On Saturday, the big-target man had a hand in two of the Hammers' three goals in a 3-0 rout of Fulham.
And how's this for immediate impact? Carroll's first contribution led to a Kevin Nolan goal in the first minute.
It was a stirring debut, but it ended in agony as Carroll limped off with a hamstring injury. According to The Guardian, Carroll will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine this week and next.
No good deed goes unpunished, it seems.
Most Disappointing Start, Continued
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Tottenham Hotspur remain winless on the season after drawing 1-1 at home to Norwich City on Saturday.
New signing Moussa Dembele had put Spurs ahead after coming on as a second-half substitute, but Robert Snodgrass equalized for the Canaries in the 85th minute.
It was the second straight match Spurs conceded a late equalizer, and this time, their fate was entirely deserved.
Dembele's goal will give fans reason to hope, as will a bevy of new signings. For now, though, Spurs are being booed off their own pitch (via Metro) after being Snodgrassed.
Most Pleasantly Surprising Start, Continued
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While Spurs struggle, West Brom keep winning.
The Baggies beat previously-hot Everton 2-0 on Saturday behind second-half goals from Shane Long and Gareth McAuley. Through three games, they have seven points and sit third in the table, ahead of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Not bad for a team widely expected to struggle. And not bad at all from Steve Clarke, a manager with no previous full-time managerial experience.
Most Eye-Catching News
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Forgive the pun. When it's Mario Balotelli who's involved, we all become a bit silly.
See, this week, Balotelli underwent eye surgery and now he's set to miss Italy's World Cup qualifiers this week and next. He already sat out City's win over Queens Park Rangers this weekend, and now he's facing a race to be fit in time for the Champions League opener against Real Madrid.
Balotelli, 22, suffers from conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye. A recent flare-up of the condition meant Balotelli could not put in his contact lenses.
"We’ve waited," said City assistant David Platt. "He’s needed the operation to make sure the next time he did get conjunctivitis he can still get through because the problem is putting his contact lenses in."