Premier League Week 3 Results: Breaking Down Most Impressive Performances
Saturday afternoon's Premier League fixtures may have generated a large amount of chatter for the lack of goals in the 3 p.m. BST kickoffs, but that is not to say there was not good football on show.
Indeed, it could be ventured that the majority of this weekend's fixtures were actually better spectacles than last week's, despite the lack of goals. Ultimately, that is all subjective.
What is clear, though, is that there were once more some very good sides on show, and the balance of results so far this season really highlights the increased levels of competition that the league has displayed this campaign.
The Premier League has long since been heralded for its depth, but the 2013-14 season would appear to have taken that competitiveness to a new level. All through the division, there is an abundance of very good footballers.
So which performances really stood out from Saturday's Premier League fixtures?
It had not been a great start to the season for the Canaries, with a home draw against Everton followed by defeat to newly promoted Hull City. A 1-0 victory over Southampton, though, should do much to ease supporters' nerves.
Chris Hughton's side were excellent on Saturday, creating more chances than their opponents despite Southampton's advantage in the possession stakes. Indeed, there looked to be a better balance to Norwich's side than the Saints'.
At the heart of the performance was summer signing Leroy Fer, who was handed the official Man of the Match award:
Leroy Fer has been superb today. #ncfc— Michael Bailey (@michaeljbailey) August 31, 2013
Leroy Fer 100% pass completion in the first half (17). #NCFC— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) August 31, 2013
The Dutchman kept play ticking over in the centre of the park for Norwich and was also a great shield for his defence. He was certainly far more influential in the role than as a No. 10 as trialled last week.
Other noteworthy performances for Norwich came from centre-back Sebastien Bassong, who marshalled the back line impeccably, and also England Under-21 international Nathan Redmond.
It was Redmond's goal that separated the two sides in the end, with the young winger's pace and trickery Norwich's biggest threat throughout. Thus far, he would appear to be one of the bargains of the summer.
Going to Upton Park and emerging with three points is never easy. Thus, Mark Hughes will be delighted that his Stoke side could claim a second win of the campaign on Saturday.
It was the manner of the success, too, that will be gratifying, with Stoke playing a much more aesthetically pleasing style of football than they have become associated with. As a result, they enjoyed the lion's share of possession and created more chances than the hosts.
Erik Pieters was the only of Hughes' signings thus far to be involved in the clash, but the likes of Oussama Assaidi and Marc Muniesa should help with the stylistic change when ready for inclusion:
Was hard work watching that over there today. N'Zonzi best player on the park by a mile. In desperate need of a striker before the deadline.— Daniel Marshall (@Dan_Marve) August 31, 2013
Just spent the afternoon admiring the way N'Zonzi controls the game— Josh Brocklebank (@J_Brocklebank) August 31, 2013
On this occasion it was Steven N'Zonzi who was at the heart of most of Stoke's good work, putting on a dominant display in the centre of midfield. The Frenchman has begun life under Hughes in excellent form after a poor end to last season.
In a nod to Stoke's previous emphasis on aerial ability, however, centre-backs Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth deserve credit for excellent displays, completely nullifying the threat of West Ham's attacking players.
In the end, though, it was a free-kick from substitute Jermaine Pennant that sealed victory for the Potters.
How much of Crystal Palace's 3-1 success over Sunderland was due to their performance is quite hard to decipher, with Paolo di Canio's visiting ranks woeful for long periods of the game.
Palace, though, deserve credit for their first win of the season and some of the fine individual performances that carried them to that initial success.
Most worthy of note were the midfield pair of Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi, who were dominant throughout the first half in particular. Both tall, strong players, their physicality proved far too much for the Black Cats' central midfield:
Palace playing lovely football here, pulling Sunderland about all over the place. Jedinak has been terrific. Again.— Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) August 31, 2013
When Clyne left I said he would be irreplaceable. Joel Ward has proved me wrong! He is absolute class #CPFC— Michael Pinter (@MKirbs96) August 31, 2013
Jedinak, in particular, was central to the success, breaking up many Sunderland attacks and looking to get on the ball himself. If the Australian wasn't previously known to Premier League fans, he is now starting to make a real name for himself.
Marouane Chamakh looks a rejuvenated figure in attack and, while he had few opportunities on the day, his work rate and hold-up play would have pleased Ian Holloway.
However, it is perhaps right-back Joel Ward who deserves most credit for his performance, helping to keep quiet Emanuele Giaccherini and also contributing in attack—a fine display of full-back play.
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