The initial surge of emotion associated with the opening week of Premier League play has faded away. Now it's time to really get down to business for clubs around the top flight of English football as the journey toward a title begins in earnest.
There isn't as much urgency at this stage of the campaign, creating a challenge for managers. Even though there's a long season ahead, every match counts the same, and three points lost now is more ground a squad will be forced to make up later on.
That's something to keep in mind as certain sides get off the sluggish starts. So let's check out the current Premier League standings along with the results for the second matchday, which will be updated through the end of play Monday. It's followed by a recap of the action.
Premier League Table
Matchday 2 Results
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Result|
|Aug. 23||Aston Villa||Newcastle||0-0|
|Aug. 23||Crystal Palace||West Ham||1-3|
|Aug. 23||Southampton||West Brom||0-0|
|Aug. 24||Sunderland||Manchester United||1-1|
|Aug. 25||Manchester City||Liverpool||3-1|
Week 2 Recap
The matchday started on a lackluster note, with Aston Villa and Newcastle battling to a scoreless draw. The Magpies were the slightly more dangerous side, but Lions goalkeeper Brad Guzan was up to the task when called upon.
One thing the result did was move Villa atop the table, at least for a couple of hours. The club passed along post-match comments from manager Paul Lambert, who's pleased with his squad's defensive effort through the first two weeks:
On the flip side, Newcastle are still seeking their first goal of the new campaign.
The second wave of matches saw Chelsea overcome a brief scare from a Leicester group that's been more gamely than expected in the early going. Luckily for the Blues, Diego Costa broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark, and Eden Hazard added an insurance marker to secure all three points.
Can Courtois be a difference-maker in the title race for Chelsea?
Thibaut Courtois deserves a lot of credit for making several key saves to keep the Foxes at bay. He's quickly showing why Jose Mourinho decided to keep him around despite the continued presence of reliable veteran Petr Cech.
The Blues are off to a perfect start but will face a more difficult challenge against Everton next week.
West Ham gave up a goal in second-half stoppage time to fall against Tottenham in their opener. They bounced back nicely, however, with a far more complete attacking effort to score a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Mauro Zarate and Stewart Downing scored goals less than five minutes apart to set the tone in the first half. Then, Carlton Cole was able to stretch the lead back to two after Marouane Chamakh had briefly cut it to one for Palace.
OptaJoe noted that Downing has suddenly found his scoring touch:
2 - Stewart Downing has bagged 2 goals in his last 4 games (in all comps) after failing to score in 44 appearances before that. Aim.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 23, 2014
Saturday's other early winner was Swansea, which edged Burnley 1-0. Nathan Dyer scored the only goal of the match inside the first half hour, and the Swans defense stifled the Clarets from there, giving up very few looks at an equalizer.
Elsewhere, Southampton and West Brom continued the low-scoring trend that's developed over the first few weeks with a scoreless draw of their own. Both sides finished with just two shots on target in a match that was more physical than aesthetically pleasing.
The day wrapped up with a thriller between Everton and Arsenal.
Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith scored first-half goals to give the Toffees a perfect start to their home campaign. For most of the second half it appeared they would cruise to the finish line with the victory.
Everton started to become overly defensive, though. They sat back too much during the final 15 minutes and Arsenal made them pay. Aaron Ramsey got the Gunners back within one in the 83rd minute and Olivier Giroud headed home the equalizer in the 90th. Both goals were a result of weak marking.
While both clubs get a point, it probably seems like a victory for Arsenal and a loss for Everton given how the final 10 minutes played out.
The action continued on Sunday with three fixtures, and Tottenham started out the day with a bang. Spurs jumped out in front early at home against QPR and never looked back, winning 4-0.
A first-half brace from Nacer Chadli helped Spurs to lead by three goals at half, and they continued to dominate in the second half en route to a 66 percent possession advantage for the match.
Hull City jumped in front at home against Stoke City, but couldn't overcome a late equalizer from Ryan Shawcross that gave Stoke the 1-1 draw.
As for new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, his league debut is still off to a rocky start after a 1-1 draw to Sunderland on the road. Juan Mata put the Red Devils in front by sneaking free by the left post in the 17th minute, but a 30th-minute equalizer from Jack Rodwell was too much to overcome.
Most around world football suspected United's struggles left with David Moyes, but one point in two matches proves van Gaal still has plenty of work to do. The schedule softens up for them at an ideal time, traveling to play recently-promoted Burnley for Matchday 3.
Welcome to the Premier League, Alberto Moreno. The Spanish left-back was constantly under pressure in his league debut for Liverpool, eventually making a catastrophic mistake that led to Manchester City's first goal, scored by Stevan Jovetic in the 41st minute.
Jovetic doubled City's lead in the 55th with his second goal of the night.
Because of injury, the Montenegrin striker made only two appearances in the Premier League last year. Despite what was a tough debut season, Jovetic's standing in the team was never under threat. Manager Manuel Pellegrini backed his striker the whole way, per Ian Herbert of The Independent:
Pellegrini on Stevan Jovetic, who was superb tonight."He was very unlucky last season but we never had any doubt about his quality." #mcfc— ian herbert (@ianherbs) August 25, 2014
Pellegrini's faith was repaid in full on Monday night.
Sergio Aguero added a third in the 69th minute, a mere 23 seconds after he replaced Edin Dzeko, per B/R Football:
A Pablo Zabaleta own goal 83rd minute allowed Liverpool to save some face.
The score is a bit deceiving, as Liverpool weren't utterly hopeless, but they didn't look like title contenders. Manchester City, meanwhile, look every bit a contender, and the fact that they could beat LFC 3-1 without hitting top gear is rather scary.