The second week of the Premier League was upon us before you could shake a stick at the moon in anger because of his refusal to light your way when the batteries had gone in your torch.
There were surprises again as Arsenal went down to Fulham at Craven Cottage and Sunderland and Stoke both provided results many were not banking on. Sunderland played well for their result at Spurs who were diasappointing in front of a home crowd.
The big news here was the return of Djibril Cisse to the EPL on loan from Marseille turning out for Sunderland as a second half substitute and scoring the winner. The Frenchman marks his return with a goal on debut on the very same ground he scored on debut for Liverpool, impressive stuff.
Stoke City played to their fans and Tony Pulis's side continued with a style that suited them for promotion with very direct tactics beating Villa in a well fought 5 goal thriller at Brittania Stadium. Aston Villa did not cope as many would have expected after their opening win over Manchester City. In what was a good game for the fans it was Stokes 6 foot 4 Malian striker Sidibe who rose to head home in injury time to give Stoke all 3 points on their first home game back in the top flight for 23 years.
Arsenal would have been confident heading across town to Fulham after a first up win and their opposition having lost to Premiership new boys Hull in the opening week. This looks to have been their undoing as they were beaten by a Fulham side that would not lie down. Despite probably the better of the match in all, the Gunners were unable to break down the Fulham sides defence after they had been surprised in the the opening twenty by a goal from Fulham defender Hangeland who was quickest to react to a low driven free kick in the Arsenal box.
Arsenal threw everything at the home side but at times lacked ideas and the killer finish Henry might have given them a few years ago. Zamora was enterprising for the home side and should link up well with Andrew Johnson once he is back to full fitness.
Arsenal were losers on the day but I am sure the alarm bells are not sounding for Wenger yet as they were unlucky not to at least get a draw with the pressure they placed a resilient Fulham defence under. It seems Adebayor was a little hasty in putting himself on a par with the French master's striking ability when he demanded a wage increase to Henry's level at Arsenal earlier in the pre-season.
Other than these results we saw a win for Manchester United over Portsmouth, with the Champions doing it tough against last seasons FA cup holders in a game that could have been very different if Baba Diops shot in the opening seconds had not flashed wide of the post. Fletcher converted an Evra cross in the first half for the points. The little french full back also stole the ball off the toes of Crouch after he linked up with Defoe, to deny the big man his first goal of the season. It was little man supplies large man who is then denied by different little man.
At Anfield we saw a win for Liverpool over Middlesborough in a game that was decided after an own goal by the visitors cancelled out Substitute Mido's 69th minute strike and a Gerrard strike in the 90th gave the Anfield Reds the points. Liverpool were unconvincing but took the points anyway, something they did not manage last season so often in the league. Often it is a teams ability to play badly and win that will see them challenge for league titles. Benitez will be hoping this is true for his side.
Gareth Southgate's Middlesborough side look to be very capable of emulating the exploits of McLarens side a few seasons ago who played well in the league and went to the UEFA cup final, they can consider themselves extremely unlucky to have lost this one.
Blackburn and Hull drew 1-1 at Ewood with goals in the 38th and 39th minutes deciding the match in a game that was exciting for both sets of fans. Both teams remain undefeated which is cause for both managers to be happy so far.
Newcastle took all three points at home to Bolton after Shay Given and Michael Owen provided the home town heroics. Newcastle looked deserved winners all told but will be counting the cost after injuries to key players. Given was the hero after he saved Kevin Nolans penalty with a fine piece of goalkeeping from a well struck shot. Owen put Newcastle in a winning position with 19 minutes left with a well taken glancing header that beat Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal.
For Everton it was Yakubu who provided the winner in a match that WBA had good reason to feel they could have gotten more out of. Albion as the home side had the better of the first half but lacked the edge up front. They were stunned in the 65th minute when Osman scored for the Toffees completely against the run of the match. Guilty of not converting chances throughout they were astonished to find themselves two down after the Yak attack capitalised on a defensive mix up. They did score in the 89th with a late penalty but will need to start finishing their chances if they wish to stay in the league they just rejoined this season. Go the Yak attack.
Chelsea were winners away to Wigan 1-0, but the Latics will be feeling hard done by after going toe to toe with the London heavyweights in a well fought tussle. Deco was again pivotal to the Londoners gaining the points after it was his free kick that ended up winning the match. It was Cech in the Chelsea goal that ended the game as the real man of the match for Chelsea though as he was forced to pull off a string of fine saves to deter the determined home side. Chelsea were strangely out of sorts considering the hiding they had dished out a week before to Portsmouth and in truth were lucky to leave with the points. Scolari said Wigan Athletic were "athletic".
At the City ground in Manchester, it was all Manchester City as they beat ten-man West Ham, 3-0, after Mark Noble was sent off for a second bookable offence. Noble's late challenge was silly considering he had already been carded and ended up guaranteeing the Manchester side kept the three points in the north of England. Sturridge opened the scoring for city in the 64th and Elano scored twice in six minutes, with the first in the 70th and the other one 360 seconds later.
While the sending off in the late first half may look to have made the difference, in truth City were dominant from the start with West Ham struggling to make any headway in the match before Noble was sent from the field because of a caution for hand ball and then a another for a dangerous challenge on Michael Johnson.
Hughes will be happy with the win as he worries about the future of his boss, Shinawatra, who is in hot water as the English winter begins.
As we see from the results so far, the new season will continue to provide surprises. With teams having strengthened in the offseason and the new arrivals already looking to be up to speed, it will be a closely contested season.
Chelsea have got the break on Manchester United but Liverpool have also quietly handled their business with two victories as well.
It looks to be a season that will have ups and downs for many a fan and probably a few sideways as well. The sideways may, however, be due to drunkenness and the like and not fainting from ecstasy. Unless you ingest it.
Pleas note:this was first published by the same writer at-www.blog.nzvirtualsport.co.nz
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