Premier League Weekend Game-by-Game Review

Ryan LynchCorrespondent IIAugust 22, 2011

Premier League Weekend Game-by-Game Review

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    In only the second week of the English Premier League season, major fixtures have already ended in shock results, and supporters have plenty to say about the direction of their team.

    Among the highlights of the weekend, Liverpool claimed success at the Emirates Stadium against a beleaguered Arsenal, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas claimed his first competitive win with the side and Newcastle United won bragging rights against their local rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby.

    Here is a review of the second week of  Premier League fixtures. Be sure to share your thoughts on your team's performances in the comments below, as well as your hopes for improvements (or more of the same!) in the next round of fixtures.

Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle

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    Newcastle United, on the back of a strong draw last week to Arsenal, traveled to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, home of their fierce local rivals, Sunderland.

    And it was the visitors who left the ground with far more to smile about, as a well-taken free-kick from Newcastle's Ryan Taylor proved enough to seal the victory.

    Sunderland performed particularly well in the opening quarter-hour of the match, but failed to break-down a stubborn Newcastle defense and beat goalkeeper Tim Krul.

    The major talking-point of the match this week again surrounded Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton, who was denied a goal when Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson handled on the line.

    No infraction was given by referee Howard Webb, however, who—along with his assistant—didn't see the offense, and Larsson was sure to make his own pleas of innocence by claiming the ball hit his head.

    But in the end, Taylor's 62nd-minute free-kick ensured Webb wasn't the deciding factor in the match.

    And while last week's goal-scorer Larsson was fortunate not to be sent off for his handball, another Sunderland player—Phil Bardsley—saw red after a poor tackle on Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini was his second bookable offense.

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

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    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was left with even greater headaches regarding his available squad following Saturday's loss to Premier League title rivals Liverpool.

    Wenger—who was already without midfielder Alex Song and new striker Gervinho due to their red cards last week, and midfielder Jack Wilshere to injury—was forced to utilize want-away midfielder Samir Nasri as his squad was stretched thin.

    Nasri understandably received a mixed reception by the home faithful, but his performance on the pitch was bright despite the speculation swirling over his future.

    Things quickly got worse for Wenger, however, as he was forced to substitute defender Laurent Koscielney due to a back injury after only 14 minutes of play.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, struggled to break down their opposition in the first half, but things changed significantly after the break.

    Young Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong—who had been enjoying an impressive game up to that point—showed his inexperience by going studs-up into Liverpool midfielder Lucas, directly in view of referee Martin Atkinson.

    Atkinson showed Frimpong a second yellow card, and Liverpool manager Kenny Daglish immediately introduced Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez, who changed the game for Liverpool.

    In the 78th minute, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsay was unfortunate in opening the scoring for the opposition. Young Arsenal defender Ignasi Miquel attempted to clear the ball from the box following pressure from Suarez, bouncing it off the chest of Ramsey and into his own net.

    Liverpool made it 2-0 and secured victory when substitute Suarez made the most of a Liverpool counter-attack in the 90th minute, tapping-in from close range.

Bolton 2-3 Manchester City

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    Manchester City continued their perfect start to the season with a win against Bolton Wanderers in an entertaining match at the Reebok Stadium.

    Both teams had no issues scoring goals in their opening fixtures, and their goalscoring prowess was again on display on Sunday evening, when City were able to hold on to their win.

    The Citizens opening the scoring in the 26th minute, when midfielder David Silva let loose from 20 yards out. Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen should have done better with the effort, and was left ruing his mistake.

    They went 2-0 up when City midfielder Gareth Barry fired into the top corner with a quality distance shot.

    Bolton immediately fought back, however, when former Manchester City winger Martin Petrov crossed to striker Ivan Klasnic, with Bolton hoping to galvanize themselves at half-time.

    The resurgence was quickly quashed, however, as City made it 3-1, with striker Edin Dzeko shaking off a challenge by Zat Knight after fine work from James Milner.

    Bolton found a second goal through Kevin Davies, but the quality of City's squad made the game safe.

    Carlos Tevez made a return to the side in the 68th minute, replacing a largely wasteful Sergio Aguero despite the latter's fantastic performance against Swansea last week. Intense speculation still surrounds Tevez and his future in Manchester, but the visiting support gave him rapturous applause.

Chelsea 2-1 West Brom

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    Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas was able to celebrate his first competitive Chelsea win on Saturday, but it did come with some effort.

    Chelsea played host to West Brom, who are enduring a particularly difficult start to the season having played defending Premier League Champions Manchester United during the opening weekend.

    Despite two loses in their first two games this season, West Brom manager Roy Hodgson has plenty to be proud of in his plucky side, who drew first blood against Chelsea in only the fourth minute thanks to striker Shane Long.

    Chelsea were outmatched by their opponents for much of the first half, but credit must be given to manager Villas-Boas, whose changes just before the interval sparked life into the Blues.

    Having started the match with three up front, Villas-Boas withdrew forward Salomon Kolou in favor of winger Florent Malouda, and switched to a diamond formation that proved the difference after the interval.

    Chelsea striker Nicholas Anelka brought his side level on 53 minutes, before Malouda himself completed the comeback for his side by converting a cross from defender Jose Bosingwa only seven minutes from full-time.

    Chelsea supporters will have plenty to celebrate after the recognition from their manager that changes were needed, and West Brom supporters can hold their head up high after a dogged performance, while looking forward to their Carling Cup tie against Bournemouth this Tuesday.

Wolves 2-0 Fulham

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    Wolverhampton Wanderer's manager Mick McCarthy will be rightly pleased with his side's excellent start to the campaign after their win against Fulham at Molineux.

    While enduring a poor campaign last season that resulted in the club only just maintaining their Premier League status, Wolves currently boast a 100% record this season, their best return at the start of a campaign in 13 years.

    Fulham, meanwhile, looked sluggish at times against their opposition, possibly an effect from Thursday's Europa League match against Ukranian side Dnipro. Midfielders Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey looked the most likely players to score for the Cottagers, but the Wolves defense proved tidy. 

    Wolves hadn't looked likely to score in the first half of the game themselves before striker Kevin Doyle became more involved in the game.

    And it was Doyle who opened the scoring for the home side in the 42nd minute, with an excellent quick-turn and finish.

    Not long after, Wolves winger Matt Jarvis was on hand to score in first half injury-time after a header from Roger Johnson cracked off the post.

Norwich 1-1 Stoke

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    Norwich City were denied their first win of the Premier League season at Carrow Road thanks to a 94th minute strike from Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones.

    On-loan Manchester United defender Ritchie de Laet opened the scoring for Norwich with a header from a free-kick in the first half, and luck seemed to be with the Canaries into the second half.

    In the 63rd minute, Norwich midfielder Elliott Barnett was adjudged to have been the last man back when bringing down Stoke forward Jonathan Walters on the edge of the penalty area, and was shown a straight red card.

    While Norwich supporters can argue that the penalty decision was dubious—with Walters not clearly in the box—the resulting spot-kick from Walters was finely saved by Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy.

    The celebrations at Carrow Road were not meant to be, however, and Norwich supporters are left awaiting their first win of the season after Jones struck deep into injury time to share the points.

Swansea 0-0 Wigan

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    Current Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez returned to his former club Swansea for the first time since having left the Swans in the summer of 2009, and it was fitting that the beloved former-manager led the opposition team in the first Premier League fixture to be staged in Wales.

    In the end, however, his team were still left searching for their first win of the season.

    In reality, Wigan were unfortunate not to leave the Liberty Stadium with all three points. They hit the woodwork numerous times in the match with efforts from Victor Moses and Jordi Gomez, and had a penalty kick from Ben Watson well saved by Swans goalkeeper Michael Vorm.

    Swansea, however, had an equal number of attempts, but neither team could find that decisive cutting-edge.

    Victor Moses continues to enjoy a strong start to the season, and Wigan supporters will be hoping he soon finds the end product to back up his high level of performances.

Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn

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    Although it's early in the season, the pressure continues to build for Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean, who has endured a torrid start to the Premier League season since his opening-day home loss to Wolves, including a ban from driving after a drink-driving conviction last Monday.

    And another resounding loss to a lively Aston Villa side this week has done little to alleviate the pressure on Kean, who has spent the last two weeks as the bookies' choice for the first to lose his job this season.

    In the other dug-out, Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish enjoyed a pleasant and comfortable home debut, as his side ran into a 2-0 lead by half-time courtesy of a fantastic goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor and another from Emilie Heskey.

    Rovers seemed unlikely to find an answer to Villa's attacking prowess, but fine work from Junior Hoilett down the left led to an excellent cross, which was met by the head of Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pederson.

    From that point onward, Rovers' confidence grew somewhat, but Villa secured the points in the 67th minute thanks to striker Darren Bent, who pounced on a loose ball in the box to give Villa the win.

Everton 0-1 QPR

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    Opposite to the fortunes of Blackburn manager Steve Kean are the developments for Queens Park Rangers this past week, who bounced back well from their difficult introduction to life in the Premier League last week.

    With a new owner having now arrived at the club who is reportedly willing to spend money to strengthen the squad, QPR manager Neil Warnock has much to celebrate.

    On the other side of the pitch, long-time Everton manager David Moyes has been forced to fend off speculation that his club's financial position will necessitate the selling of players rather than the reinforcement of his squad.

    The reality, however, is that he hasn't been able to bring in any new signings this summer, and that issue was on display against QPR.

    On the pitch, Everton looked short of ideas against a less-than-impressive QPR, who made their one attempt on target all match count, with former Watford and Portsmouth striker Tommy Smith getting the winning goal in the 31st minute.