Premier League review: Chelsea continue to set pace while QPR, Norwich and Reading remain winless
Goals were aplenty in the Premier League this week as 34 goals were shared amongst the 10 mouth watering fixtures that took place over Saturday and Sunday.
The first game of the weekend saw Manchester City impressively return to form in the early Saturday kick-off against Sunderland.
Despite making seven changes to his side, Roberto Mancini’s men scored three goals without reply as they climbed to second in the table.
A rasping free-kick from left back Aleksandar Kolarov got the proceedings under way early on, although they did have to wait until the hour mark to double their lead.
Substitute Sergio Aguero latched onto man-of-the-match Kolarov’s low cross to fire in a superb second, before James Milner’s deflected free kick sealed the game in injury time.
Chelsea responded in the best way possible come 3 o’clock though, overcoming a tricky encounter with Norwich.
In fact it was the Canaries who scored the opening goal, with Grant Holt volleying home just past the 10-minute mark.
However the response was positive from the Blues and they replied almost instantly; Fernando Torres showing courage and determination to power in a header.
And midway through the first half the turnaround was complete as Frank Lampard rifled in Chelsea’s second.
Exquisite play from Juan Mata allowed Eden Hazard to casually roll in a third, and defender Branislav Ivanovic rounded off an impressive display by Roberto Di Matteo’s side by shooting home a fourth.
Norwich remain winless and in the bottom three, as do Reading, who surrendered a two-goal lead at the Liberty Stadium to draw 2-2 with Swansea.
Pavel Pogrebnyak and Noel Hunt gave the visitors a half-time lead, however Miguel Michu’s diving header and a powerful effort from winger Wayne Routledge meant the points were shared in South Wales.
It means both teams continue their dismal runs, with the Swans not recording a win since late August, whilst Brian McDermott’s side recorded their second consecutive draw.
However, bottom of the table remain Queens Park Rangers, who lost a five goal thriller away to West Bromwich Albion.
Talk of Mark Hughes’ job status in the Rangers hot-seat have been widely reported, and his seat must have remained uncomfortable as James Morrison gave the Baggies the lead on five minutes.
Zoltan Gera extended the home side’s lead mid-way through the first period when he seized upon Anton Ferdinand’s mistake, although Hughes’ talisman Adel Taarabt, brought in because of his performance off the bench in QPR’s last game, got the Londoner’s back in it with a superb volley.
West Brom’s two-goal deficit was restored when Youssouf Mulumba scored for Steve Clarke’s side five minutes from the end, and there was still time for former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero to set up a nervy finish when he scored for the visitors late on.
It proved only to be a consolation as they remain bottom, two points from safety, whilst West Brom continue their impressive streak and now sit sixth, recording their fourth win in as many games at home.
The last of the 3pm kick-off took place at the DW Stadium, where Wigan hosted Everton where an 87th minute penalty from Leighton Baines meant both teams shared the spoils in a four goal thriller.
Latics striker Arouna Kone got the home side off to the best start with the opening goal on 10 minutes, however they were instantly pegged back when Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic levelled for the Toffees.
Athletic welcomed back Franco Di Santo into their starting XI and he put Roberto Martinez’s team back in front on 23 minutes.
For all of Everton’s pressing, they finally restored parity when Kevin Mirallas was brought down by Maynor Figueroa inside the box.
Former Wigan player, Baines, kept his cool, dispatching the spot-kick with conviction to level things for the away side.
With uncertainty hovering over Ashley Cole’s role in the England side after his Twitter outburst, Baines’ performance on Saturday surely cemented his starting place in Roy Hodgson’s team against San Marino on Friday.
The late Saturday kick-off saw Arsenal come from behind to win 3-1 over London rivals West Ham United.
Persistence by Mohamed Diame helped give the Hammers the lead slightly against the run of play on 21 minutes, however France striker Olivier Giroud notched up his first ever Premier League goal just before the break to level it up.
Dominance in possession finally paid off for the Gunners when substitute Theo Walcott coolly slotted home after Giroud’s precise through ball, before Spanish maestro Santi Cazorla secured the victory for Arsene Wenger’s men with an unstoppable long range effort.
Sunday’s matches started just as Saturday had ended, with the early match ending 2-2 between Southampton and Fulham.
The first goal came just four minutes into the game when defender Jose Fonte gave the Saints a 1-0 lead.
An own-goal by centre-half partner Jos Hooiveld meant the visitors were back on level terms with 20 minutes still to play.
And the Cottagers must have thought they had won it when Kieran Richardson netted his first goal for the club; his goalbound effort deflecting off Hooiveld once again to aid Fulham.
However it was Fonte again to the rescue for the Hampshire side when he headed home a last minute equaliser which proved good enough to lift the club out of the relegation places.
It wasn’t quite the goal fest at Anfield as Liverpool and Stoke played out a 0-0 draw.
The result means the Reds are still without a home win so far this season and sitting just three points above the drop zone.
Both Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel could only hit the woodwork as the home side piled on the pressure, whilst striker Luis Suarez was the subject of many penalty shouts; all turned down by referee Lee Mason.
Whilst the Uruguayan’s theatrics prove to be a major talking point, the rough treatment he and his teammates received from Stoke’s debatable defending may also be just as controversial.
Tottenham recorded their fourth successive league win with a 2-0 win over struggling Aston Villa.
Two second-half goals sealed the points for Andre Villa Boas’ men who climb up to fifth in the table.
Brad Friedel’s impeccable run of 310 consecutive games came to an end as the Spurs boss opted for Hugo Lloris between the sticks and as it was the home side kept their first clean sheet of the season.
Steven Caulker’s touch from Jermain Defoe’s shot helped give Tottenham the lead just before the hour mark before Aaron Lennon justified why he was back in the international fold with a classy goal just nine minutes later.
The final game of the weekend was billed as a match full of goals and incidents as two of England’s heavyweights met at St James’ Park.
However it was Manchester United who triumphed in this bout scoring three goals without reply against a lacklustre Newcastle side.
Jonny Evans opened the scoring for the Red Devils inside ten minutes finding himself unmarked and heading home a Robin Van Persie header. And just like the first goal, a defender netted United’s second from a corner: left-back Patrice Evra latching on to Wayne Rooney’s set-piece to beat Steve Harper in the Magpies’ goal.
Newcastle gradually crept back into the game but could not make the most of their best spells leaving the visitors to capitalise in the second half.
Tom Cleverley added the third for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side curling the ball inside the far post. Whether he meant it remains to be seen but it sunk Toon hearts as United jumped to second in the table, four points behind title rivals Chelsea.