Big game of the weekend was at the Emirates where Arsenal squandered their chance to beat Chelsea’s only realistic threat to the title, Manchester City.
Despite starting the game better and scoring two brilliant goals, Arsenal’s frailties remain all too obvious and Pellegrini’s men were unlucky not to claim victory in the end after hitting the woodwork twice and being denied a blatant penalty following Jack Wilshere’s handball in the box.
Ultimately, however, 2-2 was probably a fair result. Best players on the pitch were Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez, while Jesus Navas tortured Nacho Monreal. City’s Fernandinho made another big impression, making his opposite number Mathieu Flamini look like a footballing relic from a previous generation.
Dud of the match was Mesut Ozil, a colossal waste of money that has so far failed dismally to integrate into the Premier League. When you pay £42.5m for a player, you expect game-changing quality almost week in, week out, not the pitiful performances Ozil has delivered.
My final observation on that match is that Vincent Kompany needs a suitable partner. If the Belgian gets a long-term injury, City’s defence will struggle badly, which could damage their title bid. It’s a good time to be a centre back in European football, as even the most average can earn big money moves in the current climate where there is a dearth of quality available.
Meanwhile, despite a good start to the game, Chelsea’s battering ram Diego Costa scored just before half time then went on to plunder a hattrick during the home side’s 4-2 demolition of high-flying Swansea. Even at this early stage, the title looks a formality for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Despite playing well, Fabregas looks uncomfortable in Chelsea’s blue and white, struggling to celebrate with conviction. We all know where he wants to be, and should be, but he can at least placate himself by knowing he’s at a team that can compete for major honours.
Southampton fans are back to loving life after a worrying summer. Despite the departure of key players, Mauricio Pochettino’s influence remains embedded in the club’s psyche. They battered Newcastle 4-0 on Saturday and left Alan Pardew staring down the barrel. Few managers could be more worthy of the sack; a charmless and thoroughly dislikeable individual, Pardew’s days are numbered.
Defeat of the week came at Anfield as Liverpool lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa. With Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling both absent – and Luis Suarez gone, canny gamblers will have laid money on this upset having taken into consideration Villa’s already excellent start to the campaign.
Elsewhere, Everton earned a much-needed clean sheet following a 2-0 win at West Brom, while Tottenham will need to tighten up if they’re serious about Champions League qualification after conceding a comedy late goal in their 2-2 draw against lucky Sunderland.
At Old Trafford, Man Utd thumped QPR 4-0. The Hoops were blown away by Utd’s abundance of attacking talent, but this is no yardstick from which to measure the improvement of Louis Van Gaal’s lop-sided team. Looks like they’re going to try and pummel their way to Champions League qualification; a bit like Liverpool did last season with an equally dismal defence.
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