Results and Highlights from Round Three Matches in the English Premier League.
Fergie time lives on in 2012. Manchester United had trailed Southampton at their St Mary’s ground from the 55th minute. But with only 3 minutes of regular time remaining the former Arsenal captain, Robin van Persie, stabbed home a rebound to put United on level terms at 2-2. As if that was not enough, Van Persie completed a hat trick in extra time to give United all three points.
After a nervous start Southampton took the lead in the 16th minute via a Rickie Lambert header. Van Persie evened things up with a half volley at the back post from an Antonio Valencia cross. Southampton reclaimed the lead 10 minutes after half time when Patrice Evra slipped and Morgan Schneiderlin headed home another goal for the home side. Shortly after Paul Scholes was introduced Man Utd were awarded a penalty, when Jos Hooiveld scythed down Robin Van Persie in the box. Van Persie took the penalty himself, but it was saved by Kelvin Davis. Southampton were looking good for the win when van Persie’s two late goals left them empty handed.
It was a game for the statisticians, with Van Persie scoring his 100th Premier League goal and Sir Alex Ferguson celebrating his 1,000th game in charge of the Manchester club.
Southampton now sit bottom of the Premier League, the only side with no points after 3 games. But they have faced the might of the squillionaires from both sides of Manchester and given a good account of themselves in both tests. It should not be long before they clock up their first Premier League points since their promotion.
Fans of Van Persie’s old club Arsenal finally had something to cheer about in their third fixture of the new season. After a week of criticism from some “fans” for not buying more players before the close of the transfer window on Friday, Arsene Wenger took his remodelled side to Anfield and picked up a 2-0 win, with both goals coming from new boys.
Unlike Arsenal’s first two opponents of the season, Liverpool did not sit with 11 men behind the ball and although they applied plenty of pressure Arsenal’s defence stood strong. Arsenal were regularly able to attack on the break and after a missed pass from Steven Gerrard, Santi Cazorla surged forward passing to Lukas Podolski in the box, who finished well. Liverpool’s attacking options were limited with Luis Suarez their lone striker and no plan B on the bench, having loaned Andy Carroll to West Ham during the week and not replaced him. Suarez had his regular game of making chances and throwing himself on the ground and calling foul at every other opportunity.
Raheem Sterling, Liverpool’s 17 year old winger, was impressive, but many of the more established heads in the side were not. While Arsenal had very good contributions from Diaby, Cazorla, Podolski and Manone, who made some good saves in his second consecutive Premier League start. The game was sealed for Arsenal in the 69th minute when Santi Cazorla scored, beating Pepe Reina at his near post when he allowed Cazorla’s well struck effort to go under him. The chorus of Arsenal criticism on the web during the week was reversed on Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool’s loss was very much West Ham’s gain. After his loan move during the week, Andy Carroll starred in the Hammers 3-0 win over Fulham, setting up two of the goals himself. Carroll’s height and heading prowess is tailor made for Sam Allardyce’s long ball game. For which he has made no excuse. Some West Ham fans have been chanting “Are we Bolton in disguise?” But Allardyce’s response is that West Ham’s traditional brand of football got them relegated, which is hard to argue with after the way they dominated Fulham on Saturday.
West Ham scored in the opening minute, when Carroll headed down to Vaz Te who picked out Kevin Nolan and he drilled his shot home at the far post. Winston Reid powered in a free header for West Ham’s second and it was pretty much all over by half time when Matt Taylor struck in the 41st minute. Unfortunately Carroll limped off in the 68th minute when he leaped for a header and appeared to pull a hamstring. The resulting injury has meant he will miss England’s World Cup qualifying matches next week and Allardyce will be hoping he will be fit when the Premier League resumes on Saturday week.
Elsewhere draws were in abundance. Everton lost their 100% start when they lost 2-0 at West Brom and Man City secured a 3-1 win over a completely revamped QPR. The west London side have either bought or loaned an almost completely new squad over the summer transfer window. But all other games finished in draws.
Spurs looked particularly woeful at home to Norwich. Drawing 1-1 in a match that Norwich should have won, had they put away their chances or been awarded the penalty when Steve Morrison was dragged down in the box by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Some people are tipping Spurs for a top four finish this season. They have made some good buys, Dembele looked good on Saturday, but I think it is hard to see when they have sold two of their best players and replaced an established, successful Premier League manager with one who has only experienced failure in the league when he had the bottomless resources of Chelski at his disposal.
The Premier League takes a break for International fixtures next week, let’s hope all the key players come back without injury.