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Premier League Matchday 2: The Good, Bad And The Bizarre

Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad and the bizarre.

The second week of Premier League action has come to a close and fans were treated to another round of some great games, some bad games and some bizarre situations.

 

Januzaj to the Rescue for United

What Happened: Manchester United followed up a lackluster 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Opening Day with another 1-0 win, this time over Aston Villa on Friday. Adnan Januzaj scored the only goal of the game in the 29th minute after making a great run into the penalty box and a perfect through ball by Juan Mata. Januzaj showed great composure as he waited out a Villa defenseman and then slotted the ball into the back of the net.

Seb’s Take: Another pretty boring match by United, but in the end, it’s the wins that counts. They must start creating more chances as two shots on goal is not good enough when going up against tougher opponents. There’s still a need for another top-level striker, as Wayne Rooney has struggled in the opening games of the season.

 

Lukaku Scores a Brace For Everton

What Happened: Everton played a very solid game against Southampton on Saturday and got a comfortable 3-0 win. Romelu Lukaku scored twice in the first half, and Ross Barkley scored in the second half.

Although it was Southampton that had a vast majority of the ball possession, they were unable to convert that into clear goal-scoring opportunities. U.S. international Tim Howard recorded his 127th Premier League shutout.

Seb’s Take: After a disappointing season last year, Everton could be back on the right track and challenge for a Europa League spot. Lukaku and Barkley were phenomenal and these two players will be key for the Toffees this year. Losing Leighton Baines for up to three months due to injury is a big blow that puts more pressure on Barkley and Lukaku. If they can hold on to John Stones, Everton fans should be looking forward to the rest of the season.

Southampton impressed last season after the huge turnover of players in the squad, but they have struggled so far this season with only one point in two games. The team also has the Europa League to think about and it remains to be seen if Ronald Koeman’s men can fight on two fronts.

 

Sunderland Looks Dreadful

What Happened: After taking over in the final stages of last season and saving the club from relegation, Dick Advocaat was convinced to stay on as manager of Sunderland. He might regret that decision now as his team has looked absolutely dreadful in the two first games of the season.

After losing 4-2 on Opening Day against Leicester City, the Saints lost again on Saturday, 3-1 to newcomers Norwich City. City dominated the game and had 10 shots on net. Sunderland’s defending was nonexistent and the score could have been even worse for Sunderland.

Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker scored for the Canaries in the first half before Nathan Redmond made it 3-0 in the 57th minute. Sunderland got one back through Duncan Watmore late in the game.

Seb’s Take: Sunderland looks like a team in shambles. Once again, fans showed their discontent by leaving the stadium in droves around the 60th minute. This club is in crisis mode already, just two games into the new season.

After being in the relegation fight for a couple of seasons, and surviving, this looks to be the year that they finally just crash out. The question is how long Advocaat will remain as manager, because he must realize that he’s on a sinking ship.

 

Tottenham Collapse Against Stoke

What Happened: Tottenham were cruising against Stoke and had a comfortable 2-0 lead with just 12 minutes to go after goals by Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli in the first half. But after the Spurs subbed out Harry Kane in the 64th minute, the team fell apart.

Stoke substitute Stephen Ireland came in and changed the look of the game. Stoke got a penalty in the 78th minute that Marko Arnautovic blasted into the back of the net, and Mame Biram Diouf tied it up 2-2 five minutes later. It was definitely two points lost for Spurs, who have just one point after two games.

Seb’s Take: Although Kane didn’t have a very good game, it’s clear just how important he is to this Spurs team as he garners extra attention from the opposition. I’m thoroughly impressed with Ireland’s performance off the bench and he’s a great player to throw on in the second half when you’re chasing a goal.

Stoke has done a great job in adding some technically gifted players to the lineup and isn’t just a “boot it and run” team anymore.

 

Watford Fail To Crack WBA

What Happened: It was total domination for Watford in their home opener against West Bromwich Albion. Watford had a vast majority of the ball and six shots on net compared to WBA’s zero. Boaz Myhill in the WBA net should demand a beer each from all of his teammates, as he stole a point for WBA on Saturday at Vicarage Road.

Seb’s Take: It’s nice to see all the newcomers stick to the type of play that made them successful last season in the Championship, and I don’t think that any one of them will fall off the map completely, even though I see two of them going down.

Saido Berahino should have scored for WBA but he somehow managed to head the ball wide from just a couple of yards out. Maybe all the transfer talk has gotten him off his game.

 

Leicester Keeps On Rolling

What Happened: Leicester finished last season in incredible fashion, winning seven out of the last nine games. Despite that, many people had written them off and placed them at the bottom of table when making preseason predictions. Two games in, Leicester has played some of the most exciting soccer and scored six goals in the two wins over Sunderland and West Ham.

The Hammers were riding high after the victory away to Arsenal on Opening Day, but they fell back to Earth as the Foxes came to town and took a 2-1 victory after goals by Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez. West Ham goalkeeper Adrian got sent off late in the game, but we’ll get to that further down.

SOCCER: JAN 13 FA Cup - Everton at West Ham United

Seb’s Take: Leicester will not get relegated this season. The team has belief in themselves after the turnaround late last year and they have added some good players to the squad. Mahrez has opened up the season brilliantly with three goals in two games, so he’s just one goal shy of last season’s total.

Okazaki is a great signing. The Japanese international is a Duracell bunny that never stops working. West Ham shouldn’t be too disheartened by the loss, but they might have gotten a little bit too cocky after the win over Arsenal.

 

Arsenal Win After Palace Own Goal

What Happened: The Gunners bounced back with a win over Crystal Palace on Sunday after the shocking loss on Opening Day against West Ham at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal created a good amount of chances and nine shots on target, but they needed an own goal by Damien Delaney in order to secure three points.

Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal the lead after 16 minutes, but Joel Ward tied things up at 1-1 12 minutes later. Delaney’s own goal in the 55th minute became the decider and came just a few minutes after Connor Wickham had hit the post for Palace.

Seb’s Take: Arsenal looked a lot better and having Alexis Sanchez back in the starting lineup meant a lot for the Gunners, as his presence lifts the whole side. Giroud got on the scoring sheet, but there’s still a big need for Arsenal to add another forward before the transfer window closes.

Palace will be a tough opponent for any team this season as Alan Pardew might have pulled off one of the best signings this offseason in Yohan Cabaye.

 

City Dominates Chelsea And Makes A Statement

What Happened: The two heavy hitters went up against each other on Sunday, and City won with a knockout 3-0 win. The reigning champions Chelsea looked sluggish and just not up to speed as City took it to them in front of a record crowd at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

Sergio Aguero created a lot of chances for City and last year’s Golden Boot winner opened up the scoring in the 32nd minute. Vincent Kompany scored a fine header in the 79th minute and Fernandinho blasted the ball in behind Asmir Begovic in the 85th minute to seal the final score.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea should be worried. They haven’t looked good in these two first games and have just a single point. They did start preseason a week later than everyone else, but even with that in mind, it doesn’t look good for the champs as they will have to try to bounce back against WBA on Sunday.

 

Another 1-0 Victory For Liverpool

What Happened: Liverpool has two wins to start the season, but the level of play has not been up to par for the Reds. The 1-0 win over Stoke City was followed up by another 1-0 win over newbies Bournemouth. Christian Benteke scored his first league goal as a Liverpool player and that was all that was needed to take home three points.

Seb’s Take: Just like Manchester United, Liverpool has six points after two games without convincing. Benteke cost Liverpool an arm and a leg this summer, but now he has started paying back. Benteke showed during his time with Aston Villa that he’s a solid Premier League striker, and the next step for him is to become an elite striker in the league. With the supporting cast he has in Liverpool, the chances of him succeeding should be good.

 

The Good: Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku had a great game and looked to have bounced back after a pretty poor campaign last season. The two goals he scored can really kickstart the season for Everton, and his link-up play with Ross Barkley bodes well for the future. Lukaku and Barkley will be key for Everton if they are to challenge for a Europa League spot this season.

The Bad: Chelsea

Chelsea weren’t even close to getting points in the game against Manchester City. They were dominated from minute one to the final whistle. They couldn’t control Sergio Aguero and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho decided to take of captain John Terry at halftime.

Kurt Zouma came in, but not much changed. City continued to dominate and there was never any doubt that the Citizens wouldn’t take all three points. Mourinho has to get his team ready to take on WBA, and if they don’t come out victorious from that meeting, then we can talk about a crisis for the reigning champions.

The Bizarre: Adrian

The West Ham goaltender became historic in West Ham’s 2-1 defeat against Leicester City. Adrian became the first goaltender in Premier League history that got red carded on the opposing team’s half after kicking Jamie Vardy right in the chest as he was trying to stop a Leicester clearance after a corner late in the game as West Ham was pushing for an equalizer.

Adrian was looking at the ball the whole time and didn’t see Vardy until it was too late. Referee Anthony Taylor showed Adrian a straight red card, and since West Ham had used all their substitutions, right back Carl Jenkinson had to put on the gloves and go between the posts.

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