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Premier League Matchday 3: 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 third week of Premier League action is over and fans were treated to another round of some great games, some bad games and some bizarre situations. Chelsea finally won, Sunderland weren’t awful and Petr Cech looked like his good old self.

Rooney Still Searching For Goals

What Happened: Manchester United took on Newcastle United in the early game on Saturday, and although Manchester were looking better, the game ended in a scoreless draw. Manager Louis van Gaal was happy about how his team played, but not the result as he spoke to MUTV after the game.

“I think we can be satisfied about the performance but not about the result because we don’t reward ourselves,” van Gaal said. “I think we have created a lot of chances and we were unlucky.”

Javier Hernandez came off the bench and had a golden opportunity late in the game, but Maarten Stekelenburg in the Newcastle net had a fine game and came up with a key stop.

Seb’s Take: Manchester United did look a lot better, but there’s still a gaping hole for another top-class striker in addition to Wayne Rooney. Rooney might just have a slow start, but there needs to be another option behind him. Hernandez is a solid player, but he’s not a game changer.

Newcastle are surely happy with a point, as it’s always a hard time to go to Old Trafford and get out with any points.

Sako Has Dream Debut For Palace

What Happened: Crystal Palace hosted Aston Villa and had a solid display in front of the home fans at Selhurst Park. After a scoreless first half, things picked up in the second. Scott Dann gave the home side the lead in the 71st minute, when he leaped high up in the air and headed in a corner from Jason Puncheon.

Villa drew level six minutes later when Pape Souare deflected a pass from Adama Traore into the net for an own goal. Traore made his first appearance for Villa since the transfer from Barcelona. Bakary Sako became the hero, and Souare will surely be happy to buy him a beer, as Sako scored the winner in the 87th minute.

Sako got the ball on the right hand side, just inside the penalty box, and hit a great strike with his left foot that found the back of the net behind Brad Guzan. It was a perfect debut for Sako, who joined Palace from Wolverhampton earlier this month.

Seb’s Take: Crystal Palace keeps on trucking. This is a very good side that will cause a lot of problems for a lot of teams, especially when they play at home. Manager Alan Pardew has done a phenomenal job since taking over the club and they play a very attractive type of soccer.

Villa still has some work to do will all the new signings, and it’s always disheartening to lose a game that late. The Villans will look to bounce back next weekend when they host Sunderland at Villa Park.

Leicester Still Unbeaten

What Happened: Leicester City keeps on surprising as they got a 1-1 at home against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. It was a really close affair where both teams were pretty stand-offish in the first half.

Things opened up in the second half and Riyad Mahrez, who has been on fire for the Foxes, hit the post in the 69th minute. But the first goal wouldn’t come until the 81st minute when Dele Alli scored his first goal for Tottenham to give the Spurs the lead.

The Tottenham fans weren’t even done celebrating when Mahrez tied things up just seconds later after Alli had scored. Mahrez now has four goals in three games, tying his tally from last season when he had four goals in 30 league games.

Seb’s Take: Leicester are for real. Sure, they won’t be able to keep this pace all season long, but they will not be in the relegation fight this season. Claudio Ranieri is a good tactician, and it might not be the most entertaining soccer to watch at times, but it’s effective.

He brought the Italian defensive mentality to this game and Leicester got a point to show for it against a team that, on paper, should win this game handedly. Tottenham could use another striker as Harry Kane looks a bit rusty, so we’ll have to wait and see if they can get a deal done for WBA’s Saido Berahino.

Norwich Grab Another Point

What Happened: Newcomers Norwich hosted Stoke City at Carrow Road. The game ended in a 1-1 draw after goals by Mame Biram Diouf and Russell Martin. Norwich have shown they are not going to just park the bus and try to scrape together points, as they play a very attacking minded brand of soccer.

The Canaries had 17 shots in the game, with eight hitting the target. Jack Butland in the Stoke goal had some good saves and is looking like a proper Premier League keeper.

Diouf gave the visitors the lead in the 11th minute when he headed home a freekick from new signing Xherdan Shaqiri. Martin tied things up in the 28th minute when a clever shot inside the penalty box that snuck in between the legs of Butland.

Seb’s Take: It’s been really entertaining to watch newcomers Norwich and Bournemouth in these opening weeks of the season. They seem to have a lot of confidence to try to play the type of soccer that made them successful in the Championship. Norwich might not have the most recognizable squad, but they work well as a team and they are a blast to watch. Martin’s goal was superb and he showed great composure sneaking the shot in between the legs of Butland.

Sunderland Finally Got A Point

What Happened: Sunderland have been atrocious to start the season. The defense has been non-existent and fans were fleeing the stadium in the game against Norwich.

They hosted Swansea City at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and got their first point of the season after a 1-1 draw. They were pushed back hard by Swansea, who had a vast majority of the ball and chances in the game, but somehow the Saints managed to snag a point. Bafetimbi Gomis gave Swansea the lead right before halftime and basically threw Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat’s halftime talk out the window.

But Sunderland didn’t panic and in the 62nd minute, Jermain Defoe scored the equalizer. Defoe made a good run and got the ball inside the penalty after a through pass by Jeremain Lens and although it looked like Defoe mishit the shot, the ball rolled into the left corner behind Lukasz Fabianski in the Swansea goal.

Seb’s Take: Swansea deserved the win in this one, but were unlucky. Sunderland still looks destined for relegation, unless some miracle happens and the team starts playing some fantastic defense.

Swansea can at least be happy that Gomis scored again and is looking real sharp to start the season. There were some question marks surrounding the player last season, but he finished the season strong and has continued on the same path to start the new campaign.

Wilson Hat-Trick Hero For Bournemouth

Photo courtesy of AP

Photo courtesy of AP

What Happened: AFC Bournemouth won their first ever Premier League game on Saturday as they defeat West Ham United 4-3. Callum Wilson became the big hero, scoring a hat trick for the Cherries. Wilson scored twice in the first half to give Bournemouth a 2-0 lead at halftime. Mark Noble scored from the penalty spot early in the second half to pull West Ham back within one and Cheikhou Kouyate tied it up 2-2 in the 53rd minute.

But Bournemouth stuck to their game and retook the lead after a goal by Marc Pugh in the 66th minute before Wilson completed his hat trick from the penalty spot in the 79th minute after Carl Jenkinson got sent off for West Ham. Modibo Maiga made things interesting when he scored for West Ham in the 82nd minute, but Bournemouth held out and took the three points.

Seb’s Take: Just like Norwich, it’s loads of fun to watch Bournemouth play. They are great going forward, but they need to sharpen up in the defensive end. Wilson had a magical night and will forever be in the hearts of Bournemouth supporters.

West Ham just need to forget the last two games and try to get back to the way they played in the Opening Day winner against Arsenal. The Hammers were awful on defense and Aaron Cresswell and Jenkinson were particularly poor.

10-Man Chelsea Still Too Much For WBA

What Happened: Chelsea traveled to West Bromwich for the early game on Sunday, and the reigning champions took their first win of the season with help from new signing Pedro. The Spaniard had a very good debut for the champs, scoring one goal and adding an assist.

WBA had a golden opportunity to get off to a perfect start when they were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute, but James Morrison’s attempt from the spot was poor and Thibaut Courtois saved the ball with a trailing leg.

Instead it was Pedro who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute after a nice link up play with Eden Hazard. Pedro then provided the service for Diego Costa’s 2-0 goal 10 minutes later. It was an exciting first half, with Morrison getting on the scoresheet in the 35th minute. Cesar Azpilicueta made it 3-1 Chelsea shortly before half time.

John Terry got sent off early in the second half, leaving Chelsea with 10 men with more than 35 minutes still to play. Morrison scored his second of the game in the 59th minute with a beautiful header, but that was as close as WBA would get as Chelsea held on and grabbed their first win of the season.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea were clearly the better side and dominated the first half. If it wasn’t for Terry getting sent off, Chelsea could easily have won this game by three or four goals.

WBA don’t look very good, and with rumors still surrounding Berahino, it will be interesting to see of manager Tony Pulis holds him out of the lineup again next weekend.

City Stay Perfect

What Happened: Manchester City have been very impressive in the three opening games of the season. They grabbed their third straight win on Sunday as they dispatched Everton 2-0 after goals by Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri.

City controlled the action from start to finish and right now looks like the team to beat in the Premier League. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany look rejuvenated and has played very well to start the 2015/2016 campaign after being on the receiving end of a lot of criticism last year.

Kolarov scored the opening goal in the 60th minute from a very tough angle inside the penalty box. Tim Howard in the Everton net didn’t protect the near post and Kolarov managed to find the empty space. Samir Nasri scored in the 88th minute to make it 2-0 with a beautiful chip over Howard.

Seb’s Take: City looks like a team on a mission. After looking a bit too happy with life last season, the team seems to have that hunger back in their game and they have been dominant in all three games to start the season. They have also yet to concede a goal, something manager Manuel Pellegrini surely is happy with.

If City can keep this going and build as big of a gap as possible down to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, they will be in a good spot when the European cups get started and the schedule gets more congested.

Watford Still Searching For A Win

What Happened: Watford hosted Southampton at Vicarage Road on Sunday in a scoreless draw. Southampton had most of the ball possession and chances but were unable to break the deadlock. Watford had one great chance in the second half, but Etienne Capoue managed to head the ball over the bar from point-blank range.

Seb’s Take: The worst game of the season so far. This was a horrible game with both teams failing to produce any real chances, except for Capoue’s header. Southampton seems to have some troubles in the squad with players wanting to leave, and that seems to have a negative effect on the pitch. Wanyama looked disinterested and took a really stupid yellow card.

Arsenal, Liverpool Scoreless But Highly Entertaining

What Happened: If the Watford – Southampton game was one of the worst scoreless draws ever, then the 0-0 game between Arsenal and Liverpool was one of the best. It was a thrilling game with both teams going for it.

Both goaltenders were on their game, and Petr Cech looked like the old Cech in net for Arsenal. He had a couple of key saves as Coutinho had a very good game up front for Liverpool.

Coutinho hit the bar in the third minute and then hit the post right before halftime. On the shot right before halftime, Cech got just enough on it to keep it from going into the net. Alexis Sanchez hit the post for Arsenal in the second half, but neither team was able to break the deadlock at the Emirates Stadium.

Seb’s Take: This was a great game for fans of the teams and neutrals alike. It was a fast-paced game where the attacking players got space to shine. If it wasn’t for the excellent goalkeeping of Cech and Simon Mignolet then this could have been a 3-2 or 4-3 kind of game.

Both teams can take some positives from this match, but Arsenal will be a little bit disappointed as they had a goal wrongly waved off for offside.

SOCCER: AUG 24 Premier League - Liverpool at Arsenal

The Good: Callum Wilson

The Bournemouth striker scored 20 goals last season for the Cherries in the Championship. Now the 24-year-old Englishman will go down in Bournemouth history as the first goalscorer for the club in the Premier League and the first Bournemouth player with a hat trick in the English top flight.

Wilson capitalized on some horrendous defending by West Ham, but that doesn’t take away from his accomplishment as he still had to finish his chances. Great day for Bournemouth fans and an even better day for Wilson and his family.

The Bad: West Ham

After an impressive 2-0 win over Arsenal in the opening game of the season, West Ham has had back-to-back losses. And in the game against Bournemouth the defense was appalling.

Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson were extremely poor and it cost West Ham the game. Cresswell gave away the ball on two of the goals and Jenkinson got himself sent off and gave up a penalty.

It’s also back-to-back games with red cards for the Hammers. They will need to shape up quickly if they are to have any chance away to Liverpool next weekend.

The Bizarre: John Terry

The Chelsea captain has had two weird weeks. First he got subbed at halftime in the 3-0 loss against Manchester City. It was the first time in 177 league games that manager Jose Mourinho had substituted Terry. The substitution had little effect on the game, but it spurred rumors that Terry had fallen out of favor with Mourinho and that his time at Chelsea might be coming to an end.

Then he gets sent off against WBA on Sunday. It was a pretty weak red card, and Terry must be feeling a bit unlucky. On his way out to the tunnel, he didn’t even look at Mourinho. It remains to be seen how this will affect the situation, but it surely won’t do anything to stop the rumors.

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