The Premier League is in full swing and we are about at that time where we can begin to separate the “pretenders” from the “contenders.” However, this year is much more entertaining due to the fact that there is no clear cut favorite. This makes for some exciting soccer, since a larger number of teams believe they have a shot at the title, or more likely, believe they can qualify for the Champions League. In case you are new to the Premier League and would like to get caught up on the progress so far, here’s my recap of the EPL up to and including week 7 and the recap for just week 8. Now for your weekly roundup of the more important matches in week 9:
Arsenal at Crystal Palace 2-0
Last season, Crystal Palace were finally elevated to the Premier League after beating Wattford F.C. in the Championship Play-off final. However at this point in the season, it is evident that the club has their work cut out for them as they are currently in the relegation zone. Crystal Palace only have one win on the season and are in last place in the Premier League table. This matchup against the league leaders did them no favors, and as most could have predicted, they were easily defeated. There is not much to say about this match other than that Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta, was sent off with a red card in the 65th minute, a little after he had knocked in a penalty kick in the 47th minute. The Gunners left Crystal Palace with some hope until the 87th minute when Olivier Giroud headed home the clincher to secure the 3 points for the away side. Next week, Arsenal will welcome Liverpool to the Emirates and Crystal Palace will try to secure some points as they travel to West Ham.
West Brom at Liverpool 4-1
Luis Suarez absolutely tore apart the West Brom defense as he had his 4th career hat trick with Liverpool. Suarez’s goals came in the 12th, 15th, and 57th minutes all before West Brom could scrap together their lone goal of the afternoon. Liverpool was not tested at all as West Brom only had 4 shots on
goal, forcing Liverpool keeper, Simon Mignolet, to make only 2 saves all game. Liverpool still has not faced much competition and we still do not know if they are a true contender for the Premier League Championship or if their early season success is being buoyed by an extremely weak schedule. For now, the latter may be the most plausible. However, next week Liverpool will have a chance to prove that they belong in the upper tier of the Premier League as they will travel and take on Arsenal. This is an important match for the Reds and will need to come away with points to remove any doubt as they compete for the Premier League Championship. West Ham will take on Crystal Palace at home.
Stoke City at Manchester United 2-3
Manchester United, up to this point, have been in a complete free fall. On the field turmoil, off the field controversy (especially as details of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tell-all book come to light), and managing players’ frustration have all been a part of new manager David Moyes’s job. While this is normal for any team, it has never been a common occurrence for the historic club and so, has brought negative attention. Manchester United, at the start of this match, were in 8th place, well out of contention. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, had just expressed his desire to start, whether it be for Manchester United or another club. The club is going through turmoil it has not seen for some time.
The season-long trend seemed to continue against Stoke City as Manchester United fell behind early thanks to a goal in the 4th minute from the lanky Peter Crouch. However, Man U pulled even right before the break with a goal from the ever-consistent, Robin Van Persie. Old Trafford roared for a whole two minutes until Stoke scored in the 45th minute. As if it were deja vu, Manchester United was again trailing an inferior team, and were in jeopardy of falling even further down the league table (and more importantly being excluded from future articles). It was at that moment, when it seemed hope was lost, that Wayne Rooney and Chicharito scored back to back goals, in the 78th and 80th minutes respectively, to edge their side ahead and secure 3 points. This might be a season changer for the club, as they showed resiliency and fortitude that wasn’t there before. The way the season has gone, it is hard to predict but this is definitely a step forward. Stoke City, who are on the edge of the relegation zone, squandered an opportunity for big road win and will hope to get a win at home against Southampton next week. Manchester United will travel to Fulham hoping to build on this win.
Hull City at Tottenham 0-1
This match was pretty hard to watch, and this is becoming a common occurrence for the Spurs. Hull City is near the bottom of the table and was
shorthanded in this match, yet Tottenham struggled to score goals. They dominated time of possession, shots, and shots on goal but could not push across a goal in open play. They were extremely fortunate that the referee ruled that Ahmed Elmohamady used his hand inside the box. The penalty should not have been awarded to Tottenham, since the ball ricocheted off Elmohamady’s foot into his hand. However, the penalty was given and Roberto Soldado scored his 4th goal on the season, and his 3rd via penalty kick. Hull City played hard and held Tottenham down almost until the end and they deserved a better result than the one they received. However, that is life in the English Premier League. Tottenham also faces another problem as their star striker, Andros Townsend, went flying over an advertisement board and reportedly lost consciousness. Townsend, after 10 minutes or so, came back on the pitch to finish the match. Although he finished the match, one can only wonder how Townsend will feel as the effects of his fall set in. Next week, Tottenham will travel to Everton, and Hull City will take on Sunderland, coming off their first win of the season, at home.
Manchester City at Chelsea 1-2
This was the match of Week 9 and it surely did not disappoint. The scoring got underway as Fernando Torres attacked the right back aggressively and made a great pass through the box where Andre Schürrle flicked it in. Torres, who had blown a great scoring opportunity just a few minutes earlier, showed resiliency and came up big for Chelsea. However, Chelsea’s joy was short lived as Sergio Agüero scored a ridiculous goal from the right side of
the pitch using his off foot. The ball was hit with such pace that even though Chelsea goaltender, Petr Cech, was only a few yards from where the ball crossed the line, he barely had the chance to react. The match from here on was a complete stalemate as Manchester City and Chelsea exchanged attack after attack with no result. It was mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the biggest problems for Manchester City was their keeper Joe Hart. Hart has been subpar, to put it kindly, and he has single handedly given away matches for his club. Unfortunately for Hart, he made another egregious error. In 90th minute, Manchester City defender, Matija Nastasic, was playing the ball back to Hart, but Hart decidedly to play aggressively and charge the ball. Nastasic, unaware of what Hart was doing, headed the ball back, over the charging Hart, giving the pursuing Torres an empty net to seal the match for Chelsea. It was a terrible end for Manchester City as they had multiple opportunities to take the lead, but squandered them all. Hart, will definitely be under scrutiny, and rightly so. He has to string together multiple strong performances to justify his starting position going forward. Next week, Chelsea will take on Newcastle and Manchester City will welcome Norwich City
This week, we were gifted with a great matchup with two top tier teams. The outcome of that match has had ripples throughout the league table as Chelsea is now trailing only Arsenal for the top spot in the league. With this heartbreaking loss, Manchester City has fallen to 7th only one spot ahead of Manchester United. Again, the EPL this season is very much up for grabs as only 6 points separate 7th place Manchester City from 1st place Arsenal. It will be interesting to see who separates themselves from the pack or if we fans will have the incredible opportunity to have a competitive season throughout. In week 10, we will have another marquee matchup between Arsenal and Liverpool who are in 1st and 3rd place respectively. As we end another week in the English Premier League, take a look at the highlights from the Manchester City at Chelsea match via NBC Sports. Was it Nastasic’s or Hart’s mistake that led to Torres’ goal? You decide. For the full, live league table, click here.