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Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were dealing with key absentees in their match at Old Trafford, and both struggled mightily in a poor first half. But while the visitors would continue to struggle, United found another gear in the second 45 minutes, putting their poor guests to the sword in a 3-0 rout that would have been far more lopsided if not for the presence of Brad Friedel in the Spurs goal.
Danny Welbeck got things going with a magnificent header following a nice cross by Tom Cleverley in the 61st minute, and then produced a superb assist for Anderson, backheeling the ball past a flummoxed Tottenham defence to give the Brazilian midfielder the easiest of finishes past a helpless Friedel, who had until that point being keeping out every attempt by United to pad their score.
Although Spurs then hit the post, United were in complete control of the game and a triple substitution was soon to follow, with Sir Alex Ferguson introducing Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung and Chicharito to great applause - especially for the latter, who had been sidelined thanks to concussion sustained during the club's pre-season tour of America. The hosts weren't done yet, though, adding their third and final goal after Giggs produced a nice little clip into the box for Wayne Rooney to nod easily into the back of the net to make the score 3-0.
It's hard to say Tottenham deserved better, even if they did keep the champions quiet for a half. they'll have to improve from this showing rather rapidly if they want to challenge for the Champions League place they gave up to Manchester City last year.
Danny Welbeck, Master of All Trafford and definitely way cooler than Chicharito is at it again for Manchester United's second goal. No, he doesn't score this one, but he has produced a lovely backheeled assist to rip open the heart of Tottenham Hotspur's defence in the world's most ridiculous one-two to send Anderson clean through for an easy finish past Brad Friedel (who's one of the few Spurs players who can be proud of himself after today). That's 2-0 United, and probably game over.
Things would have been a little different if the visitors had been able to take advantage of a mistake by David de Gea in dealing with a Spurs cross just a few minutes after Anderson's goal. De Gea tried to make a catch under pressure but let the ball bounce off his hands, and that left Jermain Defoe to... crack the ball straight off the post. Whoops.
Well that's a super, super goal from Manchester United to open the scoring. Danny Welbeck apparently took offence to my description of him as 'not Chicharito', scoring a superbly well taken header to give the hosts a 1-0 lead over Tottenham Hotspur. Tom Cleverley got things going with a vicious cross whipped into the box, whereupon Younes Kaboul plodded about aimlessly, giving Welbeck the opportunity to nip forward and send a glancing ball past Brad Friedel and into the bottom corner. That was inch-perfect from the 20-year-old.
Spurs really haven't done anything that might indicate that this is not game over - their potshots from range arent going to beat David de Gea, even with the game slightly more open than it was in the first half. In fact, the hosts look by far the more likely to score the game's next goal. This match should end up as a fairly comfortable win for United.
Right. It's 0-0 at halftime in Old Trafford, where Manchester United are entertaining Tottenham Hotspur. I'd like to pretend it's been one of those good 0-0s that are bursting with chances and fun, but it isn't. About all that's happened in this half as been a Tom Cleverly shot saved by Brad Friedel and Nani trying to pick out a fight with Younes Kaboul. You can tell that said fight never occured, because otherwise the headline for this post would have been Nani Slain By Meaty Punch, or something.
Anyway, general impressions: Neither midfield is very good (it's Cleverly and Anderson vs. Niko Krancjar and something called Jake Livermore in the centre), Danny Welbeck is emphatically not Javier Hernandez, and Manchester United's defence is quite strong even despite its youth. Oh, and David de Gea's having a good game as well, dealing comfortably with Spurs' attempts from long range. And... that's about it. More in the second half, one hopes.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both sidelined after sustaining injuries against West Bromwich Albion in the opening game of the season, Manchester United are fielding an extremely young side against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. There's good news for the hosts, however - Javier Hernandez is fit to make the bench after suffering concussion in pre-season.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are without the services of Luka Modric, who apparently refused to travel with the team due to a combination of injury and wanting to move to Chelsea. It'll be up to Niko Krancjar and Rafel van der Vaart to open up this very young United defence. Considering Spurs' record at Old Trafford, I wouldn't bet on that happening.
Manchester City beat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at the Reebok Stadium to go top of the table after two weeks of Premier League action. Both teams were coming off huge wins over newly-promoted teams, but it was City who got the most confidence from their comprehensive savaging of poor Swansea City, one that also saw the sparkling England debut of Argentina hitman Sergio Aguero. Such was Aguero's impact in the opener that he received a place in Roberto Mancini's starting eleven in Bolton.
Unfortunately for City, Aguero failed to hit the lofty peaks he managed six days ago against the Swans and Michel Vorm, spurning several clear-cut chances and having a goal disallowed. Fortunately for City, it wouldn't matter. David Silva gave them the lead after 26 minutes when Nigel Reo-Coker failed to close the Spanish winger down, allowing him space to shoot from range. Jussi Jaaskelainen failed to get his body behind the ball in what should have been an easy save and sat horrified as the shot ricocheted off his right knee and into the back of the net. Gareth Barry added a rather prettier strike towards the end of the first half, taking a touch and walloping a ball so hard into the top corner it nearly took Micah Richard's head off.
Bolton responded instantly, with Ivan Klasnic showing superb skill in volleying from close range through Joe Hart's legs, and Aguero's profligacy looked as though it could come back to haunt the visitors - for all of their dominance in the first half they were just one goal ahead. The next goal would almost certainly decide the game, but sadly for Bolton it came after a piece of terrible defending from Zat Knight, who allowed Edin Dzeko to drift past him and beat Jaaskelainen on the half-volley.
Kevin Davies would cut the lead to one goal once more in the 63rd minute, but City would hang on for the remainder of the match, finally emerging 3-2 winners after a tense, fast-paced affair. Mancini's side have announced themselves as a genuine attacking force, with seven goals in their opening two matches, but questions now must be asked about a defence that's conceded two or more goals in six of their last eight away matches.
Top of the league City fans probably won't care much what their defence does as long as the wins keep flowing, of course.
Manchester City have been in fine form at the Reebok, happily dominating their hosts with a superb display of considered passing and lethal breaks. However, although they've scored twice, they might wish to work on their finishing - lackadaisical play in the penalty area may well see them drop points here, despite taking a 2-1 lead into halftime.
Only one of City's goals, a scorcher from Gareth Barry that made the game 2-0 could be ascribed to anything like a good shot. David Silva's opener was almost entirely the fault of Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainan, who turned a routine save on a ball hit right at him into a goal, and Sergio Aguero has missed what must now be described as a bevy of easy chances and had a goal (correctly) disallowed.
City may well regret not putting Bolton away while they could. For despite being outplayed, the hosts pulled one back immediately after Barry's superb strike, with Nigel Reo-Coker's raking ball to the left flank immediately being pinged back into the box for Ivan Klasnic to volley home through a helpless Joe Hart's legs. They probably don't deserve that goal, Bolton (they certainly don't deserve to be trailing by just one), but if City are going to keep missing chances, the Trotters will happily do their utmost to make them pay.
Whether it's a one-off performance or Martin Jol has some serious work to do, Fulham looked very poor at Molineaux on Saturday afternoon, as Wolverhampton Wanderers defeated them 2-0. Wolves were the slightly better, though not obviously superior side for the opening 40 minutes of the match. In the final five minutes of the first half, they scored twice through Kevin Doyle and Matthew Jarvis, giving them a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room. They would not relinquish that lead and held on for all three points.
In the second half, Wolves did what they did best and shut up shop. As the home side played a slightly more defensive game, Fulham continued to struggle to create chances. It was a poor performance from the Cottagers, and while there's no reason for their fans to panic, they will be at least slightly upset and/or annoyed by the way their team played.
Temporarily, Wolves are top of the English Premier League. Just laugh at that for a second. Obviously, if either Bolton or Manchester City win outright in the later game, they will knock Wolves off the top spot.
Alright then. Both of these sides won 4-0 against just-promoted teams in the opening weekend, and a win for either takes them to the top of the Premier League. Bolton are unchanged from their thrashing of Queens Park Rangers last Saturday, but Roberto Mancini's side sports a few differences, notably the inclusion of Argentinian mega-wizard Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup. That's good news for Manchester City and bad for Bolton, but on the plus side for the hosts, Nigel de Jong is out of central midfield, so at least when Kun Aguero is ripping them to shreds they'll be in less physical pain than usual.
Norwich City put in another solid performance early in their English Premier League campaign, but once again they have come up just short of all three points. Thanks to a questionable red card call and a 94th minute equalizer, the Canaries have split the points with Stoke City, who should feel a bit lucky to walk away with anything.
Richie De Laet scored the opener with a header on a set piece in the first half, but Jones rescued a point for the Potters in stoppage time, heading in a cross from Glenn Whelan. The Norwich defense and John Ruddy did well to keep Stoke off the board for 93 minutes, but couldn't hold out until the end.
The game changed significantly in the 63rd minute when Leon Bennett fouled Jonathan Walters, for which he was shown a straight red card and Stoke were granted a penalty. Bennett committed a foul without a doubt, but the foul absolutely occurred outside of the penalty area and whether or not a red card was warranted is certainly debatable, which is being generous to the referee. Ruddy saved the penalty, but Stoke would be on the front foot from that point forward.
Norwich did well to hold out for as long as they did, but they will be disappointed that they were denied their first Premier League win.
It's been a poor first half and a truly nightmarish final five minutes in the first half for Fulham, as they now trail Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 thanks to two goals right at the end of the half. Earlier in the period, Mark Schwartzer made one spectacular save on Kevin Doyle while the Irish international missed a sitter, so Wolves could very easily be ahead by a score of 4-0. As it stands, it's only 2-0 but they'll still be very satisfied with their performance.
After a solid, if unspectacular round one performance against Aston Villa and a very good mid-week performance in the Europa League, this poor 45 minute period against an average team like Wolves is a bit of a shock. Martin Jol is going to have to make some serious adjustments in his squad to get back into the game. This might prove difficult, as Wolves' problems usually center around a lack of goals, not bad defending.
The opening goal was scored by Doyle, picking up a ball on the ground during a scramble, following a corner kick. He placed a fantastic shot into the roof of the net from a very narrow angle, for which Schwartzer will probably receive some criticism. The second goal didn't reflect well on the Australian international either. After Roger Johnson hit the post with a cross, Schwartzer was caught completely out of position as Matthew Jarvis tapped home the rebound, doubling Wolves' lead.
They have 45 minutes left to play against Stoke City, but it looks like Norwich City is getting off to a great start in their first season back in the Premier League for quite some time. They earned a solid road point last week against Wigan Athletic and they're halfway to three points at the moment, thanks to a headed goal on a set piece by Richie De Laet.
The Belgain defender, on loan from Manchester United, is finally getting his first crack at regular play in the English Premier League, and he's making the most of it so far. The goal was assisted by Bradley Johnson, who put the cross onto his head. Norwich don't look the part of a recently promoted side so far, though it must be taken into account that almost every team at this level looks better than Stoke, but only about half of them actually are better.
Andre Villas-Boas will sleep slightly better tonight, realizing his head will remain safely attached to his shoulders for at least another week. The new Chelsea manager watched his team come from behind to win 2-1 over West Bromwich Albion, taking all three points from their first match this season at Stamford Bridge.
West Brom grabbed the lead inside five minutes, when Shane Long capitalized on a bobble by Chelsea defender Alex. The new Baggies striker then sped on, quickly driving his shot past second, or possibly third, choice goalkeeper Hilario. The home side then looked out of sorts for the next 35 minutes, failing to complete passes and squandering chances. In fact, Salomon Kalou was so good at both these endeavors that he was pulled at the 35th minute, with Florent Malouda coming on in his place.
Chelsea managed to gain a toehold in the match in the last seven or so minutes of the first half, and took that momentum into the second. It was Nicolas Anelka that opened the scoring for the Blues, scoring their first goal of the 2011-2012 campaign. The Frenchman nutmegged his shot through Jonas Olsson, and while West Brom keeper Ben Foster managed a touch, he couldn't keep the ball out of the back of the net.
It did appear, however, that Foster's golden gloves were going to save a point for the Baggies, as their new keeper pulled off a few fantastic saves. In the end, though, he couldn't deny Nico's fellow French international, Florent Malouda, Chelsea's second. Jose Bosingwa cut through two West Brom defenders to send the cross in, with Malouda meeting it at the far post to put it into the net.
So no points for the Baggies, yet, but to be fair they've faced Manchester United and Chelsea -- not exactly an easy start to the season. Chelsea, meanwhile, are breathing a collective sigh of relief, although it still appears like it won't be a simple task for this squad to put up a fight for the title. Still, there's no doubt that, even if the world doesn't want more Chelsea victories, it certainly would like more sightings of Villas-Boas breakdancing on the sidelines.
Stamford Bridge breathes a sigh of relief as Florent Malouda knocks in the go-ahead goal, ten minutes before the end of normal time. Credit to Jose Bosingwa, though, for beautiful buildup play, slipping right in-between two West Bromwich Albion defenders before crossing to Malouda, who was lurking just at the far post. The Frenchman quickly slipped the ball into the back of the net, finally beating Ben Foster. And prompting Andre Villas-Boas to do an adorable little dance.
Chelsea haven't made it easy on themselves this match, but they'd likely have had their second goal earlier had Foster not been so spot-on in goal. Of course, had Didier Drogba been looking a little sharper and not squandering chances, that would've helped relieve the tension as well.
West Brom aren't quite ready to give up their share of the points, however. Substitute Peter Odemwingie had a great shot on goal, but Hilario managed a decent save to deny the striker.
It may have taken more than 140 minutes for Chelsea to get their first goal of the 2011-2012 campaign, but they finally have the ball in the back of the net, and it comes from a slightly surprising source: Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman grabbed the ball after Frank Lampard went to ground in the area -- rightly, no penalty was given, and the veteran midfielder even signaled to the referee that he wasn't looking for one. Anelka then nutmegged his shot through Jonas Olsson, and despite an attempted save from Ben Foster, the West Bromwich Albion keeper simply helped the ball on into the net.
Sadly for fans of Andres Villas-Boas (and I know you're out there), the new Chelsea manager simply gave a restrained fist pump in appreciation of the goal. However, it now looks as though, now that the home side have finally broken their duck, Chelsea are ready to score even more. Lampard, Anelka, Florent Malouda -- all pressing forward and looking to threaten the West Brom goal. Here's to AVB's future celebration actually causing his tie to sway back and forth, then.
As if it wasn't bad enough for Chelsea to start the season with a scoreless draw at Stoke City, they're now down 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, after a goal by Shane Long inside five minutes. The West Bromwich Albion striker pounced on a mishandled ball from Chelsea's Alex, then sped past the defender to put the ball past second-or-third-choice-keeper Hilario.
If it were simply a lucky, or lovely, goal scored by West Brom, Andre Villas-Boas and company likely wouldn't be looking quite so disheveled at the break (AVB's shirt was actually coming untucked, if you want to know exactly how stressed he is). But, with the exception of the last seven or so minutes, Chelsea have been poor. Poor passing, poor finishing, poor organization. Salomon Kalou had a simply horrible 35 minutes, failing to compete passes, skying a shot into space, before he was pulled in favor of Florent Malouda.
Pressure from Chelsea in the last few minutes indicates the Blues aren't ready to give up just yet. Nicolas Anelka had a fair shout for a penalty after Ben Foster tripped him up inside the box. Fernando Torres earned a free kick at the edge of the area, and Alex's shot would've been in goal had one of his teammates not given it a touch, allowing Foster an easy scoop. Something's coming from Chelsea -- but unfortunately for their supporters, that something might still be a meltdown.
Shane Long has scored inside 10 minutes at Stamford Bridge, leaving behind a cursing Alex and a dejected Andre Villas-Boas. The West Bromwich goal is almost entirely due to the Brazilian, although Jose Bosingwa had a bit to do with it as well. Bosingwa sent a poor pass to Alex, who lost control of the ball, muscled away by the much tinier Long. The striker then managed to hold off Alex not once but twice before firing a hard shot past Hilario.
Granted, Chelsea are missing both their first-choice goalkeeper, with Petr Cech out for a month, and are apparently attempting to market Alex to potential transfer destinations rather than use Branislav Ivanovic, but that's a poor error from a team meant to be competing for the Premier League title. After a disappointing draw at Stoke City last week, when will the calls for the head of Villas-Boas begin? With Roman Abramovich in charge, that statement isn't exactly laughable.
Aston Villa dominated Blackburn Rovers en route to a 3-1 home win, but injuries to Luke Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey served to take the gloss off a comprehensive victory by Alex McLeish's side. It was Agbonlahor who opened the scoring early in the first half, gliding past a pair of baffled defenders before stroking a shot home with Paul Robinson helpless, and he was involved in their second when he fed Emile Heskey at the top of the box. The big man slipped as he shot, but scored anyway, his low effort fizzing into the bottom corner past a despairing Robinson.
Halftime wasn't all rosey though - Agbonlahor was forced off with an injured to be replaced by Marc Albrighton, and it wouldn't take long before Luke Young had to be substituted for Ciaran Clark as well. By then Blackburn had cut Villa's lead after Morten Gamst Pedersen struck with a close range header, bringing themselves back into the match. That would prove short-lived, however, as Darren Bent re-established Villa's two goal cushion with a poachers finish slightly after Heskey too limped off the pitch.
A rousing win for Aston Villa, then, but depending on how soon all three injured players get back, it could prove something of a Pyrrhic victory. Blackburn, meanwhile, were dire. There's work to be done there.
Swansea City started their first-ever home game in the Premier League brightly but ultimately were fortunate to hold out for a point in a tightly fought match against old friend Roberto Martinez's Wigan Athletic. The hosts had a superb chance to take the lead int he opening two minutes when Danny Graham shot straight at Ali Al-Habsi after a loose ball fell to the striker in Wigan's penalty area, but while City dominated possession chances were few and far between against a stout Wigan defence, who were excellent at muffling the threat posed by the newcomers but somewhat less so going forward.
The second half played out differently, with several fantastic chances for the visitors somehow failing to find the back of the net. Jordi Gomez and Victor Moses both beat Michel Vorm only to see their shots bounce straight off the post, but an even better chance presented itself to Ben Watson several minutes later from the penalty spot after Ashley Williams fouled Gomez. Vorm was up to the task though, pushing away at full stretch to deny Wigan and earn Swansea their first points ever in the Premier League.
There's still no Peter Odemwingie in the starting lineup for West Bromwich Albion as they travel to Chelsea, although the Nigerian hitman is fit to make the bench for the Baggies, who are otherwise unchanged from their season opener, a 2-1 reverse at home to Manchester United. Chelsea, meanwhile, react to failing to beat Stoke away in their first game by dropping Florent Malouda to the bench and starting Nicolas Anelka in his place. Henrique Hilario replaces the injured Petr Cech in goal.
What a difference a week makes for QPR. After conceding 4 last weekend at home to Bolton Wanderers, they go away to Goodison and not only keep a clean sheet, but also nick a goal in a fully deserved 1-0 win. Everton brought on their big guns in Marouane Fellaini and Louis Saha, but couldn’t find a way past a resolute QPR defence. In all fairness, though, this wasn’t a back to the wall job for QPR: Paddy Kenny made very few saves in the second half.
Everton might be aggrieved, given that they dominated possession, but their two best chances came from Leighton Baines’ free kick hitting the bar and youngster Ross Barkley’s left footed shot. It’s never good to lose at home to a promoted side, but when that side lost 4-0 at home the previous week and when your chairman comes out and says there is no money to spend, things looks pretty dire at Goodison right now. No wonder the fans were frustrated, and there was heavy booing at full time, and sporadically throughout the second half, especially when David Moyes brought off Jermaine Beckford for Fellaini, before bringing off Heitinga for Saha.
Good news for QPR though: Their first win in the Premier League in over a decade.
Everton dominated the opening stages, but, despite Leighton Baines doing well down the left hand side and hitting the bar from a free kick, they find themselves behind. QPR started to grow in confidence and find their passing rhythm, and get Adel Taarabt involved. Finally, they broke through. Akos Buzasky won the ball of Phil Neville before playing a lovely pass for Tommy Smith, who turned and fired past Tim Howard into the bottom right corner. The shot took a slight deflection off Phil Jagielka, but was still a fantastic finish. What a difference a week makes for QPR: Last week, they were losing 4-0 at home to Bolton. This week, they’re 1-0 up, and have new ownership.
The Goodison faithful are getting pretty frustrated, and have just had a great chance. Tim Cahill, though, headed Jermaine Beckford’s cross wide, as Everton begin to recover from the shock of going one down. If they want to improve their home form though, they’ll have to take chances like that.
As so the Cesc Fabregas-less era begins for Arsenal. The Gunners hadn't lost at home to Liverpool since 2000, but they have now after a shambolic display saw them hit with two late goals to drop all three points at the Emirates Stadium. Granted, they've been hit with injuries and suspensions - and things got worse when Laurent Koscielny was forced to leave with a back injury early on in the match - but this was still a truly appalling performance from the hosts, whose use of Samir Nasri as the central playmaker was somewhat less-than-inspired.
Liverpool had the better of things in the first half, but Arsenal's defending was relatively stout even with Ignasi Miquel in for Koscielny. Emmanuel Frimpong, making his debut, could have been sent off within the first fifteen minutes for a series of silly challenges, but Martin Atkinson opted to be lenient on the 19-year-old and so the two sides more or less cancelled each other out before the interval, with neither looking particularly likely to score.
It was more of the same in the second half, despite Reds right back Martin Kelly hitting the post, but Frimpong made one challenge too far, obliterating Lucas Leiva in midair to earn himself a second yellow and a sending off. A comedy own goal thanks to a Miquel-Aaron Ramsey combination, where an attempted clearance fromt he former bounced off the latter and over Wojciech Szczesny's head for the opener, didn't exactly improve Arsene Wenger's mood. As Arsenal's boss looked increasingly like a deranged wet gerbil attempting to groom himself on the sideline, Liverpool struck again thanks to substitute Luis Suarez, condemning the hosts to a painful loss.
There's not much to be draw in the way of conclusions here. Arsenal's defence was more than fine before Frimpong's sending off changed the game, and Liverpool weren't exactly at full strength either. Very few of the starters impressed in the attacking third from either side - the hosts in particular probably need to re-think the way the front line works with the current midfield (or maybe they don't, if Nasri leaves), and Liverpool could probably do with having Suarez back to full fitness.
Not that Liverpool will care much - that's three potentially vital points against their main rivals for fourth this season.
Game over? Game over-er. Lucas Leiva pushes forward into the space abandoned by Arsenal's wandering midfield, ignoring Luis Suarez's offside run to pick out an unmarked Raul Meireles over on the right. The Portuguese midfielder, rumoured to be a Chelsea target, plays a straightforward centreing pass to an onside-again Suarez, who has the very easy task of slotting into an open goal from ten yards. He doesn't miss. Thomas Vermaelen nearly gets to the ball first, but even if he had reached it, he'd probably have put the ball in for Arsenal's second own goal anyway.
So that's 2-0 Liverpool and Arsenal have absolutely no chance of salvaging anything from this match. Liverpool are going to have their ego boosted by this, but the fact of the matter is that both teams have been relatively poor - Arsenal have just been far, far poorer after that red card issues to Emmanuel Frimpong in the second half.
That is an absolute comedy goal by Liverpool. Raul Meireles attempts to play in Luis Suarez, who is barely offside anyway, but his pass isn't great (and it'd have taken a pretty spectacular effort to reach him through a crowd of bodies) and Arsenal get to the ball first. Unfortunately for the hosts, Ignasi Miquel's attempted clearance with the outside of his boot smashes straight into Aaron Ramsey's face before looping over Wojciech Szczesny and dropping straight into the back of the net. Good grief, that's unfortunate.
So that's Liverpool up 1-0 with less than ten minutes to go and with a man advantage. The home side don't look anything like scoring unless they come up with something absolutely spectacular. Arsene Wenger, who somehow is still alive despite his terminal depression, commits his trump card to the fray. It's Nicklas Bentdner! Arsenal are saved*!
*Warning! Arsenal probably not saved at all. And yes, that goal shouldn't have counted.
That's Arsenal's best chance of the game so far, but it all comes to nothing. Robin van Persie picks up possession at the top of the box, and while his pass to Andrei Arshavin isn't spectacular the little Russian knocks over Martin Kelly to retrieve the ball. Martin Atkinson somehow doesn't call it a foul, and Liverpool are livid when Arshavin passes back to van Persie, allowing the captain to shoot. Pepe Reina keeps it out - just.
Emmanuel Frimpong should-have-been-a-yellow-card count: Five - and this time he's off after sticking out a leg with Lucas going flying through the air after the ball. No doubt about that one, even for Atkinson, and Frimpong has to go. In his Premier League debut, no less. Ouch. Both teams make substitutions as a result, with Henri Lansbury in for Arshavin and Liverpool bringing on Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles for Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt. The game is suddenly far more interesting (surprise!). Suarez immediately comes close, and then Stewart Downing nearly beats Wojciech Szczesny with a near-post effort.
Still 0-0 though. Fifteen minutes left. Arsene Wenger having a meltdown in the rain.
Well that's livened things up. Liverpool push the ball into the centre of the pitch, whereupon Jordan Henderson holds it up, looks around, and released Charlie Adam steaming through the middle. Adam's pass to Carroll is characteristically overhit, but the striker manages to get on the end of it anyway and pushes the ball back to right back Martin Kelly, who hammers a first-time effort past Wojciech Szczesny but also, alas, off the outside of the near post. Best chance of the match, that - and Kelly did very well to hit the ball that hard from that angle.
Arsenal's response appears to be Bacary Sagna idly bouncing the ball off Kelly as the hosts attempt to build up an attack. Needless to say, that particular tactic is somewhat less than successful. Anyway, despite the young right-back rattling the post, it's still all square at the Emirates with an hour gone. 0-0.
Charlie Adam has now tried two shots from 60 yards, which have predictably resulted in a grand total of zero goals. this time it comes straight from second half kickoff and drops directly into Wojciech Szczesny's arms. Absolutely pointless from the Liverpool midfielder, although if that had gone in he'd have been immortalised, so I suppose in terms of risk-reward it might make some sense at a personal level.
Not much else has happened yet in the second half. Arsenal are continuing the bright spell with which they ended the first, but they're having real trouble breaking down a stubborn Liverpool defence at the moment - not really a surprise considering that all three of Theo Walcott, Andrei Arshavin and Robin van Persie look off the pace. Liverpool aren't much better, even against a jury-rigged home side. I wonder how long it'll be before Luis Suarez makes an appearance. He'd make this 0-0 game more interesting.
PS: Aaron Ramsey is playing?
For a majority of this edition of the Tyne-Wear Derby, Sunderland were the better side. All in all, they probably deserved a point from the match. However, Newcastle United were able to finish off one chance while Sunderland couldn't find the goal that their play likely deserved, and one moment of brilliance by Ryan Taylor ended up being the difference.
The first half was extremely physical and controversial, with Sebastian Larsson and Yohan Cabaye both getting away with red card offenses. Larsson's was a handball off the line, while Cabaye's was a dangerous challenge on Phil Bardsley. Both teams created plenty of chances in the first half, but both goalkeepers were superb.
While the first half was entertaining, the beginning of the second half was quite a bit slower. It seemed like both Alan Pardew and Steve Bruce thought the match was a little too wide open for their tastes and decided to shut it down, ultimately resulting in a style of play that was less easy on the eyes, but probably more practical for both sides.
The goal eventually came in the 63rd minute, and it was equal parts luck and skill that caused Ryan Taylor to score. From the left side of the penalty area, he swung in a free kick to the far post towards the head of Steven Taylor. However, the central defender missed and the ball sailed directly into the back of the net, giving Newcastle the lead.
Sunderland pressed for the equalizer but never found it as Newcastle's defense held strong. In the 89th minute, Bardsley was shown a red card, reducing the Black Cats to ten men and all but killing off their chances of salvaging a point.
Not awe-inspiring stuff from either team in the first half, although Arsenal have done well to overcome the early injury to centre half Laurent Koscielny to reestablish themselves in the match. Liverpool have probably had the better of the chances so far, but only Andy Carroll has really managed to test Wojciech Szczesny at all with a bullet header that was destined for the back of the net before Arsene Wenger's young goalkeeper managed to punch clear*. Mostly, Thomas Vermaelen has been able to shut down Carroll's aerial threat.
*The save looks less and less impressive the more one watches it.
Arsenal have had their chances as well, with Emmanuel Frimpong forcing Pepe Reina into a diving stop with a long-range effort, but the Gunners look somewhat toothless in attack so far. Robin van Persie is dropping deep to keep the play going, which means he's not around to finish off anything, which is resulting in some unfortunate-looking crosses to nobody from Andrei Arshavin.
So, improvements from both sides are probably necessary at this point. With 45 minutes to go, it's 0-0 at the Emirates.
A classy move by Emmanuel Frimpong sparks a pretty Arsenal counterattack, the midfielder dealing calmly with an aerial threat from Dirk Kuyt before playing a wonderful incisive pass to Samir Nasri. Nasri plays in Theo Walcott, who is presented with Andrei Arshavin in space some way to his left and Robin van Persie in no space to his right. Naturally, Walcott goes for the easy option to van Persie. Equally naturally, he messes up the pass, and the chance is wasted. Stupid.
Aside from the stupid fouling, Frimpong actually looks quite good running from deep - the 19-year-old surges forward yet again only to be dragged back by Lucas Leiva, the Brazilian earning a booking for his trouble - he's provided the main attacking impetus in the Arsenal side so far this half, which must be profoundly depressing if one's an Arsenal fan. He's probably be much better in a double pivot. Anyway, three minutes of injury time are just about up, and we'll probably get into half time at 0-0. Nasri ensures that we will by smashing a shot into low earth orbit.
This is why Samir Nasri wants to leave Arsenal, one suspects. The Frenchman, deployed as a central midfielder with Cesc Fabregas gone to Barcelona, picks up the ball in the middle of the pitch and charges forward, carving a hole straight through the Liverpool defence in the process. Robin van Persie's run is taken out by a pair of black shirts and Theo Walcott's run is taken out by him being an idiot and not really making one, so Nasri's only option is to shoot from the edge of the penalty area. It doesn't really go very well - disappointing after such good play.
Emmanuel Frimpong that's-probably-a-booking-count: Four (including his actual yellow card).
Arsenal are looking a little more lively than they were earlier on, which is sort of like saying that it's a cool day in Death Valley. Stewart Downing attempts to rectify that situation with a thumping left-footed effort after beating Carl Jenkinson on the left, but his shot sails well wide of Wojciech Szczesny's goal and it's still 0-0.
The second half started slow in the Tyne-Wear Derby, but thanks to Ryan Taylor the match is sure to pick up for the final half hour. Newcastle United now lead Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light, thanks to a fantastic free kick by Ryan Taylor.
Most scoreboards are showing Steven Taylor as the scorer, but it appears on the replay that the central defender never got a touch. In the 63rd minute, Ryan Taylor delivered a fantastic free kick into the box, curling towards the far post from the left side of the penalty area. Steven Taylor was unmarked and had a free header, but the ball appeared to allude him and go directly into the back of the net from the free kick. Steven was initially credited with the goal, but Ryan will almost certainly be credited with it after the match.
Andy Carroll has earned himself a yellow card for kicking the ball into the back of the net after finding himself several miles offside following a mistimed run, Martin Atkinson being surrounded by Arsenal players before reaching into his pocket and chastising the lumpen forward for his heinous misdeed.
At the other end of the pitch, Andrei Arshavin pings in a good cross whose effectiveness is somewhat curtailed by the fact that neither Robin van Persie nor Theo Walcott are anywhere to be seen. Emmanuel Frimpong forces Pepe Reina into his first save of the match with a long-range daisy cutter which forces the Spanish goalkeeper to get down to tip away. An ambitious 60-yard effort towards Wojciech Szczesny's goal from Charlie Adam doesn't require any such effort from the Arsenal man.
Anyway, that's the hosts' best spell of the match, and it still wasn't very good. Still, they're holding off Liverpool, just about, and considering the makeshift team they're putting out, that's something, I guess. 0-0 at the Emirates after 30 minutes.
Liverpool are all over a now horrendously weak Arsenal side at the Emirates, and it's only thanks to a miracle save by Wojciech Szczesny that the visitors aren't ahead. Andy Carroll ghosted inside and beat substitute centre back Ignasi Miguel to a Stewart Downing cross, thumping a header firmly towards Szczesny's far post only for the young goalkeeper to go flying off to his left and claw the ball away.
Carroll tries his luck again a few minutes later, but his second header is nowhere near as good as his first, and Szczesny has it easy with a weak effort directed at his feet. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Frimpong is almost certainly going to get sent off if he keeps going like this - that's another silly foul by the midfielder, who's already on a yellow card. Is Arsene Wenger going to have words with him at half time, or will the manager be too busy having a bad case of the sads to be angry?
Speaking of silly, what on earth was Emmanuel Frimpong doing just there? The 19-year-old defensive midfielder has earned himself a booking by attempting to interfere with a Liverpool throw in on the right side - if you combine that with his idiotic lunge in the first few minutes it's not unreasonable to suggest that the Arsenal man should have been sent off within the first eight minutes. Yikes.
Arsenal have had a couple of decent counterattacking chances while Liverpool have threatened thanks to Charlie Adam's delivery from set-pieces, but it's all going a little wrong for each team in the final third. Minutes later Frimpong falls down in possession in the centre circle, the ball going about twenty yards up in the air. Then Stewart Downing rifles a right footed(!) shot home from range - but Andy Carroll has fouled Laurent Koscielny and it won't count.
Oh dear, and that's Koscielny down (not related to the Carroll foul). The French centre half appears to have injured his lower back and it doesn't look like he'll be able to continue. Awful news for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, who may have to committ youngster Ignasi Miguel to the fray. That's really really unfortunate - the defender is hobbling off very very slowly and Miguel is now coming on.
It's been a nasty, controversial and fun match in the first 45 minutes at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, meaning it's been everything we expect the Tyne-Wear Derby to be each season. Sunderland and Newcastle are currently locked up at 0-0, but that hasn't been for a lack of action.
Referee Howard Webb has missed a couple of difficult calls, while goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Tim Krul have both been absolutely brilliant. The first serious moment of controversy came in the 14th minute, when a Shola Ameobi header was cleared off the line by the arm of Sebastian Larsson. Howard Webb and his assistant either did not believe that the ball hit his arm or couldn't come to a decision, and Newcastle were only given a corner.
The second moment of controversy came just nine minutes later when Yohan Cabaye went in high and studs up on Phil Bardsley, hitting him with a dangerous tackle. He was given a yellow, but a case could easily be made for Cabaye deserving a red. That decision or lack thereof almost seriously affected the game in the 32nd minute, when Cabaye came close to scoring but was brilliantly denied by Mignolet.
For the rest of the half, it was Sunderland who created the top-notch chances, but both times they were denied. Stephane Sessegnon unleashed a fantastic shot at goal in the 37th minute from the edge of the penalty area, but Krul made an even better save. In the second minute of first half stoppage time, Asamoah Gyan unleashed an equally impressive shot, but unluckily had it bounce off the crossbar.
Sunderland and Newcastle went back and forth with their control of the game in the half, with Sunderland having the slightly better of the play. They controlled the opening 15 minutes, but Newcastle were the better team in the next 20. In the final 10 minutes, it was mostly Sunderland on the front foot. Both teams will feel like they can win the game and change the game in their favor with their substitutions, but the Black Cats have the slight edge thus far.
Arsenal kick off the match in their red shirts and awful new crest, immediately punting the ball downfield for Theo Walcott to foul Luis Enrique. Liverpool are wearing their rather classy new black kits and are immediately on the attack, forcing Emmanuel Frimpong into a dangerous two-footed lunge which wins the ball but also cleans out Daniel Agger in the process. If that wasn't the second minute, that's a booking for sure.
Charlie Adam takes the free kick, but his delivery is laughably poor and sails off into the Emirates afternoon. Arsenal build and somewhat fortunately win a corner in the process. There's not been too much in the way of quality from either side so far, but there's plenty of match left for something interesting to happen here. Arsenal are edging things right now, but are hardly convincing - as evidenced by Andrei Arshavin volleying towards the corner flag rather than the goal when he had time to control and shoot instead. Silly.
Arsenal being the Cesc Fabregas-less era with a tough home match against one of their major rivals for a Champions League place, hosting Liverpool at the Emirates. Samir Nasri starts in the centre in the place of the departed captain - although he may not last the week at the club either. Liverpool, meanwhile, drop Luis Suarez to the bench, preferring to use former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll's physical presence to unsettle an often vulnerable Arsenal defence.
It's the Tyne-Wear Derby, in which both fans will be extremely loud and passionate, but the rest of the world will wondering what they're arguing about because they can't tell the difference between Sunderland and Newcastle. Of course, I can tell the difference because I'm educated! Sunderland are famous for Delia Smith's "let's be 'avin ya!" speech, while Newcastle are most famous for hitting people with paper bricks and not caring if anyone hates them.
(Someone just poked me and informed me that I'm thinking of Norwich City and Millwall. Crap.)
Okay, all jokes aside, this rivalry gets intense and it's only better when both teams are considered to be on reasonably equal footing, which they are at present. Fans of each team will both be insulted that I think their team is about as good as their rival. Here are the lineups.
Sunderland lineup (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Bardsley, Richardson, Ferdinand, Brown; Cattermole, Larsson, Colback, Elmohamady; Sessegnon; Gyan
Substitutes from: Westwood, Bramble, Laing, Gardner, Vaughan, Wickham, Ji
Newcastle lineup (4-5-1): Krul; Simpson, S.Taylor, Coloccini, R.Taylor; Gutierrez, Cabaye, Barton, Tiote, Obertan; Ameobi
Substitutes from: Harper, Williamson, Lovenkrands, Gosling, Ba, Best, Marveaux
Kickoff is at 7:00 am ET, 1:00 pm BST and the game can be seen on ESPN3 in the USA.
Week two of the Premier League is historically the second week of the season.
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