By: Alex Greenberg
The past weekend in the Barclays Premier League always promised to be an exciting one. Where the excitement was delivered was a bit of a surprise. But then again, nothing that happens in this league should be a surprise anymore if you’re accustomed to the top-to-bottom parity that exists in the Premiership.
The Manchester Derby between Manchester United and Manchester City was the most anticipated match of the weekend, but it was a total dud. 0-0 was the final between two teams who cancelled each other out and seemed to forget that they were rivals.
Perhaps the biggest talking point of the weekend was the continuation of everyone’s favorite storyline from this season; the demise of Chelsea. If you’re new to the Premier League, it’s important to know that everyone hates Chelsea. Everyone. They were an average club in the top flight until they were purchased and bankrolled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his dirty money obtained through corruption and scheming, but that’s a story for another time. Now with characters like Diego Costa, Jose Mourinho, and John Terry (yes he’s still around) they are easier to hate than ever!
Chelsea lost to West Ham 2-1 on Saturday for their fifth loss of the season, already more than the three losses they finished with last campaign. The Blues only had themselves to blame for the defeat. Mauro Zarate scored West Ham’s first goal after Chelsea failed to clear an early corner kick. Then right before the break Nemanja Matic was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in just nine minutes of play.
Jose Mourinho has spoken many times of his conspiracy theory that the Football Association teaches their referees to favor the other team over Chelsea. This day may go down as the day he truly lost the plot. He was sent off at halftime after attempting to gain entrance to referee Jon Moss’ dressing room. After the game, Mourinho refused to speak to the media and was issued with another charge of misconduct by the FA. Chelsea had five other players yellow carded and an assistant coach also ejected in what was a disastrous day for them.
Credit to Dmitri Payet, Andy Carroll and West Ham for besting Chelsea on the day, but the post match discussion has been dominated by talks of a sacking for Mourinho and a finish outside the Champions League for Chelsea.
Arsenal is one club who are certainly pleased with Chelsea’s early season struggles. The Gunners have dreams of a league title this year, and they temporarily moved to the top of the table after a 2-1 win against Everton. Everton is a side with their own aspirations after a disappointing season last year. It pains me as an American to say it, but if the Toffees are to make a return to European football they may need to do it with a different goalkeeper. Tim Howard had a rough day at the Emirates as he failed to claim two crosses in a span of a few minutes, both resulting in Arsenal goals. Everton got back in the game through Ross Barkley, and probably should’ve equalized when Romelu Lukaku hit the crossbar with an open header. But many questions will be asked of the 36-year-old American between the Everton pipes.
Tim Howard had a poor day in net, but his day was a cakewalk compared to the game Artur Boruc of Bournemouth had. Boruc and Bournemouth went up against a Tottenham team unbeaten in the league since the first day of the season. It looked like the upset could be on just 50 seconds in when Matt Ritchie scored the earliest goal of the PL season so far. The lead wouldn’t last more than eight minutes. Boruc conceded a penalty to Harry Kane and the rest was history. The Polish keeper horribly spilled two shots resulting in tap-in goals for Kane and Erik Lamela. At the end of the day Spurs had won 5-1 and Kane had notched a hat trick.
Harry Kane, last years breakout star in the Premiership, had only scored one goal before today’s game and seemed to be lacking confidence. Those issues should be in the rear-view now as one of England’s brightest young talents looks to continue on his form from last season. With Chelsea’s struggles, the race for the Champions League wide open, and Kane back among the goals…could this could be Tottenham’s year?
Elsewhere things came crashing down for Newcastle, who lost in the Tyne-Wear derby to rivals Sunderland 3-0. Newcastle dominated the match, only allowing three shots on target. Unfortunately for the Magpies, all three of those shots resulted in goals. Both teams will certainly find themselves in relegation battles this season, but one positive of Sunderland’s play recently has been the performance of American international DeAndre Yedlin. Yedlin, on loan from Spurs, has shown danger going forward and some improved decision making at the defensive end. But don’t worry, this positive development will likely go for naught as Jurgen Klinsmann will find a way to start Timmy Chandler or Brad Evans over Yedlin in the USMNT.
And finally this week: an ode of remembrance to Tim Sherwood who was fired as Aston Villa manager after only eight months in charge. We’ll miss Timmy and his incredible ability to inflate his own accomplishments with English slang that wouldn’t have been understood by Winston Churchill himself. I hope they let him wear a gilet in the Championship.
Looking at next weekends fixtures, two matches stand out to me.
I think Crystal Palace will have a good shot of beating Manchester United on Halloween. Palace is coming off an unlucky 1-0 loss to Leicester but have the talent to beat Man U. Playing at the boisterous grounds of Selhurst Park in South London will only boost the Eagles cause. Manchester United has looked poor this month, only winning one game and losing to Middlesbrough in the League Cup. I’m still not sure that Van Gaal has changed much other than personnel during his time at United. Palace to win 2-1.
Chelsea and Liverpool is the first match of the weekend and probably the most intriguing. Will Mourinho and company continue to self-destruct at the expense of Jurgen Klopp’s first Premier League win for Liverpool? My bet is on yes and on Jose somehow finding a way to outdo himself. Maybe he comes out wearing duck tape over his mouth in protest of “the conspiracy against Chelsea”. Or maybe he transforms into a Portuguese Bob Knight and starts throwing chairs onto the pitch? Or maybe he comes out, does his job, and acts professionally throughout? Nah that last one seems way too unrealistic.