Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper: Premier League Week 2

With Manchester United losing at Everton last Monday and Chelsea already being top of the table thanks to a Wednesday victory over Reading, this weekend in the Premier League was an opportunity for many teams to keep pace in the standings.

While it seems a bit crazy that Chelsea's schedule would already been off from everyone else in the league, that's the price you pay for winning champions league, in this case it is the UEFA Super Cup that forced the Blue to play an early mid-week match.

Match of the Weekend - Liverpool v Manchester City

Even if you're a Liverpool fan, even a singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" in your sleep type of Liverpool fan, you would have to agree that your team looked like curb-side rubbish against West Brom last weekend. On the other side of things, if you're a Manchester City fan, even a chanting "Mancini" in the 11th minute of every match City fan, you would have to agree that your team was lucky to sneak out a win against Southampton last weekend. With so much cheer and positiveness coming into the first "Clash of the Titans" this season, you had to wonder if there would be anything you could count on for certain from either side.


The first half was more "getting to know you" than "getting busy" for both teams. City came out in a 3-5-2 in an attempt to allow Yaya Toure to spring forward through the middle to offer move attacking options; that was almost unnoticed through the first 45 minutes. Both teams did enjoy runs of possession lasting several minutes, but almost like identical twins, they slowed down to a crawl in the scoring third of the field. The only real piece of action was Martin Skrtel drilling a bullet of a header pass Joe Hart off a corner to give the Reds the lead at halftime.

Things remain mostly slow through the 60th minute when Mancini put in Jack Rodwell and Edin Dzeko in a further attempt to allow Toure to spring free. No sooner did those subs come on and it was Toure finishing a bit of a pinball bounce around inside the six yard box to draw the teams even. However, not more than 3 minutes later Luis Suarez score a fantastic goal off a free kick by bending the ball around the wall which was miss placed by Joe Hart. 

As time ticked away it appeared Liverpool would control the ball and City had very little to counter back with in the front. Alas, a defensive gaff by Skrtel put Tevez one-on-one with Pepe Reina, and the little Argentinian made him pay with a slick dodge right and putting the ball in the net. 

The final minutes brought a few more corners, but it was clear as injury time ticked away that Mancini's Men were happy to walk out of Anfield with a point and they did just that with both teams appreciative after a tightly contested match.

Statistic of the Weekend - 0 wins

While Manchester City have put up some massive numbers on the road the last few season, perhaps the biggest being 6-1 against their cross-town rivals Manchester United last season, there has always been a weakness for Mancini when it came to Merseyside.

For those not familiar with the different areas of England, Merseyside is on the west coast of the country and is home to Liverpool and Everton. Since taking over the team in December of 2009, Mancini has managed no wins at all on the road at Merseyside. In the case of Everton, City have lost all three matches played at Goodison Park during Mancini's tenure.

So to say City were happy to get a point playing at Anfield on Sunday might be a bit of an understatement.

Star of the Weekend - Michu (Swansea City)

That is not a typo, and technically, you are a dope for not knowing who this guy is because he leads the league in goals at this early part of the season.

After moving over from Rayo Vallecano of La Liga in the off-season, this 26 year old midfielder racked up two goals in Swansea's first week 5-0 win at QPR. He followed up that performance by having a goal and an assist against West Ham at home this weekend to lead the Swans to the top of the table before Chelsea won later on Saturday.

Will Michu lead the league in scoring after 38 matches? I would bet against it, but Swansea plays a fast-paced style of soccer that should allow them to rack up goals, so maybe a top five spot wouldn't be out of the question.

Table Review

With Chelsea already having played three matches and won three matches, they sit on top of the table while the rest of the teams have only played twice. Here is your weekly look at the top and bottom of the standings.

1. Chelsea - 9 points, +6 GD (3-0-0)
2. Swansea - 6 points, +8 GD (2-0-0)
3. Everton - 6 points, +3 GD (2-0-0)
4. West Brom - 4 points, +3 GD (1-1-0)
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17. Queens Park - 1 point, -5 GD (0-1-1)
18. Norwich City - 1 point, -5 GD (0-1-1)
19. Southampton - 0 points, -3 GD (0-0-2)
20. Aston Villa - 0 points, -3 GD (0-0-2)

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