Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper: Premier League Week 5

A quote from last week's Keeper,"I believe the Saints (Southampton) have had a very tough first four matches and will pick up their first points of the season next week at home against Aston Villa." Southampton 4-1 Aston Villa... and BOOM goes the dynamite. Okay maybe I should leave the wagering to "The Gambler" and his "Front Money Friday" picks, but it is nice to brag once in a while when you get one right.

With almost all of the big names facing each other this weekend, there was solid viewing for soccer fans everywhere especially on Sunday. Liverpool v Manchester United, Chelsea v Stoke, but the match of the weekend for me had to be Manchester City v Arsenal.

Match of the Weekend - Man City v Arsenal

Both teams found themselves in the top of the table coming into the weekend whether by luck or by skill. Both teams had two wins and two draws coming into their match-up, one which featured the return of City star striker Sergio Aguero who had been out with a knee injury since the opening weekend. Aguero made his presence known early with a looping shot from the top of the box that required Arsenal's back-up keeper Vito Mannone to push it aside. Although City had the first real scoring chance, the Gunners clearly controlled the first half with more than a handful of scoring opportunities. Lukas Podolski pushed a shot just over the bar before Gervinho suffered the gaff of his career pushing his first touch wide when he was one-on-one against Joe Hart. Although the Gunners controlled the pace, City was the one to strike first with David Silva, who has looked stronger in the last two matches, sending in a perfect corner that was headed home by Joleon Lescott. The second half began just like the first with Aguero taking another go at the net, avoiding a tackle by Laurent Kosclieny which should have been a penalty, only to have his shot blocked. The lack of a call by referee Mike Dean ended up keeping Kosclieny on the pitch which made the ultimate difference in the 80th minute when Lescott was unable to clear a corner kick and the Gunner drilled it home. While City brought in Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli late to attempt and steal back the 3 points the result would hold and both team earned their third draw of the season. 

Statistic of the Weekend - 32 matches

Yaya Toure, the tall midfielder from Manchester City, was quoted prior to the Arsenal match that City must not drop a single point at home this season to have a real chance at repeating as champions. How crazy of a thought is that? Well after Sunday's draw City have a 32 match unbeaten streak at the Etihad Stadium dating all the way back to a loss to Everton in December 2010. While that's impressive, City's all-time home unbeaten record is 41 matches from a period between 1919 and 1921. No doubt, the Etihad has been a huge advantage for City over the last several seasons.

Star of the Weekend - Rickie Lambert

I mentioned at the opening that the Saints from Southampton picked up their first win (and points) of the season with their win over Aston Villa. While the Saints aren't loaded with stars like the big money teams from Manchester and London, Rickie Lambert may very well be the team's sole hope for survival this season. Lambert picked up two goals on Saturday including a last minute penalty to push his season total to four goals in five matches. After signing with the Saints in 2009 his 21 goals helped the team earn promotion to the Championship League. Last season his 27 goals lead the team back to the Premier League this season. Lambert can play and if teams take him lightly he could surprise some teams with his speed and skillful foot.

Table Review

While Liverpool appears statistically to be just plain awful, Brendan Rodgers management style is starting to take hold and would have resulted in a win this past weekend if it weren't for poor officiating. I wouldn't be a bit concerned if I was a Reds supporter. In any event, here is a look at the top and bottom of the table after 5 matches:

1. Chelsea - 13 points, +7 GD (4-1-0)
2. Manchester United - 12 points, +6 GD (4-0-1)
3. Everton - 10 points, +4 GD (3-1-1)
4. West Bromich - 10 points, +3 GD (3-1-1)
17. Norwich City - 3 points, -6 GD (0-3-2)
18. Liverpool - 2 points, -6 GD (0-2-3)
19. Queens Park - 2 points, -8 GD (0-2-3)
20. Reading - 1 point, -5 GD (0-1-3)


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