Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper: Premier League Week 3

I'm not sure I totally understand the scheduling in the Premier League this season, but when it comes to the big six teams, there are some major disadvantages floating around. Take Liverpool for example, they played Manchester City and Arsenal at home in back-to-back weekends to start the season. While this might seem like an advantage, in actuality they will be lacking those vital home game match-ups at the end of the season when they seemingly matter the most. On the filp-side take newly promoted Southampton who had to play both Manchester teams in two of their first three matches; not really a warm welcome for the Saints. 

Match of the Weekend - Liverpool v Arsenal

The transfer window closed on Friday with teams scrambling to stock up on players until the transfer window re-opens in January, a long four month run if you aren't prepared. Liverpool was very active in the transfer window shipping Andy Carroll was sent on loan to West Ham and Charlie Adam to Stoke City in what appeared to free up space for Clint Dempsey to come over, but that was not the case. In the end, the Reds sent out their dirty laundry but failed to remember to pick-up some clean clothes in the meantime. Arsenal was fairly straight forward with their moves, losing Robin Van Persie to Manchester United and bringing in Lukas Podolski from Germany before the season even began. The match was expected to be a statement game for Liverpool who looked steady against Manchester City last weekend in the draw. While the match start somewhat slow, Arsenal appeared to be the brighter of the two squads and prove so when the aforementioned Poldoski scored his first Premier League goal in the thirty-first minute to give the Gunners the lead. The pressure remained primarily in the London team's favor in the second half as well, mainly due to poor clearances and tracking by the Liverpool defense. Such was the case again when Santi Cazorla left Stuart downing looking dazed when he ran around the defender and fired a tight, side angled shot that bounced in through Pepe Reina making the score 0-2. The final twenty minutes of the match were filled with Liverpool looking defeated and Arsenal running out the clock. With three matches gone, two of which were at home, Liverpool have just one point to show for their efforts. The only bright point for the Reds was new signing Fabio Borini who had several good runs, but just could not coordinate his timing with Liverpool's other striker Luis Suarez.

Statistic of the Weekend - 0 points in 3 matches

The hardest struggle season after season in the Premier League is not for the title, it is at the other end of the table, it's the battle to stay out of the relegation zone. There is a fairly well known statistic to most followers of newly promoted teams that has come up again this season. No newly promoted team who has lost their first three matches of the season has managed to stay in the Premier League the following season. Such is the case for the Saints from Southampton who are the only team in the league with zero points and last in the standings. While this would seem like the kiss of death to most clubs, I will go out on a limb and say that Southampton will be the first team to buck this trend. WHAT! Considering they were winning deep into the second half at Manchester City in the first match of the season (only to lose late) and also this week at home to Manchester United (only to lose very late), the Saints have the potential to win they just need to finish their matches strong. They will have to go to Arsenal for their next match, but these tough matches to start the season should make playing the middle and bottom of the table teams a bit easier later.

Star of the Weekend - (Ugh) Robin Van Persie

With Wayne Rooney out with a leg injury all the pressure of Manchester United's offense fell to Robin Van Persie on Sunday and he came through when the team needed him to the most. After several United gaffs in the backline let Southampton carry a 2-1 lead into the eighty-seventh minute of the match, RVP cleaned up a lose ball in box to pull the match even. Then, almost like it was scripted, Van Persie headed in a Nani cross in stoppaged (Fergie) time to give United the win. He scores when he wants, that's the way RVP operates and is why he led the league in scoring last season.

Table Review

Just Sunderland and Reading have a match in hand as they meet-up tomorrow before the two week international break. Here is a look at the standings as we move into September, still with some surprises at the top and bottom of the table.

1. Chelsea - 9 points, +6 GD (3-0-0)

2. Swansea - 7 points, +8 GD (2-1-0)
3. West Brom - 7 points, +5 GD (2-1-0)
4. Man City - 7 points, +3 GD (2-1-0)
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17. Aston Villa - 1 point, -3 GD (0-1-2)
18. Liverpool - 1 point, -5 GD (0-1-2)
19. Queens Park - 1 point, -7 GD (0-1-2)
20. Southampton - 0 points, -4 GD (0-0-3)

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