After another fascinating international break, Premier League action returned this weekend and the world’s most exciting league certainly didn’t disappoint.
A host of fascinating matches kept fans on the edge of their seats all weekend. Here’s how the drama unfolded:
Chelsea 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have emerged as the overwhelming title favourites and the Premier League frontrunners picked up from where they’d left off by coasting to a 2-0 home win against West Brom.
Inevitably it was Diego Costa who provided the perfect start to Mourinho’s 50th Premier League game since returning to Stamford Bridge by netting the game’s opening goal after just 11 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, the game was essentially over as West Brom allowed Eden Hazard to take advantage of some woeful set-piece defending.
Just four minutes later, a rash two-footed challenge by Claudio Yacob resulted in a straight dismissal to end any hopes of a Baggies fightback.
The Blues were quite content to settle for 2-0 but West Brom’s Ben Foster was still called into action on several occasions and the England man did well to prevent any further embarrassment. However, the Baggies are now just three points above the bottom three.
As for Chelsea, the title already seems destined for west London.
Manchester City 2-1 Swansea City
The only club capable of putting up any challenge is defending champions Manchester City, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men did well to turn around a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory at home to high-flying Swansea.
Garry Monks’ side have been brilliant so far this term and their jubilation looked set to continue as Wilfried Bony calmly converted an exquisite Nathan Dyer pass to give Swansea the perfect start. That lead didn’t last long, however, as forgotten man Stevan Jovetic restored parity just 10 minutes later.
It was a gripping contest that could have gone either way but it was Yaya Toure who stole the headlines by sealing the points just after the hour, following some fantastic footwork by Fernandinho.
The champions remain eight points adrift of Chelsea, but will be pleased to have kept up the pressure.
Other Saturday 3PM’s
Alan Pardew’s Newcastle have enjoyed a phenomenal resurrection in recent weeks and moved up to fifth with a 1-0 win over QPR.
The Magpies were rock-bottom just two months ago but recorded a fifth straight win against a spirited Hoops side. Like Newcastle, Harry Redknapp’s team are improving and very nearly held on for a point until Moussa Sissoko emerged as the latest messiah 12 minutes from time.
Results elsewhere condemn QPR to hitting rock bottom once more but they will be optimistic about turning that round in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, fellow new boys Burnley continued their revival with a first away win of the season at Stoke. Having picked up a first home triumph just before the international break, the Clarets came out all guns blazing at the Britannia and raced into an early two goal lead thanks to a quickfire double from Danny Ings.
Mark Hughes’ men did half the deficit through a Jon Walters header but they could not turn possession into a second goal as Burnley held on for the win. Leicester, the third team promoted from the Championship last term, played out a dour 0-0 at home to Sunderland.
West Ham United have enjoyed a brilliant start to the season but Sam Allardyce’s men suffered a first loss in six on Saturday as Everton claimed a 2-1 win at Goodison Park.
The Hammers were missing several key stars for the weekend fixture and that showed as Romelu Lukaku reacted quickest to open the scoring after Ross Barkley’s initial shot had been blocked. There was a hint of offside about the goal, which would have left the visitors angry. However, they did receive a stroke of good fortune themselves as Mauro Zarate’s effort deflected off Phil Jagielka to leave Tim Howard helpless.
Both sides would have probably just about settled for a point apiece but it was Leon Osman, making his 400th appearance for the Toffees, who would decide matters by sliding in from close range.
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
The Saturday evening clash came from the Emirates as two of the Premier League’s most successful clubs rekindled their ongoing battle.
For once, though, this now seems more like a battle for fourth rather than the title but the passion remains in both camps and both were desperate for the victory. Whilst the Gunners certainly enjoyed the play, it was Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils that stole the points to climb into the Champions League places.
The unfortunate Kieran Gibbs opened the scoring by turning into his own net on 56 minutes. That signalled the start of an Arsenal onslaught but a weakened United defence stood firm before hitting the devastating sucker-punch just five minutes from time as captain Wayne Rooney doubled the lead with what was the side’s first shot on target.
Arsenal did pull one back through the returning Oliver Giroud, which will at least provide a slither of glee for Arsene Wenger, but it was still a bitterly disappointing day for the hosts.
Crystal Palace 3-1 Liverpool
Sunday’s action started at Selhurst Park and it took just two minutes for Liverpool to take the lead through Rickie Lambert as the summer signing beat the offside trap before cooly slotting home to live out his boyhood dream.
However, the Eagles weren’t to let that early setback stop them and pulled level quickly Dwight Gayle continued his fine form against the Reds by reacting quickly after Yannick Bolasie’s effort had cannoned off the post.
The game appeared to be heading for a draw until 12 minutes from time, when Joe Ledley found space in the box to receive a clever Bolasie pass. Moments later, captain Mile Jedinak provided the icing on the cake with a sublime 25-yard free-kick to leave Brendan Rodgers wondering when his season will improve.
Hull City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have fared much better on the road this season and that theme continued on Sunday afternoon as they came back from a goal down to claim three vital points against Hull.
It was, former Spurs man, Jake Livermore that gave Steve Bruce’s Tigers the perfect start. However, Hull’s day would turn sour just five minutes after the break as Gaston Ramirez was sent off for a foolish kick out at Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen.
That quickly sprung Spurs into life as Harry Kane latched on to a rebound to level the scores and continue his fine start to the campaign. Then, just as the match entered stoppage time, Christian Eriksen completed the away side’s turnaround with a thunderous strike from just outside the box to send the travelling fans into delirium.
The action isn’t finished yet, though, as Aston Villa face Southampton tonight. Can Paul Lambert’s men finally get back to winning ways, or will Ronald Koeman’s Saints continue their phenomenal start to the campaign? Find out tonight from 8PM.