Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
It was another sensational weekend in the rollercoaster ride that is the Premier League and there were plenty of stories across the division.
Here’s what happened in the world’s most entertaining division:
West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City
For the second week in a row it was champions Manchester City who got the action underway with the lunchtime kick-off. Unfortunately for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, though, they couldn’t repeat last week’s demolition of Spurs as they fell 2-1 to West Ham at Upton Park.
Sam Allardyce’s Hammers have enjoyed a phenomenal opening to the the campaign and would have been optimistic ahead of the crucial clash, especially as City had to contend with the negative impact of playing in Russia on Tuesday. West Ham duly responded in superb fashion by taking a 21st minute lead through summer signing Morgan Amalfitano, who converted from close range following some fantastic input from Enner Valencia.
The champions were much stronger after the break, though, and posed real danger to Adrian’s goal. However, the Hammers were lucky to see City hit the woodwork several times and could also thank James Collins in particular for some heroic defending.
West Ham’s day got a whole lot better when new hero Diafra Sakho headed his seventh goal in seven games, becoming only the second player in Premier League history to achieve immediately after making his debut. Joe Hart had attempted to claw the ball out but it had clearly crossed the line.
City hit back instantly by halving the deficit thanks to a dazzling run and curling shot from David Silva, but the Hammers held on for a vital three points to remain fourth in the table.
Southampton 1-0 Stoke City
Aside from West Ham, the other early season surprise package has been Southampton and Ronald Koeman’s men continued their fine form by picking up a well deserved 1-0 win over Stoke.
The Saints, who had hit eight past Sunderland last week, found it much harder to break down the Potters defence. Despite registering 20 shots, only two hit the target against Stoke – however, that was still enough for the hosts to secure yet another victory under their new boss.
And Koeman would have been thrilled to see Sadlo Mane, a deadline day acquisition, open his Saints account by reacting fast after Graziano Pelle had initially hit the woodwork. The win, combined with City’s earlier loss, sees Southampton leapfrog the champions into second.
Sunderland 0- 2 Arsenal
As for Sunderland, things didn’t get any easier following last week’s humiliation as they took on Arsenal at the Stadium Of Light. Come five o’clock, the Black Cats and especially goalkeeper Vito Mannone were left licking their wounds once more.
The Gunners weren’t at their scintillating best by any means but were comfortably in control against Gus Poyet’s strugglers, taking a first-half lead through as Alexis Sanchez punished a terrible Wes Brown backpass to put the visitors in front.
It stayed 1-0 until the dying embers but Arsenal never really looked under real threat of dropping points. However, their victory was sealed when a grateful Sanchez once again took advantage of some poor Sunderland play as former Arsenal shot-stopper Mannone got his feet muddled up before allowing the Gunners summer signing to double the lead to complete a fantastic week for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Elsewhere On Saturday
One of the most exciting fixtures of the weekend came from the Hawthorns, where West Brom came from two goals down to rescue a point against Crystal Palace.
The Eagles had raced into a seemingly unassailable half-time lead as captain Mile Jedinak converted from the penalty spot just second before the break to increase an advantage that had been established by Brede Hangeland’s volley.
However, the Baggies were back in business shortly after the interval thanks to a well taken Victor Anichebe header and once again it was Saido Berahino who secured a point for the hosts by hitting a last minute penalty past substitute custodian Wayne Hennessey to send the Hawthorns into raptures.
At Anfield, Liverpool’s problematic start to the season continued as a wasteful Reds were kept at bay by Hull City. The Tigers will be satisfied with their 0-0 stalemate and end the weekend sitting comfortably in the top half.
In the evening kick-off, Garry Monk’s Swansea registered a vital three points as they returned to winning ways against poor travelling Leicester.
Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony hadn’t quite reached the heights of last season but proved to be the difference at the Liberty by netting both goals to help the Swans secure a first win in half a dozen Premier League outings.
Bony’s first came following a delightful one-two with in-form midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson just after the half-hour and the Foxes were condemned to defeat when the 25-year-old doubled his tally just before the hour. The win moves Swansea back up to sixth, whilst Leicester drop worryingly to 16th.
Burnley 1-3 Everton
Newly-promoted Burnley continued their awful beginning to the campaign by suffering another home defeat as Roberto Martinez’s Toffees registered only their third win of 2014/15.
Sean Dyche’s men would have been looking to take advantage of an Everton side that had played in France just three days earlier but those plans were swiftly ruined as Samuel Eto’o nodded the visitors into a fourth minute lead. However, that opener was duly cancelled out as Danny Ings struck for the first team this season.
However, the Toffees were back in front before the half-hour as Romelu Lukaku made up for his error during the build up to Burnley’s goal by re-establishing Everton’s lead. It was a gripping contest thereafter but the points were wrapped up five minutes from time when Eto’o added his second to make it 3-1.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United
Ten days ago, Alan Pardew appeared almost certain to be receiving his p45. However, the Magpies scored an impressive 2-1 win at White Hart Lane on Sunday to make it two wins from two and help the Magpies climb out of the bottom three.
Tottenham had been fully expected to win this contest and underlined their superiority with an early header from Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Magpies have often been criticised of not playing for their manager but those accusations could not be directed their way during the second-half of this match. Pardew must have had an inspired teamtalk during the break as it took Sammy Ameobi just 10 seconds to draw the visitors level.
Newcastle would have been forgiven for settling with the draw but instead they continued to work hard and those endeavours were rewarded 12 minutes later as Perez Gutierrez latched on to a fine Remy Cabella cross to head the Magpies to a second straight win, making it seven points from nine and dragging the Geordies up to 14th.
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
Super Sunday served up a truly mouth-watering clash from Old Trafford as Manchester United faced Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in their hardest fixture of the season so far.
Louis van Gaal’s side have experienced plenty of ups and downs already during his honeymoon period and would have to perform better if they were to take anything from this game. To the pleasure of the Old Trafford faithful, they put in a surprisingly strong first-half performance and probably shaded and equal opening period.
However, it was Blues icon Didier Drogba that opened the scoring eight minutes after the break with a glancing header to roll back the years as the returning Ivorian stole the headlines once more. United weren’t finished just yet, though.
As the game just about looked over, Branislav Ivanovic saw red for a second bookable offence. With just two minutes of injury time remaining, United had one last chance to salvage a point. They duly responded as Robin van Persie crashed a venomous left-footed strike past Thibaut Courtois to secure a point – perhaps a signal that the Red Devils are starting to rediscover the qualities that made them such a formidable force under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The week’s action concludes at Loftus Road tonight as QPR entertain Aston Villa at Loftus Road. Both teams are equally desperate to end their recent poor runs, which will hopefully lead to a classic.