Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
With an international break looming, all 20 Premier League teams were desperate for positive results this weekend and that helped produce another memorable set of matches from the world’s most exciting league.
A total of 27 goals were scored in the top flight this weekend and we saw some fascinating subplots develop. Here is a review of how things panned out.
Leicester City 2-2 Burnley
It was a battle of the newly promoted sides at the King Power as Leicester City hosted Burnley and the Premier League new boys certainly didn’t disappoint.
Nigel Pearson’s Foxes have started the season in far better form and it look ominous for the clarets when Jeffrey Schlupp broke the deadlock after half an hour. At that stage, Sean Dyche’s men had gone over nine hours without a goal but an almost instant reply from Michael Kightly sparked this clash into life.
Just seconds later, the Foxes were back in front courtesy of a Riyad Mahrez’s header to ensure the home side entered the break with a lead. Despite an entertaining second-half, which saw chances at both ends, it appeared to be staying 2-1.
But the drama was far from over as late sub Ross Wallace struck an incredible stoppage time free-kick screamer to steal a share of the spoils for Burnley.
Sunderland 3-1 Stoke City
Steven Fletcher inspired Gus Poyet’s men to a first win of the season with goals either side of half-time to help Sunderland beat Stoke 3-1.
Charlie Adam’s 15th minute equaliser had cancelled out an early Connor Wickham header but Fletcher soon re-established the home side’s lead, though, by rising highest to nod home a Jordi Gomez cross.
Whilst Stoke rarely threatened, the home fans would have been worried about another equaliser as their side had not won any of their opening six Premier League fixtures. However, good work from Wickham allowed Fletcher to wrap up the points with an easy finish just 11 minutes from time.
Swansea City 2-2 Newcastle United
Alan Pardew’s future at Newcastle is still under immense scrutiny but he will have been happy to see his resolute Magpies come from behind twice to rescue a point in Wales.
Swansea had taken the lead through Wilfried Bony’s first goal of the season but the visitors pulled level in the dying embers of an entertaining first period as Pappiss Cisse flicked a Gabriel Obertan cross beyond a helpless Luksa Fabianksi.
However, the Swans were back in front just five minutes after the break thanks to Wayne Routledge’s poked effort but Cisse came to the rescue once more by completing his second brace in three games from close range.
The result will probably give Pardew a little while longer at the club, whilst it simultaneously extends Swansea’s winless record to four matches.
Elsewhere on Saturday
Manchester City bounced back from their midweek Champions League disappointment to secure a 2-0 win at Villa Park.
However, that scoreline suggests an easier evening’s work than it actually was as Paul Lambert’s Villains had held strong for over 80 minutes before Yaya Toure opened the scoring with a clever finish from just outside the box. The in-form Sergio Aguero then cemented the result with his fifth league strike of the campaign.
Liverpool have endured a difficult start to 2014/15 but last season’s runners-up got back to winning ways at Anfield with a hard fought 2-1 victory over an improved West Brom.
The Reds broke the deadlock just seconds before the break thanks to Adam Lallana’s first goal since making the summer switch from Southampton, but a dubious penalty decision allowed Saido Berahino to level the scores just nine minutes after the interval.
It stayed that way for just five minutes, though, as the increasingly important Jordan Henderson confidently converted from Raheem Sterling’s pinpoint pass to give Liverpool a first win in four league games.
Saturday’s final game took place at the KC Stadium and Steve Bruce’s Tigers roared to victory against a lacklustre Crystal Palace.
It took an hour for the home side to break the deadlock as Mo Diame struck his third goal for the club. The deadline day signing from West Ham is proving to be a very shrewd acquisition and the points were secured in the final minute as Nikica Jelavic slotted in a fourth league goal of the season.
The result is Hull’s first home league win of the season and condemns Palace to a first defeat of Neil Warnock’s second spell in charge.
Manchester United 2-1 Everton
The last 15 months have been the hardest spell in over 25 years at Old Trafford but the Red Devils may have finally turned a corner with a 2-1 win over Everton.
Louis van Gaal’s men were hardly sparkling but there were plenty of positives to take from this third straight home win. The Dutch manager would have been pleased to see Angel di Maria continue his scintillating start to life at Old Trafford and it was the record-breaking summer capture that put the hosts into a first-half lead.
However, there are some real defensive problems for the Red Devils right now and those were highlighted once more as Luke Shaw conceded a penalty in the closing seconds of the first-half. His blushes were spared, though, as the man he is fighting for a regular spot in the national squad missed the crucial penalty.
The normally reliable Leighton Baines saw a Premier League spot kick saved for the first time ever as the inspired David de Gea dived low to his right. The Spaniard was absolutely fantastic in the United goal, which will be another huge plus point for Van Gaal, who signalled the custodian out for special praise.
Everton did equalise after the break, though, as Steven Naismith met a Baines cross to head the Toffees level. The Red Devils showed great resilience, though, and bounced back from that setback just seven minutes later as Radamel Falcao collected a Di Maria pass to fire in his first goal for the club.
A crucial three points for the Red Devils, which moves them into the top four for the first time in over a year.
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Manchester United may have turned a corner but they are still some way short of Chelsea and the champions elect claimed another impressive win at Stamford Bridge by beating Arsenal 2-0.
Once again it was Jose Mourinho who edged the tactical battle with Arsene Wenger as he extended his undefeated record against Arsenal to 12 games. In truth, there was never any doubt as the Blues cruised to a comfortable home win.
The fact Arsenal failed to register a single shot on target tells a story in itself and once Eden Hazard had tucked away a 27th minute penalty, the Blues were in complete control. Summer signing Diego Costa added his eight league goal towards the end to underline Chelsea’s dominance as the hosts saw out the victory with consummate ease.
There was plenty of touchline pantomime as Mourinho and Wenger became entangled in some laughable handbags at dawn theatrics. However, it was the Chelsea boss who was left smiling at the end as his side retained their five-point lead at the summit.
Tottenham 1-0 Southampton
Former Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino haunted his old club as Christian Eriksen’s first-half drive gave Tottenham a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.
In truth, it was hardly a vintage performance from a Spurs side that had played Besiktas just three days earlier but the home crowd will have been happy to have got te three points – especially against an in-form Southampton, who have been superb under Ronald Koeman.
The game’s only goal was a decent effort from Eriksen as he struck low from 20 yards just five minutes before half-time. Southampton remain third despite the loss as Tottenham moved up to sixth.
West Ham United 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
Whilst Pochettino might have enjoyed a great afternoon against his former club, ex Hammers boss Harry Redknapp was in for a very unhappy return to Upton Park.
Having lost their opening three Premier League away fixtures, the Hoops were desperate for a good start at the Boleyn Ground. Unfortunately it took just five minutes for the visitors to fall behind as defender Nedum Onuoha unintentionally diverted Stewart Downing’s corner kick into his own net.
Redknapp wasn’t the only visitor returning to his former club as ex Hammers Rob Green, Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora all featured. The R’s made huge efforts to restore parity but those attempts came to no fruition as they failed to find the net.
Conversely, Sam Allardyce has assembled a side that now poses a real attacking threat. That potent frontline is spearheaded by summer signing Diafra Sakho and the result was put beyond all doubt when the striker nodded in his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0.
QPR tired to surmount some pressure in the final half an hour but they were well contained as a sensational Alex Song ushered the midfield area with ease. The result moves West Ham up to 7th.
As for the visitors, they now have a fortnight to regroup before facing Liverpool on October 19th.