This past weekend featured a star-studded slate of fixtures in the English Premier League. For starters, Tottenham Hotspur faced Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Man City got off to a flying start after just 12 minutes as forward Sergio Aguero took space on the left side of the penalty area. Aguero patiently worked his way around a defender and curled the ball around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for the early lead. However, Tottenham responded almost straight away as midfielder Christian Eriksen broke free down the right wing. Forward Roberto Soldado found Eriksen alone in the penalty area and the Danish captain finished his chance despite a deflection from goalkeeper Joe Hart. Three minutes later, Man City midfielder Frank Lampard was fouled in the box, which led to Aguero’s second goal of the afternoon via a spot kick. Aguero tallied his third goal of the game midway through the second half, again from the penalty spot after he was tugged down in the box. To ice the match, he added yet another goal in the seventy-fifth minute thanks to a wicked shot that ended up in the far corner of the net. At the final whistle, Manchester City had prevailed 4-1 over their rivals from White Hart Lane.
On Saturday, Arsenal needed a victory that would reclaim at Champions League spot, provided that Liverpool and Manchester United both lost away from home. They faced a surprising Hull City side that sat in a mid-table position heading into the weekend. Following an early chance by forward Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead with a splendid finish into the far corner of the goal. He tiptoed around two defenders and then picked his spot beyond the reach of a diving goalkeeper. In the eighteenth minute, Mohamed Diame of Hull City muscled his way into the box and finished off a tenacious chance with a chip shot over the goalkeeper’s outstretched glove. Just before halftime, Hull City grabbed the lead as Abel Hernandez leaped over his marker and headed home a pinpoint cross from midfielder Tom Huddlestone. Hull remained ahead until stoppage time, when Alexis Sanchez popped up yet again for Arsenal. After a blistering run into open space, Sanchez delivered an accurate pass to forward Danny Welbeck, who scored the tying goal. Arsenal saved themselves a point and tied the Tigers from Hull 1-1.
In a wild game at Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers battled Liverpool, who were poised to win another league match following their victory over Crystal Palace two weeks ago. Both teams found themselves mere inches from taking the lead in the first half, as two shots from QPR rang off the crossbar, while Steven Gerrard of Liverpool narrowly missed on a shot from distance. Things got crazy in the sixty-seventh minute as QPR defender Richard Dunne tapped the ball into his own net, which gave Liverpool an improbable advantage. However, the Rangers were not to be outdone as Eduardo Vargas volleyed home a swift, headed cross from the left wing to level the score at 1-1. Vargas tied the score again in the stoppage time off of a corner kick that was nearly saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Mignolet Felipe Coutinho gave Liverpool a short lived advantage prior to Vargas’ header, but one last plot twist sealed QPR’s fate. With a late counterattack in the final seconds, forward Raheem Sterling of Liverpool sent the ball across the face of goal, only to have it turned into the net by Steven Caulker of QPR. This had to be the most exciting encounter of the weekend, yet Southampton put on a show against Sunderland.
The Saints, as they are called by Southampton supporters, scored eight against Sunderland AFC over the weekend. Sunderland only hurt themselves throughout this match, which contributed to the sum total of goals scored by their opponent. Two own goals were tallied by two different defenders, with one coming as the opening goal and the other as pivotal mishap in the second half. The first one nearly looked deliberate by defender Santiago Vergini of Sunderland. In addition to being down by five goals in the seventieth minute, sloppy defending and a poor clearance by the goalkeeper led to two more goals, which pretty much summed up Sunderland’s day at the office. The eighth and final goal saw three defenders mark one forward, which left a gaping hole in the middle of field for Southampton’s Sadio Mane to exploit. The forward darted towards the open space in the box and placed his shot to left of the goalkeeper. I can’t remember a match like this other than Manchester United’s 8-2 win over Arsenal a few years ago. This match will be hard to forget given the events that took place on either side of the ball.
As things stand, Chelsea remain atop the league having not lost a match this season. Right behind them are Manchester City and Southampton who both scored big wins over the weekend. West Ham and Liverpool round out the top five with Manchester United sitting in sixth position. Aston Villa has dropped to twelfth in the table after losing four matches in a row. Newcastle United, Burnley and QPR sit in the relegation zone, but the season is not even half over.
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