City continues where it left off

By Tom Clarke

Fans have barely regained their breath from the extraordinary ending to last season. But it is back again.
Tom Clarke makes his Almanac debut as the EPL kicks off for Season 2012/13. He’ll keep us up to date with the world’s most popular League and invites comments and questions from readers.
If Round One is anything to go by, we are in for a thrilling trip.
Here are the match reviews…

Fulham 5-0 Norwich
What a disappointment. Norwich were expected to go to Craven Cottage and really push Fulham, especially when the news got out that Fulham superstar Clint Dempsey had refused to play as he seeks a transfer. It was a day where everything went right for Fulham, everything that they touched seemed to turn to gold. Damien Duff opened the scoring on 26 minutes when a fantastic pass from John Arne Riise found the Irish international in space and he proceeded to trickle it past John Ruddy. Fulham new boy Mladen Petric then proceded to make it 2-0 and then 3-0 as he first scored a header off a corner, then on 53 minutes saw his 30-yard effort take a major deflection leaving John Ruddy helpless. Just over ten minutes later, Petric set up Fulham’s fourth goal when his neat backheel found Alex Kacaniklic as he scored his first goal for the club. A thunderous Steve Sidwell penalty three minutes before the end made it 5-0, and a sensational opening day win for Fulham.
Man of the Match: Moussa Dembele was the engine in a finely tuned Fulham win.

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
An out of tune Arsenal side without Robin Van Persie and Alex Song! There was a sense of emptiness around The Emirates as they fought hard to try and find a winner against a Sunderland side with new signing Louis Saha on the bench. Arsenal had numerous opportunities to win it, particularly through Santi Cazorla, their new signing from Malaga. Cazorla had two first half shots that both threatened to break the deadlock, the first of which was well saved by Mignolet, the second of which crashed the side netting after a wonderful run from Gervinho. Sunderland almost went and spoiled the party in the first half when Jack Colback’s low, powerful shot was easily saved by Szczesny. The opportunity of the game definitely came in the 80th minute, when Santi Cazorla played through another new signing, Oliver Giroud, only for the former Montpellier striker to miss an absolute sitter. A good result for Sunderland which will definitely satisfy the Black Cats’ fans. Arsenal has a tricky task ahead after selling both Robin Van Persie, to Manchester United, and Alex Song, to Barcelona.
Man of the Match: Definitely Santi Cazorla- the new kid on the block absolutely terrorised Sunderland’s defence and was by far best on the field.

West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa
A successful return to the Premier League for the Hammers as they were very solid against an Aston Villa (with Australian, Brett Holman). There weren’t an overly large amount of talking points throughout the match, but it was dominated by West Ham for the majority. West Ham thought they should’ve had a penalty on 36 minutes when Vaz Te was fouled, but replays showed that he was just outside the box. The resulting free-kick almost opened the scoring as Kevin Nolan’s effort went just wide. Just four minutes later Nolan broke the deadlock as Vaz Te’s low pull back across the area was converted, sending Upton Park in to wild celebration. The second half was relatively uneventful, although on 65 minutes, Nolan almost made it 2-0 as his shot was blocked by Villa defender Ron Vlaar.
A deserved win for West Ham on their return to the top flight.
Man of the Match: Ricardo Vaz Te. Nolan was great, but Vaz Te was full of running and constantly proving to be the major threat when on the ball.

QPR 0-5 Swansea
What a sensational start for Michael Laudrup! In his first game in charge of Swansea they were rampant. New signing Michu proved that he could be one of Swansea’s more important figures this season as it took him just eight minutes to kick the scoring off, as Robert Green gave himself yet another moment to forget. Michu then hit the crossbar right on the brink of half time and just eight minutes into second half he made it 2-0. Nathan Dyer then scored on 63 and 71 minutes to make it four-nil, before substitute and rumoured Chelsea target, Scott Sinclair, made it five with less than ten minutes to go. QPR were simply pulled apart by Michu and Nathan Dyer, both simply brilliant in the Swansea midfield. Summer signing Ji-Sung Park was the only QPR player to really put up any kind of fight. A stunning performance by Swansea City, while QPR are already showing signs that they will be amongst the relegation zone again this season. QPR face a very tough month ahead as they face Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham in the next four weeks.
Man of the Match: Michu, the summer signing proved to be a cut above the rest and was brilliant for Swansea.

West Brom 3-0 Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers certainly didn’t want this in his first League game in charge of Liverpool. His side was dismantled by a West Brom that made it look like a stroll in the park. The two defining moments of the game came late in the first half, when Zoltan Gera, in his first game in eight months, hit a sublime half-volley from twenty five yards, to make the score 1-0 and leaving Pepe Reina without a hope. The second major moment in the game came on fifty eight minutes, when Shane Long broke away from the Liverpool defence and was fouled by Daniel Agger inside the 18-yard box, resulting in an Agger red card and a West Brom penalty. Shane Long’s penalty was poor though, as Reina saved easily, but just two minutes later, Long won another penalty, this time fouled by Martin Skrtel. Peter Odemwingie stepped up and made no mistake, drilling the ball into the bottom left corner. A Romelu Lukaku header thirteen minutes from time sealed the rout and The Baggies probably should have scored two or three more if it wasn’t for some indecisive finishing. Liverpool didn’t create enough chances, and were very disappointing as their only clear cut opportunity came early in the first half, when Luis Suarez headed over the bar, when he should’ve tested West Brom keeper Ben Foster.
Man of the Match: Romelu Lukaku. Despite being on the field for only half an hour, Lukaku scored, forced Pepe Reina into a fantastic save, and should’ve had a couple of assists.

Reading 1-1 Stoke
Reading’s first game back in the top flight in four years wasn’t exactly the most exciting game, and Stoke would feel as if they really threw away what would have been a good away win on the opening day. Stoke opened the scoring just after the half hour mark when Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici let in an absolute howler. A moment the Australian won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It wasn’t until second half stoppage time that Reading managed to find an equaliser, when substitute Garath McCleary won a penalty which resulted in a Dean Whitehead red card. Le Fondre scored the penalty to equalise and then just two minutes later Reading almost scored a sensational winner, as Ian Harte curled a brilliant free kick inches over the bar. Not a bad return to big time for Reading. They’ll be satisfied with a late equaliser, but Stoke will be disappointed to not have been able to hold on to their lead.
Man of the Match: Pavel Pogrebnyak played very well up front for Reading making sure the Stoke defence was always awake.

Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham
Chelsea’s discarded Manager,Andre Villas-Boas (AVB), got off to an unlucky start as Tottenham boss as his side hit the woodwork twice before eventually losing 2-1 at St. James Park. Spurs should’ve had the lead before half time, as first Jermain Defoe had his shot hit the base of the post and then Gareth Bale headed the ball forcefully into the crossbar. The game suddenly exploded into life early in the second half when Demba Ba angled an audacious effort into the bottom corner leaving Brad Friedel with no hope. It was Demba Ba’s first goal since February. Tottenham seemed to have secured a point when ,on 76 minutes, Aaron Lennon had his header saved but Jermain Defoe scored the simplest of tap ins to force an equaliser. But just four minutes later, Lennon and Rafael Van Der Vaart both fouled Hatem Ben Arfa- the Frenchman then got up and scored the resulting penalty to secure all three points for the Magpies. Overall it was a fairly even game. A draw would’ve been a fair result.
Man of the Match: Hatem Ben Arfa, the frenchman was at his brilliant best in the middle of the park for Newcastle.

Wigan 0-2 Chelsea
A 2-0 lead after seven minutes sealed the win for Chelsea in what proved to be quite a tough task at The DW Stadium for the European Champions. A lot of pre-match excitement had been built up as summer signings Eden Hazard and Brazilian wonder kid Oscar were both debuting. Hazard got the assist for Branislav Ivanovic’s second minute goal, before winning the penalty that Frank Lampard converted on seven minutes, and from there Wigan couldn’t find a way back. Wigan then dominated for much of the game, but Chelsea’s defence was resilient, and Petr Cech was fantastic. Cech kept out several shots, from Franco Di Santo, Victor Moses and summer signing Kone. For all of Wigan’s attacking pressure, they almost found themselves conceding a third goal, when Fernando Torres got into a one on one with Ali al-Habsi, chipping the Wigan keeper only to see his shot cleared off the line. Overall a very entertaining game in which Wigan deserved a goal but couldn’t find one. A good opening to the season for both sides as each can take something from the battle.
Man of the Match: Despite Eden Hazard having a fantastic debut, Branislav Ivanovic was best afield, looking very solid at right-back and at times holding the Chelsea defence together. He also managed to find himself a rare goal.

Manchester City 3-2 Southampton
Deja Vu? It was as if Manchester City were trying to replay the final day of last season. Once again, they led 1-0, then trailed 2-1, then rallied to win it 3-2 over a gallant and brave Southampton side. Southampton can look back over its first game back in the big time proudly as they pushed the champions all the way. It was a game that most expected City to win easily, and it was no surprise when 5 minutes before half time Carlos Tevez got behind the Saints’ defence to score at the near post. The show was being run by Samir Nasri and Carlos Tevez as they set up numerous chances for the home side in the first half. Although it wasn’t all delight for City, with David Silva missing a penalty on the half hour mark and just minutes before they took the lead, superstar Sergio Aguero, was stretchered off due to a knee injury. 1-0 at half time and with City in cruise control, Southampton turned the game on its head, scoring twice in the space of 10 minutes to plunge doubt into the City camp. But it was Samir Nasri to the rescue. He played a vital part in Edin Dzeko’s equaliser on 72 minutes, then scored the winner, 10 minutes from time. The Champions definitely deserved to win, but Southampton can take real credit and confidence away from it.
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri was fantastic in the centre of the field for Man City, the only player to whom Southampton had no answer.

Everton 1-0 Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini. All that needs to be said really. He was inspirational in the Toffees’ win over Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand’s midweek injury was a real blow to Manchester United as Michael Carrick was forced to play as a makeshift centre back. Everton ran the show from early on and despite the introduction of new signing Robin Van Persie, United couldn’t find an equaliser. Everton deserved the win. On 13 minutes a joyful run from Fellaini almost broke the deadlock, as he went around first Antonio Valencia then Michael Carrick only for the ball to cannon into the upright from a tight angle. On 38 minutes United should’ve taken the lead, as Danny Welbeck, under pressure from three Everton defenders, missed a clear cut opportunity. 0-0 at half time and the game in the balance, it didn’t take long for something to happen in the second half. Just three minutes into the second period, Leon Osman smashed a half volley from 12 yards, rattling the crossbar, when he should’ve scored. Just ten minutes later, Marouane Fellaini out jumped Michael Carrick off a corner heading home to give Everton what would prove to be a precious win. For the last half hour Manchester United just could not get the ball into the box. Their best chance came on 67 minutes when new signing Shinji Kagawa pulled a ball back to Tom Cleverly, only for his shot to be cleared off the line by Osman. United couldn’t structure another chance as Everton gained a vital win against the Red Devils in their opening game of the campaign.
Man of the Match: Marouane Fellaini… the Belgian was brilliant in the heart of the Everton midfield and along with Steven Pienaar caused the United defence constant headaches.

37 Rounds to go! From here it just doesn’t stop…Chelsea play Reading Wednesday at Stamford Bridge and another packed weekend schedule. Can’t wait.

Comments

  1. Good comprehensive review Clarkey. Man City have now had 3 competitive 3-2 wins on the trot, showing that they have the capacity to find something extra to get the maximum points. West Brom could be the real surprise packages of this season now that they have extra strikeforce in Romelu Lukaku to help Odemwingie and Shane Long up front.

  2. Thanks Clarkey. This will supplement my Monday night EPL highlights show and flick through 442.
    Was VanPersie a smart buy for ManU or just too good to knock back? There must be a query to how he and Rooney will fit?
    Hazard looked the goods for Chelsea!

  3. Thanks for that QPR reminder Tom.

    I turned News Radio off at 4 zip.

    We lost tp Bolton 4 zip first round last year and they went down.

    One can only hope.

  4. Great review Tom, very happy with Newcastle United’s win, outplayed in the 1st half but some Demba Ba genius got us going. Probably the worst game Papiss Cisse has played since joining, can’t wait for the game that Ba and Cisse fire together. Hatem Ben Arfa was superb, as good as he has played for Newcastle. Some good players to come back including the skipper. Go the Toon!

  5. Tom Clarke says:

    On the subject of RVP, I’m not really sure how he will be able to play alongside Rooney, but who knows what Fergie has up his sleeve!

    Hazard looked very good! He could be a real contributor if Chelsea plan on challenging for the title this season.

    It may well be a very long season for QPR this season, your defence was horrible on the weekend.

    If Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba can really get going together, then Newcastle can really challenge for that fourth major European spot, especially with Arsenal appearing to be weakened over the summer.

    Thanks for the support guys!

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