This weekend saw almost every team in the Premier League play their 13th game and we can see familiar patterns starting to form in the league table. While, of course, nothing is won or lost in November we are starting to see the wheat separated from the chaff. The games now start to roll in thick and fast as the Christmas madness approaches, with the teams playing again in midweek not being limited to European competitors.
Here is a run through of how the teams fared this weekend:
Sunderland 2 – 4 West Bromwich Albion
The weekend was started with probably the best game of the lot and Sunderland started very brightly. After missing a string of chances though the home team were eventually punished as Zoltan Gera cracked a 25-yard thunderbolt past a helpless Simon Mignolet, and just before half time the keeper lost control of a misguided through ball and Shane Long capitalised before tapping the ball into an empty net. With the game moving from end to end Sunderland did grab a goal on 73 minutes with Craig Gardner’s free kick deflecting of a defender and into the net. Eight minutes later though The Baggies restored their two goal lead as Romelu Lukaku scored a penalty that seemed harsh to be given and seemingly ended the game. Stephane Sessegnon scored with three minutes to play to set up a high pressure finish, but Marc-Antoine Fortune scored from a fortuitous counter attack to finally end Sunderland’s hopes of a comeback.
Everton 1 – 1 Norwich City
Everton started this game very well and opened the scoring after just 12 minutes as Bryan Oviedo squared the ball to Steven Naismith who planted the ball into the back of the net. Everton continued to test Norwich ‘keeper John Ruddy in the first half but were unable to add to their goal tally. The second half was a different story as Norwich finally joined the game and Robert Snodgrass had a shot cleared off the line shortly after the break. Ruddy kept the score as it was as Leighton Baines danced through the Canaries defence only to be denied by the keeper. With the game almost over Norwich were given a free kick 35 yards from goal, which Javier Garrido whipped towards the back post finding Sebastian Bassong who headed in the equaliser.
Manchester United 3 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
QPR had seemingly been set out to frustrate United as they sat back for half an hour soaking up pressure. Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney both tested Rangers ‘keeper Julio Cesar in quick succession and this sparked the game into life as seven minutes later Jamie Mackie scored a disallowed goal for the away side. Mackie gave the visitors the lead shortly after half time with a rebound from a Kieron Dyer shot, and this enforced a double substitution by Sir Alex Ferguson. The hosts equalised on 64 minutes and took the lead four minutes later as the changes transformed United. The two subs Anderson and Javier Hernandez linked to put the game beyond QPR a few minutes later, with Hernandez scoring his eighth goal in as many games to finish off the game.
Stoke City 1 – 0 Fulham
In a rain soaked affair Fulham started the brighter of the two teams, with Giorgos Karagounis flashing a shot wide after only two minutes. The 26th minute saw Charlie Adam cleverly control the ball inside the six-yard box before turning towards goal and giving Stoke the lead. Ten minutes later Ryan Shawcross was unlucky to rattle the bar with a powerful header, Fulham broke away as a result but Mladen Petric was unable to find the net at the crucial moment. Kenwyne Jones thought he had doubled the home sides lead right at the death but was correctly flagged for offside.
Wigan Athletic 3 – 2 Reading
The home side started the game brightly and could have been 2-0 up within 25 minutes with Arouna Kone missing two brilliant chances. They were inevitably punished for this wastefulness as Reading took the lead courtesy of Sean Morrison ten minutes later. Wigan continued to test Adam Federici and equalized on 57 minutes with Jordi Gomez scoring the goal, a feat he repeated 11 minutes later to give his side the lead. Ali AL Habsi seemed to have gifted Reading a point when he fumbled a seemingly harmless looping ball into his own net with just over ten minutes left, only to have his blushes spared by Gomez who completed his hat-trick with moments to go in the match.
Aston Villa 0 – 0 Arsenal
In a game of few chances Villa did have the ball in the net on 37 minutes, only for Andreas Weimann to be flagged offside. Laurent Koscielny had a good chance for Arsenal just before half time, but he turned Olivier Giroud’s cross well over the bar from about ten yards. Aaron Ramsey hit a good shot wide for the away side in the 75th minute but Brad Guzan looked to have it covered. Villa in fact came closest to stealing all three points as Brett Holman smashed a brilliant shot towards goal which Wojciech Szczesny tipped on to the bar and away.
Swansea City 0 – 0 Liverpool
Both teams started this game brightly but it was Swansea who had the first chance, with Pepe Reina doing well to turn away a powerful shot from Wayne Routledge after 10 minutes. Raheem Sterling crashed a shot off the crossbar on the half hour mark. Jose Enrique scored a minute later, but had strayed inches offside as Luis Suarez curled his pass in. The second half moved at a fast pace with both teams searching for a winner, and as Suarez and Sterling broke free with 8 minutes left they seemed certain to score, but the final pass was just over hit and the move fizzled out. There was time though for one more chance though as Pablo Hernandez’ well struck free kick was tipped around the post by Reina.
Southampton 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Newcastle seemed to struggle with the pace of movement Southampton offered in this game and the score line wasn’t a true reflection of the south coast teams dominance. Southampton hit the woodwork three times and were repeatedly thwarted by goalkeeper Tim Krul. Adam Lallana grabbed the first goal on 34 minutes as man of the match Gaston Ramirez’ cross gave Lallana a simple job to put The Saints into the lead. Ramirez did get his reward with half an hour to play, as he turned the ball in after a Krul save saw the ball fall at his feet from 6 yards.
Chelsea 0 – 0 Manchester City
Premiership champions Manchester City met European champions Chelsea in a game that saw the teams seemingly cancel each other out. City had the best of the first half, with Serio Aguero missin the best chance of the first half, a point blank header that Petr Cech comfortably gathered. Chelsea were the better team in the second half with their best attempt coming courtesy of right back Ashley Cole, who saw his fierce shot tipped over the bar by Joe Hart. This was a drab affair that seemed to revolve more around Chelsea’s new manager Rafa Benitez than the football served up on the field.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 1 West Ham United
Tottenham bossed this game and almost took the lead on 10 minutes with Gareth Bath smashing a shot against the crossbar. A minute before half time Spurs did take the lead with an amazing goal by Jermain Defoe which came after half an hour of possession that lacked penetration. With 57 minutes on the clock Clint Dempsey’s perfectly weighted pass found Bale inside the box, who this time saw his shot bounce in off the post. Good work by Sandro in midfield released Aaron Lennon who squared the ball for Defoe to tap in his second. Andy Carroll gave The Hammers a glimmer of hope with his first goal for the club with 8 minutes to play, but Spurs held on for victory.