Van Persie and Tevez make the difference as United and City both scrape wins. Meanwhile, Cazorla and Podolski finally come good to put Arsenal in dreamland, while first impressions continue to play a significant part.
by Andrew Discenza
Manchester United earned all three points thanks to Robin Van Persie, who has achieved the quite incredible feat of instantly picking up where he left off at Arsenal. The Dutchman’s hat-trick was vintage stuff, as he volleyed in after superb control, snapped up a rebound with three minutes left, and won the match by attacking a stoppage-time corner and glancing his header under the crossbar. A performance spoiled only when he won himself a penalty but saw it easily swatted away after dinking it well within reach of the keeper.
Carlos Tevez was yet again man of the match as Manchester City refused to stumble against QPR. He earned two assists, including crossing right onto the forehead of Edin Dzeko to restore City’s lead just moments after Bobby Zamora had equalized. Tevez then got a cheeky touch to coolly redirect Dzeko’s effort into the net.
Much-anticipated signings Lucas Podolski & Santi Cazorla finally hit their stride as they combined twice to earn Arsenal a confident 2-0 win at Liverpool. Podolski sprung a break by leading Cazorla, who teed up his teammate to fire low and past the keeper. The Spaniard and German proved their quality again to seal the points, with Cazorla racing behind to fire in from a tight angle.
Liverpool’s failure to replace Andy Carroll may prove disastrous, as the big striker made a difference in the very first minute of his West Ham career, while the Reds seemed toothless against Arsenal’s defense. Carroll rose with a towering header that led to the opener, but pulled up with a hamstring injury that will worry Hammer fans.
The name Robert Snodgrass may not ring many bells for football fans, but his contribution earned Norwich a valuable point away to Tottenham. The 24-year-old Scot shook the bar and forced a reflex save from Brad Friedel, before cracking a shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner to seal a 1-1 draw with five minutes left.
Sunderland’s deadline-day acquisition Steven Fletcher scored both goals and made Martin O’Neill look like a genius as they drew 2-2 at Swansea. His job was made easier by Ashley Williams’ horrendous back-pass, but he produced a quality curled finish and doubled his tally just five minutes later with a predatory touch.
Hatem Ben Arfa scored the goal of the weekend to salvage a 1-1 draw for Newcastle against Aston Villa. Given the space to cut onto his right and line up a shot from 25 yards, Ben Arfa put his foot through the ball and sent an unsavable screamer into the top corner.
Ali Al Habsi produced an early contender for save of the season, reaching out with the tips of his fingers to block Charlie Adam’s deflected free-kick. It was reminiscent of a save in the previous campaign for Wigan, as he kept the ball out despite finding himself going the wrong way.
Fulham’s loss was Tottenham’s gain, as newboy Moussa Dembele came off the bench to earn a point for his side. Always confident on the ball, he deceived his defender with a touch, and found the bottom corner from just outside the area with a stinging shot.
Discenza Predicts (after the international break):
QPR 0 – 4 Chelsea. The Blues will return rested, on top of the league, and chock-full of confidence. The floodgates could open.
Sunderland 2 – 1 Liverpool. More misery for Liverpool, who will take some time to gel as a team and turn their run of form around.
Stoke 1 – 1 Manchester City. It’s hard to go to the Brittania, and the Champions haven’t been razor-sharp yet this season.
Arsenal 2 – 1 Southampton. Look for the Gunners to continue to build from the back.
How I did last week: 3 for 4. Carlos Tevez was the difference as predicted in Manchester City’s win over QPR, and West Brom shut out Everton. Even Arsenal got off the mark with two goals at Anfield, although the match wasn’t as close as anticipated. But Southampton put up a valiant fight to prevent anything approaching a rout for Manchester United.
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