This is my blog on the unpredictable world of football. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Champions Clamber, City Cruise and Chelsea held by Courageous Stoke

Manchester United escaped with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea were held to a nil all draw with a determined Stoke, whilst Sergio Agüero made a dream debut for Manchester City. Firstly lets take a closer look at Chelsea's draw with Stoke.

New manager Andre Villas-Boas decided to leave star strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka on the bench in favour of out of form Spanish striker Fernando Torres. Salmon Kalou and Florent Malouda flanked the number nine in a 4-3-3 system that looked more threatening as the game wore on. However Stoke were very compact and defended well against a Chelsea team that looked to play the ball along the deck. Torres showed some great touches - something Chelsea fans aren't quite used to yet. Chelsea also had three genuine penalty claims turned down by the referee, with one of these incidents involving Torres. In the later stages of the game both Kalou and Malouda were replaced by the more distinguished pair of strikers on the bench as Villas-Boas looked to attack Stoke with all his firepower available. Anelka came closest to scoring as he cut in from the left flank on to his favoured right foot and looked to chip Stoke 'keeper Begovic. Begovic however did brilliantly and managed to get a hand to the ball, knocking it against the cross bar. There was bad news for Stoke as inspirational winger Matthew Etherington went off with a suspected broken arm or collarbone. Rory Delap also came off with what looked like a repeat of his hamstring injury leading into the match. Both will be a major loss for Stoke in their upcoming match against Premier League new boys Norwich.

Defending champions Manchester United were lucky to escape the Hawthorns with a victory and it came at a cost. West Bromwich pushed them all the way, but only managed to score from a piece of poor keeping. Rooney started the scoring with a superb left foot drive from just outside the box, he was set up by United's new winger Ashley Young. Twenty minutes later West Bromwich replied when new signing - Sean Long - scored after a keeping error from United's new 'keeper David De Gea. Long cut inside onto his right foot and drove the ball at goal, with De Gea diving over the ball and missing it making the score 1 all. It took United until the 81st minute to win the match when that man Ashley Young was at it again. He surged forward down the left flank to the byline where he drove in a half shot/half cross, for it to be turned in by West Brom defender Simon Reid. However the victory came at a cost for United as they lost their captain and vice captain or there centre back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Ferdinand's injury appears to be the worst with a six week lay off expceted, whilst the extent of Vidic's injury is unknown at this stage.

The 'noisy neighbours' got their season off to a flying start without former captain Carlos Tevez starting. They put the sword to Swansea in the second half laying on four goals to beat them four nil. Big money (£38 million) signing Sergio Agüero came on as a 60th minute substitute for Nigel De Jong (yes our friend that fly kicked Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final), with the scores at 1 nil. He had a hand in all three remaining goals, scoring two himself. His first goal came from a lovely ground cross from right back Micah Richards. Agüero beat everyone to the ball and claimed his first goal for his new club. Next he set up David Silva for a slightly controversial goal. Agüero this time chipped it over Swansea's new 'keeper, Michel Vorm, and then kicked it back over his head for the waiting David Silva to lash home. On second showing, when Agüero kicked the ball back over his head to keep it in play, it appears as if the ball was actually out - the rule being in football for all of the ball to be over the line. However the goal stood and it was three nil, but Agüero was not finished yet. His second goal came in injury time, as he received a pass from Yaya Toure, well outside the penalty area. Kun - Agüero's nickname - then decided to have a pop at goal. He succeeded as the ball went flying into the net from over thirty yards, a superb finish from a world class player.

So that wraps up round one of the 2011/2012 EPL season and what a start. Manchester City were the only team to win at home in the opening round. Tottenham and Everton's match was called off due to the riots in London and there were five draws. An interesting to start to what should be another bumper year of football.

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