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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manchester mauls North Londoners, Rivals draw and everything else in between in round 3

What Manchester City do, Manchester United do it better as City beat Tottenham 5-1 followed by Manchester United's astounding reply with a 8-2 victory over Arsenal. Round three also saw Chelsea leave it late against new boys Norwich, Aston Villa and Wolves draw nil all in the Birmingham derby and Liverpool beat Bolton 3-1. First we'll head to White Heart Lane, where Manchester City turned in a five star display against a weakened Tottenham Hotspurs.

Spurs had to field the ultra attacking Croatian duo of Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric in the centre of midfield - which was targeted to perfection by Manchester City. City themselves threw new signing Samir Nasri (formerly of Arsenal) straight into the starting line up which created a fabulous front four. The scoring got underway in the 34th minute when former Arsenal team mates Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri linked up down the left flank, before Nasri played a lovely one-two with, another summer signing, Agüero and delivered an even better cross for Edin Dzeko to finish. Only seven minutes later it looked like Peter Crouch would level the scores down the other end with a super header, however it took Manchester City 18 seconds on the counter attack to make it two nil. The ball was played up field after Crouch's header was denied. Nasri again had the ball and delivered a delightful lofted cross that Dzeko did brilliantly to finish. He jumped in the air with his back mostly to goal, before slightly turning his head to allow him to direct the ball back across the 'keeper. It took just under ten minutes of the second half to pass before Dzeko completed his hat trick. Again City's build up play was superb as Agüero casually waited for Yaya Toure to make a run around the outside of him. Agüero passed the ball to Yaya, who in turn dribbled right to the byline before cutting in a low cross for Dzeko to beat his markers and slot home from close range. Just shy of the hour mark City continued with a forth goal, this time coming from Agüero. He played a neat one-two with Nasri before dribbling past a busy Dawson and curling it around Tottenham 'keeper Brad Friedel from an angle. Seven minutes later Spurs got their consolation goal, after a beautiful corner from Rafael Van Der Vaart found Younis Kaboul who headed home to make it 4-1. But in injury time Dzeko added his fourth and arguably his best effort of the afternoon. Dzeko played a one-two just outside the box with Gareth Barry before slotting home with his weaker left foot, although you couldn't tell with that finish. Here are all the goals.

Not long after at Old Trafford, Manchester United were about to highlight all the weaknesses in Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. The scoring started in the 21st minute when Brazilian Anderson scooped a ball over the top of Arsenal's defence (something they don't like at all) for Danny Welback to get in between a defender and the Arsenal 'keeper to nod home. Six minutes later Rooney burst into the penalty area down the left and put in a low cross that was cleared, straight to Ashley Young. Young was given time to switch it back onto his preferred right foot and shoot from well outside the area. However the finish was absolutely superb and an early contender for goal of the season. Not to be out done Rooney added United's third in the 41st minute with a lovely curling free kick from just outside the penalty box. Arsenal scored their first goal of the season in the dying seconds of injury time of the first half. Thomas Rosicky picked out a flying Theo Walcott with a superb pass. Walcott took on his marker and the 'keeper as he shot from a tight angle on the right and slotted the ball cheekily through young United 'keeper David De Gea's legs to make it 3-1 going into the break.

It took until the 64th minute for the scoring to resume through another Rooney free kick. It was very similar to the first one, but this free kick was from a few yards further out. It was another curling effort at the back post and shows what Rooney can do from set-pieces. Only two minutes later United added their fifth of the afternoon as Rooney highlighted Arsenal's lack of a leader/enforcer in defence. He attracted the interest of both Arsenal's centre backs - whilst their wide defenders stayed back - before passing to a completely unmarked Nani who chipped home. Three minutes later Ji-Sung Park added United's sixth goal, as Arsenal's defence was again at sea. The defenders weren't sure what to do as they sat off both Young - who passed to Park - and Park himself. He took a touch with his right foot to shift the ball onto his left and drove home from just inside the box. Arsenal then scored their second and final goal of the afternoon after Jenkinson - a right back who gets forward but can't tackle - delivered a cross to an unmarked Robin Van Persie to slot home at the back post. But the moment all of you have been waiting for is the return of the Joey Barton award (the award for the biggest dive of the week, named after Mr Barton himself because of his theatrics against Arsenal in round 1). This week it goes to Patrice Evra of Manchester United, as after Theo Walcott's lighting quick feet brew up a breeze that saw poor old Patrice swept of his feet inside the Arsenal penalty area. Congratulations Mr Evra. From the ensuing penalty the newest member of the hair plug brigade - Wayne Rooney - completed his hat trick (all from set-pieces) and took United's tally to seven goals. To close it out in Fergie time, or extra time, Ashley Young provided another thunderbolt in trademark fashion as he received the ball in the far corner of the Arsenal penalty area. Young then switched it to his preferred right foot and drove home to make it 8-2. Here are the ten goals in ten minutes of highlights.

Elsewhere in round three of the EPL, the Birmingham derby ended in a dour nil all draw but leaves both Wolves and Aston Villa undefeated. Wigan took their first win of the season at the expense of Championship winners QPR. Franco Di Santo scored a brace for the Lactics, whilst Adel Taarbat only managed to hit the post twice for QPR. Socceroo Brett Emerton's final appearance before linking up with new club Sydney FC ended disappointingly as Blackburn Rovers missed two penalties. Everton made them pay with an injury time penalty that got them the three points and leave the Rovers without a point so far. Chelsea almost came undone at home to newcomers Norwich, but the game was marred by a collision between Norwich goal keeper John Ruddy and Chelsea star Didier Drogba. The latter was left unconscious and had to be stretchered off. At this stage it was 1 all after Jose Bosingwa scored first for Chelsea and Grant Holt levelled after capitalising on an error by Chelsea 'keeper Hilario. Ruddy was sent off after bringing down Ramires in the 80th minute and Frank Lampard slotted the penalty. Juan Mata scored on debut for Chelsea to round off the scoring at 3-1. Sunderland and Swansea played out a nil all draw in Wales, which leaves both clubs with only two points from three games.

Liverpool continued their late win against Arsenal with a 3-1 victory over Bolton at Anfield. The scoring began when Suarez pulled out to the left and delivered a delightful cross to Dirk Kuyt. He in turn found Jordan Henderson who hit it first time, only to be blocked by Bolton midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. Henderson shot a second time, this time with his left foot and it sailed home into the top corner of the net. The second goal came after a lovely corner by Charlie Adam found substitute Martin Skrtel, whom headed home powerfully. Liverpool's final goal came from Adam himself as he stayed composed from distance and shot home with his right foot. Ivan Klasnic scored a late goal after a rare Jamie Carragher mistake allowed him to do so. Newcastle continued their impressive start to the season beating a sluggish Fulham at St. James' Park 2-1. Leon Best emerged from the big shadow of Andy Carroll (who signed with Liverpool in January) to bag a brace. American Clint Dempsey nabbed a late goal to have Newcastle fans on the edge of their seats. In the final game of the round Stoke grabbed their first win of the season away at the Hawthorn's against West Bromwich Albion. Ryan Shotton grabbed a late goal after coming on as a substitute for Jermaine Pennant.

So there you have it folks, an entertaining round three of the English Premier League. It will only intensify with the closing of the transfer window coming just before the FIFA sanctioned weekend of international games. Bring on round four.

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