We had a terrific start to the Barclays Premier League season 2012/13 with 27 goals scored in the first week. We also saw some great spirit shown by the newly promoted teams.
Starting with West Ham United, they got off to a perfect start with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa. Kevin Nolan scored the only goal of the game. He has now scored 5 goals against Aston Villa. It wasn’t a start that Paul Lambert was looking forward to. It wasn’t even a great game to watch but with 3 points in the bag, West Ham United got exactly what they wanted.
Reading 1-1 Stoke City
Another promoted side Reading had to face Stoke City at the Madejski Stadium. The hosts just snatched a point by scoring the equaliser off a penalty in the 90th minute. Again, it wasn’t a Premier League classic but Reading should be happy with the point. From Stoke City’s point of view, it may just not be a game to remember but some positives from the match were Michael Kightly and Robert Huth. Kightly got a goal on his debut. A scrappy goal but an important goal nonetheless. Huth had a brilliant game. He was strong, dominating and made life hard for Reading. We also saw Whitehead being sent off for bringing down McCleary in the box. That is what lead to the penalty and an equaliser for Reading. At the end, a point for both sides seemed to be a fair result.
Newcastle United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Another loss for Andre Villas Boas, another loss for Tottenham Hotspur. Not surprising maybe but surely worrying for AVB. Tottenham had their chances but it either ended up hitting the post or being saved by Tim Krul. I would never call hitting the post as ‘bad luck’. It just means that you were off target. Maybe just by an inch but surely off target. Newcastle United on the other hand were more intelligent with their chances. Demba Ba scored the opening goal of the game and Ben Arfa scored the winner from a penalty, after Defoe equalised for Spurs. Three points for Newcastle United, and Alan Pardew has managed to start the campaign on a high note yet again.
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
Arsenal also played on the opening day of the season. Being in the news for Robin van Persie’s transfer to Manchester United, Arsenal wanted to get over the RVP hangover and start the campaign with some positivity. They controlled the game with 70% possession and 23 shots. However, Sunderland somehow managed to keep a clean sheet. Arsenal got their chances in the game but couldn’t find the net in 90 minutes. The biggest chance they got was in the 81st minute when Olivier Giroud fired wide from 12-yards, trying to convert a brilliant reverse pass from Cazorla, who without doubt was the best player on the pitch. It is never easy to adjust to the pace of English football, so it is too early to judge Giroud based on the 20 minutes that he played. Lukas Podolski also started the game and he was also finding it a little difficult to adjust at some point. Again, it is too early to judge. Good news for Arsenal fans is Santi Cazorla. He may just be the right replacement for Fabregas, if not better. For Sunderland, it was a great point. They would be delighted. It is always a nightmare to play Arsenal at the Emirates. One of the toughest fixtures of the Premier League. Martin O’Neill was always aware of that, so he must be quite happy with the way his team performed.
West Brom 3-0 Liverpool
A humiliating start for Liverpool. It was simply disappointing. It was so bad that towards the end of the game Liverpool were just hanging on to prevent the fourth West Brom goal. Brendan Rodgers must have expected a better life with LFC but again, it is too early to judge. It was just a very bad day for Liverpool. Conceding 3 goals, Agger sent off, not able to score even once! A nightmare! West Brom can be proud of their performance. They played very well and ended up being on the 3rd spot at the end of the week! Who would have thought that?
QPR 0-5 Swansea City
The best-ever Premier League result for Swansea City. Two goals for the debutant Michu and Swansea have 3 points. Nathan Dyer was another man who was brilliant with the ball, scoring two goals. QPR is one of the teams that I believe won’t be able to stay up this season. This result makes me even more convinced. Mark Hughes will have to think differently and find a way for QPR to survive in the Premier League.
Fulham 5-0 Norwich City
A nightmare start for Chris Hughton and his team. One that they would like to and must forget. A season opener at Craven Cottage is not the one that you would prefer. Fulham in fact, have never lost an opening game at home and it stays that way for another year. A dream debut for the Croatian striker Mladen Petric. In the absence of Clint Dempsey, we could say that Fulham would find it hard to score and win a game against Norwich but thanks to Petric, they are now on top of the table. With two goals and an assist, Petric was the best player on the pitch.
Manchester City 3-2 Southampton
For a newly promoted team to face the Champions away from home in the opening game of the season is a test of spirit and strength. Even though Southampton couldn’t win the game but they showed that they had the spirit and they are ready to challenge anybody, even the Champions. Their intentions are clear. They want to stay up this season. For Manchester City, they have made their intentions clear as well. They want to defend their title and fight for it. They got what they wanted. It ended with 3 points for City and that is all that matters at the end of the day. It was a good game for Samir Nasri, scoring the winner and setting up one for Tevez. The Champions however need to avoid being in such situations again as every time you can’t come back from behind and win a game like that. Unless maybe you are last season’s Arsenal FC.
Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea
The game was set for Roberto di Matteo just after 7 minutes. Two goals, with the debutant Eden Hazard being involved in both, set the tone for the rest of the match. Actually being two goals behind against a team managed by Roberto di Matteo is disastrous. He is a man who can even ask his players to defend and ‘park the bus’ from the first minute. We saw the signs of it in the Champions League final against Bayern München. Wigan however, did try hard to get back in the game and created a few chances in the process but it wasn’t enough. Chelsea got their 3 points and are on the 4th spot at the end of week 1.
Everton 1-0 Manchester United
Arguably the most awaited fixture of the week after the whole Robin van Persie saga. A game that not just Everton or United fans were looking forward to but also eagerly awaited by Arsenal fans. Robin started on the bench and that is when the first set of RVP jokes started floating around Twitter. The game was completely in control of Everton. Manchester United were clueless. Alex Ferguson started with a strange line-up with Carrick at centre back and Valencia right-back. Trusting his guts maybe, but not smart enough to stop Fillaini from scoring the only goal of the game. Carrick marking Fillaini was the plan. Well I must say, it was funny. The game was set for Robin van Persie to come on and get the equaliser for Manchester United. It was a thought that kept all Arsenal fans on the edge of their seats. He came on for just 20 minutes with loads of expectations. It ended 1-0 to Everton and that triggered the second set of RVP jokes on Twitter. I managed to collect a few and I will quote them here.
@XEIESHAN_GUNNER: “Wenger is a genius. He sold the phone to Man Utd and the charger to Barca!! #LeBoss”
@AbhinavAFC: “Turns out Man Utd signed the Holland version of van Persie, not the Arsenal version.”
@ArsenalRedArmy: “RVP came on, took a corner and then he done some awesome magic trick and disappeared!! WOW”
@FourFourTom: “Unconfirmed rumours circulating that van Persie has handed in a transfer request. He “doesn’t agree with the direction Man Utd are going.”
Manchester United didn’t use Robin van Persie properly, that is what Alex Ferguson claims. Whatever it may be, Marouane Fellaini ruined the RvP party for Manchester United. He was sensational and dominating. He deserved his goal and Everton deserved their 3 points. An incredible start for David Moyes and his team. The only good that Manchester United can find from this game was David De Gea. He had a fantastic game. Everton could have easily won by 2 or 3 goals if De Gea didn’t turn into an Edwin van der Sar, for a change.
At the end of week 1, it was not the traditional ‘big four’ clubs in the top four. It is Fulham, Swansea City, West Brom and Chelsea instead. This is the English Premier League and it is unpredictable.
Top performers of the week: Mladen Petric (Fulham), Nathan Dyer (Swansea), Michu (Swansea), Samir Nasri (Man City), David De Gea (Man Utd), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
(Follow on Twitter: @mugaisj)