There were definitely several matches that were worth watching in the EPL this weekend and some didn’t even make the list. It’s time to give you a recap of what happened in the matches that I suggested you watch — and maybe tell you about a stunner that I didn’t even see coming. It was certainly a fun weekend of soccer in the EPL, unless your team lost, then it sucked.
CHELSEA 2 – 0 ARSENAL
Chelsea defeated a nine-man Arsenal side thanks to a questionable red card on Gabriel, a careless second yellow card issued to Santiago Cazorla and goals by Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard. The Blues needed the three points from this win to avoid moving into the relegation zone. The 2015-16 version of Chelsea is far different than the 2014-15 version and a quick comparison of the table from last year to this year through six matches will tell you that. Last season the Blues were top of the table with 16 points and a record of 5-1-0 (Wins-Draws-Loss), while this year they’re thirteenth on the table with seven points and a record of 2-1-3. Keep in mind that they only lost 3 games all season last year and they’ve already equaled that total so far this season.
Salute‘s own Rohtas Wadera pointed out in his article on Saturday Chelsea striker Diego Costa‘s history of antics and dirty play, and Costa was up to his same old tricks in this match too. The tempo of the match swung in Chelsea’s favor after Gabriel’s sending off. It was an incident that should have seen both Costa and Gabriel sent off, but since Mike Dean — one of the worst refs in the EPL — was in the middle, only Gabriel got the red card and all Costa got for pushing, shoving and hitting a guy in the face was a yellow card.
In the 53rd minute Zouma was able to find the back of the net off of a set piece sent in by Cesc Fàbregas. Zouma was in the middle of the box and headed in Fàbregas’ cross to the bottom right corner past a diving Petr Cech. As the match continued tempers continued to flare on both sides. In the 79th minute, Cazorla was sent off for a tackle that did not warrant a red card — not to mention a second yellow — which is what happened.
In the 90th minute, Hazard put one past Cech in the middle of the Gunners’ goal off of a pass from late sub Loïc Remy. While Chelsea needed the points, they certainly didn’t need the refs help to get all three points in this one. They have the talent and the payroll to do it on their own.
STOKE CITY 2 – 2 LEICESTER CITY
For the second time in as many matches Leicester City have come from behind and stolen a victory from their opponent. This time the victim was bottom-of-the-table side Stoke City. This week’s draw against the Potters is really a tale of two separate halves, unlike last week where the Foxes never gave up against Aston Villa.
Stoke pulled out in front in the 13th minute when Marko Arnautovic passed the ball through to Bojan Krkic who then buried the ball past Kasper Schmeichel in the bottom left corner. Seven minutes later a missed Wes Morgan clearance allowed Stoke’s Jonathan Walters to put a second in the back of the net and give Stoke a 2-nil lead 20 minutes into the game. The Foxes were able to stop the bleeding and hold on until halftime though and, in the second half, Leicester came out swinging. Arnautovic fouled Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater from behind in the penalty area and the Foxes were awarded a spot kick. Riyad Mahrez beat Jack Butland with a shot into the bottom right corner to pull one back for the Foxes.
In the 69th minute, Jamie Vardy found the equalizer for the Foxes. Mahrez found Vardy in the center of the box where he cut loose with his shot. Vardy had a chance to win it for Leicester four minutes into stoppage time, when he uncorked a shot from just beyond the 18-yard box, but it went just wide of the goal. Leicester remains unbeaten in the EPL this season but the draw has dropped them to fourth on the table. Even though Stoke picked up their third draw of the season, they still remain in the bottom three at 18th.
SWANSEA CITY 0 – 0 EVERTON
There are times when people see a 0-0 score line in the EPL and think that the game was boring or that the teams sucked, but that wasn’t the case with this match. This match was a great match for both Swansea and Everton defensively. The Toffees had the most shots (17) but not the most shots on goal (2), but the Swans weren’t far behind with 12 shots and three on goal.
Everton had their best chance at scoring in 28th minute when Steven Naismith was fouled which set up a Ross Barkley free kick. The Swans’ Ashely Williams cleared the ball but Naismith won it back and let a shot fly from just outside the 18-yard box. Romelu Lukaku got a touch on the ball and deflected it right into the hands of Swansea’s Lukasz Fabianski. If Lukaku had just let Naismith’s shot go by it would have gone in, but that’s how this game went. There was also a lot of great goalkeeping on the part of Everton’s Tim Howard as well as Fabianski too and both goalkeepers definitely earned their wages this week.
SOUTHAMPTON 2 – 3 MANCHESTER UNITED
Before I talk about this match let’s do a year-by-year comparison of these two EPL teams. After six matches last season Manchester United had eight points with a record of 2-2-2 and were seventh on the table. Southampton had 13 points with a record of 4-1-1 and was second on the table. This year after six matches United has 13 points and has a record of 4-1-1 and is second on the table, while the Saints have six points with a record of 1-3-2 and are 16th on the table. My, what a difference a year makes!
It was evident that United missed having Luke Shaw at left back in this match, but Marcos Rojo did a great job replacing him. The same can’t be said for center back Daley Blind, who more than had his hands full with Graziano Pellé. Blind was outmatched the first time that he and Pellé challenged each other for a header, and he was outmatched on the ball that Pellé scored on in the 13th minute. Sadio Mane fired a shot that was blocked by United’s David De Gea but the rebound fell right to Pellé, who didn’t miss. Blind was at least a yard or two behind Mane when he shot and got caught ball watching when Pellé scored.
United’s defense was sloppy for the first 20-25 minutes of the game and Southampton took advantage and applied pressure to them. If it wasn’t for poor finishes and great goalkeeping from De Gea the score could have gotten out of control. The Saints held the lead for just over 20 minutes before United’s Anthony Martial found the equalizer. A poor clearance by the Saints’ defense allowed Morgan Schneiderlin to head the ball down about 25 yards from goal and through to Juan Mata who gave a short pass over to Martial for the score.
Five minutes into the second half Martial struck again — this time solo. Saints’ defender Maya Yoshida attempted to pass the ball back to goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg but he was too far out and he didn’t put enough pace on the ball. Martial saw this, swooped in and collected the errant pass then fired home a goal to give United a 2-1 lead.
In the 68th minute, Memphis and Mata would combined to add one more to that tally for the Red Devils. Bastian Schweinsteiger picked out Memphis inside the 18-yard box with a nice through ball. The United winger shook off a couple of defenders and fired a low, hard shot at the far post that bounced off the post and at the feet of Mata. He then fired a one-time shot right between two Southampton defenders into the back of the net to make it 3-1 Red Devils.
The Saints weren’t ready to rollover and play dead just yet though. In the 88th minute, Mane got his second assist of the day when he whipped a slicing cross into the 6-yard box that found Pellé. He drove the header into the top right corner of the goal and De Gea had no chance of stopping it.
Speaking of De Gea, he proved yet again why he is one of the top goalkeepers in the EPL. In the 59th minute, Dusan Tadic sent in a blistering corner kick that was aimed directly for Jose Fonte‘s head–and they connected. The ball looked like it was going in and that the match was going to be leveled at 2-2. But De Gea reached up and batted the ball off the line at the last microsecond to keep the ball from getting near the goal line. Both teams suffered from very poor defending in this match and that is evident by the score. In the end, United’s defense tightened up and was able to hold the lead when it counted so they were able to take home all three points.
MANCHESTER CITY 1 – 2 WEST HAM UNITED
I just wanted to throw this in here as a little bonus for a buddy of mine who is the only West Ham United supporter that I know. Since the Irons almost never get any coverage here in the States, I figured I’d give them some. Here you go, your Irons got mentioned!