It was a thrilling week of football that just passed, with some truly sumptuous skills showcased.
Southampton vs. Newcastle United (2-1): What a season this is turning out to be for the Newcastle faithful. Their manager Alan Pardew abandoned the team for his former stomping grounds as a player, and since then their season seems to be unravelling with each progressive game. This is occurring while the owner of Newcastle continues to search for a new manager. Southampton seems to be having a season that is the antithesis of Newcastle’s. Fresh off losing their big name players, and changing managers, everyone in football expected Southampton to be facing an uphill battle just to stay in the Premier League. This has proven to be an assumption so off-the-mark it is almost farcical. Southampton has done more than survive- they have excelled. With a few smart purchases and the fostering of the talent the team already possessed, we are seeing a Cinderella story become true life. This game was another perfect example of this, with Southampton’s newest signing Elijero Elia (loaned from Werder Bremen) scoring both goals. It seems currently that Ronald Koeman had the Midas touch and can do no wrong. Third place is a remarkable achievement so far, and ensures that at this point, no matter what, Southampton will not get relegated.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal (0-2): This match provided plenty of surprises, and must have felt like long-awaited vindication for Arsene Wenger after he had been much maligned this season by supporters and opponents alike. In what many see as a personal victory for Arsene, Arsenal managed to best last season’s champions (Man City), though this could also be blamed on the fact that the engine room of City is currently on international duty for his country in the African Cup of Nations, and their newest acquisition Wilfried Bony is also at the same tournament. It resulted in an unfortunate lack of firepower for the team, especially as Sergio Aguero is not yet fully recovered from injury. Whatever the cause, Arsenal played with passion and is the first team from the top five to gain a win against City at the Etihad Stadium (City’s home). The magic which Santi Carzola exuded as the heart of the Arsenal midfield simply could not be matched by a rankly lackluster City side.
Queens Park Rangers vs. Manchester United (0-2): This was another game in which Man U labored for a win. It is clear for all to see that Radamel Falcao, regarded as one of the world’s most prolific strikers, is still not firing at all cylinders after his recent injury problems. What cruel irony it must seem to the Old Trafford faithful that it was only the summer signing of David Moyes’ reign, Marouane Fellaini, who is now saving United from dire situations. The only encouraging sign which could be taken away (apart from the three points) was that the youngster James Wilson scored. This is a great thing for the young man’s confidence and there is a hope of great things to come from him. Louis van Gaal’s insistence on the 3-5-2 system still boggles the mind, as once the team switched to a 4-4-2 a much clearer rhythm and cohesion was seen.