League Of Action, Drama & Upsets
The carnival started 12 weeks back with the opening day of premier league 2013 produces the biggest upset of the season to kickstart the Barclays Premier League (BPL) when Arsenal loses to Aston Villa at their home ground at Emirates stadium, London. Arsenal was beaten by Aston Villa by 3-1, which happened only the third time in 30 meetings. It was Arsenal’s first home defeat on the season’s opening day in 20 years. The shock was such that home fans chanted, not for the first time, “Spend some f*****g money”. The ooh’s & aah’s during the game was replaced by big boo from the Gunners fans after the match.
Arsenal’s loss was only the start of upsets–more upsets are to come. In the same week, Cardiff City stunned 2011-12 champions Manchester City by 3-2. The newly-promoted side started brightly and showed great energy to close down Man-City. The on-field drama was inspired by pre-match march by fans to celebrate club’s heritage. The home side with supporting fans did the unexpected and upset Man-City.
The drama continues and reached Old Trafford where every soccer fan was waiting for this much-awaited and hyped match. It was Manchester United taking on Chelsea. It was a night for centre-backs. However, Rooney played to his potential and turned in all action display to Chelsea but couldn’t affect the score line. The resolute defending from both teams prevented any real clear-cut chances, and the match was more notable for a series of penalty appeals, none of which inspired referee and jam-packed crowd witnessed an action-packed draw at 0-0.
There are a few better grounds to witness the downfall of one of the major English clubs than Goodison Park, Liverpool, England. In the old stadium with electrifying atmosphere and the roar of the crowd growing, Everton displayed a famous victory. Chelsea missed a lot of chances in the first half and seemed to lose their way as Everton grew in confidence to take the game 1-0 in the end.
At Anfield, it was the turn of previously unbeaten Liverpool to face the upset. It was Southampton who ironically was the last team to beat Liverpool at home towards the end of the last season and here they became the first in this Premier League. Southampton looked dangerous right from the start, and got home in the end by 1-0. Ultimately, Liverpool were the architects of their own downfall.
In another dramatic match, 50th of the league, Spurs surprised Cardiff City by winning it 1-0. The North-Londoners attacked 29 times on Cardiff City in 2nd half exhibiting unbelievable shot attempts and sneaked a win over Cardiff City in their own den. The match was a cracker and champions were outplayed and beaten comprehensively by rivals. Manchester City earned a 4-1 victory over Manchester United at Etihad stadium.
The second biggest shock of the League came in the 53rd match when an underrated and a minnow West Brom beat the last edition’s champion Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford. This had been West Brom’s first win at Old Trafford since 1978. United fans looked shell-shocked after the match and criticised the selection policy of the team. On the same day and around the same time at Villa Park, home of Aston Villa, another upset happened. Manchester City, who earlier beat the previous champions and rivals Man-United, was beaten by ever inspired Aston Villa who had already created one upset by beating Arsenal as well on the inaugural day of the League this season.
The caravan moved to The Hawthorns as the Gunners failed to extend their winning streak to eight consecutive wins. West Brom, after their unbelievable win against Man-U a week before came hard and played positive. Arsenal, already a victim of an upset earlier, mixed aggression with caution beautifully. The sea-saw battle ended in a draw at 1-1, which seems the best possible result.
Then came the turn for Stamford Bridge to produce a fascinating game this time–Chelsea was up against Man-City. The game was much awaited by the fans and as expected it was an absolute thriller. With the last minute goal by Fernando Torres, Chelsea was able to pull off a cliff-hanger by 2-1 against other favourites Man-City.
On the back of a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions, Chelsea stepped on St. James Park as clear favourites against Newcastle United but was undone by goals from Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy. There was very little to choose between the teams in the first half amidst the rain, but Newcastle looked much improved in the second half to take the game by 2-0.
Though the Premier League 2013-14 season is only two-month old, we’ve already been treated to a whole lot of quality goals from expected and unexpected quarters. But, this season is not just about goals, it offers lot more variety with flavour. Premier League clubs spent a record £630 million this summer, which is a 29 per cent increase on last year’s £490 million spent.
Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Everton may be able to fight for the top four and a place in the Champions League and may be dreaming of playing European football next year. There have been managerial changes as well with Sir Alex Ferguson finally stepping down and Jose Mourinho making a dramatic return to Chelsea.
The title race is ever more challenging and close this time around with both Chelsea and Manchester City have strengthened their squads appreciably. Both have new managers who both are highly regarded. After this season there will be the long-awaited 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Players have this in the back of their minds and will want to impress their respective international managers. The best news above all this is we don’t have to wait long for more action.
By Sorabh Aggarwal