Jen Offord picks out five key features from the weekend’s Premier League action, including a perfect afternoon for Alan Pardew, the joy of watching Jamie Vardy’s Leicester and the unbearable strain that Bournemouth put their manager through.
Vardy party goes on
Leicester are my favourite thing about the Premier League this season. It helps that I don’t support a Premier League team so have little vested interest in the outcome, but there is something genuinely heart-warming about seeing them in the top four for what has been a decent spell of time now – especially when you consider they finished 14th last season.
Of course, there is no place for complacency in this game and I remember a time (for one week and one week only) when my own Charlton Athletic were second in the league. Still, with Jamie Vardy making it into the history books scoring in his 11th consecutive match, who knows what might happen? I’m sure he didn’t predict such dizzying heights of fame at the beginning of the season.
It’s hard not to bang on about Vardy’s goal, too; the ruthless finish that it was. Can he continue the run? Does it even really matter? Let’s just enjoy Leicester’s terrific form while we can.
Villa down and out?
Watford gave Aston Villa a torrid time on Saturday at Villa Park, continuing the hosts’ spell of horrible home form. Well, okay, their form is pretty shocking anywhere they play just lately but to have won no home league games this season isn’t great. In fact, they’ve only won one game at all this season.
It’s not fair to say Watford totally outclassed Villa as there were times when they put a lot of pressure on the visitors. Let’s also bear in mind that Villa themselves scored the Hornets’ second goal as Alan Hutton accidentally tapped in Troy Deeney’s cross to Odion Ighalo.
But is Villa’s fate for the season already sealed? They have a pitiful five points from 14 games . . . and no other Premier League team has avoided relegation after a similarly shocking start to a season.
Eddie Howe is put through the ringer
Bournemouth showed their fighting spirit against Everton on Saturday, coming from two goals behind to draw 3-3. Though clearly the better team in the first half, the Toffees lost their spark and some silly mistakes were made in gifting the late goals to the Cherries. That’s not to say Bournemouth didn’t show incredible heart, at the same time, to make such a comeback.
It was a result no one could have predicted in the first half, with Cherries boss Eddie Howe speaking after the game about the emotional rollercoaster of football. After four defeats in their last five league games, it’s easy to understand why Howe described the final goal as “one of the biggest highs” he’s ever experienced in football.
Pards serves revenge cold
Bournemouth’s shock draw and Crystal Palace’s shock win saw the Cherries and Newcastle switch places down in the relegation zone. I say shock Palace win, but it’s never shocking when a team beats the Magpies and, as I have frequently been forced to concede, Alan Pardew’s men are enjoying an uncharacteristically good start to the season. However, I, for one, would not have foreseen the five goals they had in them on Saturday.
Of course, Palace boss Pardew was the big story. Pards switched allegiances from Newcastle to his current side back in December last year, but Magpies fans may have been regretting their campaign of abuse against the silver-haired boss as they watched his new side sail to an easy win. Newcastle were absolutely abysmal. Steve McClaren must be holding his breath.
Wenger’s gamble doesn’t pay off
Despite a good week in Europe for Arsenal, beating Dinamo Zagreb 3-0, it all went wrong for Arsene Wenger’s men when Sunday came around. Unable to get the better of Norwich at Carrow Road, the Gunners missed the opportunity to go top of the table after Manchester United and Leicester drew, securing only a point themselves with a 1-1 draw. Remaining in fourth position and a point behind boring, boring United, Arsenal will have been even sadder to see Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez subbed off due to injuries.
Wenger admitted in his pre-match press conference that Sanchez currently had a “dodgy hamstring”. Then he started him two days later and – low and behold – off Sanchez went with a hamstring injury. Talk about self-inflicted.