Chelsea extend lead at top of the table, Manchester City pick up victory too
It was business as usual in the English Premier League on Saturday as league-leaders Chelsea consolidated their position and remained undefeated by skipping past West Bromwich Albion 2-0, maintaining their perfect record at home. Third-placed Manchester City, meanwhile, also got the points after a hairy start when visitors Swansea City went ahead.
At Stamford Bridge, which has proved impregnable so far this season, Chelsea bagged the win at a canter. Within half an hour, they were in control. Oscar swept in a cross to Diego Costa. The defense had gone to sleep - a common theme throughout the game - keeping him onside and allowing the Brazilian to saunter through. He chested down the ball and volleyed it past Ben Foster.
Not long thereafter, Eden Hazard was allowed to cut towards a low corner at the near post. He took a characteristically splendid touch, taking the ball past the only man near him, and lashed his shot into the nets. When Claudio Yacob lunged into Diego Costa with a jumping, two-footed tackle at the edge of the box, he was rightly sent off. It was only the 29th minute then. But the game was effectively over.
Chelsea kept picking West Brom apart, even as their opponents sat deeper and deeper. It was just that they didn’t convert the remainder of their chances, a credit, in large part, to Foster, who was outstanding. Neither side could bestir itself to do much about the score for the last hour though. West Brom knew they were overmatched and were quite happy to only go down by a pair of goals. Chelsea, meanwhile, knew they had a big Champions League game coming up at Schalke on Tuesday, so they were satisfied as well.
In Manchester, Swansea City – the surprise fifth-place team going into the weekend – put a scare into the Citizens early on. Nathan Dyer’s wondrous pass with the outside of his boot found Wilfried Bony in the box, who cleanly slid his finish home – emphasizing why the Swans had been so relieved to sign him to a contract extension this week.
Before the half though, Jesus Navas helped to put City on the board. His low, laser-guided cross from wide and deep was so sharp that all Stevan Jovetic had to do was tap it past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. Then, in the second half, Yaya Toure, who hasn’t been as influential yet this year as he had been last season, burst into the box and latched onto the back-heel pass from Fernandinho and hit home the winner. City held on in a tight finale.
Over in Liverpool, Everton went ahead against fourth-placed West Ham when Ross Barkley’s shot from outside the box was blocked and deflected by a defender, bouncing to Romelu Lukaku and keeping him onside. The Belgian knew just what to do with such an opportunity and smacked the ball home. Before half-time, James McCarthy was lucky to avoid a red card for a savage challenge on Morgan Amalfitano. But he stayed on, and Everton would prevail.
It wasn’t straightforward. Mauro Zarate made a mazy run towards the Everton box early in the second half and his finish took a deflection, looping over the helpless Tim Howard to equalize. But later, Lukaku scampered off on a break-away. He was sent flying by a defender but Samuel Eto’o picked the ball up and squared it for Leon Osman to slot home the winner.
Young England U-21 striker Danny Ings put plucky Burnley ahead with two quick poacher’s efforts, tapping in from close range. A Bojan cross enabled Stoke’s 2-1, getting them back into the game, as Jonathan Walters converted on the diving header. That’s how it remained for the remaining hour, moving Burnley out of last place.
After going winless in their first seven games of the season, Newcastle’s improbable resurgence went on as they bested Queens Park Rangers 1-0. Deep in the second half, Moussa Sissoko struck to cap a lovely Magpies move. That’s five wins in a row now for Newcastle, who moved into four place - pending other results.
Finally, Leicester and Sunderland played to scoreless and pretty much unwatchable draw. Save for a long Adam Johnson shot that was pushed wide by Kasper Schmeichel, there really wasn’t anything to report.