The new (old) United?

The big one between #ManchesterUnited and #Chelsea didn’t disappoint at all as title favorites (and the best team in the #EPL) Chelsea led for much of the game only to be pulled back in the 90+4th minute via a #RobinVanPersie goal after a dream scoring return for Chelsea’s hero – #DidierDrogba. The 1-1 scoreline, while many will argue was a fair outcome for the game, the reality is that for all of Chelsea’s brilliant organization and bullet-proof defense, this was the best United performance in 18 months and for much of the game, going forward, they were delightful to watch – almost Fergie-esque in their attitude and their confidence. In many ways, I think we’re starting to see the new United that #LVG has been talking about but the goal in the 94th minute reminded you of the old United, the one under #SAF that was never out of the game until the fat lady finally sang. For Chelsea, the positives from the start of the season still exist – superb in defense, the best keeper in the league in #Courtois (his saves against RVP were fantastic just as close 2nd #DeGea’s against #Hazard) and brilliantly creative going forward and a faltering 2nd horse in #City. This is still a 1 horse race but the race for the top 4 is going to involve this growing United side one feels. And with the likes of #Falcao #Rooney expected to come back next week, things should look better and they will likely not get blown away at the #Etihad next week.

Things are also looking up for #Pardew and his #Newcastle side as they felled #Tottenham 2-1 away from home and #Everton continue their recovery and climb up the ladder into 9th after a 3-1 win against relegation-headed #Burnley.

The 2 big ‘classicos’ of this weekend did not disappoint!

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The REAL deal!

When some of the best players on the planet are on show on the same pitch, you get a very very special game and the #ElClassico did not disappoint! #LuisSuarez made his debut for #Barcelona and even though he put in a good performance it lacked the bite it needed to beat the reigning Kings of Europe as an absolutely fantastic #RealMadrid side, even without the injured #GarethBale, came from behind after an early #Neymar goal to slot 3 past the Catalans via #CristianoRonaldo #Pepe and #Benzema for a much deserved 3-1 win. The table now looks like a more familiar 1-2 Barca Real with just 1 point separating the two.

There is no doubt that Barca will only get better as Suarez settles in but as of now, there isn’t a team in Europe that plays at the level that Real Madrid do.

Over in the #EPL, the upset of the day came from the plucky Hammers as #WestHam beat #ManCity 2-1 while yet another #Southampton win (at some point we are just going to have to consider them genuine top 4 contenders) means they end the day 2nd in the table, behind #Chelsea who travel to #ManchesterUnited tomorrow – as favorites (when was the last time that happened?) to take all 3 points and cement their position at the top of the table. If City can’t fix their away form, this title race might just be a one-horse race for #Mourinho and his boys. #Arsenal got to another lucky win, a 2-0 away to poor #Sunderland, thanks in part to a #Sanchez double but largely due to rubbish mistakes by the #BlackCats. #Liverpool on the other hand played out another disappointing game as they drew blanks in a 0-0 at #Anfield against #Hull.

Who cares though, because the El Classico made everything else seem irrelevant!

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Mind the gap!

The galacticos of #RealMadrid came to #Anfield and showed #Liverpool just how much of a gap in class, quality and finish there is between the pretenders from the #EPL and the reigning kings of Europe. #Cristiano and gang were fantastic as they put 3 past a hapless Liverpool side that is just plain lucky that the other two teams in Group B are #Ludogarets and #Basel, which keeps their hopes alive to progress.

In Group A, last year’s finalist #AtleticoMadrid smashed 5 unanswered goals past #Malmo, while the upset of the day came via a 1-0 win for #Olympiakos over Italian Champions #Juventus in Greece. There is a widening gap between teams from the EPL, Bundesliga and the #LaLiga vs the #SerieA and something needs to be done structurally by the Italians to start correcting this before it’s far too late.

In Group D, #Arsenal pulled off one of the most unexpected, lucky and entirely undeserved escapes in Belgium as they scored 2 last minute goals to win 2-1 at #Anderlecht in a game when they were woeful for most of it and had it not been for the naive profligate finishing by the Belgians, this game would have been over for the Gunners a long time before that come-back. It sounds negative to say this after a dramatic away win like this, but this Arsenal side has gone backwards since last season in so many ways. It must be massively frustrating to be a true Gooner.  #Dortmund continued their incredible #ChampionsLeague form (just not sure what happens to the same team in the #Bundesliga) with a thumping 4-0 win away in Istanbul as #Galatasaray continue to lose everything they can under new coach #Prandelli. #MarcoReus scored an absolute peach of a goal to announce his return to form – a very good and needed sign for #BVB.

And finally, in Group C, #Leverkusen completed a great couple of days for German teams with a 2-0 win over #Zenit to take them top of the group with #Monaco following close behind after they were held 0-0 by #Benfica in the principality.

 

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Roman Holiday?

It was supposed to be the toughest game of Group E, nay, the day, as #Bayern traveled to an in-form #Roma team that has been difficult to play against, especially in Rome, in the #ChampionsLeague group stage. In a matter of 17 unbelievable minutes (at minute 35), the giants from Bavaria had put 5 unanswered goals past the increasingly hapless Romans, eventually finishing 7-1 winners, a result that #ManchesterCity (you know, that EPL giant that just can’t fire in the CL for some reason) were oh-so-happy to witness after they had squandered a 2 goal lead in Moscow to tie 2-2 against #CSKA thus keeping them alive in the group with Roma now just 2 points clear of them. Bayern were brilliant in attack but my man of the match would still have to be the rock that is #ManuelNeuer, who’s 3 saves at fairly critical times of the game were a sight to behold.

Over in Group F, #Barcelona continued their winning ways with a 3-1 home win over #Ajax, while an #EdinsonCavani goal for #PSG kept them 1 point clear at the top of the Catalans.

Group G delivered the most goals of the day with a fascinating 7-goal game between new coach #DiMatteo and his #Schalke squad that won in the last minute 4-3 against a battling #Sporting side, while over at #StamfordBridge the confidence just continues to grow after a 6-0 mauling of lowly #Maribor without the likes of #Costa or #Fabregas on the scoresheet – an ominous sign for their CL and #EPL rivals.

And finally in Group H, both #Shakhtar – 7-0 winners over #BATE and #Porto – 2-1 winners over an increasingly distraught #AthleticBilbao look like they 2 going through this group.

What can #Liverpool do when the goal-scoring machine #CristianoRonaldo and his #Real men visit #Anfield tomorrow?

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Defense? What defense!

The #EPL is undoubtably the most fun and most interesting league to watch in European Football – in part because of the exciting attack-minded teams, in part because even the lowest on the table can beat the top 4 on any given day and in large part because most teams, with the exception of perhaps #Chelsea and #City have terrible defenses, none more so than #ManchesterUnited, who were again undone by a combination of great attack – both goals by #WestBrom, the first by #Sessegnon and the second by the super-impressive #Berahino (at this rate he should replace #Rooney in the #England side) were beautifully taken but also beautifully ‘given’ so to speak, by very poor United defending. The upside though, were debut goals in reply by the much maligned #Fellaini, who came on for a disappointing #Herrera and the incredibly hardworking #DaleyBlind, which rescued an away point for United as the game finished 2-2. For United and #LVG there is still a ton of work to be done before they can genuinely compete for the top 4 and with Chelsea, City and #Arsenal coming up, things will look bad before it gets better but for the neutral, this was a game that was absolutely delightful to watch!

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Goal-a-palooza!

The return from the much maligned International Break was infested with goals, goals and more goals as #ManchesterCity have started getting their title defense revved up as they beat #Tottenham 4-1 at the #Etihad thanks to 4 outstanding #SergioAguero goals. When he is fit and in form, there are few strikers more lethal. #Everton finally got a win with an impressive 3-0 home win over struggling #AstonVilla ; #Arsenal continue to show why they will not compete for the title (and possibly struggle to make their customary 4th place finish) as they needed a last second #Welbeck goal to draw 2-2 at home to #HullCity. Watching #Wenger get all wound up about a simple question in the post match interview, shows just how frayed he’s getting at the helm there. #Chelsea showed 2 important things in today’s battling 2-1 win away at #CrystalPalace – that they are showing the fight needed to go the distance in a title race even when playing with 10 men after the red to #Azpilicueta and 2, that injuries to #Costa (hamstring) and someone like a #Fabregas (so far, so good) will give City the chance to catch up. #Westham got a good 3-1 away win at #Burnley and poor #AlanPardew got a slight reprieve as #Newcastle finally got a first win in 8 as an #Obertan beauty gave them a slender 1-0 home win against #Leicester.

But the goal-fest of the day came from the unexpected stars of the #EPL thus far, #Southampton who’s impressive start to the season was further buoyed by an 8-0 thrashing of #Sunderland at home with more goals from the impressive Italian import #GrazianoPelle and a host of others, including the worst own-goal scored in a while, keeping #Koeman’s team in 3rd place behind Chelsea and City at the top!

Over in the #Bundesliga, #Bayern continue to run away with the title (yawn, yet again) with a 6-0 thrashing of #WerderBremen at the Allianz Arena, while #Dortmund continue to run away from the top half of the table with yet another loss, this time a 2-1 defeat at #FCCologne #Effzeh. while in the #LaLiga the goals just keep coming hard and fast for both #RealMadrid as they thrashed #Levante 5-0 away with 2 more from the unbelievable goal-machine that is #CristianoRonaldo and #Barcelona hit 3 past a battling #Eibar at the #CampNou.

In the #SerieA #Roma stayed in touching distance of leaders #Juventus with a 3-0 thrashing of #Chievo while Juve currently in a 1-1 draw away at #Sassuolo, making it a 1-point difference at the top, unless they can score a winner in the next 30 minutes.

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The Hat-trick factory!

Another game, anther hat-trick for #CristianoRonaldo as #RealMadrid put 5 unanswered goals past a hapless #AthleticBilbao in a game that the #LosBlancos played at a pace that few teams in the world could have survived. When on song, it’s an absolute joy to watch the speed and clinical finish these Galacticos bring! Ronaldo’s hunger for goals is astonishing and he combined it with assists as well. This side is going to be right up there in their campaign to defend their #Decima and will give #Barcelona a right run for their money in the La Liga title race.

Over in the #SerieA, #InterMilan’s worrying form continued as they were thrashed by #Fiorentina 3-0, while #Napoli battled back from a goal down to beat #Torino 2-1 in Naples. The gap between the top 2 and the rest in Italy is just too wide right now. But that could easily be said about the #EPL and the #LaLiga as well.

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Wenger off the rails; DeGea off the charts!

In a heated (both of the pitch and on it) derby, #Chelsea and #Mourinho underlined just how far superior they are to #Arsenal and #Wenger respectively as they beat them, yet again (that’s 13-0 for Jose over poor’ol Arsene) with goals from the brilliant #EdenHazard and the new #EPL goal-machine #DiegoCosta. The highlight of the game, however, was the altercation between the two Managers, when Wenger shoved Mourinho as he grew increasingly frustrated at the game and I suspect, the sheer dominance that Jose has exerted over him all along. Truth is, no one aside from the blind Arsenal faithful expected the Gunners to get a result from this game – Chelsea are in a different league from them. It must hurt. Especially when the man who tormented them so much was one #CescFabregas. Ouch!

The delicate recovery process at #ManchesterUnited took another nervy step ahead, as they beat #Everton 2-1 at #OldTrafford with a goal from the amazing #DiMaria (his fee looks entirely worth it) and #RadamelFalcao’s debut goal. But the real star of the show was the incredible #DeGea who pulled off some of the most fantastic saves (a penalty, a snap-shot, a strike into the top left corner) preserving United’s 3 points and with it the ascent into the top 4 of the table. There is still a lot of work to be done at the back for #LVG but they are making slow progress it would seem.

#Spurs were able to get their first win in 5 and put one past on form #Southampton thanks to a #ChristianEriksen strike pushing them into 6th on the table with Arsenal and #Liverpool at 8th and 9th. This is going to be a long hard season for all the pretenders to the 3rd and 4th spot!

Over in the #SerieA, title favorites #Juventus and #Roma played out a blinder of a game with the Turin side winning 3-2 thanks to a last minute #Bonucci goal after penalties and red cards dominated the highlights reel. And in the #Championship, a last minute goal for #Forest against #Ipswich keeps them in touching distance of the top of the table and eventual promotion!

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Saved by the Midfield Men!

#YayaToure can be a frustrating player to watch – at times he seems uninterested in the game, ambles around like a big slow tank and pouts as his influence wanes – but at other times he’s the general, bossing and swatting opponents around like annoying flies and galloping towards opposition either rolling the ball into the goal or thumping it like only he can. Today he was both, as a frustrating 3rd of the game ended with a game winning goal by him as #ManchesterCity beat a dogged #AstonVilla 2-0 at Villa Park. If you have to watch one team all season, the fabulous, silky, breathtaking #DavidSilva should be reason you watch City. He is the best player in the #EPL. (a big claim when you have the likes of #DiMaria #Fabregas #Hazard et al lying their trade in the league)

#Liverpool had #Henderson to thank as his goal in the 61st minute gave the struggling Reds a much needed 2-1 win over #WestBrom. It’s quite amazing how far this side have fallen since last season’s heroics and the loss of Mc’bitey #Suarez and an early exit from the #ChampionsLeague and a drop out of the top 4 all seem very likely, unless #Rodgers can get the gears clicking away again.

#Swansea and #Newcastle played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with 2 #Cisse comeback goals seeming to have extended the #Pardew drama and misery for another week.

Over in the #Bundesliga mighty #Bayern pull even further ahead of the pack after a resounding 4-0 win over #Hannover just as #Dortmund continue their shocking domestic form as they get beaten 0-1 at home by #Hamburg. It’s almost impossible to explain their superb CL form juxtaposed with their rubbish Bundesliga performances. They have company though, as #AtleticoMadrid drop another 3 points over in the #LaLiga in a 3-1 loss at high-flying #Valencia, while #Barcelona continue their superb start to this season with yet another win, this time a 2-0 away at #RayoVallecano with goals (as usual) from  #Messi and #Neymar. And they still have the goal-scoring machine in Luis Suarez to join them once his biting ban is complete. It will take some effort to beat them to the title!

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Welbeck’s dream night!

Finally #DannyWelbeck had a great day on the pitch as a striker – he’s hardworking, fast, tracks back and defends and can hold the ball up well. But he’s just not a finisher – the one primary trait your leading striker needs to have (#Suarez #Costa #Falcao #RVP #Benzema et al would agree). But tonight was different for young Danny. He not only played well but scored a lovely hat-trick at the #Emirates against an extremely poor #Galatasaray – the rest of the defenses he faces won’t be as slow and as gracious as the Turks were today. For now though, #Arsenal can revel in their 4-1 demolition job with both their flashy new signings of the summer getting on the scoresheet. #Dortmund continue their Jekyl and Hyde performances after a superb 3-0 win away at #Anderlecht taking them clear at the top of Group D with 6 points. Unfortunately, they seem to follow up their CL brilliance with equally silly #Bundesliga losses.

#Liverpool on the other hand, just can’t seem to win a game this season, as their poor form took them to a 0-1 defeat away at #Basel. #Balotelli is turning out to be a rather poor purchase because the silliness isn’t being accompanied by any brilliance (or goals)! #CristianoRonaldo and #RealMadrid continue their incredible #ChampionsLeague form with a 2-1 come from behind win against #Ludogorets, with goals from CR7 and #Benzema.

#AtleticoMadrid were able to eke out a close 1-0 win at home against the excellent visitors from Turin but will find it very hard when they have to visit #Juventus at home. Group A now has all 4 teams on 3 points after #Malmo beat #Olympiakos 2-0.

Group C got a whole lot more interesting after #Leverkusen beat #Benfica 3-1 while #Zenit and #Monaco played out a 0-0 draw in St. Petersburg.

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