"I hope a long way better is to come. I would like to think it would improve an awful lot.”
Normal service resumed after the break from Premier League football with the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Chelsea started the weekend with a lunchtime win at Hull.
This followed later on by a revenge win for Manchester United against Swansea who had dumped United out of the FA Cup the week before.
Away wins for Manchester City and Liverpool meant that the pressure was on Arsenal to keep up on their Monday night away game at Aston Villa.
Hull City 0 Chelsea 2 – 12.45pm KO, Saturday
A strike by Eden Hazard followed by a collector’s item goal for Fernando Torres sealed the points for Chelsea and sent them to the top of the league for 24 hours.
A plucky Hull did well to limit Chelsea and deserved to go in level at the break. Eleven minutes into the 2nd half, a well worked team move found Hazard with a goal scoring opportunity and he made no mistake.
The floodgates didn’t open though. The KC Stadium had only seen Hull concede 6 goals before Chelsea’s visit. Although Hull forced Chelsea’s Petr ?ech into making a couple of good saves, they couldn’t find a way through.
Torres then scored with 3 minutes remaining to take 3 points back to Stamford Bridge in readiness for Manchester United’s visit next week.
This match saw ?ech beat Peter Bonetti’s Chelsea club record with his 209th clean sheet.
Manchester United 2 Swansea 0 – 3pm KO, Saturday
Revenge was due for Manchester United after Swansea ended United’s FA cup run before it even began last week.
Young Adnan Januzaj was the star of the show as his performance inspired United to a win. The visitors, although not as effective as the cup tie, managed to keep Manchester United away until half time.
Antonio Valencia struck only 2 minutes into the 2nd half after good work by Janujaz ended with Valencia scoring from a Shinji Kagawa header. Danny Welbeck continued his recent good run by doubling United’s lead just before the hour mark. Janujaz was involved again with a cross that wasn’t cleared, leading to Welbeck nabbing his 9th goal of the season.
A relieved David Moyes said post-match: “I hope a long way better is to come. I would like to think it would improve an awful lot.”
Newcastle United 0 Manchester City 2 – 2.05pm KO, Sunday
Manchester City have well and truly gotten rid of their away form that let them down on so many occasions in the first half of the season.
A convincing, albeit somewhat controversial away win at Newcastle helped the blue half of Manchester maintain pressure on Arsenal at the summit of the league.
City’s bright start was rewarded with an 8th minute goal by an Edin Džeko strike from an Aleksandar Kolarov cross. Controversy followed when a long range effort by Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote was disallowed. Tiote’s teammate Yoan Gouffran was adjudged offside when Tiote struck.
That could have swung the momentum, but despite Newcastle’s efforts, they were in vain. Álvaro Negredo secured the points for City in the last minute, leaving Newcastle feeling robbed of what might have been had the goal stood.
A jubilant Manchester City fan said on the supporters Facebook page: “A huge win – Džeko played so well.”
Stoke City 2 Liverpool 5 – 4.05pm KO, Sunday
Liverpool’s SAS partnership returned after Daniel Sturridge’s long awaited comeback from injury. Stoke’s Britannia Stadium has never been an easy ground for Liverpool to visit and they were reminded of that after letting a 2 goal lead slip.
Starting well, Liverpool burst into action and took the lead in the 5th minute from an own goal by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. Luis Suárez then continued his excellent form by grabbing a goal after perseverance caused a mix up between in the Stoke defence.
Liverpool paid the price for resting on a 2-0 lead as Stoke clawed their way back with goals from former Liverpool players Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam. Entering the break at two apiece, the home side were buoyant following their quick comeback.
Only 6 minutes into the 2nd half, Raheem Sterling won a lucky penalty that Skipper Steven Gerrard slotted home to restore Liverpool’s lead. Suárez struck once again after some neat footwork by substitute Sturridge allowed him to curl the ball home to make it 4-2. One more scare for Liverpool came with 5 minutes remaining as Jonathan Walters pulled a goal back to make it a tense finish.
Sturridge was having none of it as he got in on the act and marked his comeback with a goal after some neat skill that outwitted the Stoke rear-guard. A delighted Jordan Henderson said of his SAS team mates:
“When Daniel came on and linked up with Luis it was like he had never been away.”
Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 – 8pm KO, Monday
Arsenal were the last team of the leading quartet to play this weekend and the pressure was on following wins for the chasing pack.
Arsenal dominated proceedings straight from kick off and got a deserved goal in the 34th minute as Jack Wilshere finished a neat team move started by Mesut Özil. Not even a minute had passed before Olivier Giroud made it two, with Wilshere setting up the goal.
Villa were never at the races until a Christian Benteke goal sparked them into life in the 76th minute. It was too late to mount any momentum and the Villans will rue a potentially missed opportunity had they got their act together sooner.
The win saw Arsenal reclaim the top spot that they have become accustomed to this season, albeit with Manchester City only a point behind.
An overjoyed Arsenal fan tweeted: “Wilshere goal and assist in less than 60 seconds. Amazing.”
Elsewhere, Everton maintained their good home form with a 2-0 win against Norwich. Shahid Khan’s Fulham lost 4-1 at home at the hands of Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at home to stay in touch with the pack.