Heroes and Villains: Lethal Lukaku’s softer side, Alderweireld error
The Premier League never disappoints, and matchweek two was no different, bringing surprise scorelines and plenty of protagonists and fiends flung into the spotlight by another series of thrilling fixtures.
Who were the heroes and villains this time out? Read on to find out who covered themselves in glory, and who will be waiting anxiously for today’s tabloids to become tomorrow’s fish and chip paper…
Repentant and rampant Romelu Lukaku
Everton’s big Belgian bruiser may be a formidable opponent on the pitch, but proved he’s a class act off it, as he raced into the stands during the pre-match warm-up at St Mary’s after accidentally blasting the ball into a Southampton fan.
The apologetic Toffees target man gave the shaken lady a hug to much applause from the opposition support, but soon became a menace again after kick-off. The young striker’s brilliant brace, a powerful bullet header and a cool second strike, helped his side to emphatically sink the Saints.
See Lukaku make amends here:
Graceful winner Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City’s fine demolition of Chelsea, where the slick hosts sliced through the Blues’ backline with ease, was something to behold.
With doubts over his leadership after surrendering the title to Jose Mourinho last term, this win against the champions was something Pellegrini needed early on to prove his credentials.
All the more satisfying then, that it dented old foe Mourinho’s chances of retaining, though the Chilean coach was modest in triumph, despite the ‘Special One’s’ mutterings about a “fake” result.
Pellegrini’s post-match interview:
Pardew and Palace’s forward thinking
Crystal Palace (9/1 with Coral for a top 10 finish), lining up with all of Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon, Connor Wickham and Wilfried Zaha in their starting XI just promised they would go toe-to-toe with Arsenal, and that they did.
Alan Pardew has the Eagles playing some exciting football again this season, and his team did not look intimidated by the Gunners, keeping their own gung-ho style and narrowly missing out to a 2-1 defeat, with new boy Wickham’s vicious strike thudding against the post.
Fortunate Francis Coquelin
Perhaps more Lee Mason here than young Gunner Coquelin, as the referee may soon find himself in an advert for Specsavers after he allowed the defensive midfielder, already on a yellow card, to commit persistent fouling without further punishment.
Palace can rightly feel aggrieved that Arsenal were not reduced to 10 men at half-time in particular, with Pardew later speaking to Mason in the tunnel: “I said that’s his last chance, he can’t afford too many other challenges, and he did one. Mason didn’t make the call, though.”
Should Coquelin have seen red?
Deja vu for Sunderland’s shaky defence
Another season, and more unsustainable results for Sunderland (2/1 to finish bottom). The Black Cats were supposed to have a fresh start with cult hero Dick Advocaat at the helm, but it was a case of same old, same old, as the Mackems allowed newly-promoted Norwich City to run riot.
A disorganised rearguard, not shielded sufficiently by midfield, was once again the culprit, as the newcomers scored a scrappy first goal, and were allowed free rein after that, with the likes of Younes Kaboul making it all too easy. With Advocaat saying “I cannot go on this way”, all is not rosy at the Stadium of Light.
Questionable Tottenham tactics
While Spurs’ summer transfer window can be widely criticised, so too can their application on the pitch, as Mauricio Pochettino’s men have now picked up just one point from their opening two games.
Losing a two-goal lead at home to Stoke City, who were gifted their a way back into the game, is inexcusable, with marquee signing so far Toby Alderweireld looking far from settled, as he wrestled Joselu down to concede an unnecessary spot-kick.
Pochettino’s decision to substitute hitman Harry Kane, leaving midfielder Nacer Chadli to toil fruitlessly up top, looks questionable, yet reveals Spurs’ shocking lack of striking depth.