AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Sunderland
Remember the days when David Moyes was considered one of the hottest up-and-coming managers in the Premier League? Sadly, the Scotsman never really managed to live up the hype after floundering at Manchester United and Real Sociedad. Now, his time at Sunderland has begun with a nightmare start as the Black Cats went into Saturday’s fixture without a single league win to their names. Could they do the impossible and pick up all three points against Bournemouth?
Just 11 minutes into the match, the Cherries found pay dirt. First, Harry Arter forced Jordan Pickford into an acrobatic save to deny his powerful drive. The ensuing corner was never really cleared by Sunderland and Dan Gosling was waiting on the edge of the six-yard-box to tap home Adam Smith’s cross. David Moyes’ nightmare continued.
It was always going to take a moment of magic to spark some life into Sunderland, and in the 33rd minute they got exactly that. Victor Anichebe received the ball in the penalty area with his back to goal, muscled his way past Simon Francis, and then absolutely belted his close-range effort into the roof of the net. Could Sunderland find another?
Any momentum that Anichebe’s goal gave Moyes’ squad was surely zapped just before the hour mark. A clumsy challenge from former Everton great Steven Pienaar, who had already been booked, earned the South African a second yellow card. Now, Sunderland would have to somehow find a winning goal with just 10 men on the pitch.
Bournemouth almost took immediate advantage of Pienaar’s sending off through Junior Stanislas three minutes later. The 26-year-old had a one-on-one chance against Pickford on the left-hand side of the six-yard-box. His shot beat the young keeper, but clanged off the woodwork and out of danger.
Almost completely out of nowhere, Sunderland found themselves with a golden chance to take the lead in the 73rd minute. Their only piece of attacking play since the sending off came to an end when Anichebe was brought down rashly by Smith in the penalty area. The ageless Jermaine Defoe stepped up and sent Boruc the wrong way to give Sunderland a shock lead.
Defoe’s penalty proved to the be the difference as Sunderland held on for their first victory of the season. Despite the three points, Moyes’ men still find themselves dead last in the table.
Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Sunderland, Manchester City have been on fire as of late. After a slight panic following a six-match winless run, Pep Guardiola’s side navigated their way to two straight wins, including a historic 3-1 result over Barcelona at the Etihad midweek. Now, the Sky Blues faced a visit from Middlesbrough side that were just fighting to get a mid-table position.
City, as expected, started the match on the front foot and it looked like just a matter of time before they found a way past Manchester United/Barcelona legend Víctor Valdés. Kevin De Bruyne came within inches of beating the Spaniard after the half hour mark, but his low shot dragged just wide of the far post.
Valdés looked set for a Tom Heaton-esque performance between the pipes with saves against Sergio Agüero and Jesus Navas, but in the 43rd minute, City found a deserved opening goal. A curled in cross from De Bruyne was perfectly placed for Agüero to tap home from inside the six-yard-box. 1-0 City.
The visitors started the second half with renewed vigor and confidence as they searched for an equalizing goal. Just two minutes in, former City striker Álvaro Negredo nearly caught Claudio Bravo out of position with a half-field chip, but the Chilean got back just in time to tip it over the net. Three minutes after that, Bravo was again called in to action with a strong save to deny Adam Forshaw’s close-range effort.
Just when it looked as if City were going to escape with all three points after a less than stellar second half performance, Boro decided to strike. In the first minute of stoppage time, Marten do Roon made perfect contact with George Friend’s cross to send the ball into the back of the net and to knock City off of the top of the table. The dropped points now see the Cityzens fall all the way to third behind Liverpool (1st) and Chelsea (2nd).
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
The biggest match of the weekend had to be Sunday’s North London Derby. Arsenal and Tottenham went into the fixture separated by just three points. A win for either side had big implications for league standings. For Arsenal, three points could’ve given them sole possession of the league’s top spot, and for Spurs, a win had the potential to push them ahead of their bitter rivals.
Spurs were the more dangerous of the two sides through the opening 30 minutes of the match with Harry Kane twice coming close to opening the scoring. The returning striker just couldn’t find that lethal finishing touch.
In the 39th minute, Theo Walcott looked set to find the back of the net with a venomous strike, but it cannoned off the side of the post, and the rebound was sent over the net by Özil. Three minutes later, the missed chance would be forgotten as Arsenal took the lead. Özil’s cross from a free kick was put into the danger area in front of Hugo Lloris, and all Kevin Wimmer could do is send a glancing header into his own net to put the Gunners ahead.
Tottenham started the second half brightly, and their constant pressure paid off after just six minutes. Mousa Dembélé did a great job of working his way into the penalty area, and a stray foot from Laurent Koscielny gifted Spurs a chance to equalize from 12 yards. Kane stepped up for the spot kick and hit it straight down the middle to register his fifth goal in five games against the Gunners, and to level the score.
Both sides fought for a winning goal, but neither was able to find it. Tottenham came closest in the 85th minute when Christian Eriksen’s set piece delivery drifted through everyone in the penalty area before hitting the woodwork. In the end, neither side could grab all three points, and now Arsenal and Tottenham sit fourth and fifth respectively.