Stoke City 2-0 Manchester City
This weekend’s Premier League action started off with Manchester City’s Trip the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City. The Cityzens, despite some shaky form in the last couple of weeks, went into Saturday’s fixture atop the table, but were still without the services of their captain, Vincent Kompany. The Belgian’s imposing presence has been sorely missed for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, but the club has plenty of star power to fill the void on paper. Mark Hughes’ side, on the other hand, sat firmly in mid-table. The former City boss has been in the middle of a dramatic reshaping of Stoke this season as the club have brought in the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay to inject some creativity into the squad. Could this new look Stoke upset the league leaders?
It took less than ten minutes for Stoke City to find the opening goal of the match. Shaqiri created the chance with a wonderful piece of skill on the right wing to beat Fernando and Aleksander Kolarov before finding Marco Arnautovic for an easy tap in. The two former Inter Milan players were just getting started and they would continue to torment the City backline for the remainder of the match. In the 15th minute, Shaqiri set up yet another goal after a skillful turn in midfield allowed him to play an inch-perfect through ball to Arnautovic sprinting into the 18-yard box. The striker made no mistake with his first time finish as he slotted past Joe Hart to double Stoke’s early lead. City’s only chance of the half came in the 41st minute when Kolarov rattled the woodwork with a close range effort.
Just before the end of the half, Shaqiri found Arnautovic yet again with a perfectly timed through ball. This time, however, the 26-year-old was unable to find the back of the net as his shot evaded Hart, but cannoned back off the post. Arnautovic continued to push for a much-deserved hat trick in the second half but his efforts continued to fall just short. Pellegrini’s men looked like a shadow of themselves for the majority of the second 45 minutes, and Stoke City walked away with all three points. The defeat drops City down to third in the table, while Stoke now find themselves two spots higher in tenth.
Chelsea 0-1 AFC Bournemouth
Is this how other fans looked at Manchester United when David Moyes was in charge? The comedy of errors that is Chelsea’s season took another turn for the worst this weekend as José Mourinho’s side limped to a shocking defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. Even with the horrendous form that the Blues had shown in the league leading up to this match, fans would’ve felt some sense of confidence hosting a relegation-threatened Bournemouth side at Stamford Bridge. The Cherries had other plans, however, and dealt the Blues what looks to be a fatal blow.
From the start, it was obvious that Bournemouth were not intimidated by the star power of their opponents. In the first 15 minutes, Junior Stanislas and Joshua King both forced a returning Thibault Courtois into difficult saves. Chelsea’s first real chance of the match didn’t come until the 35th minute when Eden Hazard, who has struggled for form this season, stung the hands of Artur Boruc with a powerful shot from the edge of the area. Pedro forced Boruc into another fine save minutes later with a curled effort, but the Bournemouth keeper parried it away for a corner. Chelsea’s late offensive push nearly paid off in the 43rd minute, but Oscar’s close-range effort couldn’t find a way past Boruc.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, the teams emerged for the second half. The opening stages of the second half saw a reinvigorated Chelsea side dominate play. A masked Nemanja Matic came inches away from the opening goal ten minuets into the half, but his header flew over a wide open net. Despite their vastly improved play in the second half, Mourinho’s side still couldn’t find a much-needed goal as Boruc continued to stonewall the Blues. The Cherries first chance of the second half came in the 82nd. Havoc in the penalty area saw a deflected shot fall into the path of substitute Glenn Murray, who may have been offsides, and the former Crystal Palace striker nodded home to give his side the lead. Murray’s goal was all Bournemouth needed to steal all three points as Chelsea fell to their eighth defeat of the season. How much longer can Mourinho survive at the Bridge?
Newcastle United 2-0 Liverpool
After thumping Southampton 6-1 in the Capital One Cup, it looked like the Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool were set for an exciting charge up the table. The Reds were sitting sixth in the league going into Sunday’s fixture and sat just two points below Tottenham for fifth. A trip to St. James’ Park gave Klopp’s side the chance to march up the table, but Steve McClaren’s side stood in the way. The Magpies had lost their last two matches before Liverpool’s visit, and sat on the edge of the relegation zone. The hosts would need a magical performance to top Liverpool, and that’s exactly what they delivered.
An uneventful first half saw both clubs go 45 minutes without registering a single shot on target. Liverpool came close in the 21st minute, but Christian Benteke’s close range effort flew just over the bar. The Magpies had a glorious chance of their own ten minutes later, but Papiss Cissé’s shot also failed to hit the target as it slid past the face of goal. A less than thrilling opening period made some fans question whether they would see a goal at all this match.
The long-awaited opening goal finally came in the 70th minute. It was a Liverpool player that had the final touch across the line, but it was Newcastle that jumped into the lead. Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum controlled a long ball in the penalty area, and smashed an effort goalwards. Martin Skrtel tried to put in a block, but his deflection sent the ball flying past Simon Mignolet and into his own net. It looked like the Reds found an equalizer in the 79th minute when Alberto Moreno hit a lovely volley over Robert Elliot, but the Spaniard was wrongly ruled offsides. Wijnaldum delivered the dagger in stoppage time with a cheeky first time dink over Mignolet to seal three points for the hosts. Klopp’s crew have now dropped to seventh behind West Ham United, but Newcastle still sit in 18th behind Bournemouth on goal differential.