Thomas Stelzer is back for another edition of EPL Stoppage Time: a light-hearted look at the weekend that was in the crazy world of English football.
After an opening weekend in which football took a surprising backseat to discussions on the finer details of FIFA’s injury guidelines, the Premier League returned on Friday night (yes, you read that right).
Due to a planned English Defence League march at Walsall the following day, Aston Villa’s home fixture against Manchester United was moved forward, a decision officials claimed was a result of the extra policing personnel required.
It seems just as likely organisers were worried such an event would impact on the match day attendance figures, as years as an Aston Villa fan could push even the most open-minded and tolerant individual towards England’s most prominent anti-Muslim organisation. Man Utd huffed to another 1-0 win, this time courtesy of a deflected Adnan Januzaj shot, edging them ever closer to their first legitimate goal of the season.
At St Mary’s, Romelu Lukaku was in scintillating form, striking early with a thunderous drive. Thankfully the spectator recovered and earned the Belgian’s training shirt for her troubles. He continued to impress once the match actually kicked off, scoring two and securing a vital win for an Everton side low on confidence and support.
A number of Toffees took it upon themselves to continue the Premier League’s embarrassing obsession with aviatic messages, flying a pre-game banner that read ‘Kenwright & Co #timetogo’, over the perceived financial mismanagement by Everton’s chairman Bill Kenwright, as his side took apart the poster boys of good finances, Southampton. The season’s most ill-judged moment since Dick Advocaat’s decision to not retire as Sunderland manager.
Following a week of medical drama to put ER to shame, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho deftly distracted media and fans alike from the ongoing #medicgate by masterminding a 3-0 away defeat to moneybag rivals Manchester City. The champions were lucky not to be three or four down by half-time, thanks to a brilliant display from reserve ‘keeper Asmir Begovic and a misfiring Sergio Aguero, who should have given City the lead within the opening minute.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and the team’s worrying lack of form, the Chelsea official website found the scoreline did not reflect the performance. No doubt influenced by alarmingly rose-tinted match reports of the North Korean FA, the London club’s match report claimed it was ‘a game of very fine margins’ and a ‘final scoreline which did not accurately reflect the bigger picture’. A level of delusion you would normally find in a Liverpool forum.
Speaking of the Reds, Monday night saw Liverpool take their rivalry with Man Utd to new heights, as they sought to outdo their North-West neighbours in the ongoing battle over who could pull off the most unconvincing 1-0 victory. After last week’s stalemate, Liverpool looked to have taken the upper hand, as they only managed to break down an impressive Bournemouth thanks to a couple of questionable refereeing decisions.
Philippe Coutinho was offside when he clearly made an attempt at the ball before Christian Benteke stabbed home. It was the first evidence that footballing officials had perhaps achieved what many thought impossible – so complicating the offside rule that even referees don’t understand it.
Tommy Elphick’s first-half header was ruled out for the newcomers, after referee Craig Pawson found him guilty of a shoulder massage on Reds defender Dejan Lovren.
Speaking of the Croatian, it looks like the Lovren Experiment will continue this coming weekend against Arsenal, where it will be quite a tall order to keep another clean sheet with the former Southampton man on the pitch. Then again though, it is Arsenal…