Premier League winners & losers: Rooney strikes Man Utd chord
Premier League: Kieran Beckles looks at the winners and losers this weekend as Wayne Rooney stars for Man Utd
Wayne Rooney: The Manchester United striker is the biggest winner this weekend. The 27-year-old started his first Premier League game under new manager David Moyes after a summer of relentless speculation surrounding the striker’s future. Chelsea manager José Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to bring Wayne Rooney to Stamford Bridge following two failed bids. The Blues boss rammed home his point by leaving his recognised strikers Romelu Lukaku and Fernando Torres on the bench. Despite a disappointing goalless draw, Rooney’s industrious performance drew rapturous applause from the United support. The former Everton man has remained tight-lipped throughout the summer but the Red Devils forward made his biggest statement of the summer on Monday night. For now, Rooney appears more likely to remain with the Premier League champions.
Andros Townsend: The 22-year-old capped a near-perfect week with a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. Townsend was simply scintillating for Queens Park Rangers during a short-term loan last season. Townsend didn’t feature in a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace but seized his chance in the Europa League on Thursdya. With an assist and a goal in Tbilisi, it was no surprise to see André Villas-Boas include the midfielder in his starting XI for Swansea City’s visit to White Hart Lane. The Spurs winger repaid his manager’s faith by winning the decisive penalty to seal three points (Roberto Soldado dispatched his second spot-kick in as many games). With Gareth Bale expected to leave Tottenham this summer, Townsend looks set to make his big breakthrough at the north London side this season.
Manchester City, Joe Hart & Manuel Pellegrini: Arguably the biggest winners from the opening Premier League weekend, Manchester City were brought crashing down at a volatile Cardiff City Stadium. In 2011 and 2012, the Citizens were unbeaten in the top flight until December but Pellegrini was unable to emulate his predecessor Roberto Mancini as the Welsh side were shock 3-2 winners. City had faced a misfiring Newcastle United six days earlier, and aided by Steven Taylor’s sending off, surged to a comfortable 4-0 win at The Etihad. While Cardiff’s leveller following Edin Dzeko’s long-range strike did come from open player, it was set-pieces which led to the visitors’ downfall. In particular, England first-choice Joe Hart came under scrutiny for both of Fraizer Campbell’s headed winners. Welcome to England (or more accurately, Wales), Manuel.
Ben Foster: With Hart struggling for form, West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster had a real chance to put pressure on the City shot stopper ahead of England’s World Cup qualifiers. However, the former United star was dealt a devastating blow at Goodison Park as the 30-year-old suffered a serious foot injury in a goalless draw with Everton. Foster, who came out of international retirement and started against the Republic of Ireland in May, had been in imperious form as he denied the Toffees before limping off in the 78th minute. And Three Lions boss Hodgson couldn’t hide his disappointment on Tuesday, saying, “It’s a great pity as he’s been in extremely good form and he’s our number two goalkeeper but we have to accept it and wish him well.”
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