Premier League winners and losers: Van Persie, Tottenham and more
Kieran Beckles takes a look back at a weekend of upsets in the top flight
Austin Powers. Queens Park Rangers moved off the foot of the Premier League on Monday night thanks to Charlie Austin. Harry Redknapp’s side had managed six goals from eight Premier League games before the visit of Aston Villa. But the QPR manager gambled on Bobby Zamora’s fitness as the experienced striker partnered Austin up front – and Redknapp was rewarded for his attacking intent. Zamora teed up Austin for his brilliant opener before the former Poole striker guided Eduardo Vargas’s cross past Brad Guzan. With Austin, Vargas and Zamora all finding form in the QPR attack, Redknapp’s side suddenly look capable of producing the number of goals required to haul themselves out of the bottom three.
Sam Allerdici. If only Big Sam was an Allerdici instead of an Allerdyce, he’d be Real Madrid manager by now (or so we’re lead to believe). Joking aside, he has to be an early front-runner for manager of the season. Juggling a board demanding attacking football and supporters who want to be entertained, Allardyce has transformed West Ham United into an impressive attacking unit in the summer months. All his hard work culminated in a 2-1 victory over Manchester City on Saturday. While the Hammers did bully the defending champions, Allardyce’s side also outplayed their cash-rich opponents. Diafra Sakho continued his goal-scoring run, while he is helping Downing to rekindle his Claret and Blue form reminiscent of his Aston Villa days. If the Hammers can continue to claim scalps of the pedigree of City and Liverpool, the east London side could push for European places this season.
Van still the man. The arrivals of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria, coupled with Wayne Rooney being named Manchester United captain, made Robin van Persie a periphery figure at Old Trafford this season. Furthermore, the Netherlands striker’s patchy form even led some, including Jamie Carragher, to hint that the former Arsenal captain could be past his sell-by date. So no wonder Van Persie thoroughly enjoyed his stoppage-time equaliser against Chelsea on Sunday. The 31-year-old had spurned a couple of earlier chances before showing his predatory instincts to rifle a loose ball past Thibaut Courtois. With Falcao and Rooney unavailable for the 1-1 draw, Van Persie looked in his pomp as United’s key man.
Weeping Lilywhites. Tottenham Hotspur have turned a number of corners before taking numerous steps back under new manager Mauricio Pochettino this season. In fact, it felt like their 2-1 loss to Newcastle United mirrored their unpredictable campaign so far. Spurs were in charge against the Magpies after Emmanuel Adebayor broke the deadlock in the first half. But Alan Pardew’s side, who were bottom heading to White Hart Lane, capitalised on slopping defending to recover thanks to goals from Sammy Ameobi and Ayoze Perez. Former United defender Gary Neville branded Tottenham “weak-minded” during his Monday Night Football segment on Sky Sports, and there is no doubt Spurs need to break recent precedent and give Pochettino substantial time to stamp his philosophy on the club.
The defending champions. We’re nine games into the season and City have already failed to win four games. It is hardly title-defending form from Pellegrini’s men. When you look back at the great sides of the Premier League era, various Sir Alex Ferguson outfits and Mourinho’s Chelsea squad come to mind. Why? Because great sides defend their top-flight crowns. The Citizens couldn’t do so in 2012/13, and it looks like they’ll lose out to the Blues this season. Sloppy defending and individual errors point to a City side that are lacking motivation. Ferguson enjoyed such great success because of his ability to keep his players hungry for more, as well as born winners like Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic in the dressing room. Pellegrini needs to boot his City side into gear, with help from his most influential players.
Why always me [or us]? Mario Balotelli, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool must be wondering what they have to do to kick-start their season. The Reds needed to respond from a 3-0 drubbing by Real Madrid mid-week, but Balotelli and co couldn’t break down a well-organised Hull City side. While the Tigers have already held their rivals Arsenal this season, Rodgers would have jotted this game down as a banker ahead of the new season. The Liverpool manager is staying loyal to his striker after continuing to stick with his £16m signing from AC Milan. But Balotelli isn’t getting the break that he so desperately needs, although according to old adage, you earn your luck. Perhaps the 24-year-old isn’t doing enough to be rewarded with a lucky break that could revive his stalling Liverpool career. How the Reds miss Daniel Sturridge!