Photo by Kieran McManus / ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
On the first day of the English Premier League season, Arsenal fans at Emirates Stadium stood and loudly voiced their frustrations with the club following a shocking 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa.
Less than three months later, they were on their feet celebrating a five-point lead in the league table and the Gunners’ third consecutive league win.
While the Arsenal defense held Luis Suarez — the superstar forward who tried to sign this summer — in check, the Arsenal attack — boosted by the play of Mesut Ozil, the superstar midfielder Arsenal signed on deadline day — created a handful of good chances on Simon Mignolet’s goal. Cazorla knocked his own rebound home in the 19th minute for the Gunners, and Ramsey delivered an excellent half-volley from an Ozil pass just before the hour mark to seal the victory. With the 2-o victory against the Reds, Arsenal are now five points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United ahead of their midweek rematch with Dortmund in Champions League play.
AS Roma lost some of their big lead in Italy after their first draw of the season. Kevin Strootman’s 28th-minute goal at Torino seemed to have Roma destined for their 11th straight win, which would have tied a European club record set by the 1960-61 Tottenham Hotspur squad for best start to a season. But the visitors allowed their second goal of the season, an easy 63rd-minute finish for former Roma player Alessio Cerci, in what ended as a 1-1 draw in Turin.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Newcastle United provided the shock of the weekend in the EPL with a 2-0 win over second-place Chelsea at St. James’ Park. The visiting Blues hit woodwork early and dominated possession in the match, but Newcastle rebounded from last week’s derby loss to Sunderland via a second-half charge from Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy. Chelsea, who could have moved into first place with a victory, failed to take advantage of their periods of dominance in the match, and Tim Krul only needed to make two saves to preserve his team’s first clean sheet since August.
After starting Costel Pantilimon over struggling goalkeeper Joe Hart on Saturday, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini brought a lot of attention on himself ahead of his team’s home match against Norwich City. However, Pellegrini’s offense nabbed all the attention at Ethiad Stadium in a 7-0 rout of the Canaries. Pantilimon only faced one shot on goal in the match, while six of his Man City teammates found the back of the net after an early own goal from Bradley Johnson.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Newcastle United 2, Chelsea 0
Manchester United 3, Fulham 1
Hull City 1, Sunderland 0
Manchester City 7, Norwich City 0
Stoke City 1, Southampton 1
West Bromwich Albion 2, Crystal Palace 0
West Ham United 0, Aston Villa 0
Arsenal 2, Liverpool 0
Everton 0, Tottenham Hotspur 0
Cardiff City 1, Swansea City 0
First-place Barcelona opened the weekend with a tight 1-0 victory in their city derby with Espanyol, who continued their disappointing slide down the league table. Barca’s match-winner was a reverse connection of their major second goal against Real Madrid last weekend. In the 68th minute, after long stretches of dominance with no rewards, winger Neymar broke into the box and delivered a pass between two defenders’ legs for an easy Alexis tap-in.
Third-place Real Madrid survived an incredible scare at last-place Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. Los Blancos won 3-2 after brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and a goal from Karim Benzema in the opening 50 minutes, but Rayo roared back to life. The hosts converted two penalties within the span of two minutes and came agonizingly close to an equalizer multiple times in the final half-hour, including a stoppage-time header that just flew wide of Diego Lopez’s post.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Barcelona 1, Espanyol 0
Real Sociedad 5, Osasuna 0
Almeria 1, Real Valladolid 0
Real Madrid 3, Rayo Vallecano 2
Celta Vigo 1, Sevilla 0
Valencia 1, Getafe 0
Atletico Madrid 2, Athletic Bilbao 0
Granada 1, Levante 0
Malaga 3, Real Betis 2
Second-place Borussia Dortmund started the Bundesliga weekend with a bang in their 6-1 home win against Stuttgart on Friday. Stuttgart’s Karim Haggui opened the scoring with a 13th-minute header off a corner kick, but the hosts answered back with six consecutive goals. Striker Robert Lewandowski once again led the way for the Dortmund attack, netting a second-half hat trick to turn what started as a tense match into an easy victory for Dortmund ahead of their home match with EPL-leading Arsenal.
First-place Bayern Munich maintained their league lead Saturday and tied a Bundesliga record for most consecutive matches without defeat. Visiting Hoffenheim grabbed the lead in the 34th minute, but Franck Ribery’s free kick five minutes later was deflected in by Mario Mandzukic. Thomas Muller then gave Bayern all three points with 15 minutes left, and the league leaders extended their unbeaten Bundesliga run to 36 straight matches.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Borussia Dortmund 6, Stuttgart 1
Borussia Monchengladbach 2, Hamburg 0
Schalke 2, Hertha Berlin 0
Freiburg 3, Nurnberg 1
Bayern Munich 2, Hoffenheim 1
Eintracht Braunschweig 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Wolfsburg 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 1
Augsburg 2, Mainz 1
Werder Bremen 3, Hannover 2
Third-place Juventus got ready for their all-important rematch with Real Madrid in Champions League play with a gritty 1-0 road victory at Parma on Saturday. Manager Antonio Conte fielded a strong lineup ahead of the crucial midweek match against Real, but it took Juve 77 minutes to find the breakthrough they needed against a tough Parma outfit. French midfielder Paul Pogba was the difference maker for Juve as he coolly knocked in a rebound off of a Fabio Quagliarella blast that cannoned off the crossbar.
Inter Milan gave Udinese their second straight home defeat Sunday and kept pace with the other contenders in Serie A with a 3-0 victory at the Stadio Friuli. Rodrigo Palacio and Andrea Ranocchia each scored in the space of five minutes to get Inter going, and Ricardo Alvarez put an exclamation point on the win with a second-half stoppage time goal. Inter sit in fourth place in Serie A, tied with newly promoted Hellas Verona in points and trailing Napoli and Juventus by six.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Juventus 1, Parma 0
Fiorentina 2, AC Milan 0
Napoli 2, Catania 1
Livorno 1, Atalanta 0
Hellas Verona 2, Cagliari 1
Genoa 2, Lazio 0
Sassuolo 4, Sampdoria 3
Inter Milan 3, Udinese 0
Torino 1, AS Roma 1
League-leading Paris Saint-Germain dominated Lorient 4-0 to pull ahead in the race for the Ligue 1 title Friday. Even without superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the PSG offense took control from the very beginning with a quick and brilliant volley from Lucas Moura. After Jeremy Menez’s 39th-minute goal, Edinson Cavani followed up with a brace to put pressure on new rivals AS Monaco.
And Monaco failed to answer PSG’s challenge Sunday, falling to Lille 2-0 at the Grand Stade Lille Métropole. Nolan Roux scored in the 27th and 71st minute against Monaco, who controlled possession for most of the match and sent seven shots on goal. But goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and the Lille defense stood strong against Radamel Falcao and the Monaco attack, giving Lille sole control of second place in Ligue 1.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Paris Saint-Germain 4, Lorient 0
Stade Rennes 1, Marseille 1
Valenciennes 3, Ajaccio 1
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Toulouse 1
Lyon 2, Guingamp 0
Sochaux 0, Saint Etienne 0
Stade de Reims 4, Bastia 2
Bordeaux 2, Nice 1
Montpellier 1, Nantes 1
Lille 2, AS Monaco
What do you think of this weekend’s European league action? How long do you think Arsenal can hold onto their lead in the EPL? Surprised with Roma’s draw at Torino? Which other performances from Europe caught your eye this weekend?
Share your thoughts below.