Offside’s weekend in pictures: two derbies, Diego Costa and more

It was meant to be a weekend built around Saturday’s derby day double-header, as Liverpool hosted Everton and Tottenham Hotspur travelled down the road to face Arsenal in two supposedly decisive and dramatic showdowns.

Yet the best action was to be found beyond the rivalries of Merseyside and North London as Offside’s snappers took up positions all over the country, and across the Premier League.

Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool and Everton fans display flags declaring their opposition to apartheid.
Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool and Everton fans display flags declaring their opposition to apartheid.

Still, Anfield was the scene of the first bout of the weekend as Brendan Rodger’s stumbling title challengers hosted Roberto Martinez’s threatening yet flimsy top four contenders. Straddling the divide was Simon Stacpoole.

The so-called “Friendly Derby” began as anything but, with Everton’s Gareth Barry earning himself a yellow card for a foul on Liverpool’s Adam Lallana after just 45 seconds.

Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool fans hold their scarves aloft as they sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before the match.
Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool fans hold their scarves aloft as they sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before the match.

It was the first bit of action for referee Martin Atkinson. Both sets of fans soon came to wish  he’d remained so reactive with his decision making.

Claims for penalties roared up at either end of the field, first from Everton after Hector Moreno brought down Romelu Lukaku, and then Liverpool after a shot stung the hand of Barry. The former Aston Villa and Manchester City man escaped a second booking, much to the chagrin of the home side.

Simon Stacpoole: Steven Gerrard opens the scoring for Liverpool from a freekick.
Simon Stacpoole: Steven Gerrard opens the scoring for Liverpool from a freekick.

The deadlock was finally broken after half-time, when Steven Gerrard flung in a perfectly measured freekick to hand the Reds a vital advantage on the 65 minute mark. It didn’t last however.

In the closing moments of the match, Phil Jagielka found himself on the outskirts of Simon Mignolet’s box and thwacked a shot into the busy goal area.

A wicked curve saw it arc away from the Belgian and into the top right corner for an unlikely equaliser. Liverpool’s fans and players reacted as if it were a winning goal, rather than a scoreline leveller.

Simon Stacpoole: Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana sum up the derby day stalemate.
Simon Stacpoole: Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana sum up the derby day stalemate.

With the Merseyside derby finished if not won, attention turned to the afternoon kick-offs, which included Southampton’s clash with QPR on the South Coast. Paul Roberts was Offside’s man at St Mary’s.

Paul Roberts: Ryan Bertrand grabs Southampton's opener.
Paul Roberts: Ryan Bertrand grabs Southampton’s opener.

Southampton went into the game in second place and were able to see off Harry Redknapp’s well-moneyed visitors to consolidate their unexpected grip  on the top two.

Ryan Bertrand opened the scoring after 54 minutes, with Charlie Austin cancelling out his effort 12 minutes later, yet the crowds only had to wait another two to witness what would be the deciding strike of the game.

Paul Roberts: Graziano Pelle goes for the spectacular to secure the win for Southampton.
Paul Roberts: Graziano Pelle goes for the spectacular to secure the win for Southampton.
Paul Roberts: The Italian opens his eyes to watch his emphatic effort sail towards the QPR goal.
Paul Roberts: The Italian opens his eyes to watch his emphatic effort sail towards the QPR goal.

Graziano Pelle hasn’t lacked for impact since he made the switch from Feyenoord in the summer. Last season, the Italian scored 26 goals in 33 games, to take his total tally for the Dutch club up to 55 in 66, but few expected his Eredivise feats to translate so easily to the Premier League. After all, the spectre of Alfonso Alves hangs heavy over every striker imported over from the Netherlands.

However, he not only found the finish to secure the game for the Saints, but did so in some style, producing a brilliant bicycle kick to leave Robert Green utterly helpless.

Marc Atkins: Marcos Rojo of Manchester United with new defensive partner, Paddy McNair.
Marc Atkins: Marcos Rojo of Manchester United with new defensive partner, debutant Paddy McNair.

Old Trafford saw the visit of both West Ham United and Offside’s very own Marc Atkins, who settled down on the side lines for a contest that seemed largely unreadable given the form of the two teams involved.

Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United had looked impressive against Leicester City before falling away in the second half while Sam Allardyce’s charges arrived in Manchester fresh from dispatching Liverpool 3-1.

Marc Atkins: Wayne Rooney scores the opening goal for Manchester United.
Marc Atkins: Wayne Rooney scores the opening goal for Manchester United.

Goals from Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie put the hosts in front before the former Evertonian lashed out at Stewart Downing to earn himself a straight red. United were then forced to ride out their luck for almost 55 minutes with only 10 men on the field.

This task was made even more complicated by a goal from West Ham’s Diafra Sakho strike just a few moments prior to Rooney’s dismissal.

Marc Atkins: Kevin Nolan scores what could have been the equaliser for West Ham only to see his goal ruled out as offside late in the game.
Marc Atkins: Kevin Nolan scores what could have been the equaliser for West Ham only to see his goal ruled out as offside late in the game.

A potential winner by Kevin Nolan in the second half was later ruled out for being offside to save the blushes of United’s new captain, and the nerves of the home support.

Ryan Smith: Three Villa defenders try to block the shot from Diego Costa of Chelsea.
Ryan Smith: Three Villa defenders try to block the shot from Diego Costa of Chelsea.

At the summit of the Premier League table, Ryan Smith covered Chelsea’s efforts to keep the pressure up on those eager to keep pace with the competition’s early leaders with a home game against Aston Villa.

Diego Costa was, as ever, a pivotal figure for the Blues, but it was Oscar who got the ball rolling after just seven minutes. The Brazilian-born Spain striker then doubled his new team’s lead just before the hour mark with Willian making it 3-0 with 10 minutes to spare.

With fives wins and a draw, Jose Mourinho’s side are looking good.

Mark Leech: Police try to contain the Tottenham supporters outside the Arsenal underground station.
Mark Leech: Police try to contain the Tottenham supporters outside the Arsenal underground station.

The North London derby was Saturday’s late kick off, and Mark Leech was the photographer charged with covering the fixture.

As with the Merseyside derby however, neither club were able to snatch the bragging rights over their rival.

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Mark Leech: Tottenham captain Younes Kaboul leaps to celebrate the goal by Nacer Chadli.
Mark Leech: Tottenham captain Younes Kaboul leaps to celebrate the goal by Nacer Chadli.

Nacer Chadli gave it a good go however, with the Belgian putting Spurs 1-0 up shortly after the break following a turgid and cagey first half. Yet the Gunners didn’t leave it as long as Everton to rectify the situation.

Mark Leech: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores the equalising goal for Arsenal.
Mark Leech: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores the equalising goal for Arsenal.

Fortunately for Arsene Wenger, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was ready and able to fire home the loose ball to make it 1-1 after Danny Welbeck dug out a chance for the England winger.

That scoreline remained until the end, with both of the day’s derbies ending in a somewhat disappointing stalemate.

Marc Atkins: Graham Dorrans of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring the fourth goal.
Marc Atkins: Graham Dorrans of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring the fourth goal.

Sunday saw Marc Atkins make the trip to the Hawthorns for West Bromwich Albion versus Burnley; a game that the Clarets really needed to make an impression on in order to find their first win of the season.

It wasn’t to be however, with the Baggies instead recording their maiden victory of the new Premier League campaign, putting four past Tom Heaton.

Marc Atkins: Saido Berahino of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring the 3rd goal.
Marc Atkins: Saido Berahino of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring the 3rd goal.

Craig Dawson grabbed the first on the half hour mark from a Chris Brunt corner, before Saido Berahino tripled the score before and after the half time break. Graham Dorrans added the cherry just ahead of the full time whistle.

The final fixture of the weekend fell on Monday night, as Newcastle United trekked down to the Britannia in Staffordshire to face Stoke City. Simon Stacpoole was there with his camera.

Simon Stacpoole: Peter Crouch of Stoke scores what would prove to be the winner just 15 minutes into the game at the Britannia.
Simon Stacpoole: Peter Crouch of Stoke scores what would prove to be the winner just 15 minutes into the game at the Britannia.

Alan Pardew was again the focus of the match beyond the action on the pitch, with the travelling fans protesting their manager’s continued employment by the Magpies and their owner, Mike Ashley.

Before the match, it was widely reported that the embattled former Southampton and Charlton boss would love his job if the Barcodes failed to scan any points onto their tally in the Potteries. And unfortunately for Pardew, that’s exactly what happened.

Peter Crouch put the ball past Tim Krul with his head after just a quarter of an hour to make it 1-0 as the dissenting elements of the Geordie Nation poured even more scorn on the man in the visitor’s dug out.

It would prove to be the winning goal to leave Newcastle with just three points from six games, and an even more uncertain future as far as their manager goes. Thanks to West Brom however, they were at least wrenched up off from the foot of the table, with Burnley instead taking up their rock bottom slot due to their greater deficit with regards to goal difference.

The club’s fans will require far more than a bounce up to 19th in order to quieten their raging opposition to the current regime however.

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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