“Oh when the Saints, go marching in… Oh when the Saints go marching in… I want to be in that number, oh when the Saints go marching in!”
Who wouldn’t? This weekend Southampton put eight without reply past a sorry Sunderland, whose players are now trying to repay the fans’ dedication in following them down to the South Coast by, um, repaying them.
Yet St Mary’s wasn’t the first venue to see a fixture full of theatrics on Saturday, with the first game of the day taking place at the Etihad as Tottenham Hotspur travelled up to face reigning champions Manchester City. Simon Stacpoole was Offside’s man snapping the game.
It was a game that featured four penalties, two of which failed to find the back of the net, yet all but one looked deserved. Yet Sergio Aguero didn’t need a free shot from the spot to get the goal scoring under way.
The Argentinian got on the end of a wonderfully conceived pass by Frank Lampard to put the hosts in front, and soon the ex-Chelsea man was at it again creating another chance for the striker. However, this time his team mate benefitted from the midfielder’s canniness in going down in the box rather than his creativity on the ball.
Christian Eriksen pulled one back for Spurs, and although Aguero missed a second penalty to complete his hat trick in quick time, he wasn’t to be denied the match ball. Roberto Soldado on the other hand was denied the chance to level the scores, when Joe Hart saved the Spaniard’s very own penalty.
Aguero then made it 4-1 to City with another goal from open play and a second one from the spot after Federico Fazio put in a foolish challenge in his own box to earn a red card dismissal on his debut, and another penalty for his opponent.
Just down the road at Turf Moor, Steve Parkin was shooting Burnley’s 3pm kick off versus West Ham United.
The Clarets faltered under the pressure piled against them by the Hammers, who ran out 3-1 winners against Sean Dyche’s side, who are still without a win after eight games in the league.
Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and substitute Carlton Cole were all able to get on the scoresheet as George Boyd poked home the token strike of resistance for the beaten hosts.
In the capital, Crystal Palace hosted Premier League leaders Chelsea, who were without Diego Costa. Marc Atkins was the man at Selhurst Park.
Rather than taking the lead through their Brazilian-born, Spanish striker, the visitors opened the scoring thanks to their Brazil-born Brazilian, Oscar. The versatile attacking midfielder made it 1-0 after just six minutes with a freekick that evaded the best efforts of Julian Speroni.
The Eagles still weren’t able to pull the Blues back however, even after Jose Mourinho’s men went a man down. Unfortunately for Neil Warnock’s side, that numerical advantage was soon lost as a dismissal against one of their own also cut them to 10.
Chelsea later made it 2-0 thanks to a well-taken team goal, finished off by Cesc Fabregas, who had earlier involved himself in the pre-red cards melee, pushing Frazier Campbell to the floor.
The former Manchester United academy graduate grabbed a consolation on the 90 minute mark, but his late goal wasn’t enough to spark a proper fight back for Neil Warnock’s side.
Sunderland didn’t even manage a single strike in response to the drubbing they received on the South Coast against Southampton. Ryan Smyth was the man behind the camera at St Mary’s.
A truly terrible performance in goal by Vito Mannone exacerbated almost every error made by his team mates, with the Black Cats scoring three own goals over the space of the 90 minutes.
Dusan Tadic was the mastermind pulling the strings for the Saints, who took gleeful advantage of their opponents’ flaws as manager Ronald Koeman ushered his men to keep attacking. The game ended 8-0 with Mannone quickly looking to organise a dressing room whip round to repay the costs of fans who travelled down South to witness such a disaster.
Mark Leech was Offside’s man at the Emirates to shoot the efforts of the Sunderland keeper’s former club, Arsenal, as they took on Hull City.
The Tigers didn’t lack bite, and even with Alexis Sanchez shining as his the new attacking fulcrum of Arsene Wenger’s side, the visitors gave as good as they got.
After the Chilean opened the scoring after 13 minutes with a powerful and low shot into the back of the net, but Hull came back four minutes later through Mohamed Diame. The midfielder appeared to foul Mathieu Flamini on his way to putting the ball in the back of the net, but the strike remained.
Record-signing Abel Hernandez made it 2-1 almost immediately after the half-time restart with a headed goal. After gaining an advantage over their hosts however, Hull appeared to grow content with the score line and look to shut up shot and hit in long.
Their plan to sit on their lead and contain the Gunners at the death, with Danny Welbeck guiding home a Sanchez pass to make it 2-2 and save some of Wenger’s blushes. Yet a single point was enough for some of the home fans, left the stadium in a somewhat disgruntled mood.
Sunday saw Liverpool come to London to face QPR at Loftus Road, where Marc Atkins had taken up position for an afternoon of Mario Balotelli spotting. With the Italian having so far flattered to deceive for the Reds, surely a match against a team in such woeful form as the R’s would be the perfect opportunity for him to kick on?
It wasn’t to be. Brendan Rodgers’ team had to wait for Richard Dunne to open the scoring with an own goal on the 67th minute mark. The game had plenty more to offer goal hunters however, and the end of the match soon turned into a helter-skelter affair of bizarre defending and fortuitous shooting.
Eduardo Vargas found an equaliser after 87 minutes to spark off an eventful finale. Steven Gerrard scored an own goal from another one of the Chilean’s chances to make it 2-1 to the hosts before Philippe Coutinho and another own goal, this time by Steven Caulker, made it 3-2 to the visitors.
The Liverpool manager seemed understandably apologetic in his post-match interview.
Simone Stacpoole spent his Sunday in Stoke shooting the Potters’ home fixture against Swansea City.
It was another game dominated by penalties, with Wilfried Bony and Charlie Adam both scoring from the spot. The Ivorian was the first goalscorer, hitting home after he was fouled by Ryan Shawcross in the box.
Adam’s penalty to level the scores was full of controversy. Swansea manager Garry Monk went as far as to label Victor Moses a cheat after the game for his part in winning the decision for his team.
To add insult to injury too, Stoke claimed all three points from the Swans through a match-winning strike by Jonathan Walters with 76 minutes played. And that’s how it finished: 2-1 to the hosts.
With Old Trafford just a few miles up the road from the Britannia, Simon was also on hand to shoot United’s Monday night game against West Bromwich Albion.
It was in the reverse of this fixture last season that Saido Berahino announced himself to the Premier League with the finishing goal in the Baggies’ 2-1 away win against David Moyes’ team.
Louis van Gaal’s side fared a little better in the end, although they were made to play catch up almost straight from the start thanks to a sucker punch goal from Stephane Sessegnon after 8 minutes.
It took United until the beginning of the second half to respond, and from a most unexpected source. Having been subbed on for the half-fit Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini stepped up to curl in a stunner to make it 1-1 on the 48 minute mark.
Berahino almost repeated his feat in winning the game for West Brom against United, with a nerveless finished to put his team ahead again after he ran free past Phil Jones.
Yet an unlikely goalscorer preventing him from claiming a second scalp: Dutch utility defender Daley Blind.
Last season’s Eredivisie Player Of The Season struck home a final equaliser three minutes before the injury time to ensure there was a hint of progress for Van Gaal, at least in relation to last year’s loss.
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