Offside’s weekend in pictures: Premier League & Autumn internationals

Offside’s recent weekend round-ups have featured a few mentions of action from La Liga, with the spotlight usually falling upon the early adventures of Luis Suarez in a Barcelona shirt.

Mark Leech: Some abstract action from Twickenham.
Mark Leech: Some abstract action from Twickenham.

This time however, we stretch our focus to a different type of ball rather than a foreign topflight football competition, with England facing off against New Zealand at Twickenham.

Simon Stacpoole: Members of the Armed Forces stand with a giant poppy before the match.
Simon Stacpoole: Members of the Armed Forces stand with a giant poppy before the match.

Yet first we come to Liverpool’s home game against Chelsea; last year’s runners up versus the team they pipped to third place, who now look like this season’s champions elect, and it’s only November.

Simon Stacpoole: Mario Balotelli of Liverpool stands alone before the match.
Simon Stacpoole: Mario Balotelli of Liverpool stands alone before the match.

Simon Stacpoole was ready and waiting at pitch side.

Simon Stacpoole: Diego Costa puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel.
Simon Stacpoole: Diego Costa puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel.

The showdown at Anfield was a tighter contest that many expected, with Emre Can striking early to put the hosts unexpectedly onto the front foot.

Simon Stacpoole: Raheem Sterling battles with Cesc Fabregas.
Simon Stacpoole: Raheem Sterling battles with Cesc Fabregas.

Jose Mourinho’s team were hardly impervious either. The gap between Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of midfield reappeared, with the Spaniard leaving his partner in the lurch all too often due to his desire to get forward.

Simon Stacpoole: Martin Skrtel and Mario Balotelli are held back by Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic.
Simon Stacpoole: Martin Skrtel and Mario Balotelli are held back by Branislav Ivanovic and Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea needed goal line technology to draw level after 14 minutes when Gary Cahill’s effort was ruled to have crossed the line by the array of cameras trained upon Simon Mignolet’s net.

Simon Stacpoole: Eden Hazard runs past Steven Gerrard.
Simon Stacpoole: Eden Hazard runs past Steven Gerrard.

What followed was a surprisingly open contest as the action flew from end to end. Liverpool looked inspired by the sound of the Kop even if they weren’t quite able to muster the poise going forward that they needed to actually threaten Thibaut Courtois too often.

Simon Stacpoole: John Terry of Chelsea organises the defensive line.
Simon Stacpoole: John Terry of Chelsea organises the defensive line.

Mourinho’s tactics hampered Brendan Rodgers’ side’s efforts to bring the ball out from the back, with his hard working front players smothering the Reds’ defence en masse.

Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers pats Mario Balotelli on the back after substituting him.
Simon Stacpoole: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers pats Mario Balotelli on the back after substituting him.

The threat posed by the visitors at set pieces seemed the most likely route through which they would score a second, especially with Eden Hazard’s pot shots from the channels constantly hitting blockers rather than the target.

Simon Stacpoole: Diego Costa tussles with Martin Skrtel.
Simon Stacpoole: Diego Costa tussles with Martin Skrtel.

Another goal eventually did come however through Diego Costa (who else?) after the Brazilian found himself in space on to the left of Mignolet with a half-chance which he ruthlessly took.

Liverpool couldn’t muster a response even with over 20 minutes left to play. Chelsea’s unstoppable run continues.

Mark Leech: An RAF serviceman selling poppies outside the lineout sculpture at Twickenham, where wreaths were laid.
Mark Leech: An RAF serviceman selling poppies outside the lineout sculpture at Twickenham, where wreaths were laid.

Before the 3pm kick offs could get under way in the Premier League, Twickenham’s first Autumn international of the season roared into life in West London. Mark Leech was on hand for the the 2:30pm start.

Mark Leech: England coach Stuart Lancaster watching the warm up.
Mark Leech: England coach Stuart Lancaster watching the warm up.

Just like their round-ball playing cousins stadiums across the country,  the home of English rugby union paid its respects to the fallen  prior to the game.

Mark Leech: The All Blacks perform the Haka before the match.
Mark Leech: The All Blacks perform the Haka before the match.

Saturday’s opponents were the all-conquering All Blacks of New Zealand, the team who forever seem to dominate the top spot of the IRB rankings.

Yet with England currently coming in as the third best international side in the world, spectators arrived at Twickenham in the mood for a close-run, bruising heavyweight encounter between two of the best teams around at present.

Mark Leech: All Blacks winger Ben Smith catches the loose ball.
Mark Leech: All Blacks winger Ben Smith catches the loose ball.
Mark Leech: Ben Smith escapes the grasp of England full back Mike Browm.
Mark Leech: Ben Smith escapes the grasp of England full back Mike Brown.

Stuart Lancaster’s men in fact led the contest at half-time, and headed into the tunnel 14-11 up against the All Blacks.

Mark Leech: All Blacks full back Israel Dagg comes under pressure from Mike Brown and Jonny May of England.
Mark Leech: All Blacks full back Israel Dagg comes under pressure from Mike Brown and Jonny May of England.

 

Mark Leech: Dave Attwood of England makes a break.
Mark Leech: Dave Attwood of England makes a break.

Johnny May’s early try-scoring heroics for the hosts weren’t enough to secure the win come the final whistle however.

Mark Leech: George Kruis during his England debut.
Mark Leech: George Kruis during his England debut.

With 1,023 caps to England’s 437 before kick off, New Zealand made the most of their experience and talent to turn the fixture around in the second half.

Mark Leech: England captain Chris Robshaw complains about a refereeing decision in the pouring rain.
Mark Leech: England captain Chris Robshaw complains about a refereeing decision in the pouring rain.
Mark Leech: Referee Nigel Owens gives a penalty against England in the pouring rain.
Mark Leech: Referee Nigel Owens gives a penalty against England in the pouring rain.
Mark Leech: Referee Nigel Owens awards a try to New Zealand.
Mark Leech: Referee Nigel Owens awards a try to New Zealand.
Mark Leech: England captain Chris Robshaw clears his nose as he stands in the rain with his defeated team.
Mark Leech: England captain Chris Robshaw clears his nose as he stands in the rain with his defeated team.

In the end, the visitors won 24-21 to pick up their fifth win over Lancaster’s side in 12 months.

Marc Atkins: A giant poppy is displayed on front of Old Trafford in front of the holy trinity statue of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.
Marc Atkins: A giant poppy is displayed on front of Old Trafford in front of the holy trinity statue of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.

Next up for Offside was Manchester United versus Crystal Palace, as attention turned away from the egg chasers at Twickenham. Marc Atkins was the man on duty at Old Trafford.

Marc Atkins: Manchester United and Crystal Palace players line up alongside members of the armed forces for a minutes silence.
Marc Atkins: Manchester United and Crystal Palace players line up alongside members of the armed forces for a minutes silence.

Unfortunately, there was little in the way of thrills and spills to dwell on at the “Theatre Of Dreams”.

Louis van Gaal’s side appeared rather flat and forgettable against a Palace team that rarely looked dangerous.

Marc Atkins: Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United tries to reach the ball in front of goal.
Marc Atkins: Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United tries to reach the ball in front of goal.

Time and time again, Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj appeared too keen to go for an overly ambitious shot or a needlessly difficult pass against the visitor’s packed defence.

Marc Atkins: Fraizer Campbell of Crystal Palace just misses a chance to score.
Marc Atkins: Fraizer Campbell of Crystal Palace just misses a chance to score.
Marc Atkins: Luke Shaw of Manchester United rues a missed chance.
Marc Atkins: Luke Shaw of Manchester United rues a missed chance.

Neil Warnock’s team did well to get back and close themselves up when without the ball but given the calibre of attacking talent available to the hosts, they should have been able to pull them apart.

Marc Atkins: Juan Mata of Manchester United scores the opening goal.
Marc Atkins: Juan Mata of Manchester United scores the opening goal.

It eventually took the arrival of Juan Mata from the bench for United to turn their domination of possession into a breakthrough chance.

Marc Atkins: Robin van Persie of Manchester United.
Marc Atkins: Robin van Persie of Manchester United.

With so many of his club mates trying to force the issue with spectacularly wasteful efforts, it was perhaps fitting that the more considered Spaniard was the player to make the biggest difference for United.

Marc Atkins: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United shoots.
Marc Atkins: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United shoots.

He fed the ball forward before running towards and the box and recollecting possession on the border of Julian Speroni’s box. Finding himself with just enough space to take a shot, he arrowed his hit through a seemingly crowded approach angle to beat the Argentinian goalkeeper and make it 1-0.

Marc Atkins: James Wilson of Manchester United in action with Scott Dann of Crystal Palace.
Marc Atkins: James Wilson of Manchester United in action with Scott Dann of Crystal Palace.

And that’s how the scoreline stayed until the final whistle, with United failing to add another strike to beautify what was a largely dull and dreary performance from the hosts.

Ryan Smyth: A stretcher is brought on for the injured Nathan Baker of Villa.
Ryan Smyth: A stretcher is brought on for the injured Nathan Baker of Villa.

Ryan Smyth was at Upton Park for West Ham United’s clash with Aston Villa, in which Nathan Baker was taken off with a bad looking injury.

Ryan Smyth: Alex Song is chased down by Gabby Agbonlahor.
Ryan Smyth: Alex Song is chased down by Gabby Agbonlahor.

Heading into the match, it looked like a match up between one team of claret and blue seemingly unable to stop scoring at present against another who have struggled to find goals of late.

Ryan Smyth: West Ham goalkeeper Adrian throws the ball out.
Ryan Smyth: West Ham goalkeeper Adrian throws the ball out.

Christian Benteke was suspended for the trip to East London after his red card last week, and the Villains were unable to break the deadlock without their Belgian target man.

Ryan Smyth: Diafra Sakho of West Ham is held back by Aly Cissokho of Villa.
Ryan Smyth: Diafra Sakho of West Ham is held back by Aly Cissokho of Villa.

Yet the Hammers looked similarly uninspired up front, and even tried to snatch victory late on with Andy Carroll’s first appearance of the season from the bench.

Ryan Smyth: Brad Guzan saves Andy Carroll's last gasp effort in the final minute of play.
Ryan Smyth: Brad Guzan saves Andy Carroll’s last gasp effort in the final minute of play.

The Englishman went close but his effort was saved by Brad Guzan, who enjoyed an excellent game in goal for Paul Lambert’s men. It ended 0-0.

Simon Stacpoole: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and West Brom manager Alan Irvine stand together with a poppy wreath each on Remembrance Sunday.
Simon Stacpoole: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and West Brom manager Alan Irvine stand together with a poppy wreath each on Remembrance Sunday.

Sunday saw Newcastle United travel down to face West Bromwich Albion, with the Baggies becoming the latest victims of Alan Pardew’s unlikely personal resurgence as Magpies manager. Simon Stacpoole was Offside’s man at the Hawthorns.

Simon Stacpoole: Paul Dummett of Newcastle gets above Sebastien Pocognoli of West Brom to get a header in.
Simon Stacpoole: Paul Dummett of Newcastle gets above Sebastien Pocognoli of West Brom to get a header in.

For all but the most committed protesters against his reign in charge, it seems as though only the colour and design of the team’s away kit remain as persistent causes of misery for the spectators.

Simon Stacpoole: Remy Cabella of Newcastle gets between Chris Brunt of West Brom and Youssuf Mulumbu of West Brom.
Simon Stacpoole: Remy Cabella of Newcastle gets between Chris Brunt of West Brom and Youssuf Mulumbu of West Brom.

After all, Newcastle are now on a six game unbeaten run in all competitions, with the last five of those matches being wins against Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City (in the League Cup), Liverpool and now West Brom.

Simon Stacpoole: Saido Berahino of West Brom looks dejected.
Simon Stacpoole: Saido Berahino of West Brom looks dejected.

The hosts were unable to rely on the pace, threat and attacking deterrent of Saido Berahino, who looked out of sorts compared to the clinical form he has shown of late.

Simon Stacpoole: Victor Anichebe of West Brom gets away from Newcastle players Massadio Haidara, Jack Colback and Paul Dummett.
Simon Stacpoole: Victor Anichebe of West Brom gets away from Newcastle players Massadio Haidara, Jack Colback and Paul Dummett.

His Head Coach, Alan Irvine, blamed his dulled performance on the youngster’s first full senior England call-up and the increase in pressure and hype that comes with such developments.

Simon Stacpoole: Ayoze Perez of Newcastle celebrates after scoring their 1st goal.
Simon Stacpoole: Ayoze Perez of Newcastle celebrates after scoring their 1st goal.

Newcastle’s very own in-form striker, Ayoze Perez, didn’t suffer any such stage fright at the Hawthorns, with the Spaniard opening the scoring for the visitors just before the half-time break.

Pardew’s latest win was secured just after the 62 minute mark through a Fabrizio Coloccini header; only his third goal in the Premier League. The result was a 2-0 away win and all three points went back to Newcastle.

Marc Atkins: Ryan Mason of Tottenham Hotspur clashes with Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City.
Marc Atkins: Ryan Mason of Tottenham Hotspur clashes with Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City.

In the capital, White Hart Lane welcomed the visit of Stoke City for their Sunday fixture with Tottenham Hotspur. Marc Atkins was Offside’s man on the ground in North London.

Marc Atkins: Bojan Krkic of Stoke City scores the opening goal.
Marc Atkins: Bojan Krkic of Stoke City scores the opening goal.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for Spurs, with Bojan Krkic building on his improved showing versus West Ham last week to score the opener after just six minutes.

Marc Atkins: Bojan Krkic of Stoke City celebrates scoring the opening goal.
Marc Atkins: Bojan Krkic of Stoke City celebrates scoring the opening goal.

It was a well-executed strike from distance that completely evaded Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal to give Mark Hughes’ side the early advantage.

Marc Atkins: Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur gets a knee in the back from Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City.
Marc Atkins: Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur gets a knee in the back from Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City.

The former Barcalona striker was clearly delighted at having finally broken his duck for the Potters who he joined in the summer from the Catalan giants, after a number of years out on loan with Roma, Milan and Ajax.

Marc Atkins: Jonathan Walters of Stoke City scores the 2nd goal.
Marc Atkins: Jonathan Walters of Stoke City scores the 2nd goal.

Jonathan Walters doubled the visitors’ lead almost half an hour later with a powerful effort just inside the box to pile the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino and his team.

Marc Atkins: Nacer Chadli of Tottenham Hotspur scores a goal 2-1.
Marc Atkins: Nacer Chadli of Tottenham Hotspur scores a goal 2-1.
Marc Atkins: Nacer Chadli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring a goal to make it 2-1.
Marc Atkins: Nacer Chadli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring a goal to make it 2-1.

Spurs had to wait until well into the second half before they clawed a goal back through Nacer Chadli near Asmir Begovic’s left post.

Marc Atkins: Asmir Begovic of Stoke City is shown a yellow card for wasting time.
Marc Atkins: Asmir Begovic of Stoke City is shown a yellow card for wasting time.

Yet the Belgian’s strike was soon undermined by a red card to left-back Kyle Naughton which reduced the hosts to 10 men and saw that whatever late momentum they could have conjured quickly dissipated.

Paul Roberts covered Offside’s last game of the weekend at the Liberty Stadium, where Arsenal made the trip to South Wales to face Swansea City.

Paul Roberts: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger squints as he poses for a selfie.
Paul Roberts: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger squints as he poses for a selfie.

Arsene Wenger stopped for pictures with fans prior to the game as the Gunners walked past the stands on their way to the dressing rooms, straight off the coach.

Paul Roberts: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal unleashes a shot which cannons off Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal.
Paul Roberts: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal unleashes a shot which cannons off Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal.

Following their mid-week capitulation at home to Anderlecht, the visitors needed to find their rhythm once more against a Swansea side who have been good this season but not without fault.

Paul Roberts: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal shoots only to see his shot saved by Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Paul Roberts: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal shoots only to see his shot saved by Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

However, Arsenal weren’t able to muster up a single shot on target against their former shot stopper, Lukasz Fabianski, until a minute before half-time when Danny Welbeck tried his luck.

The breakthrough came much later after the hour mark when Alexis Sanchez once again turfed his new team out of trouble with a goal on the 63rd mark. Welbeck was again the danger man however, with the England striker’s run into the box creating the opportunity for the Chilean to hit the back of the net from close range.

Paul Roberts: Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal dives in on Jefferson Montero of Swansea City.
Paul Roberts: Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal dives in on Jefferson Montero of Swansea City.

Arsenal’s lead wasn’t to last however, and with Jefferson Montero having got the better of right-back Calum Chambers on a number of occasions, the Swans sought to hit their visitors on the counter to turn the scoreline around.

Paul Roberts: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny dives as Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea City fires a free kick to equalise .
Paul Roberts: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny dives as Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea City fires a free kick to equalise .

Their equaliser came from a freekick however, with Gylfi Sigurdsson arcing the ball into the corner of the goal with expert precision.

Paul Roberts: Bafetimbi Gomis of Swansea City out jumps Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal to score the winner.
Paul Roberts: Bafetimbi Gomis of Swansea City out jumps Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal to score the winner.

Swansea’s second goal was all about their ability to break against the Gunners, with the pace of their attack and penalty box presence of Bafetimbi Gomis combining for a headed winner for the Frenchman.

He certainly enjoyed his goal!

Even after sending on a late splurge of substitutes, Wenger was unable to turn it around, with Arsenal again blowing a lead for the second time in five days.

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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