Britain Soccer Premier League

Premier League Roundup: Tottenham, Arsenal, Swansea bag wins on crazy opening day


The Premier League is back!


On the opening Saturday of the 2014-15 campaign we had it all.  Stunning goals. Red cards. Late drama. Huge upsets. Missed penalties. Comebacks. Yeah, it was a belter.

In case you missed any of the action from the seven Saturday games, we have recaps, reaction and videos below.

Get stuck in!

Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace

Without a manager, nobody gave Palace a chance away at Arsenal. Tony Pulis walked out on the Eagles on the eve of the season but they took a shock lead when new signing Brede Hangeland headed home from a corner in the first half. However right on half time Laurent Koscielny returned the favor for Arsenal as the central defender nodded home Alexis Sanchez’s free kick. Try as they might, Arsenal could not break down a stubborn Palace side who had Jason Puncheon sent off late in the game for two yellow cards. But right at the death Aaron Ramsey tapped in from close range to score the game-winner for the Gunners.

Leicester City 2-2 Everton

A frenetic game at the King Power Stadium as Aiden McGeady curled in a beauty to give Everton the lead, but the Foxes were level inside 90 seconds as Leandro Ulloa equalized on his debut. The game ebbed and flowed as the Toffees pushed hard to get back in front and they did so just before half time as Steven Naismith finished superbly from close range to put Everton 2-1 up. Leicester came back into the game in the second half and substitute Chris Wood equalized five minutes from time to seal a point for the Foxes.

Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City

Louis van Gaal’s debut as Manchester United boss could hardly have gone worse as the Red Devils lost at home on the opening day of the PL season for the first-time in history. Swansea City took a shock lead in the first half as Ki slotted home but newly installed captain Wayne Rooney scored an acrobatic effort to make it 1-1 just after the break. United looked as if they would grab a late winner, but it was Swansea who did just that as Gylfi Sigurdsson popped up to stun Old Trafford. Not the start LVG was hoping for.

Stoke City 0-1 Aston Villa

Both teams battled hard at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and Aston Villa prevailed in windy conditions. Andreas Weimann got the game’s only goal in the second half as he battled through two challenges and then fired an effort across Asmir Begovic and into the far corner. Stoke huffed and puffed but Villa kept a clean sheet to seal an opening day win.

Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Hull City

QPR dominated large spells of this match but Hull stuck to their task and completed a classic ‘smash and grab’ win at Loftus Road. Faurlin, Barton and Mutch all come close for QPR in the first half but the Tigers took the lead after the break when James Chester lost his marker, Rio Ferdinand, and headed home the game-winner. In the 85th minute QPR were awarded a penalty kick as Chester was adjudged to have handballed but Charlie Austin’s spot kick was saved by Allan McGregor and Hull held on.

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Sunderland

The visitors went ahead thanks to a howitzer from Lee Catermole. It was just his second goal in 102 games for the Black Cats. But before the break West Brom equalized as Saido Berahino scored a penalty following Victor Anichebe being hauled down by Valentin Roberge. The Baggies then went ahead as Berahino scored again and it looked like new boss Alan Irvine was set to seal a debut win. However, Sebastian Larsson popped up late on to nick a point for the Black Cats in an entertaining and even match at the Hawthorns.

West Ham 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs were up against it from the start at Upton Park but ground out a win during Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. Kyle Naughton was sent off for a rather harsh looking handball decision in the box but from the resulting penalty Mark Noble put the ball wide. In the second half West Ham’s defender James Collins was sent off and in stoppage time Eric Dier slotted him after a mazy run to hand Spurs a win on the opening day.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.