Tottenham did show against the Redknapp, Chelsea got high self-confidence, Arsenal & Wenger are shaking some things wrong.
Tottenham 4 QPR 0 Poshettino’s first home victory:
It is a fraught business, declaring the beginning of any new era at White Hart Lane. There have been so many false ones
But Mauricio Pochettino’s first home match in charge of Tottenham delivered a powerful and impressive performance which placed them at the top of the rudimentary Premier League table.
Even Daniel Levy, the notoriously difficult to please chairman, couldn’t ask for more than that at this budding stage of the season. Could he?
The TV pictures showed Levy stone-faced as the third goal was celebrated after only 37 minutes, but that just seems to be his way. Surely he detected the signs of rich promise inherent in the home debut of his latest appointment to N17’s revolving dug-out.
Along with the three excellent first-half goals which wrapped up this non-contest by half-time, however, there came the crashing down of Queens Park Rangers’ new 3-5-2 tactical formation, anchored by Rio Ferdinand, which was stripped so bare by Spurs that Harry Redknapp abandoned it after half-time.
The change worked, at least as an exercise in vague damage limitation, with Emmanuel Adebayor adding only one more goal to the two scored by the superb Nacer Chadli, either side of another from Eric Dier, during Tottenham’s rampant opening 45 minutes.
If Redknapp and his new assistant, Glenn Hoddle, are to persevere with their plan, for which Ferdinand was specifically signed, a lot more hours on the training ground and in the video room seem to beckon for a midfield which evaporated in front of the defence.
Tottenham poured gleefully through the gaps, particularly down their own left side. But then, to be fair, nobody at Loftus Road has claimed this would work like an overnight wonder-cure.
The idea is to facilitate picking a second striker. The problem here though, Redknapp insisted, was a dispiriting lack of energy throughout his side rather than their set-up.
This was a day which began amid much anticipation of the return of the two former Tottenham bosses Redknapp and Hoddle – he played a bit here, too – to their old stretch of north London.
In fact, the place was full of former coaches. Ossie Ardiles, Les Ferdinand and Clive Allen were here too. The club’s former staff association is a big one. That’s why there is wariness in assessing new beginnings.
That said, after the home supporters gave Redknapp a courteous welcome, the afternoon finished with the supporters looking forward with excitement rather than backwards.
Tottenham were as upliftingly good as QPR were bad. They transmitted purpose, strength, a taste for crisp possession and a desire to get forward quickly, which put them in command from start to finish. There was a striking sense of balance and co-ordination about the team.
These are early days, but Pochettino has won all of his competitive matches in charge and this was surely the most encouraging display of them all, although a more stern test will surely come from Liverpool here next weekend.
In particular, the emergence of the Argentine, Erik Lamela, from the shroud which made him such an enigmatic figure last season continued in smart and effective style.
This was emphatically evident in the individual work he did to set up Tottenham’s third goal, turning near the halfway line and then carrying the ball elegantly forward towards the left before hoisting in a deft cross which was powerfully headed in by Chadli.
As Hary Redknapp confessed, his side could have been behind in the first minute. In fact, it required just 11 for Tottenham to take the lead.
Christian Eriksen dispossessed Loic Remy and then in a rapid, sweeping move, Nabil Bentaleb sent Adebayor clear. His cross was controlled on the chest by Chadli and then thumped precisely home.
The crossbar then shook following Eriksen’s long free-kick before Eric Dier – who scored the late winner at West Ham the previous weekend – stooped to get in front of Leroy Fer and head in sharply off Lamela’s right-wing corner in the 30th minute.
The eagerness of Tottenham’s counter-attacking presence delivered the fourth goal in the 65th minute. Chadli cleverly whipped the ball around Stephen Caulker by the touchline, sending Danny Rose surging down the left flank. His cross was planted in the net with exuberant confidence by Adebayor.
Could this have been different if Matty Phillips hadn’t hoofed over QPR’s best chance in the 19th minute? No. Tottenham overwhelmed them from start to finish. As new eras go around here, it is so far so good.
Tottenham vs Queens Park Rangers Match Stats
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Lloris 6; Dier 7.5, Kaboul 7, Vertonghen 7.5, Rose 8; Bentaleb 7 (Dembele 58, 6.5), Capoue 7.5; Chadli 8.5 (Kane 67), Eriksen 7.5, Lamela 7.5; Adebayor 7.5 (Soldado 78)
Subs not used: Lennon, Holtby, Friedel, Davies
QPR (3-5-2): Green 4; Caulker 4.5, Ferdinand 5, Dunne 3 (Onuoha 46, 5); Isla 5, Mutch 4, Barton 4.5, Fer 4.5 (Faurlin 67, 5), Traore 5; Phillips 5 (Zamora 73, 5), Remy 5
Subs not used: Simpson, Wright-Phillips, Murphy, Hoilett
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Tottenham 4 QPR 0 Match Video[media id=1097 width=610 height=340]
Chelsea 2 Leicester City 0:Diego Costa starts job ?
As the new £32million striker Diego Costa walked off the field he stopped to embrace the returning veteran Chelsea hero Didier Drogba, back for the first time in blue.
There were 10 minutes left. The match was won, the team was top of the table, Costa had scored to make it two in two games, and now sight of the giant Drogba gave them an extra surge of joy.
The joint applause grew to a crescendo and the sound will have echoed far and wide, and been heard with crystal clarity by their rivals.
The psychology of the moment is likely to be felt again and again on
so many grounds in the coming months – and is surely exactly what manager Jose Mourinho had in mind when he signed both men in the summer.
It was a lack of goals that ruined Chelsea’s title challenge last season. It will not this time.
When the substitution was complete, the crowd chanted a name – and it was that of Costa.
His goal early in the second half settled the anxiety that had filled Stamford Bridge after a tepid opening period and a series of brilliant saves early in the second half by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.,
A stunning move down the right flank ended with a cross from Branislav Ivanovic tumbling awkwardly to Costa.
The Spanish striker took it expertly on his chest and rifled a shot into the net.
Costa seems to be the perfect striker for Chelsea – a bullish forward with the requisite speed and touch for a team that is so devastating on the counter-attack.
Most important of all, he scores goals. One chance in the first half was denied by a courageous block from Leicester’s admirable captain Wes Brown. His second opportunity was buried.
Mourinho is not surprised about the instant impact of Costa, but he emphatically refuted rumours that the club’s other Spanish striker, Fernando Torres would move to Italy.
Torres was not even on the bench yesterday, and is clearly behind Costa and Drogba in the pecking order, but Mourinho said: “He is not going anywhere. There is no chance of that.
“I need three strikers this season and Fernando will play many games and he will score goals.”
Time will tell on that front.
Leicester were certainly staunch opponents yesterday – organised in defence, composed on the ball, and all the better for a superb keeper who made two magnificent flying saves to deny a header and a piledriver shot from Ivanovic.
On another day they might have won a point, and striker David Nugent wasted a great chance early in the second half at 0-0 when clear on goal and finding Chelsea’s new keeper Thibaut Courtois a formidable presence.
Mourinho said Chelsea had been “lazy in the first half”, claiming the coldest August on record was too hot for this players. Even he had the decency to laugh at a risible excuse.
When Chelsea found their fluency after an urgent half-time reminder from an unimpressed manager they were irresistible.
Costa’s goal on 63 minutes was followed by a lovely second from Eden Hazard in the 77th minute as the Belgian waltzed in from the left flank and fired a fierce low shot into the net.
They might have scored many more. Schmeichel also made a fingertip save to keep out a delicate chip from Cesc Fabregas, and pushed another shot from Willian over the bar.
Fabregas was relatively quiet on his home debut for Chelsea, but still flourished some exquisite passes. And goalkeeper Courtois was mightily impressive in all his work.
Defeat was expected for Leicester, yet manager Nigel Pearson departed with regrets, saying: “It was a very encouraging performance and I’m disappointed we couldn’t convert that into points.
“We showed we are a very capable side with talented players, and the good thing is that we were positive and created chances throughout the game and made their keeper work.
“For the most part we played very well today.”
True enough. But you have to take your chances when they come, and that is why Diego Costa will prove so precious for Chelsea.
Chelsea vs Leicester City Match Stats[media id=1098 width=610 height=340]
CHELSEA: Courtois 8, Ivanovic 7, Cahill 6, Terry 6, Azpilicueta 6.5, Matic 6, Fabregas 7, Oscar 7 (Willian 6, 70), Hazard 6.5, Schurrle 6.5 (Ramires 6.5, 64), Costa 7 (Drogba 6.5, 80).
Subs not used: Cech, Luis, Zouma, Mikel.
Goals: Costa (62), Hazard (77).
LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel 8.5, De Laet 7, Konchesky 6.5, Morgan 6.5, Hammond 8 (Taylor-Fletcher 6.5, 73), King 6.5, Schlupp 7, Mahrez 7.5 (Albrighton 6, 68), Nugent 7, Ulloa 6.5 (Wood 84).
Subs not used: Hamer, Hopper, Knockaert, Wasilewski.
Booking: Hammond (52).
REFEREE: Lee Mason 6.5.
Chelsea 2 Licester City 0 Match Video
Everton 2 Arsenal 2:Gunners lost Merseyside
Last season they were thumped 5-1 at Liverpool and left this ground smarting from a 3-0 beating.
A lot has happened since the April setback against Roberto Martinez’s side – six straight league wins, Champions League qualification and an FA Cup triumph.
But it seems they lose their mojo when they set foot in these parts.
They were trailing 2-0 and going nowhere until Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud struck with two goals in the last seven minutes.
Wenger, after last season’s disasters on the banks of the Mersey, will no doubt have locked his Beatles collection away in a dark cupboard.
It was certainly a hard day’s night for the Gunners who also saw £32million summer signing Alexis Sanchez hauled off at half-time – although to be fair to the Chilean he had spent his 45 minutes completely isolated up front.
With two of his German World Cup winners, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil, back in service, this was the evening designed to claw back some respectability in Scouseland.
But Everton proved they are ready to run with the big boys again this season, full of ideas and pace.
They seemed to be on their way to another impressive victory against the Gunners when Seamus Coleman quickly atoned for a glaring error which almost presented Arsenal with a goal to head Martinez’s side into a 19th-minute lead.
After setting up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a loose ball which the England forward side footed just wide, Coleman finished off a slick Everton move to leave Wenger venting his fury in the technical area.
The Gunners were left chasing shadows as Leighton Baines found Gareth Barry and a chipped cross to the far post was met by Coleman.
It could and should have been worse for Arsenal two minutes later as Steven Naismith released Kevin Mirallas for a one-on-one with Wojciech Szczesny – the Belgian slicing agonisingly wide.
It hadn’t so far been the best of returns for Mertesacker at the centre of defence alongside the raw England prospect Calum Chambers.
And when Chambers brought down Mirallas on the edge of his own area the Everton forward struck the side netting with a curling free-kick.
Arsenal needed a spark, looking leg weary maybe due to their Champions League exertions in Turkey against Besiktas.
Everton, by contrast, were full of energy and were afforded far too much room in which to create problems, usually down the left through willing runner Mirallas.
Mertesacker’s evening went from bad to worse, receiving a yellow card for a late lunge on Naismith, and then being culpable for Everton’s second goal just before the break.
The gangly Gunner sold himself on the halfway line, easily turned by Romelu Lukaku. The Everton striker sprinted past Chambers to unselfishly set up Naismith, who threaded the ball through Szczesny’s legs.
While Everton celebrated there was much finger wagging and consternation amongst the Arsenal contingent – no doubt continued by Wenger at half-time.
His response was to send on Olivier Giroud for Sanchez and it almost reaped dividends within 60 seconds, the Frenchman volleying inches over from a clever cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But, with the Gunners failing to build on that piece of enterprise, their frustrations grew and Jack Wilshere was booked for a nasty challenge on Barry, Mathieu Debuchy quickly following him into the book.
Giroud, though, continued to be lively and he wasn’t far away with a snap shot in the 66th minute and moments later was only denied by a fine save from Tim Howard.
Despite there being another crucial game against Besiktas on Wednesday, Wenger gambled and brought on Santi Cazorla to inject some craft.
And, with seven minutes to go, Cazorla supplied the low cross for an otherwise-subdued Ramsey to poke home from close range.
Giroud then sent a header just past the post from a corner before Nacho Monreal set up the dramatic 90-minute leveller, the Frenchman nodding past a static Howard to steal a point.
Everton vs Arsenal Match Stats
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas (Atsu 85),Naismith,Pienaar (Osman 10), Lukaku (McGeady 76).
Subs Not Used: Robles, Besic, Stones, Alcaraz.
Goals: Coleman 19, Naismith 45.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Campbell 74), Ramsey, Wilshere (Cazorla 74), Ozil,Sanchez (Giroud 46).
Subs Not Used: Koscielny, Rosicky, Martinez, Bellerin.
Booked: Mertesacker, Wilshere, Chambers, Flamini.
Goals: Ramsey 83, Giroud 90.
Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Everton 2 Arsenal 2 Match Video[media id=1099 width=610 height=340]
Barclays Premier League Match Week 2 Results
Saturday, 23 August
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0
Chelsea 2 Leicester City 0
Swansea City 1 Burnley FC 0
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 3
Southampton 0 West Brom 0
Everton 2 Arsenal 2
Sunday, 24 August
Hull City 1 Stoke City 1
Tottenham 4 QPR 0
Sunderland 1 Man United 1
Monday, 25 August
Man City 20:00 Liverpool
Barclays Premier League Week 2 Table