EPL Hits and Misses: Foxes smash Man United's glass cannon to come out tops
Leicester City top the Hits list for their stunning dismantling of Manchester United, Mesut Oezil answers his critics, City's Frank Lampard snatches a draw against his former club and Sam Allardyce gets the better of Liverpool. Right this way for EPL Hits and Misses...
Top dogs for a top performance. Where most clubs would roll over and switch to damage limitation mode once Manchester United take a two-goal lead, such a thought never seemed to cross the Foxes' minds. Just when things looked to be going United's way once Angel di Maria's superb solo effort sailed in over Kasper Schmeichel's head, Nigel Pearson's men showed great determination to pull one back almost immediately through their own in-form Argentinian Leonardo Ulloa, who is quickly looking like a bargain for his club record £8 million ($16.6m) fee. Even when Ander Herrera restored United's advantage in the second-half, Leicester did not surrender as their persistence battered the Red Devils into the unlikeliest of captitulations. Most of all, it wasn't just the Ulloa show as Jamie Vardy and Esteban Cambiasso embodied the team's never-say-die attitude that sees them level on eight points with Manchester City in seventh place. Admittedly, Leicester benefited from some contentious refereeing decisions but as the saying goes, fortune favours the brave.
Arsenal & Mesut Oezil
Needless to say, this was a much-needed pick-me-up for Arsenal after their dreadful drubbing in Dortmund especially with many of their title rivals floundering this weekend. It was also the perfect riposte for Mesut Oezil, who's been a target board for critics lately. The German international certainly reveled in being handed a central role behind Danny Welbeck by Arsene Wenger and showed just why he's so highly-valued by the Frenchman in a span of two minutes. After ghosting though the Aston Villa defence to calmly slot home a through ball from Welbeck, Oezil repaid the favour with a neat little cross for the striker to open his account for his new club. The key now for Arsenal is to keep the schemer firing in the next few weeks and find the rhythm needed to mount a serious push for the title.
Fourth last week, second this week. The Saints are happily marching along despite pundits everywhere pinning them up as surefire candidates for relegation. Football sure is a funny game.
A big surprise victory for Big Sam Allardici. Who would have ever imagined Stewart Downing putting ex-teammate Steven Gerrard in the shade?
It had to be him, didn't it? While it is still a very strange sight to see him in don another shade of blue, Lampard's leveler against his former club was something that Chelsea fans would have seen repeatedly during his 13 years at Stamford Bridge. While Jose Mourinho claimed that the midfielder's love story with Chelsea was over when he left, it's certainly not the case for Lamps, who looked almost apologetic after scoring the goal to deny his beloved Chelsea three points at the death.
Alan Pardew must be grateful to the Senegalese striker for re-discovering his scoring touch at just the right time to save him from the sack for another week. Kudos to Cisse for dedicating his brace to teammate Jonas Gutierrez, who is currently battling testicular cancer.
Suddenly, that 4-0 thrashing of QPR seems centuries ago. However, despite what the pundits say, it certainly wasn't a false dawn for Manchester United. Rather, Louis van Gaal is paying the price for assembling the footballing equivalent of a glass cannon. Sure, the signings of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria certainly mean goals aplenty as the two players demonstrated when United took a 3-1 lead, but their fragility at the back means calamity won't be far behind. As I mentioned after transfer deadline day, United are sorely lacking an experienced head at the back to make sure everything continues to tick over following the departures of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra. United might feel a tad aggrieved by Mark Clattenburg's officiating, but there really is no excuse for a Manchester United side to let slip a two-goal advantage and roll over. Adding to van Gaal's list of headaches is the injury to Jonny Evans as well as Tyler Blackett's red card, leaving Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo as the likely centre-back pairing for United's next match again West Ham. Failing to land Mehdi Benatia could be a costly miss for United and until their defensive crisis is sorted out, United fans can expect more rollercoaster emotions this season as their scintillating attack tries to paper over the cracks of their porous defence.
Rafael da Silva
After working so hard over the past few years to erase the reckless edge that dogged his game, the Brazilian reverted to type as he was baited into a needless jostle in the box with Jamie Vardy to give away the penalty that marked the start of Leicester's recovery.
Never mind the first penalty decision - how Ritchie de Laet stayed on the pitch for 90 minutes will remain a mystery of the universe except to the man referred to by commentators as England's top official. Shocking.
A deserved entry in the misses section for his brainless pair of bookings that led to Swansea's 1-0 defeat.
Another week in the Premier League, another insipid performance. Mario Balotelli might be laughing at Manchester United, but Liverpool's defending at West Ham was of equal comedic value. Unlike last season, however, there was no joyful attack to spare the Reds their blushes. Save Raheem Sterling's sumptuous strike (Balotelli deserves a shout here for the ridiculous ease with which he plucked Jordan Henderson's cross of of the air from that led to the goal), Liverpool were uncharacteristically blunt and flat in the final third - compounded no doubt by their return to the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers has some serious work to do with his side, who are already being written off as title challengers after just five games.
Overhauled by Crystal Palace at Goodison Park after impressing in the Europa League? Definitely suffering from a European hangover.
Ditto, except West Brom's form has been a lot more dire than Crystal Palace's.