In the sixth week of the Barclay’s Premier League there were two key derbies contested, as well as some interesting fixtures both at the top and bottom of the table. Going into the weekend, Chelsea sat atop the English top-flight with 13 points from four wins and one tie. Just behind the Blues were a young Southampton side led by Ronald Koeman. Southampton were raided for players during the summer, but the Dutch manager has seemed to fill out the roster well with his transfer choices. The Saints had 10 points going into week six and were just ahead of Aston Villa on goal difference. Villa was in the relegation battle last year, but have begun this season extremely well. Rounding out the top four going into week six of the Premier League was Arsenal on nine points. The Gunners had yet to lose but had been unimpressive, considering their standards, in their first five matches.
The weekend kicked off with the Merseyside Derby between Everton and Liverpool. Both teams have been on the rise in recent years, but have struggled to begin their respective seasons this year. As always it was a highly contested fixture with both sides wanting bragging rights as the best team from Liverpool. The match had some questionable calls in the early going with appeals from penalties for both teams, but none of them were given. Liverpool were able to break the deadlock with a free-kick by their captain Steven Gerrard. The Englishman curled a right-footed shot over the wall and even though the Everton keeper Tim Howard got a hand to it, the shot was struck with too much power, and gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. It looked as if Liverpool were destined escape with a victory until well into stoppage time a corner was cleared to Phil Jagielka. The Everton center-back hit a screamer from 30 yards out into the top corner for the equalizer. It was a fitting way to end the derby and the match ended 1-1.
There were a host of games up next. The Premier League leader’s Chelsea easily swept aside the formerly in-form Aston Villa 3-0. The Blues had goals from Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian and never really looked troubled from the start. Costa is in remarkable form with eight goals in six games so far in the league. Crystal Palace were able to defeat Leicester 2-0. Both goals came from set-pieces as Frazier Campbell and Mile Jedinak converted in a three-minute period early in the second half of play.
Last year’s Premier League champions Manchester City were able to get a win over Hull City in week six thanks to a solid performance from Edin Dzeko. The Sky Blues were up 2-0 early after goals by Sergio Aguero and Dzeko, but then let in two goals due to some horrible play by new signing Mangala. First the central defender had an own goal in the 21st minute and then caused a penalty that was put away by Abel Hernandez in the 32nd. Dzeko was able to give Manchester City the lead back in the 68th and loanee Frank Lampard sealed the victory with a goal in the 87th, his fourth in three games.
Manchester United were able to hold on to their early lead over West Ham after captain Wayne Rooney was sent off for a crunching tackle on Stewart Downing. The Red Devils got their offense going quickly with goals from Rooney and Robin van Persie in the first half. Diafra Sakho got one back for the Hammers after United made an absolute mess on a Downing corner. Then Rooney was shown red with around 30 minutes left in the match and West Ham were able to expose some of the problems at the back United seem to continuously have this season. The Red Devils finished strong, held on to the three points, and now sit in 7th place in the Premier League.
Possibly the goal of the week came from the Southampton versus QPR game with Graziano Pelle scoring a beautiful overhead kick to win the match. Ryan Bertrand had given the Saints a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute only to be erased by a wonderful Charlie Austin volley twelve minutes later. Almost immediately after Queens Park Rangers tied the game Pelle hit back with a stunning overhead strike. The Saints went on to win the match 2-1 and secure second place in the Premier League after week six.
Sunderland and Swansea played to a zero-zero draw, giving Sunderland their fifth draw of the year. For Swansea it was their first draw, leaving them in fifth place through week six. The final match on Saturday was the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal dominated the play in most statistical categories, but was unable to finish off their London rivals. The Spurs were the first to get on the board after a swift counter was finished off by Nacer Chadli. The Gunners were able to equalize with a fine strike by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but were unable to get the go ahead goal even though they had numerous chances late on.
Sunday there was only one game and it was between Burnley and West Bromwich Albion. Burnley’s offensive woes continued as they were shutout 4-0 against West Brom. Albion had two goals from Saido Berahino, as well as one each from Craig Dawson and Graham Dorrans. Burnley have no only scored one goal in six Premier League games, which could lead to a short road to relegation.
The final game of week six will be played on Monday between Stoke City and Newcastle. Both teams need a victory as they sit near the bottom of the table, and Newcastle has yet to record a victory with manager Alan Pardew under extreme pressure. At the top of the table after six weeks into the Barclay’s Premier League sits Chelsea with 16 points and looking stronger each match. Behind the Blues are Southampton with 13 points, Manchester City with 11 points and Arsenal with 10 points.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash