Sports

Sports: Premier League Week – The Hunt For the New Luis Suarez

A goal-filled Premier League weekend saw Jamie Vardy break a record, Alexis Sanchez break his hamstring, and Bournemouth break their manager in an injury time frenzy.

All eyes were on Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy on Sunday morning as he looked to break Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s consecutive game scoring record against Manchester United, and his moment came in the 24th minute at King Power Stadium. Kasper Schmeichel released Christian Fuchs into space down the right, and the Austrian midfielder slid a perfectly-weighted ball around the outside of Darmian. Vardy raced through on the United defender’s inside, took a touch and finished with the confidence of a man who’s scored in 11 games in a row.

If the score had held at 1-0 Leicester would have remained clear at the top of the Premier League table, but a second half Bastian Schweinsteiger header canceled out Vardy’s record strike and let Manchester City streak to the top on goal difference. Their 3-1 defeat of Southampton was spearheaded by Belgian Prince Harry lookalike Kevin De Bruyne, the latest in a long line of Premier League footballers to be favourably compared to Luis Suarez.

Kevin de Bruyne looks sort of like Prince Harry, sometimes. Right?  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates his marginal resemblance to Prince Harry (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Another nu-Suarez, Roberto Firmino, featured in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over a slightly unlucky Swansea City – the Reds’ only goal coming from a penalty after a clear but unintentional handball in the box. James Milner coolly slotted the spot kick, and manager Jurgen Klopp – who had turned his back to the pitch while the penalty was being taken – nodded approvingly.

It’s uncharacteristically tight at the top this season – Liverpool’s win puts them within 6 points of the top of the table, but as it is they still languish in 6th spot. Arsenal could have gone level top with a win in Norwich, but for the second week in a row surrendered a lead in the type of match-up they really need to be winning. Things got worse for Arsene when Alexis Sanchez hobbled off in the second half with a hamstring problem.

Sanchez joins approximately half of the squad (remember Danny Welbeck?) in Arsenal Report’s Injury Room – surely one of the most worthwhile visual data projects you’ll ever see.

It was a goal-filled Sunday morning – Crystal Palace put 5 past a dismal Newcastle, while Watford edged out Aston Villa 3-2. But against any reasonable expectations the game of the round took place on the south coast, where Premier League newcomers Bournemouth hosted Everton.

Junior Stanislas celebrates the first of his two late equalisers against Everton (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Junior Stanislas celebrates the first of his two late equalisers against Everton (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

The away team looked for all money to have bagged all three points, taking a 2-0 lead into the 80th minute. But a wonder-strike from Adam Smith and a close-range finish from the wonderfully-named Junior Stanislas saw the game go into injury time deadlocked. Bournemouth have been unlucky all season, and that looked to have continued when Ross Barkley belted the ball into the back of the net sickeningly deep into the signalled 5 minutes of stoppage time.

The ref felt there was more time to make up, though, and in the 98th(!) minute, with surely the last attack of the game, Stanislas made it two and sent Vitality Stadium into the specific type of sport-joy meltdown only football can provide. “This game is no good for your health,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe half-joked in his post-match interview.


Crouchwatch

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Unused substitute in Stoke City’s 0-2 loss to a battling Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. A sombre sighting of Peter Crouch this week, taking part the pre-match minute’s applause for former Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop, who died last month from cancer at the age of 32. Crouchy did earn a rare start in Stoke’s midweek 2-0 League Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday, but came off with an injury after 13 minutes.


Where Are Ü Now: Dimitar Berbatov

The Prem has never really felt the same since the louche Bulgarian swanned off to play for AS Monaco last season, leaving Leighton Baines to take up the mantle as the League’s biggest hipster and Jack Wilshere its most notorious smoker. Now 34, Berbatov is playing in Greece at PAOK, a team whose third kit is a kind of awesome black and white camo design. Here’s a highlights video set to some Greek math rock in which he scores a timelessly Berbatovian tap-in.


Match of the Week: Newcastle vs Liverpool (5am Monday NZT LIVE on Premier League Pass) (Schedule)

The Merseysiders have been on a tear since Jurgen Klopp took charge in mid-October with a 4-1 dismantling of Manchester City a couple of weeks ago showing their attacking potential. Newcastle meanwhile come in sitting 19th on the table after back-to-back drubbings at the hands of Leicester City and Crystal Palace. All signs point to this meeting featuring anywhere between 4-9 goals as Liverpool look to crack the top 4 and Newcastle scrap to avoid sinking further into the relegation zone.


Back of the ‘Net

Petr Cech is on fire – he pulled off a superb late save to spare Arsenal defeat at Norwich at the weekend, then followed it up with a drum cover of ‘Toxicity’ by System of a Down during the week.

This is the absolute op-shopping dream – Watford winger Ikechi Anya had a clearout and took a bunch of his old kit down to Oxfam.

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw wore a Derrick Rose jersey during preseason, then suffered a horrific leg injury in the first month of the season. It’s like rain on ya wedding day.


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