What an astounding weekend of Premier League action it really has been, showing and proving to the world that the Premier League is by far the best league in the world. The competitiveness of all the teams in managing to compete with the top teams in the league is incredible.
THE WEEKEND WINNERS
SOUTHAMPTON - You have to mention this team, currently lying 3rd in the Premier League after 11 games and a mere 3 points behind the leaders is an astounding achievement. They are becoming consistent, exciting to watch, well organised and the rise of some of the younger English players has been fantastic to see. Players like James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw rising to through the ranks and not to mention the newly England trio of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez who have been fantastic. A lot of people including myself heavily questioned the decision to sack Nigel Atkins and appoint Mauricio Pochettino, but he has proved everyone wrong. Whether Southampton can maintain their start is another thing, but it is great to see this team in action this year.
MANCHESTER UNITED - A hard working performance against a lacklustre Arsenal side and the benefit of the poor results of Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham put United fully back in contention. The form of Rooney and Van Persie will be key to the success of the team this year and they are very reliant on these 2. However, if they play with the fight and passion of Sundays game then they will be in with a shout of regaining their title.
SUNDERLAND - Huge win for Gus Poyet's side against Manchester City. They will need to play with that fight more often this year if they are going to survive the drop and there is a lot of work for Poyet to do on the training ground, but that result will certainly have given the fans more hope.
NORWICH - Huge 3 points for the Canaries and more importantly for the future of Chris Houghton. A home defeat against West Ham would have potentially meant curtains for Houghton and when they went behind I'm sure many thought the same, but they came back strong. They need to make a big push and get on a run after the International break to move them clear of the drop zone.
It was not the best weekend for referees, but none more so than Andre Marriner. That decision in favour of Chelsea to award them a last second penalty was one of the most disgraceful decisions I have ever seen. He should not be let off lightly. The speed at which he gave the penalty for a coming together was shocking. No thought went into it at all, and I feel there should be an explanation as to why it was given. We need to hear referees speak out and explain decisions at times. West Brom battled hard at Stamford Bridge and deserved the 3 points, but time and again the bigger teams seem to get the decisions especially at home games. It's not good enough anymore. Maybe technology is the answer, or maybe stricter standards for referees is needed.
The last second penalty brigade didn't end there and we saw it happen again at Swansea on Sunday, that gifted a point to Stoke City. This decision is more difficult, as I can see why the referee gave it for handball due to the player leaning towards the ball. However, he had a player directly in front of him and nobody seemed to appeal for the decision which is always a sure fire sign it wasn't a penalty. Swansea have been struggling with the demands of Europa League football and their Premier League form has dipped since last season, so 3 points here would of been valuable. Again I would like to have seen the referee come out and explain the decision, as in my opinion I thought it was very poor.
These decisions can cost jobs and something needs to be done about it. The demands of the Premier League are so extreme now a days, and the pace at which games are played at doesn't help referees and I feel they need more support. But they should be culpable for their actions.
Being an Arsenal fan it was very hard to watch the game Sunday, as it was a very very disappointing performance by the team, especially after the great run of form we have been on. Social media circles have been giving lots of stick to Arsenal for the defeat and in particular Ozil and Ramsey received a lot of stick too. Yes both were poor. Yes Arsenal were not fantastic. YET...we lost the game by a single goal and a goal from a corner. The second half we created a lot of chances and had opportunities to equalise. In previous years this would not have happened. United were not the same team as last year. They didn't have their usual cutting edge, or fluidity we come to expect from the Red Devils. I wasn't amazingly optimistic going into the game for some reason, but knowing we had a cushion at the top meant a slip up wasn't the end of the world, even more so after this weekends events.
The fact the game was so tight at Old Trafford certainly showed the improvements in the Arsenal side this year. We played poorly and our best players this season didn't show up, yet we only lost 1 vs. 0. That to me shows huge improvements and gives me plenty of optimism for the rest of the season and believe we really will compete for the title this year.