EPL Recap

Chelsea 2 – Arsenal 0

Stop reading if you’ve heard this before. Chelsea won. Diego Costa scored.

For the record, Cesc Fabregas’ pass was even better than the soft-touch finish.

Still here? Good, because you’re going to be reading that a lot this season. Like, maybe every game.

Through seven games Costa has netted nine times. At this rate he will crush the current 38-game single season scoring record of 31 goals held by Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. Heck, he’s on pace to shatter the 42-game single season record of 34 goals if he keeps scoring like this.

Before the game Wenger said, “Costa has the aspects that you like. He is focused, always determined and ready for a fight.” Wenger was ready for one himself. The Arsenal boss got into a shoving match with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after Gary Cahill took down Alexis Sanchez and was subsequently booked for the tackle.

“I thought it was every bit as bad as Alan Pardew’s headbutt,” Neil Barnett said on SiriusXM FC’s The Football Show. “You cannot have a manager doing that.”

Pardew’s headbutt drew a £60,000 fine and a seven match ban.  It appears unlikely that Wenger will suffer a similar punishment for this specific incident.

Chelsea remain at the top of the EPL with a 6-1-0 record, five points clear of Manchester City.

Manchester United 2 – Everton 1

Is this the team Louis Van Gaal thought he would have before the season started? It’s probably still too early to tell, but Manchester United won consecutive games for the first time under Van Gaal and Radamel Falcao scored his first Premier League goal in their 2-1 win over Everton.

More importantly, Untied have fought their way back into the top four.

The most important player since joining the club has been Argentinian Angel Di Maria. He gave the home crowd a reason to cheer as he opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a blast through four defenders and Tim Howard. Di Maria has scored three goals in his last five games.

“If you tell me that Di Maria isn’t too good for the EPL, well you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Ray Hudson said on The Football Show. “The EPL is asking, ‘Which planet did he come from?’ Argentina, that’s where.” Hudson maintained that Argentina would have defeated Germany in the World Cup final if Di Maria was healthy.

Di Maria is the most expensive player in English football history. He’s proving to be worth every penny.

Tottenham 1 – Southampton 0

From an Argentinian player to a manager. Mauricio Pochettino — who represented Argentina in the 2002 World Cup as a player — roamed the sidelines for Southampton for 18 months before taking over at Tottenham this season. He lead Southampton to an eighth place finish in the 2013-2014 season, their best-ever finish in the Premier League.

Six games into this season, Pochettino’s north London side was hovering in the middle of the table, while Southampton has achieved the early-season success Tottenham is looking for. Spurs may never fill the void left by last season’s departure of Gareth Bale, but the club had continuity with little turnover from the previous campaign. Still, it hasn’t clicked for Tottenham.

Fortunately for the Spurs, you can say that for most of the preseason contenders outside of Chelsea and Manchester City.

Nacer Chadli took a cross from Emmanuel Adebayor and used a deft touch to set up Christian Eriksen in the first half. Eriksen slotted the ball right past Fraser Forster from 18 yards out in the first half, and Southampton wasn’t able to equalize throughout the rest of the match.

Tottenham now find themselves in sixth place while Southampton in third as they continue to build on the success they had a season ago under Pochettino.

La Liga Recap

Real Madrid 5 – Athletic Bilbao 0

Real Madrid silenced the critics for a couple of days with a 5-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. Barely escaping their mid-week UCL tilt with upstart Ludogorets, Madrid left no doubt on Sunday against the Basques.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted three and is now tied for the most hat tricks in La Liga history, while Karim Benzema added the other two goals in a resounding victory. For the season, Ronaldo has scored 13 goals, more than 18 of the 20 La Liga clubs.

It hasn’t been pretty this season for Athletic. They haven’t been able to find the magic of last year and now have to balance a UEFA Champions League schedule.

Barcelona 2 – Rayo Vallecano 0

Barcelona suffered their first defeat of the season, 3-2 to PSG, in the Champions League. Yet back in familiar territory, Lionel Messi and Neymar provided enough offense to keep Barcelona undefeated in La Liga with a 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.

The defense was stout once again as the Catalan club has yet to give up a single goal through seven league matches. Claudio Bravo also set a club and league record with his seventh straight clean sheet; Pedro Maria Artola set the record in 1978.

It appears Barcelona can sleepwalk until October 25th, the season’s first edition of El Clasico, when some guy named Luis Suarez will be available to play his first game for Blaugrana.

Serie A Recap

Juventus 3 – AS Roma 2

Roma took a point from Manchester City during the week in the UCL, giving the club confidence while Juventus fell to Atlético Madrid.  Sunday, it was time to test unbeaten records in Serie A as both teams had posted five wins in as many matches. The recipe for excitement was already written, but a bit of controversy added some spice to the affair.

Referee Gianluca Rocchi awarded Juventus two penalty kicks — both converted by Carlos Tevez — another to Roma, which Roma legend Francesco Totti turned into his first goal of the season, and handed out two red cards.

The controversy began with a Juventus freekick in the 26th minute. Pirlo struck it, and it struck defender Maicon on the arm, seemingly just outside the box. Rocchi awarded a freekick, but once the Juventus players had pointed to his magic spray line, clearly inside the area, Rocchi changed his mind. Carlos Tevez dispatched the penalty, and Roma manager Rudi Garcia was sent to the stands for his reaction, apparently imitating playing a violin.

For a complete chronicle of the polemical events, check out Jonny Singer’s recap in the Daily Mail.

Totti, who scored against Manchester City during the week, voiced his frustration with the refs after the game.  “I’m not sure if we were beaten by the referee; we were certainly not beaten by Juve. By hook or by crook they always win. Juve should play in their own league. Every year is the same. We will again finish second.”

On The Football Show, Ray Hudson referenced a long history of Juventus getting favorable calls. “It’s a shame a game like this had to be titled or at least influenced [like this].”

Leonardo Bonucci scored in the final minutes to give the defending Serie A champs three decisive points in the race for the Scudetto.

Sampdoria 1 – Atalanta 0

There’s one other team in Italy who has yet to lose. It’s not Fiorentina, it’s not Napoli and it definitely isn’t one of those teams from Milan. Sampdoria continued their surprising start to the season with a 1-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored the game-winner for the second game in a row. He was set up beautifully by Pedro Obiang on a long through ball, and all Gabbiadini needed to do was beat goalkeeper Marco Sportiello. He did so with aplomb.

Bundesliga Recap

Bayern Munich 4 – Hannover 0

Bayern Munich might have the most talented team in the world. They’re on a short list of clubs that can do the double – win their domestic league and the UEFA Champions League.

Robert Lewandowski scored two goals in a comfortable 4-0 win over Hannover. New to the club, it hasn’t been the easiest of transitions for the Poland international. The fact that Bayern poached him from league rivals Borussia Dortmund make it that much sweeter. The fact that it didn’t cost a thing makes it remarkable.

Club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a German and Bayern soccer legend in his own right, heaped praise onto Lewandowksi after the game.  “Robert had a great game, not just because he scored twice, but for the way he took his goals like a world-class striker.”

Arjen Robben, who scored twice himself in the game, added this about his partner up top, “He doesn’t just hang about up front and score, he joins in the team play. He’s a terrific footballer and it’s a pleasure playing alongside him.”

If and when the club peaks in the way that Pep Guardiola desires, you’d be hard pressed to find a team that can beat them – on any day.

MLS

New England Revolution 2 – Columbus Crew 1

For the second game in a row, Jermaine Jones scored the game-winning goal. The New England Revolution are now 6-1-0 since the US Men’s National Team veteran joined the club. The Revs avenged their only loss since Jones joined the club vaulting into second place in the Eastern Conference.

Lee Nguyen has garnered MVP-consideration, and the Revs are quickly becoming a team that no one wants to face in the postseason.

LA Galaxy 3 – Toronto FC 0

In a star-studded affair – the past (Landon Donovan) and present (Michael Bradley) of the USMNT squaring off against one another – it was the Irish international, Robbie Keane, who stole the show.

Keane scored twice in a span of three minutes giving him 19 total on the season. Donovan set up Keane’s second of the game, surpassing Steve Ralston for sole possession of the all-time MLS assists record with his 136th of an illustrious career.

The Galaxy are the highest scoring team in MLS this season with 66 goals through 31 games. Through their last 10 games, the Galaxy have averaged four per match, posting eight wins and two draws. Don’t let those numbers fool you, as they’ve also conceded the least over the course of the season at just one a game. Their goal-differential of plus-35 dwarfs the rest of the league. Seattle checks in at number two with plus-14; paltry by comparison.

The Galaxy are undoubtedly the hottest team in MLS right now, and as Bruce Arena said last week, “Anyone with a brain in a game, it’s hard to say that Robbie wouldn’t be your first choice [for MVP].” Keane is just the third player in MLS history to score at least 15 goals while collecting 15 assists in the same season. He’s got my vote.

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