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Arsenal move clear in weekend of wonder goals

Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Tom Pyman rounds-up a Premier League weekend jam-packed with stunners.

It was not so much a competitive round of fixtures in the Premier League this weekend, but more an exhibition of some of the most aesthetically-pleasing goals you'll see all season.

Arsenal, so often lauded as ‘the great entertainers,' were perhaps the main perpetrators of this as they went two points clear at the top following a 4-1 victory over Norwich. Jack Wilshere opened the scoring with a breath-taking goal; slotting home after a glorious passage of interchanges between himself, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Mesut Özil then doubled the hosts' advantage with his first-ever headed goal before Jonny Howson pulled one back for the Canaries with a fine strike. But the in-form Aaron Ramsey then took centre-stage, feinting his way past the Norwich defence effortlessly before slamming the ball home. Özil added a fourth from close range to provide the cherry on the richest of iced cakes.

Arsene Wenger's side have been synonymous with attractive football, yet have been starved of success in recent seasons. But there's a certain steel and efficiency about the Gunners this time around which makes them genuine title contenders for the first time in years. Some would argue that they haven't really been tested yet, but you can only beat what's in front of you, and Arsenal have done that in some style, and look a real force to be reckoned with.

They were allowed to extend their lead at the top because Liverpool, who were level on points with the Gunners, were held to a draw at Newcastle in the early kick-off on Saturday. The hosts took the lead thanks to a fantastic long-range strike by Yohan Cabaye, but Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa gave away a silly foul in the box to get himself sent off and gift Liverpool a penalty. Steven Gerrard duly converted for his 100th Premier League goal. One could have been forgiven for thinking a confident Liverpool side would steamroller their opponents, but Newcastle refused to roll over for them.

They restored their lead, in fact, when local lad Paul Dummett, who had come on as a substitute, headed home for his first ever Newcastle goal. Daniel Sturridge scored yet again 15 minutes later to level the scores, but, considering current form, and the fact they were against 10 men for the majority of the match, Liverpool may well see this result as two points dropped rather than one gained.

Manchester United will probably have a similar attitude as they conceded a late equaliser at home to Southampton as the pressure increased on manager, David Moyes. Robin van Persie scored in the first half and the Champions looked to have ground out three important points until, in the 89th minute, Adam Lallana diverted Dejan Lovren's header into the net to secure another solid result for the Saints. Having only conceded three goals all season, they boast the meanest defence in the league and, sitting pretty in 6th, look to be this campaign's ‘surprise package.'

There was better form displayed by Chelsea, however, who moved up to 2nd following an emphatic 4-1 win over Cardiff. Jordon Mutch scored a surprise opener for the visitors, but the lead didn't last long, as Chelsea equalised in controversial fashion. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall bounced the ball, seemingly in full control of it, but Samuel Eto'o nipped in and stole it off him before laying it on a plate for Eden Hazard. Particularly with the likes of Thierry Henry having similar ‘goals' disallowed in the past, it was the subject of much post-match debate.

Chelsea were pretty much unstoppable from that point on, though. Eto'o got one himself midway through the second half, before Oscar scored with a blistering drive. Hazard then netted his second to cap a fine result for Jose Mourinho's side, who you suspect still haven't really hit top gear.

Despite plenty of, frankly, amazing goals elsewhere, the pick of the bunch perhaps came at Selhurst Park. Adrian Marriappa opened the scoring for Crystal Palace but it was the stunning volley by Fulham's Pajtim Kasami which really caught the eye – surely being an early contender for goal of the season. Steve Sidwell then put Martin Jol's team in front before Dimitar Berbatov and Phillippe Senderos got on the score-sheet to condemn Ian Holloway's team to another defeat.

Elsewhere, Manchster City claimed a crucial victory at Upton Park courtesy of David Silva and a Sergio Aguero brace, whilst goals from Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado secured an important win for Tottenham against Aston Villa. Meanwhile, Swansea thrashed Sunderland, who are still without a win, 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium; Jonathan de Guzman and Wilfried Bony each scored, and they were aided by own goals via Phil Bardsley and Steven Fletcher – perhaps evidence of the rut Sunderland are stuck in at the moment. Elsewhere, Everton beat Hull 2-1 at Goodison Park and Stoke drew 0-0 at home to West Brom.

Next weekend sees Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace in the early kick-off, whilst Chelsea host Manchester City in a mouth-watering fixture on Sunday.
Tom Pyman
Tom is a journalism student at the University of Sheffield and, more importantly, a passionate Arsenal fan. Too many players have come and gone to adopt a favourite but if he had to name one, it'd be difficult to look past Thierry Henry. Or Dennis Bergkamp. Or Freddie Ljungberg. Maybe not Park Chu-Young. He used to regularly attend home games but living three hours away has now made getting to the Emirates every other week a bit tricky. Follow Tom on Twitter @gooner_tom

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