The Premier League’s weekend action saw a string of influential performances make the difference for their side in games where the result could otherwise have been very different.
Everton’s victory at Swansea was a comfortable 3-0 in the end but Marouane Fellaini played a part in all three goals for the away side, setting up the first for Victor Anichebe despite what looked like handball before sliding a precise through ball for Steven Pienaar on the right wing whose cross set up Kevin Mirallas to put the Toffees 2-0 up on the counter.
The giant midfielder added a third with a header from a free kick before being taken off to an ovation from the fans.
Rickie Lambert led Southampton’s comeback from a goal down to win 4-1, neatly controlling Adam Lallana’s cross before finishing powerfully towards the bottom corner for the equalizer.
He showed impressive composure as his well-timed passes played had a hand in each of his team’s next two goals before he capped a fine display with an emphatic penalty in stoppage time.
Chelsea eventually defeated Stoke to remain top of the table, but endured considerable difficulty at Stamford Bridge as they conceded chances along the way.
The Blues struggled to break the visitors down until Juan Mata’s clever back-heel found Ashley Cole in the six yard box to net the winning goal with five minutes remaining. The Spanish playmaker had also created his side’s best chance previously with a chipped pass over the Potters’ defence to set up Fernando Torres.
Newcastle found Norwich’s well organized defence tough to crack at St James’ Park but a moment of brilliance from Hatem Ben Arfa to round his marker on the right flank and split the Canaries’ defence with a curling through ball allowed Demba Ba to put the Magpies ahead shortly before the 20 minute mark.
The France international also went close to a goal of his own in the second half with a stinging effort from outside the box.
Arsenal’s late equalizer against Manchester City owed much to diminutive playmaker Santi Cazorla. City won all but two of their Premier League matches last season at the Etihad but the Spanish midfielder led the Gunners to an impressive display in which they were unfortunate to be a goal down with minutes remaining, creating chances for Gervinho in the process.
His late effort from the edge of the penalty box forced an impressive save from Joe Hart, and he then took the corner from which Laurent Koscielny grabbed a deserved equalizer.
Who do you believe put in the finest performance of the weekend? Did the playmaking talents of Cazorla or Mata catch your eye? Or was Ben Arfa's dazzling dribbling your highlight. Perhaps you're a fan of the physical stuff and thought Fellaini or Lambert's brilliant brutishness was the best?
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