With the 2014-15 edition of the Barclays Premier League now seven matches old, there have already been a number of hugely entertaining fixtures illustrating just why the English top flight is so highly regarded across the globe.
Ranging from goal-bonanzas involving Manchester United to touchline bust-ups involving the usually calm figure of Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, the Premier League has already delivered moments that will live long in the memory.
Here are the top five matches of the season so far starting from fifth to first.
5. Burnley 1-3 Chelsea: Monday 18th August 2014
On the weekend the Premier League returned following the significantly shorter summer break, we were treated to twenty two goals, however it was to be the Monday Night Football fixture which was to prove the most enthralling of the opening round of matches.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea returned as a different looking outfit built in their manager’s own image. Hardworking but with the required individual brilliance to set Chelsea above the chasing pack. New signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa looked to be on the same wavelength from the off as Mourinho’s charges dismantled a plucky Burnley side.
The host’s, on their return to the Premier League, started well and actually took the lead through a stunning strike from Scott Arfield but this only served to shake Chelsea into their rhythm.
Costa levelled before Andre Schurrle latched onto what has already been described as ‘pass of the season’ from Fabregas to give the Blues the lead. Chelsea kept Burnley at arm’s length for the rest of the match with Branislav Ivanovic scoring to seal the points.
This result set the tone for Chelsea’s season with the club still unbeaten up to this point.
4. Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool
In the first heavyweight clash of the season, Champions Manchester City welcomed last season’s runners-up Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium in a match that on paper looked to be a real clash of the titans. The neutral was not left disappointed.
The drama began off the pitch as former City striker Mario Balotelli was confirmed as Liverpool’s newest signing earlier that afternoon and arrived at his former ground greeted with not exactly the most harmonious of receptions
In a sharp contrast to the match between the two teams at Anfield near the close of last season it was to be City who took all three points with Manuel Pellegrini’s side putting on an attacking masterclass in front of their own fans.
Liverpool, whom still looked to be adjusting to life after Luis Suarez, were steamrolled by a Steven Jovetic brace, with goals coming either side of the half-time interval following impressive link-up play orchestrated by Pablo Zabaleta.
Sergio Aguero netted the third as the game rapidly looked like turning into a rout. Liverpool managed to pull a goal back late on through a Zabaleta own-goal following some dogged work from substitute Rickie Lambert.
3. Manchester United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers
In terms of an exciting end-to-end clash, this may not have been the most exciting fixture I could have picked however, for the footballing neutral the display of attacking genius showed by Louis van Gaal’s team was simply sensational.
After a troubling start to the season, the new look Manchester United buoyed by the signings of Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, to name just two, ripped a shaky QPR defence to pieces and ran out rampant 4-0 victors to record their first win of the season.
Di Maria started the scoring with a whipped in free-kick from distance whilst Ander Herrera added the second before half-time with a clever shot right into the far corner of Rob Green’s goal. QPR collapsed before the break and allowed Wayne Rooney to power a third in at the near post, much to the frustration of boss Harry Redknapp.
United were even able to take their foot of the gas and enjoy their football after Juan Mata slotted in a fourth after being on the receiving end of Di Maria’s powerful cross-cum-shot.
2. Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United
If the previous entry showed United at their attacking best then the fixture with Leicester City on Matchday five showed Van Gaal’s team at their worst defensively.
In one of the classic Premier League encounters in the history of the league in its current guise, newly promoted Leicester put on a show for their supporters as Esteban Cambiasso’s impressive club debut forced his club to take advantage of a frail United backline missing several of their more experienced figures.
It looked for the entire world as if United were continuing right where they left off against QPR as they raced into a 2-0 lead early on courtesy of goals from Robin van Persie and a world class chipped finish from Di Maria, surely an early candidate for goal of the season.
However, Leicester pegged United back right away with Leonardo Ulloa firing a header past De Gea’s near post after a determined Jamie Vardy forced Marcos Rojo into a mistake in his own zone.
United thought they had secured the win shortly after the interval when Herrera improvised a flicked finish past Kasper Schmeichel, however the drama was just about to start.
A rather controversial refereeing decision from Mark Clattenburg saw Jamie Vardy, shall we say, outmuscle Rafael before the Brazilian brought Vardy down inside the penalty area. Nugent converted to bring Leicester within one goal.
United panicked and supporters oversaw one of the more shocking defensive collapses in recent times. United folded and Cambiasso fired Leicester level with a powerful effort after United failed to clear a loose ball. Vardy then got a goal of his own on the break before Tyler Blackett was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity with a foul on Vardy. Ulloa converted the subsequent penalty to send Foxes supporters into delirium at their first victory over United since January 1998.
1. Everton 3-6 Chelsea
It was a victory which Jose Mourinho said he did not enjoy, but for the viewing public Chelsea’s visit to Goodison Park was likely to be one of the games of the season.
Two teams with excellent defensive records in the 2013-14 campaign seemingly put defending to the back of their respective minds, with the forwards having an absolute field day.
Chelsea set off like a freight train with Costa and Branislav Ivanovic putting the Blues 2-0 to the good inside four minutes of first-half play. Everton were then lucky to keep a full side on the pitch when Tim Howard clearly handled the ball outside his penalty area, however, referee Jonathan Moss failed to notice.
Everton were given hope in the match when Kevin Mirallas pulled a goal back seconds before half-time.
The second-half started significantly slower than the first, much to the delight of Jose Mourinho, with Chelsea appearing to have sealed the result when Seamus Coleman put the ball into his own net, cue Costa celebrating wildly in the face of Coleman following a coming together of the pair not long before the goal.
Tempers were frayed and the tempo of the match followed suit. Steven Naismith scored for Everton almost immediately from the restart with a smart finish past Thibaut Courtois. The manic period of the match was well underway with former Chelsea forward Samuel Eto’o being brought on as an Everton substitute determined to do well against his former side following comments made by Mourinho about his age.
Shortly after Naismith’s goal Chelsea were ahead by two goals again when Nemanja Matic powered a shot past Tim Howard via a slight deflection only for Eto’o to peg Chelsea back shortly after with a fantastic header.
Alas that was to be the last of Everton’s goals as Ramires scored an opportunists goal, following a clever one-two manoeuvre with Matic inside the penalty area to make it 5-3 in Chelsea’s favor.
Everyone was able to catch their breath and Chelsea finished the scoring in injury time when Everton substitute Muhamed Besic back heeled the ball into the path of Costa with his first touch of the game. The Spaniard coolly slotted past Howard to end the joint seventh highest scoring Premier League match of all-time.
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