By Dan Coombs
It is the list which nobody wanted to be on, the unwanted tag of being an opening day villain. Sadly it has to be somebody, and here are our five.
David Silva will be one of two Manchester City players extra relieved when Samir Nasri hit a late winner at the Etihad yesterday. The other was Jack Rodwell whose pass led to Southampton’s second goal, but David Silva should already have put the game out of reach for the Saints. His penalty was a shocker, and he will have to fight hard if he is to be trusted with City’s next one. He then proceeded to miss a second half sitter when it looked easier to hit the target. He will need to improve when City travel to Anfield next weekend.
It was all going so well for Stoke as they looked to be heading for an important 1-0 away win at newly promoted Reading. Instead the three points were effectively whipped away from them the moment Andy Wilkinson brought down Jobi McAnuff in the 89th minute to concede a penalty. He wasn’t helped by Dean Whitehead picking up a second yellow card and getting sent off placing the team under increased pressure with 15 minutes to go, but this will go down as two points dropped for Stoke.
Perhaps this may seem harsh on the Arsenal substitute, but Arsene Wenger’s face after his late miss said it all. Head in his hands and cursing, it was clear the French striker had missed a sitter. It was an excellent through ball played to him by Santi Cazorla, and it seemed as though all Giroud had to do was hit the target. Dare we say it but it was a chance Robin van Persie would have buried. The Frenchman will of course go onto have a successful Arsenal career, but this was not a debut to savour as his miss meant Arsenal blew their best chance to beat Sunderland and take three points.
Newly promoted Reading will have earmarked their home match with Stoke as an encounter they could win, but their goalkeeper’s first half error left them facing an uphill task all afternoon. If Federici had not let a routine long range effort from Michael Kightly squirm under his body and into the net then Adam Le Fondre may now be toasting his penalty winning Reading all three points. It was a bizarre error from a usually solid goalkeeper and one which will no doubt haunt him until his next performance. Who is their next match against? Chelsea, oh dear.
Alan Pardew summed up his push on a linesman best himself after the game. He was lecturing his players pre-match about setting a positive example in light of the outstanding British performances at the Olympic games, and then went and disgraced himself. OK so his push wasn’t in the Paolo di Canio stakes, but there are some things managers should not do, heat of the moment or not, and putting their hands on the officials is a big no-no. Don’t be surprised if a touchline ban follows, so Newcastle will have to get those walkie-talkie’s working.
Who would be your villains from the opening weekend?