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New signings on target as Spurs, West Ham, WBA record wins

September 01, 2012

Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate with Belgian midfielder Mousa Dembele (2nd L) after his debut goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City at White Hart Lane – Photo by AFP
Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate with Belgian midfielder Mousa Dembele (2nd L) after his debut goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City at White Hart Lane – Photo by AFP

LONDON: Spanish striker Michu hit his fourth goal in three league games but Swansea City missed the chance to top the fledgling Premier League standings after the Welsh side were held 2-2 at home by Sunderland on Saturday.

Everton also lost their perfect record after goals from Shane Long and Gareth McAuley secured a 2-0 victory for West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

Chelsea, who are not in league action this weekend after playing in the UEFA Super Cup, have a maximum nine points, followed by Swansea and West Brom on seven.

New Tottenham Hotspur signing Moussa Dembele came off the bench to score on his debut but coach Andre Villas-Boas was left waiting for his first win in charge after Robert Snodgrass scored five minutes from time to earn Norwich City a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.

Striker Andy Carroll enjoyed a bitter sweet debut for West Ham United after joining on loan from Liverpool, helping set up a first-minute goal in a 3-0 demolition of Fulham before suffering a second-half hamstring injury that could sideline him from England’s opening two 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Champions Manchester City, with four points from their opening two games, host Queens Park Rangers at 1630.

Swansea’s impressive start to the season was checked by Sunderland and new signing Steven Fletcher at the Liberty Stadium.

Having scored eight times without reply in two games, Michael Laudrup’s side conceded for the first time when Sunderland’s 12 million pounds acquisition Fletcher netted twice late in the first half, either side of a fine Wayne Routledge goal.

Michu continued his rich seam of form with a 66th minute equaliser but Swansea’s hopes of pressing for victory suffered a blow when Spanish central defender Jose Manuel Flores, known as Chico, was sent off 19 minutes from time.

Swansea confirmed later that left back Neil Taylor had suffered a fractured ankle during the first half.

West Brom, who beat Liverpool on the opening day, notched a notable city double by proving too strong for Everton.

Substitute Peter Odemwingie made an instant impact by picking out Long to score the opener on 65 minutes before McAuley made sure of the points with a late header.

Belgian playmaker Dembele lifted Tottenham’s spirits with a fine goal after moving across the capital from Fulham but fans filed out of White Hart Lane in despondent mood after Snodgrass secured a deserved point for Norwich.

Dembele rifled past John Ruddy on 68 minutes but substitute Tom Huddlestone was then sent off and the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos with Spurs picking up only two points from their first three games.

New Spurs signings Hugo Lloris and Clint Dempsey were not registered in time to play.

West Ham eased past Fulham after Kevin Nolan netted after 53 seconds at Upton Park. Winston Reid and Matt Taylor added further first-half goals but Carroll, who impressed on his debut, limped off midway through the second half.

Manager Sam Allardyce said the striker will “probably be on our treatment bench for a while”.

Wigan Athletic twice led at home to Stoke City but had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was far from happy despite seeing the English champions mark his 100th Premier League match in charge with a 3-1 win at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

Goals from Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez at Eastlands saw City remain unbeaten so far in the defence of their title.

But when Bobby Zamora equalised for the west London club it created an air of anxiety around Eastlands, although it did not take long for Dzeko to head City back in front, adding to Yaya Toure's opener, before an injury-time deflected effort from Tevez sealed victory.

“We have one problem at the moment, when we have a chance to score we don't score and after this the game can change,” said Mancini.

The Italian added: “We had this problem in our first game. We had a problem against Liverpool, it is a problem and when you have a chance to score you should score.

“I think the problem could be we didn't work with our players in pre-season, some players started their pre-season very late.

“At half-time, I said it's important we can't concede a goal every game – this is one of our problems – and when we get a chance we should score.”

But City's first team coach David Platt insisted it was just a matter of time before the club found the form that enabled them to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 44 years last season.

“We're not quite at the levels we were last season at this moment,” said former England midfielder Platt.

“This time last season, we were blowing teams away and keeping clean sheets. “It's not that we're not playing well, it is that we're not playing as well as we did at the start of last season when we were blowing teams away. There is an expectancy from ourselves, an expectancy from supporters.

“But we can look at the video of the game, watch it in its entirety, a lot more positively when we have won the game. The be-all and end-all is we stand here unbeaten with seven points out of nine and we know we can improve.

“When you look at the players' names written down, you sleep easy every night because they are good players.”

Platt believes key personnel are still searching for early season fitness, something which he hopes will improve over the coming 10-day international break, and he also had good news concerning the forward Mario Balotelli who is undergoing eye surgery this week to help cure persistent conjunctivitis.

“I think he's okay, it's just a normal procedure,” said Platt. “He'll have an operation in the next couple of days and it's minor.

“We're not quite there yet in terms of fitness. After the international break, Gareth Barry will have had another two weeks (training), Sergio Aguero will be there or thereabouts, David Silva will have had another two weeks after playing in the Euros, plus we have the new faces who have come in as well.”

QPR manager Mark Hughes, Mancini's predecessor at City, was disappointed his side failed to test the champions further, although with seven recent signings in his starting line-up, it may take time to see the best from his team.

“I can take a lot of positives from the game,” said Hughes.

“We were in the backyard of the champions, we put a great shift in and caused them problems.”

The former Manchester United and Wales striker added: “We were in charge of the game when we equalised and to concede so quickly was a body blow.”