Bitesize: St. Etienne, Edinson Cavani & 4-6

by Kevin Coleman

Another fascinating week of action from around Europe, as Kevin Coleman reports. St. Etienne and Mainz continue to set the pace in France and Germany, while Edinson Cavani takes the week’s Golden Boot with his curler against Cesena.

That was the week:
Premier League: In England’s top flight, the most notable result from the weekend’s action was at the City of Manchester Stadium as Chelsea slumped to their first loss of the season, and ultimately losing their first real test of the campaign. Carlo Ancelotti’s side had an opening string of games that were so unchallenging to his men, they seemed hand picked. But the the league leaders were kept to a 1-0 defeat as Ancelotti’s fellow countryman Roberto Mancini masterminded the Blues’ downfall. Carlos Tevez scores the goal, but may have had it too easy on the counter-attack. Sky’s shameful mafia-style introduction hyped the tie up as a clash of boring Italian football. Unfortunately the scoreline suggests Andy Gray will continue his blinkered view on foreign football.

The talking point of the weekend was at Anfield, however. Fernando Torres took advantage of Michael Turner’s poorly considered free-kick back towards his ‘keeper, squaring the ball for Dirk Kuyt to put Liverpool 1-0 up. The incident has split opinion around the web, but I’m in the camp that backs Stuart Atwell’s decision to let the goal stand. Turner thoughtlessly back-heeled the ball towards his goalkeeper from the spot he was asked to take the kick, unaware of the presence of Torres who was quick to notice the play from Turner. The game finished 2-2, as Darren Bent struck twice to put the Black Cats ahead, before Steven Gerrard equalised with a header.

Bundesliga: In Germany, Mainz continued their unbelievable form to date, beating Bayern Munich 2-1 at the Allianz Arena and taking their tally to six wins from six. Sami Allaqui opened the scoring for the away side, and Adam Szalai sealed the win after an OG from Bo Svensson. Elsewhere, a Grafite double earned Wolfsburg all three points at home to SC Freiburg. This takes Steve McClaren’s side up to sixth place in the Bundesliga, after a less than impressive start to his career in German football.

Ligue Un: The Bundesliga isn’t the only major European league that has an upside-down glare to it’s league table, France’s Ligue 1 is another which sees a surprise leader after seven games. St. Etienne are on the summit of the French league with five wins, fending of Stade Rennes by one point. Reigning champions Marseille are sixth, while Lyon and Auxerre – who finished second and third respectively last season – are eighteenth and seventeenth with only a single win between them. St. Etienne beat Lyon 1-0 at the weekend, Dmitri Payet netting his seventh of the season. Meanwhile Marseille also recorded a win, beating Sochaux 2-0 with goals from Taye Taiwo and Lucho Gonzalez.

Goal of the Week
Edinson Cavani’s spectacular top corner curler in Napoli’s 4-1 victory over Cesena

Player of the Week
Vincent Kompany – The Manchester City defender was phenomenal against a formidable Chelsea attack-line. The Belgian defender helped City to a clean sheet against a side who had scored a mind boggling twenty-one goals on their opening five games.

Villain of the Week
Nicola Ayroldi – The Italian referee gave a questionable performance between Brescia and Roma last week, including giving Brescia a penalty for an incident which happened outside the box – thus sending off Philipe Mexes, and not giving Roma a spot-kick for a blatant handball in the penalty area.

Match of the Week
Leeds United 4-6 Preston North End – this week’s game of the week comes from the npower Championship, as Leeds threw away a 4-1 lead in a 10-goal thriller at Elland Road. Preston stormed ahead after five minutes, but the home side had cruised into a 4-1 lead by the 40th minute. Jon Parkin’s second before half time finished the opening 4-2, and Preston went on to further punish Leeds in the second half and earned an unbelievable 6-4 win.

Quote of the Week
Mahamadou Sissoko, who’d rather keep his football in the SPL and Kilmarnock than return to Italy:

“I’m happy with Kilmarnock and I would prefer to remain in Scotland. Over here supporters are more understanding. In Italy, though, they are crazy. There are too many hooligans.”

What to watch this weekend
Friday:
Hannover 96 v St Pauli, 19:30 – ESPN
Saturday: Wigan v Wolves, 12:45 – Sky Sports 2
Sunderland v Man Utd, 15:00 – Setanta Ireland
Real Sociedad v Espanyol, 19:00 – Sky Sports 4
Parma v AC Milan, 19:45 – ESPN, Setanta Ireland
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao, 21:00 – Sky Sports 4
Sunday: Lecce v Catania, 11:30 – Setanta Ireland
Manchester City v Newcastle, 12:30 – ESPN
Napoli v Roma, 14:00 – Setanta Ireland
Chelsea v Arsenal, 16:00 – Sky Sports 1
Barcelona v Mallorca, 19:00 – Sky Sports 2
Inter Milan v Juventus, 19:45 – ESPN, Setanta Ireland
Real Madrid v Deportivo, 21:00 – Sky Sports 2

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