The advantage of playing in front of one’s home fans is often spoken of, but how much of a benefit is it really?
Emmanuel Adebayor came a cropper earlier this season when discussing this. But as the results are all now in from this weekend’s round of games, which is also the return fixture of games first played almost exactly a month ago, who are the big (home) winners?
Chelsea will have been delighted to banish the memory of that ludicrous defeat at Tottenham with a, in the end, routine win against Newcastle – their first conquerors of this season. The quintessential relegation six-pointers were won by Burnley and Leicester, both desperate to avoid the yo-yoing nature of previous newly promoted teams.
Also at the wrong end of the table, two teams with managerial newbies collected maximum points at home. Crystal Palace and West Brom must hope that momentum can be attained from these results, following hot on the heels of resounding FA Cup wins the previous week. Pardew and Pulis, a future police show or solicitor firm maybe, will be delighted with their first week at their new clubs.
The biggest winners in terms of margin of victory were Arsenal, with Alexis Sanchez once again in imperious form against their nemesis, Stoke City (those two teams really need to go on a team building day together). Arsene Wenger will have slept easy following the game, trying to forget that it is only the champions, Manchester City, that they have to face next.
Talking of whom, Manchester City will be cursing the quick equalizer supplied by the feisty Steven Naismith, which saw them drop two valuable points at Everton. The other drawn match of the weekend saw Swansea and West Ham share the spoils, with Andy Carroll again defying his critics. How long before the ‘England call-up’ bandwagon returns?
The only two fixtures that did not result in a home win in either game was between Liverpool and Sunderland, as Liverpool defeated the desperate Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, enough to give the affable Gus Poyet sleepless nights.
The final fixture in this round of games and of the weekend, is the oddity of the bunch – away wins in both matches between Manchester United and Southampton, in what has been an extraordinary season for both so far. One player, Dusan Tadic, defined this fixture – whilst being readied as a second-half substitute, it became apparent he did not have his match shirt on (how is that possible?). After a delay to correct his wardrobe inventory, he entered the fray and minutes later scored the winning goal and subsequently got booked – for removing his shirt. What a farce!
As it turns out, most of the teams that won at home this weekend lost in the corresponding fixture a month ago, so home advantage may count for something after all. You can bet your shirt on it.