City stunned by Stoke, United frustrated again

first_imgBy Toby DavisChampions Manchester City suffered a stunning 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City on Saturday as their cast of attacking talents were blunted in a lifeless display that cost them their first dropped points of the season.Mame Biram Diouf scored a superb individual goal to silence the City fans who have become used to seeing one-sided romps at their Etihad stadium, especially against the Premier League’s lesser lights.It was an equally miserable day for City’s rivals Manchester United whose frustrations continued in a 0-0 draw at promoted Burnley with British-record signing Angel Di Maria unable to spark an improvement in their fortunes.Di Maria, signed from Real Madrid for 59.7 million pounds ($99 million) on Tuesday, showed flashes of his talent in a 70-minute debut, but United still looked short of attacking ideas, claiming only their second point from their opening three league games.Swansea City’s excellent start to the season continued as they swept aside West Bromwich Albion 3-0 to move top of the fledgling table with a maximum nine points, while Southampton came from behind to beat West Ham United 3-1.Crystal Palace, playing their first game under new manager Neil Warnock, scored through on-loan Wilfried Zaha in the fifth minute of stoppage time to grab a 3-3 draw at Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers beat Sunderland 1-0 for their first win since gaining promotion.Chelsea can also have maximum points if they beat Everton in Saturday’s evening kickoff.RESILIENT STOKEGames at City’s home stadium have frequently resembled carefully scripted affairs with their glittering array of stars showering supporters with goals and entertainment.Both were in short supply against a rugged and resilient Stoke, who scored 13 minutes into the second half when Senegal international Diouf raced 60 metres before beating City keeper Joe Hart.This was only the second time in 71 games that City, who looked ruthless in Monday’s 3-1 win over Liverpool, had failed to score at home and ended a run of seven consecutive league wins stretching back to last season’s title triumph.“It’s a surprising defeat because we don’t expect to lose against Stoke but these games sometimes happen,” City’s manager Manuel Pellegrini said.“We tried from everywhere and really we are not very creative we did not find the space and that is credit to Stoke.”DI MARIA DEBUTIt was a similarly ineffectual display from United, whose defence, ripped apart in a 4-0 League Cup defeat to third tier MK Dons on Tuesday, still looked uncomfortable with manager Louis van Gaal’s three centre back system.With cameras panning to former boss Alex Ferguson yawning in the stands, questions are already being asked of Van Gaal, who is struggling to implement his playing style and scrambling to recruit players before the transfer window shuts on Monday.“The progress is there,” he told BT Sport, “but you have to win.“A club like Manchester United has to win. We have two points from nine and that’s disappointing.”Di Maria was undoubtedly United’s best player in the first half, injecting pace and direct running into their midfield while also being the main creative force with clever flicks and pin-point passes.The Argentine was also the architect of United’s best chance with a searching long ball that found Robin van Persie, who could not beat Burnley keeper Tom Heaton, playing against his former club.DYER DOUBLESwansea, who had already beaten United and Burnley in their opening two games, maintained their 100 percent start with a comfortable win over West Brom thanks to two goals from Nathan Dyer and a Wayne Routledge volley.Dyer rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into an empty net after two minutes before Routledge volleyed home beautifully midway through the first half. Dyer stroked home a Gylfi Sigurdsson pass to complete the scoring.Newcastle United thought they had suppressed a spirited Palace when Mike Williamson put them 3-2 ahead in the 88th minute, but Zaha, returning from Manchester United for a second spell at the club, levelled at the death.West Ham paraded loan signing Alex Song before kickoff and took the lead when Mark Noble scored with a deflected shot with 27 minutes on the clock, but Morgan Schneiderlin scored twice and Graziano Pelle added a third to hand Saints boss Ronald Koeman his first Premier League win.last_img

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