Chelsea, Arsenal and More: What was the Most Important Penalty of Opening Weekend?
Penalties have a way of changing games abruptly and for the far better or worse. There are few moments when they are not a major turning point in a match as they either get one team back into the game or allow the other to put it out of sight.
This weekend saw six penalties awarded between Saturday and Sunday so far and there is potential to see one make a difference in Monday’s final fixture of opening week between Manchester City and Newcastle United.
Before the end of the weekend here are my thoughts on the level of importance we can level to each penalty this weekend.
Christian Benteke’s second against Arsenal
Arsenal were unfortunate to have given up two penalties this weekend to Aston Villa at the Emirates. While the first one drew the Villains level, it was the second that would deal the hammer blow to the Gunners.
Giving the young Belgian a brace on opening day alongside of securing three points against Arsenal will see both he and his club given a major boost ahead of their midweek clash with Chelsea.
Jonathan Walters vs Simon Mignolet
Simon Mignolet answered any
critics of his move to Anfield this summer from Sunderland with a masterful
double save against Stoke City in the dying minutes of the weekend’s curtain
raiser. Pepe Reina didn't make a save the first six matches for the Reds last season, Mignolet is already is proving he can keep the club in the game.
Liverpool had been all over the Potters all match but failed conversions of great opportunities saw the away side nearly gifted a 1-1 draw and a point if it were not for Mignolet. His save allowed the Reds their first season opening win since 2008.
Roberto Soldado winner against Crystal Palace
Tottenham had nearly 70% possession for the match but they failed to score a single goal from open play. Thankfully they were granted a chance to get ahead at Selhurst Park and Roberto Soldado buried his penalty opportunity to give Spurs a lead.
Ian Holloway will be disappointed that his club did not get a chance to steal a vital point on opening day, and a Gareth Bale-less Tottenham escaped with a win when they should have comfortably taken care of business in the first half alone.
Rickie Lambert winner against West Brom
Southampton spent big over the summer to bring in vital support for their midfield and defense, but they kept their faith in England international forward Rickie Lambert in attack. That faith was rewarded with a stoppage time penalty at the Hawthorns and Lambert delivered as he has for the last two seasons and saw a great opening three points.
West Brom will be frustrated to have seen their biggest goal threat in Romelu Lukaku from last season nowhere to be found in a Baggies’ kit and only aging former Blue Nicolas Anelka unable to save them.
Christian Benteke vs Wojciech Szczesny
While Aston Villa’s opening penalty would have seen them get on level terms Christian Benteke had to rely on a very lucky rebound to see his club back on terms.
The first penalty was greatly important to the match, but his second was the nail in the coffin for the Gunners as they stumbled to a frustrating loss on opening day that had the fans chanting, “spend some money,” as the game wound down.
Frank Lampard vs Allan McGregor
Frank Lampard has now missed two of his last three penalties, however, he did atone for it with a brilliant freekick goal despite McGregor getting a weak hand to it.
As for penalties that made a difference this weekend, Lampards was a non-issue.
Thomas is the Managing Editor of SWOL.co, follow him @socceratz.