While everybody was going Olympics crazy over the weekend, Premier League clubs were in friendly action as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Wigan Athletic all stepped up their preparations for the new season.
Perhaps the most eye-catching result of the weekend was at the Amex Stadium, where Brighton and Hove Albion beat European champions Chelsea 3-1 to consign the Blues to their third consecutive friendly defeat.
Frank Lampard had given Chelsea the lead but goals from Vicente, Ashley Barnes and Andrew Crofts gave the Championship side a deserved win. Roberto di Matteo’s men have now conceded ten goals in five friendlies this summer and need to improve ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield at Villa Park.
Their opponents this weekend, Manchester City, warmed up for that clash by sending two different teams to play matches over the weekend. Such is the strength of the Premier League champions’ squad, they won both matches: the first a 2-0 win over Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in Germany (goals scored by Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure) on Saturday, while on Sunday another City side secured a 4-0 win over Irish outfit Limerick. The goals came from Edin Dzeko (two), Dedryck Boyata and Luca Scapuzzi.
Like Chelsea, many Premier League clubs were in action against teams from the Championship, and it was a mixed bag of results for big boys.
Everton suffered their first defeat of pre-season as they went down 2-0 to Championship side Blackpool. The Toffees gave debuts to summer signings Steven Pienaar and Steven Naismith but second-half goals from Alex Baptiste and trialist James Caton gave Ian Holloway’s side victory.
Aston Villa also lost their first match of the summer, also to Championship opposition. Nottingham Forest beat the Villans 3-1 at the City Ground as new boss Sean O’Driscoll won on his home debut. Two goals from Lewis McGugan and a Marcus Tudgay strike meant Barry Bannan’s reply was in vain as Paul Lambert tasted defeat for the first time as Villa manager.
Ipswich Town made it a hat-trick of pre-season wins for Championship sides against top division opposition as they beat West Ham United 3-1 at Portman Road. Michael Chopra and Luke Chambers put Paul Jewell’s team ahead at the break, before Matt Taylor pulled one back for the Hammers after half-time. But substitute Jason Scotland wrapped up an impressive win for the Tractor Boys late on.
West Bromwich Albion secured a draw at Sheffield Wednesday, newly-promoted from League One, with a late equaliser at Hillsborough. New signing Nejc Pecnik gave the Owls the lead, only for Peter Odemwingie to deny Wednesday another Premier League scalp following their victory over Reading earlier in the summer.
Tottenham Hotspur fared better against a side from the second tier, winning 1-0 at Watford. Jermain Defoe scored the only goal of a game of few chances as Andre Villas-Boas got the better of new Watford boss Gianfranco Zola.
Southampton also defeated a Championship team in the shape of Wolves, who the Saints have replaced in the top flight. Goals from Billy Sharp and Jason Puncheon gave Nigel Adkins’ team a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Meanwhile, Manchester United played out a 0-0 draw with Norwegian side Valerenga, while Wigan lost 2-0 to Mallorca as Victor Casadesus and Kevin Garcia scored second-half goals.
With less than two weeks to go until the start of the new season, most clubs play their final warm-up matches this week ahead of the big kick-off.
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