Liverpool a class above and Spurs problems continue – PL 10
Liverpool’s first real test of the season was passed with flying colours as they saw off Arsenal comfortably and Tottenham Hotspur look to be in turmoil behind the scenes as they slipped to a shock defeat against Newcastle United. That and more talking points on this week’s PL 10 by Gregor Kerr.
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Liverpool display gulf between the rest of the top six
With the exception of an early skewed Adrian clearance, The Reds never looked to be on the backfoot or under threat at any time in their biggest test so far this season and produced their best display thus far. Any time Arsenal tried to stop that famous front three, they were reminded of the threat from fullback, and then the threat from midfield. From all areas they looked vulnerable.
It probably speaks volumes of the standards that Liverpool and Manchester City have reached that such a fixture became simply a routine win. For a team looking for a spot inside the top four Arsenal barely laid a finger on the home side. Lucas Torreria struck late from the bench but by that point Klopp’s side had eased off.
David Luiz was the guilty party for the second goal, after a shirt-tug gifted Liverpool a penalty, and being beaten too easily by Salah for the third. Unai Emery no doubt valued the Brazilian’s experience when bringing him to the club from Chelsea, but it was more naivety he displayed at Anfield.
Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle
Spurs suffering from behind the scenes issues
Tottenham’s second home game of their season was just like their first, low-tempo football, struggling to find space and conceding and early goal, except this time bringing Christian Eriksen from the bench failed to inspire them.
Performances have been unconvincing thus far, despite a good result at the Etihad last week, and the same lethargy shown at the end of last season has only been carried on, with just four wins from their last 15 games in the league. The contract and playing situations of Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen, with just one start between them so far, hints at further issues deeper in the club.
It shouldn’t detract from The Toon’s performance, by far the best under Bruce, after a week of negative talk culminated in the perfect defensive performance; night and day compared to their collapse at Carrow Road the week before. A first goal for record signing Joelinton should ease the pressure of expectation.
Man United 1-2 Crystal Palace
Maguire and Wan-Bissaka unable to fix United defence so far
If Harry Maguire was bought in for anything it would be for some arial superiority, but it was his defensive partner Victor Lindelof who was easily beat in the air, allowing Jordan Ayew acres of space to open the scoring at Old Trafford. On recent evidence it will take time for the new recruits to make a difference at the back.
After Paul Pogba’s much discussed penalty miss at Wolves on Monday it was Marcus Rashford’s turn from the spot, but he too failed to convert, before Daniel James looked to have salvaged a late point for the hosts.
Again, it was a defensive mistake that cost United right at the death as David De Gea let a shot from Patrick Van Aaanholt slip through his near post, an area of weakness that seems to be exploited at the expense of the Spaniard.
Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
McGinn & Villa belong in the Premier League
Villa picked up their first top-flight win for 3 years on Friday night, in a match where everything seemed to come together for the play-off winners. Record-signing Wesley faced plenty criticism for his opening two games but he was the focal point in the victory, holding up the ball well, showing skill and finishing well beyond Jordan Pickford.
Jack Grealish may be the face and captain of the side, but John McGinn has proven himself to be the heartbeat, the ball of energy in the middle of the pitch stopping attacks and starting them. He handled the step up to the Championship with ease last summer after arriving at Villa Park for a bargain fee and looks a stand-out even at the top level. His pass in injury time allowed Anwar El Ghazi to wrap up the win late on with a lovely piece of skill. McGinn looks like a ready-made Premier League player and Villa seem to have a renewed sense of energy compared to their last stint in the division.
That midfield dominance doesn’t mean that the Toffees were without chances, as Alex Iwobi struck the post on his pursuit for a first Everton goal. Theo Walcott also should have levelled the scores near the end, but overall Villa were good value for their win.
Wolves 1-1 Burnley
Wolves likely to suffer from Europa exploits
After a European trip to Torino in midweek the hosts looked flat and went behind early to a stunning Ashley Barnes volley, who now has the third most Premier League goals in 2019, behind only Sergio Aguero and Saido Mane. It could have been a two-goal lead had Ryan Bennet and the woodwork not denied Burnley, but they were made to rue a late Raul Jiminez penalty after a customary VAR check.
Wolves looked to be suffering from the famed double-edged sword of competing in the Europa League. The build-up of fixtures and tight, small squad that Nuno Esperito Santo prefers to operate under means that balancing both league and European priorities will be a struggle, should Wolves finish the job in their play-off against Torino. Also, their season began back in July with the early qualifiers, well before their Premier League counterparts. It will be interesting to see if fatigue sets in early compared to other clubs.
Norwich 2-3 Chelsea
Mount ready to be first choice for Lampard’s Chelsea
Mason Mount continued his bright early season form at Carrow Road, weaving his way beyond the Norwich defence and finding the far corner, either side of Tammy Abraham’s first two goals for Chelsea.
Frank Lampard himself was renowned for those late runs into the box and goals from midfield and looks to have sprayed some of that knowledge and experience on Mount from his time at Derby County. Alongside the pace and skill of Christian Pulisic and Pedro either side of him, Chelsea look like a team ready to score goals. If they can find a defensive balance then top-four aspirations may not be as far away as some think.
Sheffield United 1-2 Leicester City
Wilder not satisfied with scraping survival
It would have been easy for Chris Wilder to praise his players efforts, in just their third game back in the top division, in a narrow lost to a talented Leicester City side, but he lamented his side’s performance and lack of quality. Their passing accuracy fell by 2% compared to victory last weekend against Crystal Palace, and lost just the second of their last 21 games.
Afterwards Wilder surprised some with his post-match comments: “I’m not pleased with effort because that is just a bog standard thing for me. Cheers for effort doesn’t tick a box for me.” It’s refreshing to hear a manager speak with such honesty and refuse to accept defeat mildly, especially with the high standards he’s set. He might have left Brammall Lane happier had Harvey Barnes not netted a late winner for the Foxes, his first goal for the club.
Watford 1-3 West Ham
FA Cup run covered up cracks for Javi Gracia
A year ago Gracia looked to be the shrewdest appointment of Watford’s recent era, with just a second FA Cup final reached in their history and a record Premier League points total. On the surface of things, it would be absurd to consider the Spaniard under serious pressure, but the numbers say more.
The Hornets have lost their last seven games, stretching back to last season, and looked toothless at home to the Hammers as Sebastian Haller struck twice for the visitors. Andre Gray struck for an equaliser but for all their attempts at goal, Gracia’s side found the target on three times in the game. Next week’s trip to Newcastle could prove to be the former Malaga boss’ last game in charge.
Brighton 0-2 Southampton
Hassenhuttl’s side benefit from early red card
It was somewhat tough on Brighton to finish a game pointless for the first time this season, considering Florin Andone’s 30th minute red card could have left them without much attacking presence. It was the hosts however, who have looked impressive early on under Graham Potter, who looked the more dangerous in the first-half, having a Lewis Dunk header chalked off by VAR.
The Saints though were clinical and saw new-signing Moussa Djenepo scoring from the bench just two minutes after being introduced, and Nathan Redmond sealed things late on. Hassenhuttl showed signs of improvement for both individual players and the whole Southampton team since arriving last season, and their first win of this campaign should ease any worries.
Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester City
City’s depth shows ability to overcome challenges
After a relatively comfortable first half, breezing into a two goal lead thanks to Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, Pep Guardiola wouldn’t have expected such a tough battle in the second half as Harry Wilson once again struck beautifully from a free-kick to half the deficit before half-time.
The Cherries pressed City hard early after the break and looked to be coming out on top of the midfield battle. Guardiola though simply had to introduce Rodri, a clever and shrewd addition by the looks of things, to add some bite and composure back into the midfield and put out any developing fires. Instantly the power shifted back to the champions and Aguero sealed the win 20 minutes from time.