North London derby classic shows defensive shortcomings – PL 10
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur ripped each other apart in a vintage derby, where both sides showed their very best and worst in a 2-2 draw. Jamie Braidwood looks at the top talking points in this week’s PL 10.
Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Chaotic derby only highlights Arsenal and Spurs’ weaknesses
The Premier League season is only four weeks old and yet we pretty much know how encounters between the ‘big six’ sides will unfold this season. As we saw during Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Arsenal last week and Manchester City’s dominance over Spurs two weeks ago (even though it finished as a draw), the Premier League’s top two bring a level of intensity and quality that their opponents cannot match. But most importantly, they also play with control.
Contrast that to Sunday’s north London derby which saw frenetic, end-to-end action (see also Manchester United’s opening win against Chelsea at the start of the season). Don’t get me wrong, it was as good a match as you may see this season, but both sides’ shortcomings were exposed. Spurs, although missing Tanguy Ndombele, were unable to see the game out after going 2-0 up while Arsenal’s midfield was so easy to play through, allowing Spurs to hit them on the counter attack time and time again. 2-2 was a fair result but does neither team much good with Liverpool and City already clear at the top of the table.
Southampton 1-1 Manchester United
United dominate possession but struggle again with Pogba misfiring
I felt sorry for Paul Pogba as I watched Manchester United’s tame draw against 10-man Southampton on Saturday, such was the individual responsibility placed on him to be at the centre of each and every United move. By all accounts, Pogba performed poorly and United therefore missed the spark needed to break down another stubborn opponent. This will be a growing theme throughout the season I’m sure, but for a club of their size the lack of options available for United is ridiculous. I’m all for affording opportunities to youth but in the summer United sold two central midfielders and a No. 9, failed to sign replacements and are now stuck with an ultra-trim squad until January. It means they are unable to change matches from the bench and they have already dropped seven points as a result.
Burnley 0-3 Liverpool
Mane outburst not an issue for Reds after easy win
Such was the ease of Liverpool’s away win at Burnley on Saturday it was not surprising that the main talking point from the match was Sadio Mane’s reaction to being substituted in the second half. Mane was clearly upset that Mohamed Salah had not squared the ball for a certain fourth goal moments earlier, and his furious outburst as he left the pitch could have offered a glimpse at a potential dressing room split.
However, it appears that the fallout from Mane’s reaction is nothing more than a storm in a teacup. Jurgen Klopp was quick to dismiss Mane’s reaction afterwards but interestingly the main insight can be taken from social media. The tunnel cam footage of Roberto Firmino (clearly in on the joke) walking awkwardly between Salah and Mane went viral, with Salah seeing the funny side on his Instagram story, while Mane also reacted positively to James Milner poking fun of the incident on an Instagram post.
Manchester City 4-0 Brighton
Kevin De Bruyne won’t stop until he is POTY
It’s a little bit terrifying that Manchester City managed to win three domestic trophies and reach 98 points last season without a fully fit Kevin De Bruyne. The midfielder’s offensive output last season was limited to two goals and two assists but De Bruyne has already racked up a goal and six assists in four games this season. It’s easy to forget that after scoring eight and setting up 16, De Bruyne was unfortunate to miss out on Premier League Player of the Year in 2017/18. After missing out last campaign De Bruyne is back firing on all cylinders and is playing as if he’s on a one-man mission to win the Player of the Year crown for 19/20. That should make the rest of the league very worried.
Everton 3-2 Wolves
Delph playing important role for bouncing Everton
Everton’s signing of Fabian Delph during the summer completely went under the radar but judging by the reaction to his performance against Wolves on Sunday, the midfielder is a potential signing of the summer contender. Delph, who arrived from Manchester City for just £8 million, is providing depth to Everton’s midfield and is proving to be an alternative replacement for Idrissa Gueye.
Let’s not forget, before his move to City in 2015 and subsequent deployment at left back, Delph was subtly one of the league’s most consistent performers while at Aston Villa and earned England caps in the centre of midfield. He won’t be the difference for Everton this year but could set the platform to allow their host of attacking midfielders such as Richarlison and Moise Kean to flourish.
Chelsea 2-2 Sheffield United
Abraham emerges for Chelsea, but so do defensive issues
Funnily enough, since writing in my first PL 10 entry two weeks ago that Chelsea looked like they were a goalscorer away from being a decent side, Tammy Abraham seems to have emerged as that man. Since firing a blank against Manchester United on the opening weekend and missing a penalty against Liverpool in the Super Cup shootout, Abraham has responded brilliantly, netting a brace two weeks in a row to take his tally up to four for the season already and edge in front of Olivier Giroud in the pecking order.
However, if they were not apparent before now, serious defensive issues have also emerged for Frank Lampard’s side. Blowing a two-goal lead at home to a promoted team is not acceptable and the manner of the goals they conceded and the second-half performances of Kurt Zouma and Cezar Azpliacueta were worrying. When Antonio Rudiger and N’golo Kante come back from injury Chelsea will have a good side, but it still looks set to be a long season.
Leicester 3-1 Bournemouth
Vardy looking as good as ever for high-flying Leicester
Jamie Vardy will turn 33 during this Premier League season, a ridiculous thought which only highlights how old Vardy was when he burst onto the scene in the league with Leicester in 2015. Vardy now doesn’t look anything different to Vardy then, and the striker continues to play the same way. His opening goal against Bournemouth on Saturday was a thing of beauty and goes straight into any vintage Jamie Vardy goals compilation. He looks set to have a very fun afternoon playing off the shoulder of former teammate Harry Maguire at Old Trafford in two weeks time.
West Ham 2-0 Norwich
Comfortable home wins for the Hammers are just what they need
Maybe someone can help me with this one: why do I think West Ham are poor at the London Stadium? Is it because they get seemingly get thrashed at home by Manchester City three times a year, as they did on the opening weekend? Is it because their ground appears to be one of the least intimidating stadiums for an away side to play at? Well whatever it is, I might need to change my outlook because West Ham sneakily had the 9th best home record in the Premier League last year and Saturday’s 2-0 win over Norwich showed why. At home they have the beating of the Premier League’s bottom 10, expect them to go one better than their nine home wins last campaign.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa
There is no explaining why Kevin Friend decided to blow up for a dive by Jack Grealish, which ruled out Henri Lansbury’s last-minute equaliser for Aston Villa. Villa were extremely hard done by and I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them at the end of the season. It would be good to get an acknowledgement from the Premier League that they got this one wrong, but sadly I wouldn’t expect one.
Newcastle 1-1 Watford
Gracia on the brink as Watford come up short
It’s hard to take away anything from this apart from the face that Watford will certainly regret not winning this one. They remain bottom of the league without a win and in September they host Arsenal before travelling to Manchester City and Wolves, so it’s likely that they may have to wait until October for a first victory. Saturday against a lifeless Newcastle (and in front of an under capacity crowd of 44,000 at St James’) was a great opportunity — especially after taking the lead after a minute. It’s tough but you can see why Javi Gracia is favourite to be the first manager to be sacked at the bookies.