Injury-ravaged Norwich thrill again against City – PL 10
With a makeshift defence and little midfield numbers, Norwich City were right up against the odds at home to Manchester City, who haven’t lost since January. The result was surely never in doubt, was it? Gregor Kerr gives us his ten talking points from this weekend.
Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City
Kompany’s departure can’t be understated
Manchester City early on seem to lack the ruthlessness they possessed in previous seasons. Perhaps that’s down to the departure of Vincent Kompany in defence, with only John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, who handed Norwich the winning goal, left as valid options. Games like this and the 2-2 draw against Spurs a few weeks ago would have been hard to envisage last season such was their ruthlessness.
The result was a welcome change to seeing City walk over teams and finish games off within the first 45 minutes. Norwich were without a raft of first team players such as Max Aarons, Moritz Leitner, Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann and Onel Hernandez yet never went off course from their usual game plan. Too often these games feel like a precession, yet this was anything but.
Tottenham 4-0 Crystal Palace
Fast start a rare welcome for Spurs
A hallmark of Pochettino’s best period in North London has been his side’s ability to blow teams away early on in games, leaving them a chance to conserve energy in the closing stages of matches. Last season and so far this season it has been missing, but with four first-half goals the Argentinean had his side looking at their very best.
Heung Min-Son, who often takes a few games to get going, had his first two goals of the season after half an hour in-between a Patrick Van Aanholt own-goal. Erik Lamela then continued his fine start to the season with a fourth before half-time. The job was done early on and Spurs barely broke a sweat in the second half.
Wolves 2-5 Chelsea
Lampard right to believe in youth
A few weeks ago, I picked out Mason Mount as the pick of Chelsea young bunch. Well this week I may have to switch that title to Tammy Abraham, who grabbed his first Premier League hat-trick (and own goal) in a run of form that has seen him score seven times in three games.
His third was the most impressive as he held off the Wolves defender, showed an electric burst of pace over a few yards and finished into the far corner. If he can find a way to physically dominate opponents like he showed for that goal, then Chelsea may not need to fork out for another big-money striker next year.
Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle
Is Mane now better than Salah?
This game however did never seem in doubt after Liverpool equalised, as Jetro Willems struck a beauty to hand a shock lead to the Magpies after seven minutes. It may have been the worst thing to happen for them as Liverpool launched attack after attack. Away to Tottenham they looked organised at the back and in the first half hour the same sings were there.
After Sadio Mane curled in brilliantly from the edge of the box, before a slice of luck left him with a tap-in before the interval. Despite the brilliance of Salah’s finishing, as shown for the third goal, I’m starting to think Mane may be the more important player. Most of the Reds attacks seems to come through the Senegalese attacker, be it on the counter of building up play. While Salah may be on hand to finish them off, if Mane wasn’t in the team it feels like the cogs wouldn’t function as normal.
Watford 2-2 Arsenal
Gooners playing like a side with fear
When Derby County were relegated as the worst team in Premier League history over a decade ago, they faced 81 shots in their opening five games, they finished with 11 points and a single win that season. For comparison, Arsenal have faced 95 (Ninety-five) shots in their opening five games this season. Two Aubameyang goals topped a very comfortable first-half but the second was anything but.
Matteo Guendouzi gave a very dangerous ball away on the edge of his box and Unai Emery’s side never seemed to recover. Sokratis replicated the Frenchman’s efforts and handed a loose ball straight to Gerard Deulofeu, who cut back for Tom Cleverley to score.
David Luiz then gave away Arsenal’s third penalty of the season and the score was level. Granit Xhaka admitted after the game that his teammates were “scared” and happy to take a point. Arsenal’s issues may lie deep if this is the case.
Sheffield United 0-1 Southampton
Have Saints found their next star with Djenepo?
One thing that Southampton have proved time and time again is their ability to unearth hidden talent, Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane being examples. Moussa Djenepo, a relatively mysterious signing from Standard Liege this summer, looks early on to be a clever acquisition. The Malian winger scored for the second time this season, once again in spectacular fashion, and proved to be the difference maker at Brammall Lane.
His low centre of gravity and ability to wrong-foot defenders gives flashbacks of Mane’s time at St Mary’s. With 11 goals in Belgium last season and impressive showings in the Europa League, he already looks like a player capable of the step up. Along with a new look attack starring Che Adams and Danny Ings, he fits nicely into the dynamic attack that Ralph Hassenhutll is trying to develop.
Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City
United solid for once, but again unexciting
A Marcus Rashford penalty is all that separated these two sides who are incomparable by name but probably very even on paper. Harry Maguire featured against his old employers after his £80 million move in the summer and was given no sympathy from the away fans, who seem to be more than pleased with his replacement Caglar Soyuncu. Considering United had a single win in nine games going into this, it would be unfair to let this victory fly under the radar.
Attacking, free-flowing football was once again not on show at Old Trafford, but Solsjkaer must take some hope from the solidity that United showed for the first time in a while, especially considering Leicester’s attacking talent. It brings the Foxes’ unbeaten run this season to an end but currently residing in fifth place they will be more than pleased with the start.
Bournemouth 3-1 Everton
Howe can’t afford to drop Fraser despite contract situation
With a year left on his deal, a contract waiting on the table for some time and no indication of him signing it’s no surprise that Ryan Fraser was left on the bench for this game. Despite his obvious importance to the Cherries attack it’s no surprise that Eddie Howe would value his team’s collective of a single player’s brilliance, but the impact he showed as a substitute proved they need to get him in the team.
Minutes after coming on his tempting free kick deflected in off Fabian Delph and the home side looked more dangerous. Even Josh King seemed to come to life down the left-hand side. The energy he contributes to the team, all over the pitch, helps them play at their brilliant best when putting teams under pressure. They can’t risk having a player with such influence not being in the team every week.
Brighton 1-1 Burnley
Potter transition will take time
With all due respect, this may have been the most predictable result of the weekend. Graham Potter has tried and to some extent succeeded in making Brighton a more daring and open side than Chris Hughton did last season. They were beaten heavily at the Etihad but have looked capable of creating chances in all of their games so far. The jump for a team familiar with sitting deep on the road and not being too expansive at home, to taking the game to teams is considerable.
Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham
Lack of attack is Villa’s biggest problem
It was a drab, slow and niggly game and anything but the kind of displays on show at Villa Park last season. As many find out, it’s far harder to score goals in the top division than in the Championship and the instant results aren’t thrilling. Even after a debatable second yellow card for Arthur Masuaku the flow of the match didn’t change. Wesley looks like a player struggling, not even to finish chances but just to find them in the first place. Defensively and in the middle of the park there isn’t too much wrong, but Dean Smith’s new look attack is yet to get going.