It was a weekend of Non-Stop Premier League Action that culminated in an exciting draw at the Etihad on Monday Night.. Here is my Review/Match Summary of the five games involving the PL Big7:
Swansea City 0 v 4 Manchester United
After nullifying Manchester United for most of the first half, all of Swansea’s hard work – closing down passing lanes and limiting space in their defensive third came undone when Eric Bailly bundled the ball over the line from a corner at the stroke of half-time.
Romelu Lukaku was on target later on and a terrible capitulation by the Swans saw United add 2 more goals within the space of 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Some tidy and neat midfield play from Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba provided the basis for the more advanced Henrikh Mkhitaryan to excel with the Armenian international notching 2 assists on the day totalling 4 in his first 2 Premier League games this season. Pogba himself got on the scoresheet (something that is gradually becoming commonplace) while Anthony Martial was not to be left out of the action. Like he did last weekend he came on to score the fourth United goal of the day.
José Mourinho has refused to read too much into claims from some quarters that his Manchester United team is a dream team rather preferring to undermine his team in typical Mourinho fashion:
I’m too experienced and stable to lose my discipline, my stability and to think a 4 – 0 really makes us the best in the country, the favourites, or the dream team.
We’re not favourites, we are not the dream team, we are just a team with more confidence than last season, with more time of work together but I am calm.
This is just the beginning. Last season we played our first 3 matches, had nine points and still finished sixth.
Paul Clement on the other hand has been encouraging his team claiming the scoreline was harsh.
In the end you always get what you deserve but the scoreline is harsh. One to 79 minutes was one goal.
I will make sure the players do not let this affect confidence too much against a team competing for the title this year.
Manchester United will welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford next Saturday while Swansea visit a Palace side looking to get their first point of the season.
Liverpool 1 v 0 Crystal Palace
Chance after chance went begging for Liverpool and the frustration was beginning to creep into their ranks when Sadio Mané (Saviour of Liverpool and Deliverer of Points) pounced on a loose ball in the Palace box and finished calmly beyond a largely impressive Wayne Henessey in the 73rd minute.
Palace had sat deep, nullifying Liverpool attacks and restricting the Reds to shots from range that Henessey dealt with for most of the game. Perhaps with one eye on the Champions League qualifying game in midweek, manager Jurgen Klopp reshuffled his team and key players Emre Can and Mohamed Salah were left on the bench. This handed opportunities to forgotten fan favourite Daniel Sturridge and new boy Andrew Robertson who to his credit delivered a very solid performance. With 134 touches of the ball and 3 chances created (both more than any other player on the pitch), he spent 70.3% of the match in the Palace half and was consequently voted man of the match.
The Liverpool manager praised his team’s performance and claimed the victory was no more than they deserved. Frank de Boer, on the other hand was fairly critical of Christian Benteke after the game; the former Liverpool striker was largely anonymous and will have to contribute more in subsequent games if Palace are going to avoid the relegation fight this season.
Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield next Sunday in what will be their first real test of the season looking to achieve 2 consecutive Premier League home wins while Palace take on fellow strugglers Swansea City at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Stoke City 1 v 0 Arsenal
The slim, high-scoring victory over Leicester on opening day should have been fair warning for the Gunners. Apparently not. The Gunners delivered a lackluster performance on the day and succumbed to a well placed finish by Stoke City debutant Jese Rodriguez. The Gunners enjoyed the lion share of possession (83% to 17% in the second half) but a lack of urgency in play meant they were unable to break down a dogged Stoke City defence. Jack Butland also made a string of splendid saves to deny Arsenal.
Manager Arsene Wenger pointed to the ‘wrongly’ disallowed Lacazette goal and the first-half penalty incident that wasn’t called as events that could have altered the outcome of the game. He also blamed the performance of his defence for the Stoke goal.
Stoke City has long been considered a place where Arsenal’s soft underbelly gets exposed against a physical home side – and so it proved again. With just one victory in their last eight visits to the West Midlands, it seems Arsenal truly cannot survive a cold, wet, windy day at Stoke.
However, an opportunity to regain confidence presents itself next week when they travel to Merseyside to take on Liverpool on Sunday. Stoke City on the other hand face a difficult challenge away at West Bromich Albion, a team that is yet to concede a single Premier League goal this season.
Spurs 1 v 2 Chelsea
Tottenham’s Wembley woes continue! A dominant performance by Spurs was not enough to even get a point against rattled Premier League champions Chelsea making it 7 losses in 10 games for Tottenham Hotspur at the new Wembley Stadium.
The Champions went ahead in the first half after Marcos Alonso’s well taken free kick hit the back of the net. The game profile promptly changed there after with Spurs launching assault after assault on the Chelsea goal. Belief in Harry Kane’s August curse was reinforced after the predatory striker hit the post (again, so far this season) in the first half with a curled shot from outside the box. Willian also hit the Tottenham post later on with a whipped shot resulting from a swift counter from deep but it was Tottenham that looked the more threatening side. It seemed only a matter of time before an equaliser and there was no surprise when substitute Michy Batshuayi headed into his own net from a lofted Christian Eriksen free kick at the 82nd minute mark. The drama was not to end there though as Marcos Alonso (again) raced onto a Pedro through ball and fired the ball under Hugo Lloris and into the net just 6 minutes later sealing Antonio Conte’s Chelsea’s first win of the season.
Chelsea will face Everton at Stamford Bridge next Sunday while Spurs will hope to change their Wembley fortunes when they welcome Burnley next week.
Manchester City 1 v 1 Everton
Everton should be more disappointed with this result (playing against 10 men for most of the game) but they will be well satisfied with going home with at least a point at one of the toughest grounds to visit in the league. Maximum credit to Pep Guardiola’s men, however, as they very nearly pulled off a Sterling fight back.
Wayne Rooney’s 200th Premier League goal following clever work from Dominic Calvert-Lewin (arguably Everton’s best player on the night) put the Merseysiders in the lead. Questionable calls from referee Bobby Madley saw Kyle Walker sent off and City reduced to 10 men.
City, however, kept the urgency in their game and continued to prod for the equaliser. A few tactical tweaks and a raft of substitutions later, Raheem Sterling confidently blasted the ball into the bottom corner after Mason Holgate so generously offered him the ball just outside the Everton 6-yard box following a good cross from Danilo on the right hand side. Another questionable call by Bobby Madley late on saw Morgan Schneiderlin receive a second yellow of the night for a supposed rash tackle on Sergio Aguero.
Everton face another tough trip to West London next weekend to face Chelsea while the Citizens travel to the South Coast to tackle Bournemouth.