Another weekend of Premier League action came to an end with Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion’s dramatic draw. And with a repeat of last season’s Champions League final and a North London derby on the cards, there was plenty of excitement. Here’s a review of the key games.
Man City make statement
Gameweek 6 started with the Premier League’ biggest game of the season yet as Manchester City travelled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. After losing the latest Champions League final against the same opponent, City were keen to take revenge. But given recent form and home advantage, Chelsea came in as favourites. It did not take long, however, for it to become apparent this prediction was off-base. City dominated the opening minutes, keeping the ball and pegging Chelsea in their own half for the first 45. All that was missing was a goal.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has shown great ability in the past for in-game adjustments, but it was not to be this time. The second half began where the first left off, and soon City had their goal through Gabriel Jesus. Chelsea’s usually excellent defence gave the Brazilian too much space at the edge of the box and he rifled it home for the lead, the first time the Blues conceded from open play this season. Now chasing a goal, Chelsea threw more men forward but never came close to scoring. The score could have been even worse if not for their goalkeeper, Édouard Mendy.
With their dominating performance, City demonstrated they remain the team to beat. The Cityzens have not conceded since Heung-Min Son’s strike on opening day and seem determined to retain their Premier League crown. Their next game, however, is at Anfield, against Liverpool. Though still early days, that encounter could be crucial.
Liverpool held in thriller
With Chelsea facing City and Arsenal facing Tottenham Hotspur, few would have picked Liverpool’s trip to newly promoted Brentford to be this week’s most exciting game. But not only does it deserve that recognition, it was undeniably one of the games of the season so far. Though Brentford are making their Premier League debut this season, they showed no fear and came out all guns blazing. The opening sequences were high-intensity, end-to-end soccer, with both teams seeing an effort cleared off the line. Then, in the 27th minute, the breakthrough came for the home side. Running a clever free-kick routine, the Bees got behind Liverpool’s defence, and Ethan Pinnock slotted home.
The joy was short lived for player and team, however, as the centerback injured himself in the action. He tried to play on, but this only contributed to Liverpool equalising within five minutes. Seeing he was struggling, the Reds targeted his flank and got their goal through a Diogo Jota header. This was to be the blueprint for the rest of the game, as both teams responded to each other blow for blow.
Mohamed Salah pulled Liverpool ahead in the 54th, his 100th league goal for the club. Ten minutes later, Vitaly Janelt equalised. Five minutes after that and Liverpool were in the lead once more, this time courtesy of a terrific Curtis Jones shot from range. With the Reds in front, the game calmed down just enough to make you think they would see it out. But this was without counting on Yoane Wissa. Ten minutes from time, his quick feet saw him pounce on a loose ball in the box, deftly chipping it over Alisson. An 82nd minute equaliser, and the home crowd went wild. Carried by this energy, Brentford repelled everything Liverpool threw at them and the game ended 3-3.
Though Liverpool will see this as two points dropped, they still went top of the Premier league by a point in light of Chelsea and Brighton’s inability to win. Their early-season defensive solidity, however, is now in doubt. They will certainly need to do much better next week when they host the reigning champions.
Late drama at Old Trafford
Manchester United have, of late, developed a pattern. The Red Devils usually start slow, go behind, wake up, and then come back and win the game. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer even joked his team should start a goal down to make sure they play better. But what happens when the opponent never scores? Lacking their usual wake up call, United failed to do anything of note against a similarly uninspired Aston Villa, as the game trudged on towards a 0-0 draw. However, in the 88th minute, Villa finally got the breakthrough as Kortney Hause rose highest to head home. United were 1-0 down, and it looked too late turn around.
The goal did have the usual effect however as United became more insistent now that they were chasing the game. And three minutes later, it paid off. Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty for handball and suddenly fans wondered if the Red Devils could do it again. But Bruno Fernandes, usually excellent from the spot, sent it into row Z instead and Villa held on for all three points.
The result was a cruel reversal of fortunes from the last time out, when United were to ones to go ahead late and have a penalty missed against them. But more than the dropped points, injuries might be the biggest concern. Defenders Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire were both forced off, and Solskjaer will hope it’s nothing to serious. If United are to mount a serious title challenge, they will need both to return as soon as possible.
Arsenal thrash lacklustre Spurs
In the season’s first North London Derby, Arsenal hosted Tottenham with both teams underachieving. Though Tottenham started the season with three wins out of three, they followed it up with two consecutive 3-0 losses. In contrast, Arsenal began with three defeats, but have since won their last two. The NLD was therefore an opportunity for both teams to kickstart their seasons.
It became quickly apparent, however, that only one team was there to win. Arsenal raced into a 3-0 lead in barely half an hour, and the game was over before it had begun. Though the Gunners undoubtedly played well, the real reason was Tottenham’s woeful display. From tactics to desire, everything was off for Spurs. They left acres of space in the middle of the park for their opponents to exploit and seemed generally disinterested, an unacceptable situation in a game of such importance.
Though the second half showed some improvement as Heung-Min Son pulled one back late on, the damage was done. The game ended 3-1 to Arsenal, who leap-frogged their London rivals despite being at opposite ends of the table only two weeks ago. With a team filled with promising young players, many Arsenal fans saw the performance as a new beginning for Mikel Arteta’s men. On the opposite side, Spurs manager Nuno Espírito Santo is now already under intense pressure, only weeks after winning the Premier League Manager of the Month award.
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