Another round of Premier League games came to an end with Liverpool and Manchester City’s incredible encounter. And even before this epic finale, there was already plenty of drama, including the first managerial sacking of the season. With players now heading off on international duty, fans will have lots of time to ponder their club’s latest result. So let’s take a look at what happened.
Questions for Ole
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave onlookers plenty to talk about before the game had even started with his lineup. Fresh off a dramatic Champions League win over Villareal, the Norwegian chose to rotate his squad and rest some players. Among those benched were Paul Pogba, whose seven Premier League assists are a league high, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored three goals in his first three games.
Solskjaer’s choices seemed to have paid off when Anthony Martial put the Red Devils ahead just before half-time. The Frenchman was indeed one of the players brought in for the game, and his goal vindicated his selection. With United leading at the half, there could then be no complaints. In the second half, Solskjaer brought Ronaldo on alongside fellow summer signing Jadon Sancho. Ironically, it is only after this double-change that Everton did come back into the game. Andros Townsend scored in the 65th as the Toffees countered off a United corner. The winger imitated Ronaldo’s famous celebration, and the Portuguese failed to respond as the game ended 1-1.
United have now won only one game out of four across all competitions, and fans will be worried about the slump. The draw sees them trail Chelsea, Liverpool, and City in the Premier League, with some speculating their title chances are already over. With Leicester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City their next four opponents, it certainly could be very soon.
Chelsea bounce back late on
After their loss to Manchester City last week, followed by a midweek upset against Juventus, Chelsea were keen to set things right against Southampton. The Blues took an early lead, but they failed to add to it despite having the ball in the net on two more occasions. Down by a single goal at the break, Southampton knew they were still in the game. They proved this shortly into the second half, as captain James Ward-Prowse levelled from the spot on the hour mark.
The same man was Southampton’s downfall, however, fifteen minutes later. With Chelsea overplaying in their defensive third, Ward-Prowse lunged at the ball but caught only Jorginho. After a VAR review, he picked up a red card as well. Up a man, Chelsea then pressed their advantage and got two late goals to make the scoreline look more comfortable than it was. The Blues now have an easy run of fixtures and will look to retain that momentum as they battle it out at the top.
False dawn for Arsenal?
After their emphatic victory over their North London rivals last week, Arsenal came into their game on a high. After a disappointing start to the Premier League, many hoped the NLD performance would kickstart the Gunners’ season. This was not to be, however, as Arsenal found themselves outplayed by Brighton & Hove Albion and were fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw.
Though Brighton have been the surprise package of the Premier League so far, familiar questions will arise once more for Arsenal. With Mikel Arteta yet to win over some parts of the fanbase, he would have hoped his players could carry their momentum from the NLD into their latest game. Now, he might be wondering if that performance was a one-off instead.
Watford sack Xisco Muñoz
Watford’s 1-0 loss to Leeds United would not have made it into this recap if not for its surprise impact. Though the Hornets sit 14th in the league seven games into the season, the hierarchy decided it was already time to call it quits for their manager. The suddenness of the decision may come as a shock, but it is actually part of a clear pattern. Indeed, in the past ten years, Watford have had an astounding 17 managers. Claudio Ranieri is now favourite to take on the job, but many are questioning why anyone would take a role with such poor job security.
Tottenham stop the bleeding
Tottenham Hotspur came into their game with Aston Villa in need of a win. After a shocking performance in last week’s North London Derby, itself on the back of consecutive 3-0 Premier League losses, they needed a response. After a slow start, Spurs grew into the game and got their reward in the 27th minute. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg won the ball back in midfield, sent Heung-Min Son away on the counter, and followed up to calmly slot home the Korean’s return pass from the edge of the box.
With Villa chasing a goal, the game opened up in the second half. And after a frenetic few minutes of back and forth, the Villains got their equaliser. Matt Targett got free down the left flank and put in a low cross for Ollie Watkins, who tapped it in easily. But rather than feel sorry for themselves, Tottenham hit back straight away. Son did brilliantly to make some space down the left and sent in a low cross of his own. Targett tried to prevent it reaching Lucas Moura at the back post and ended up bundling it in himself, only four minutes after assisting at the other end.
Tottenham preserved the lead to win 2-1, a much needed result to end a poor run of form. Nuno Espírito Santo will now get two weeks with his non-international players to continue implementing his ideology. With pressure already mounting on the Portuguese, he will need to build on this good performance to get fans back on his side.
Liverpool and Manchester City play out epic draw
The final matchup of the game week was the most anticipated, as Manchester City traveled to Anfield. With the top two teams and two most recent champions facing off, excitement was all but guaranteed. And it’s fair to say they did not disappoint. Like last week, City came out of the gates all guns blazing and dominated the first half. Liverpool barely got out of their own half and spent most of the period chasing shadows, yet somehow they went in even at the break.
The second half then changed the pattern as Liverpool went on the front foot. The contest evened out, with both teams getting half-chances, but neither one a goal. Then, in the 59th minute, Liverpool had the breakthrough. Mohamed Salah did brilliantly to skip past João Cancelo on the half-way line and then slipped Sadio Mané in for the opener. We had liftoff.
Ten minutes later, City equalised through Phil Foden after great buildup from his teammates. After the goal, it looked as though City might once more assert dominance, but this was without counting on Salah. Ten minutes after Foden’s goal, the Egyptian produced a stunning solo run to put his team in front once more.
With a little over ten minutes to go, Liverpool brought on Joe Gomez to see things out. But the drama was not over. Five minutes after Salah’s goal, Kevin de Bruyne levelled things once more, his shot getting a heavy deflection off Joël Matip. Now tied 2-2, both teams kept going for the winner, setting up an enthralling end-to-end finish. Fabinho came closest to getting it three minutes from time, only for Rodri to produce an excellent goal-saving tackle.
With the draw, Liverpool and Manchester City find themselves second and third, respectively. Chelsea’s performance sent them top with 16 points, one ahead of Liverpool, themselves one ahead of City. The Premier League will now take a week off for the international break, returning October 16th.
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