Soccer

Premier League Gameweek 8 Recap

Premier League
Lacazette celebrates. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

After a week off for international games, the Premier League was back this weekend. With it came goals galore and plenty of drama. New eras began, while others threaten to end. Here are this week’s talking points.

Liverpool cruising

Claudio Ranieri could hardly have had a more difficult start to his reign than facing this Liverpool side. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané ripped through the Hornets’ defence time and again, putting on a attacking masterclass. Firmino picked up a hat-trick and Mané scored his 100th Premier League goal, but it was once again Salah who grabbed the headlines with another exquisite goal. The Egyptian has been in stunning form to start the season, this his seventh goal in eight games. He has also provided four assists, leading many to claim he is the best player in the world on current form.

With the 5-0 win, Liverpool maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign, the only team yet to lose in the Premier League. Up next is a trip to Old Trafford, and the Reds will feel they are in perfect form for one of the biggest derbies in the world. For Watford, however, Ranieri has a lot of work. Things will need to change quickly if he does not want to be the next managerial casualty of the Pozzo family era.

United, Solskjær in trouble

One month ago, Manchester United were undefeated and serious contenders for the Premier League title. Since then, they have lost two and drawn one, setting them well back. Though United opened the score against Leicester in the 19th, they were pegged back just over ten minutes later. The game then remained a stalemate until the 78th, when the Foxes took the lead and set a crazy finale in motion. Caglar Söyüncü poked the ball home after a corner situation, a goal which had been coming for Leicester. The returning Marcus Rashford, however, equalised in the 82nd. But 54 seconds laters, Leicester were back in front, this time through Jamie Vardy. The Foxes then got a fourth in added time through Patson Daka.

With the loss, United dropped to 6th, five points off leaders Chelsea. With a complicated run of fixtures up ahead – they face all five of the other traditional top six teams in their next six games – the Red Devils will need to turn their form around, and fast. If they don’t, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær could well find himself out of a job come Christmas.

Chelsea hold firm, but Brentford impress

If you saw one team had 17 shots, seven of them on target, while the other had five and one, you’d be crazy to guess Brentford were the former. Yet that was the case. In the Premier League’s first ever West London derby, the newly promoted Bees dominated their title-challenging rivals but failed to come away with a point. After taking the lead on the stroke of halftime through Ben Chilwell, Chelsea spent most of of the second half defending. Not only that, but they were saved on multiple occasions by the heroics of Édouard Mendy. The Senegalese goalkeeper made six saves to preserve his 20th Premier League clean sheet in just 38 games.

With the win, Chelsea remain top of the league, one point ahead of Liverpool. While the performance was unconvincing, getting results in these contested games is the hallmark of champions. Their only real concern will then be the form of striker Romelu Lukaku. After a stellar start to his Stamford Bridge return, the Belgian has drawn a blank in his last four games. Though the result was not what Brentford wanted, there will be plenty of positives for them. Indeed, in their first top flight campaign in years, they continue to prove they belong. After all, expected goals (xG) had them winning 1.88 – 0.28. What’s more, the Premier League newcomers successfully kept the champions of Europe to a mere 0.02xG in the second half.

PIF era off to shaky start

Most of the talk before Newcastle’s game against Tottenham Hotspur centred on the club’s recent acquisition by the Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund (PIF). While previous owner Mike Ashley was widely disliked by the club’s fanbase, many have questioned the warm welcome Newcastle fans exhibited for their new owners. Though they are entitled to be optimistic about their future on the pitch, there are many questions raised by Saudi Arabia’s questionable human rights record.

This all took a back seat, however, when Callum Wilson opened the scoring two minutes into the PIF’s new reign. Newcastle seemed a new team and bossed the opening fifteen minutes, giving hope for the new era. But once Tottenham got back into the game, there was little contest. After Spurs took the lead, Newcastle dropped off entirely. A late consolation goal made it 3-2, but the result was never as close as the score makes it seem.

The biggest moment in the game did not happen on the pitch, however, as the game was paused in the 40th minute after a medical emergency in the stands. After supporters around the incident signalled for help, Tottenham defender Sergio Reguilón alerted Andre Marriner to the situation. The referee promptly halted play as Eric Dier rushed across the pitch to call for a defibrillator. Players then went back inside while medics attended to the fan. After administering treatment, they were thankfully able to evacuate the now-conscious fan to the nearest hospital. Following the game, Newcastle confirmed the supporter was stable and responsive in hospital.

Though the incident took attention away from the result, it won’t be for long. Speculation was rampant prior to the game on whether manager Steve Bruce would be sacked before his 1000th game as a manager, and the result will only add fuel to the fire. With the money and ambition of the PIF, it is well known Bruce’s time is counted. The tricky part is getting in the right man for the rebuild. Sat in 19th place, three points from safety, the new owners will now have to get things right to avoid relegation. If they don’t, Newcastle would become by far the richest club in any country’s second tier.

Check out this article of the champions league preview done by Tristan Davis

Arsenal struggle again

Arsenal’s emphatic North London Derby win was supposed to herald a new era. Instead, it’s looking more and more like a rare bright spot in a disappointing season. After taking an early lead against Crystal Palace, the Gunners struggled to control the game. The Eagles punished then punished them five minutes into the second half when Christian Benteke pulled them level. The equaliser gave Arsenal renewed attacking energy, but Palace still looked the more likely to score on the counter. And, eventually, they did. In the 73rd minute, Odsonne Édouard got on the end of a quick break from the visitors, and suddenly Arsenal were down a goal.

The Gunners pushed forward with even more intent as Palace sunk deeper, and came close when Kieran Tierney’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. It took them until the very last action of the game, however, to get their equaliser. After his initial corner came back out, Nicolas Pépé sent in a second cross that led to panic in the box. Players scrambled to get on the end of it and Ben White’s saw his shot cleared off the line, but Alexandre Lacazette was there to bundle it in.

While a last-gasp goal is always enjoyable, that feeling will be short-lived for Arsenal. Even though they saved a point at the death, this was a game they should be winning. As such, it is still very much two points dropped. The Gunners remain in the bottom half of the table, and pressure will once more start mounting for manager Mikel Arteta.

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  1. Pingback: Ricardo Pepi: Transfer Guide - Championship Sports Media

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