Liverpool’s thrashing of rivals Manchester United will take the headlines, but there was plenty of action going on across the latest Premier League round. With 40 goals scored, it was certainly an eventful one. Here’s a look at the highlights.
Arsenal shine but raise questions
If there is something you can say about this Arsenal side, it’s that they are inconsistent. One week they’re struggling at home to Crystal Palace, the next they dominate Aston Villa away. After going ahead early through Thomas Partey, the Gunners never looked like losing. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second just before half-time, and Emile Smith-Rowe completed the scoring shortly after the restart. Aston Villa never looked to threaten, their late consolation goal being too little too late.
With their impressive performance, Arsenal may have raised more questions than they answered. Because if they are capable of performances like this, why can’t they do it more often? One has to remember, however, that the Gunners are consistently fielding the youngest starting eleven in the Premier League this season. Inconsistency should therefore be expected. The real question then becomes how long you tolerate it, versus how soon you expect to reap real rewards. While Mikel Arteta will ask for time, the Arsenal board will ultimately be the ones with the answer.
Chelsea run riot
Chelsea came into the weekend with a bit of a striker crisis. Indeed, both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner went off injured in midweek. But fortunately for them, their opponent was Norwich. Attacking midfielder Kai Havertz started up front, and nobody was the wiser as the Blues strolled past the helpless Canaries. Three first-half goals set the scene, while four more goals and a second-half red card completed the misery. Final score, 7-0.
With the result, Chelsea not only retained their spot leading the league but significantly helped their goal difference. Given the tightness at the top, that could prove crucial in the long run. For Norwich, however, relegation seems already all but certain. Despite handily winning the EFL Championship last season, the Canaries have looked out of their depth in the Premier League. They came back up straight after their previous relegation, but are all set to be a true yo-yo club if nothing changes soon.
Watford mount epic comeback
When you’re a goal behind with fifteen minutes to go, getting a draw is a good result and getting a win is rare. Winning by three, however, is unheard of. But that is exactly what Watford did against Everton. 2-1 down after 78 minutes, Juraj Kucka scored an equalizer to salvage a point at the time. The Hornets then threw away the script as they broke forward three more times in the span of ten minutes to mount an incredible finale. Josh King scored two to complete a hat-trick, and Emmanuel Dennis rounded things off in stoppage time to make it 5-2. Given that their loss to Liverpool last week was entirely predictable, Watford may feel this was truly the beginning of Claudio Ranieri’s reign. If nothing else, it promises excitement.
Another lacklustre derby for Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur have played four London derbies so far this season. They’ve lost all four by a combined score of 10-1. But it is more than the result that will have Spurs fans worried, as the players looked disinterested through all of them. Unacceptable in any game, but even more so for a derby. And against West Ham, this was best exemplified by Harry Kane. The English forward has been a shadow of his former self since his failed move to Manchester City over the summer, and his performance will have left many questioning his commitment. Because while Kane, a local boy, is usually fired up for derbies, it was his lack of effort that cost his team today. Marking Michail Antonio on a corner, he let the West Ham forward get in front of him and put no effort into blocking his shot, giving the Hammers a simple goal.
Things were no better up front as Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target in the second half. Even more worrying, this was not the first time that happened in the Premier League this season. Manager Nuno Espírito Santo may only have been hired this summer, but patience is already growing thin with the Portuguese from many parts of the fanbase. With Manchester United and Everton the next two games before the international break, he will need much better if he still wants to have a job when players return for the holiday stretch.
Liverpool humiliate Manchester United
It’s one thing to win a derby by a convincing margin, it’s another thing entirely to rip your bitter rivals apart in their own stadium. This was exactly what Liverpool did to Manchester United, scoring four first-half goals in front of the Stratford End to set up utter humiliation. As with most good things for his team, Mohamed Salah was the main architect, assisting one and scoring two in that opening half. The Egyptian slipped Naby Keïta through with only five minutes gone, and the Reds never looked back.
Despite a half-time substitution, Paul Pogba coming on for Mason Greenwood, the second half was more of the same. Once more, Liverpool scored five minutes after the whistle. Mohamed Salah raced through and cleverly dinked it over an onrushing David De Gea, completing his hat-trick. Cristiano Ronaldo thought he had pulled one back moments later, only for VAR to find him marginally offside. And then things only got worse on the hour mark when Pogba, subbed on only fifteen minutes prior, picked up a straight red for a bad challenge on Keïta. Now a man-up, Liverpool comfortably bossed the remaining half-hour as the away fans celebrated. The game ended 5-0, Liverpool’s biggest win over United for 96 years.
It’s hard to believe Manchester United were right up there battling for the Premier League only four games ago. Now, three losses and a draw later, a European spot is the best they can hope for. More pressing, however, will be the future of their manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Already under pressure coming into the game, an abject result such as this could well prove the final straw. With a few notable managerial names currently out of a job, such as Zinedine Zidane or Antonio Conte, the United hierarchy may well be tempted into a change.
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