Manchester City continue to score goals for fun, Jurgen Klopp manages his first game for the Reds and the Blues end a three-match winless streak in all competitions.
Even without Sergio Aguero, who injured his hamstring while on international duty with Argentina, this was the kind of performance that we’ve come to expect from City this season. Against the new boys of Bournemouth, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were dominant in possession, fluid in their attacks and lively on the move. In the absence of Arguero and David Silva, City stuck Wilfried Bony up top and record-singing Raheem Sterling in the hole behind him. The result was five goals between the two of them, with Sterling netting his first hat trick in a baby blue shirt while Bony stuck a pair in the back of the net.
Jesus Navas was, surprisingly, not a determinant to his team’s 5-1 victory, as he was quite engaged and supportive on the right-hand side. Bournemouth were a promising bet to maintain in the Premier League beyond this season, but injuries to most of their key players, including their most expensive summer signings, have dampened the mood and their competitiveness. To be fair, they were always going to be smashed by City at the Etihad, injuries or not, but it’s a bit dispiriting to see one of the league’s more entertaining and positive sides have to live with a weakened cast in their first season in the top flight.
Everton had its moments in this game, and the Toffees came out strong after halftime looking to erase United’s 2-0 lead. But this was always a game for the Red Devils to take all three points from. Everton had a slight majority of possession and occasionally pieced together some good build-up, but United were more decisive and dangerous when they got the ball forward. Ander Herrera played a major part in that. The Spanish midfielder got the start behind Wayne Rooney while youngster Anthony Martial spent most of the game playing wide on the left.
Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin, who scored the game’s opening goal, controlled things in the middle of the park for Louis van Gaal’s side, completing 95% of their 114 passes. Herrera also added a goal and an assist, giving him a strong case for more playing time, which may mean more substitute appearances for Dutchman Memphis Depay, who was not used in this game.
When your team is struggling to get results, then Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa is exactly what the doctor would order. The Lions haven’t won a game since defeating Bournemouth 1-0 in their season opener and they had lost four in a row heading into this game. Of course, even as the Blues got their first league win since defeating Arsenal a month ago, they only put one goal past the awful Brad Guzan (their second was an Alan Hutton own goal) and they even ceded possession to the 19th ranked team in the Premier League.
Managing with his job seemingly on the line, Steve McClaren’s men came out and delivered one of the more entertaining performances of the season. It helped that Norwich City were game in turning this into a wide-open contest with little attention paid to stopping the other team from scoring. Chances were created, opportunities were taken and breaks were frequent as Magpies put six past John Ruddy, matching the goal total that they had in their previous eight matches combined.
The Canaries were actually in this game for a half, as Dieumerci Mbokani provided an equalizer when Newcastle only had one goal and Nathan Redmond got one back before halftime to make the score 3-2. But fueled by summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle would blow the game open in the second half. Wijnaldum had one of the most impressive performances of the season in any league, scoring four goals and providing an assist. He scored with his head, on the break and with tremendous touch, showcasing the deft skills that made his $22 million price tag seem like a pretty nice bargain. Moussa Sissoko notched three assists in this contest, helping make sure that McClaren would have a job for at least another week.
Speaking of manager’s on the hot seat, Jürgen Klopp managed his first game at Liverpool since taking over for Brendan Rodgers. The performance didn’t match the energetic and entertaining reputation that his coaching style carries, but on such a short turnaround for both he and the players who had been on international break, a point away at White Hart Lane isn’t the worst debut result. Belgium international Divock Origi started up top for the Reds and hit the post, but chances were sparse other than that. Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele looked like the best player on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, bossing the midfield with nine tackles, six interceptions and three clearances, as well as 91% pass completion from his holding midfield spot.
For the first 45 minutes, Arsenal didn’t possess the same kind of precision and aggression that they showed in the opening 20 minutes of their victory of United, but Watford didn’t have enough to make them pay for it. The Hornets were game for a half, but their front two of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo wasn’t sharp enough when they had their chances, and Arsenal came out of the lockerroom with a strong intent to dominate the game. Alexis Sanchez, who cannot be stopped at the moment, got the scoring started in the 62nd minute, and within a 12-minute span, Arsenal would add two more. Olivier Giroud, who was subbed on in the 64th minute, scored in the 68th, and Aaron Ramsey ended his BPL goal drought with the Gunners’ third in the 74th.
In a matchup between two of the Premier League’s least exciting teams, the most enjoyable moment came when West Brom striker Salomon Rondon ended up catching Sunderland’s DeAndre Yedlin in midair before twirling him around like it was a part of a Dancing with the Stars routine. In terms of the result, Saido Berahino, who once proclaimed he would never play for West Brom ever again, scored the game’s only goal on a very poor piece of work by Black Cats’ keeper Costel Pantilimon. Sunderland still hasn’t won a game nine games into the season and I take any odds that Sam Allardyce becomes the second Black Cats manager to be fired this season at some point.
This was a pretty surprising result given that Palace has been in the kind of form where you’d expect them to defeat West Ham at home, but really it’s no surprise when the Irons go on the road and beat a good team this season. When you’ve beaten Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City on the road, then a 3-1 result at Selhurst Park doesn’t seem so miraculous. Things might have gone differently for Palace if it weren’t for some immature mistakes by young striker Dwight Gayle, who started this game up top for Alan Pardew. Not only did Gayle take off early on Yohan Cabaye’s 25th minute penalty, forcing Cabaye to beat Adrian a second time from the spot, but he also got two pretty clumsy yellow cards, leaving Palace with 10 men for the entire second half.
West Ham deserve credit, though, because their attacking play was quite good when Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini were invovled. Payet got himself a goal while playing out wide whilst Lanzini, who has now made his move to London permanent, played behind Diafra Sakho and collected a goal and an assist. The Irons now sit fourth in the league behind City, Arsenal and United. That’s some pretty familar company up top. But right behind them? In 5th and 6th sit Leicester and Crystal Palace, neither of whom are accostomed to fighting for Champions League spots. The beauty of this season is that West Ham, Leicester and Palace all look like they have an outside shot of staying in the European picture for the remainder of the season, even though Chelsea are a lock to get back into the mix at some point.
Another 2-0 deficit, another two-goal comeback for Leicester City. For the third time this season, the Foxes erased a two-goal deficit, earning a draw for the second time in such matches. The Saints dominated the first half and notched two goals as both of their centerbacks – Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk – scored headers off of set pieces. But once Claudio Ranieri injected his most dangerous player to start the second half, the entire game changed.
Riyad Mahrez and Nathan Dyer came on together after the break and provided Leicester with pace and creativity which they lacked with Shinji Okazaki and Jeffrey Schlupp in their place. Mahrez and Dyer each collected an assist, with both feeding in-form striker Jamie Vardy, who currently leads the league in goals (9) by three over Wijnaldum and Sanchez. The Foxes nearly missed out on securing any points when Vardy just missed a chance to put away a gorgeous ground cross that Mahrez fired into him in the 82nd minute. Luckily for the Foxes, Vardy would make due one minute into stoppage time to earn the draw.
After starting off the season on fire, Swansea haven’t been quite as sharp over their past five games. They’re winless in the past five, dropping away matches to Watford and Southampton and this home tie against Stoke. You could argue that the Swans were the better team in this game, or at least that Stoke didn’t deserve all three points, but a penalty call in the fourth minute allowed Bojan to give Stoke the lead almost from kickoff, and the Potters would park the bus from there.
Swansea could have earned something from this game, but, like Stoke, they were incredibly sloppy with their passing in the midfield, and they didn’t often come close to connecting on final passes that would have created good chances. Then again, Swansea would have at least a point if Jonjo Shelvey’s brilliant effort from a tight angle inside the box had bounced in off the post instead of right back to him. Stoke has now won three games in a row, moving them a few spots above Swansea in the BPL table, which isn’t something I saw coming after the first few weeks.