Premier League

Premier League Round-Up: Matchday 9


 

1. MANCHESTER CITY (25 pts, GD + 28)
LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs Burnley
NEXT GAME: at West Brom

11 straight wins in all competitions for Manchester City. In those 11 games, City has scored 39 goals and only conceded five times. On Saturday, City was far from their best, but they were still able to leave with a 3-0 win. Two second-half goals in two minutes from Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sané gave City breathing rooms and all three points.

Pep Guardiola will probably have mixed feelings about the win. Inside the Etihad, it was typical Manchester weather—swirling winds and constant rain—yet there were a lot of sloppy passes and City struggled to get going. A soft, but fair, penalty in the 30th minute gave City the breakthrough. With the goal, Sergio Agüero became the joint all-time leading scorer in Manchester City history with 177 goals for the club.

With the win, City moves five points clear at the top of the table and solidify themselves as the class of the league. I said it last week and I’ll say it again…City doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

2. MANCHESTER UNITED (20 pts, GD +18)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L at Huddersfield
NEXT GAME:  vs. Spurs

Who saw this coming? Two goals in five minutes for the Terriers in the first half was all it took to give United their first loss of the season. For the entire first half, and most of the game to be fair, United looked out of it and Huddersfield had a deserved lead. To be blunt, this was just a bad game from United, and Mourinho was understandably pissed afterward.

“Since the first minute the game was poor for us,” Mourinho said. “We paid the price and I think deservedly.” That’s rare for a manager to say, and he wasn’t near finished. “If I was a Manchester United supporter, not the manager, but a traditional supporter, I’d be really disappointed.” Mourinho continued, “I think you can play and lose matches because your opponent has more quality. You cannot lose because the opponent has a better attitude than you, so I’m disappointed.”

With the money they have spent and the quality they have going forward, United should have won this game pretty easily. United have Swansea midweek in the league cup before a huge game against Tottenham next weekend. Next weekend’s game at Old Trafford is either going to be a doozy or a 0-0 draw since Mourinho is involved.

3. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (20 PTS, GD +13)
LAST GAME: 4-1 W vs Liverpool
NEXT GAME:  at Man. United

Since last season, Harry Kane and Dele Alli have combined for 58 goals in the PL. That is more than EIGHT teams during that same time. Harry Kane was sensational on Sunday and Liverpool’s awful defense had no answer for him. Kane’s true greatness game in the 64th minute and didn’t even involve a goal. Kane had a shot blocked at one end, and while Liverpool tried to counter, Kane sprinted to the other end of the field and pushed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain off the ball and forced a bad shot. That’s the true quality of Harry Kane.Kane has 29 league goals in 2017—second most in all of Europe’s top five leagues. He’s only second to Lionel Messi in that regard. For Tottenham and England in 2017, Kane has scored 45 goals in 40 games. HOT TAKE ALERT: he is very good.

Kane has 29 league goals in 2017—second most in all of Europe’s top five leagues. He’s only second to Lionel Messi in that regard. For Tottenham and England in 2017, Kane has scored 45 goals in 40 games. HOT TAKE ALERT: he is very good.

80,827—a PL record for attendance—saw Tottenham DISMANTLE Liverpool. Right from the go, Tottenham was energetic, hungry and went straight for the jugular against Liverpool. (While that’s a huge attendance record, playing your home games at Wembley Stadium—the largest stadium in the UK—that’s not surprising, but congratulations are still in order.)

This game proved why Tottenham are the only other title contenders besides the Manchester clubs. The only way this weekend could have any better for Spurs is if Manchester City would have lost.

Aside from David De Gea, Hugo Lloris is the best goalie in the Prem, hands down (or up since he’s a goalie).

4. CHELSEA (16 PTS, GD +7)
LAST GAME: 4-2 W Watford
NEXT GAME: at Bournemouth

No one will be happier in west London than Michy “Batsman” Batshuayi. “Batsman” has had trouble finding enough playtime, but his brace on Saturday will help with that. Alvaro Morata was unable to get anything going, and Batshuayi’s change of pace was too much for Watford to handle.

Chelsea stayed composed after going down 2-1 and was able to get all three points at home. After back-to-back losses, Chelsea finally got three points. With a game on the south coast next week against Bournemouth, it will be a good chance for Chelsea to put a winning streak together.

5. ARSENAL (16 PTS, GD +5)
LAST GAME: 5-2 W vs Everton
NEXT GAME: vs. Swansea

On his 68th birthday, Arséne Wenger’s side cruised to an easy win over a hapless Everton side. This game could have been the most boring game or the best game of the weekend, but the headlines after the game were focused on the Everton manager. But for Arsenal, this was a great response to last weekend’s loss at Watford.

Shockingly, this was the first time this season that Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil all started together. All three were brilliant on Sunday afternoon and it’s their quality that makes Arsenal so dangerous. Results like this one, where Arsenal was so good and had so much swagger and creativity, is why Gunner fans question why they can’t play like this every weekend. It’s results like this one that makes Arsenal such an anomaly.

6. WATFORD (15 PTS, GD -2)
LAST GAME: 4-2 L at Chelsea
NEXT GAME:  vs. Stoke

Never would I have thought that a game between the fourth and fifth teams in the league would contain Watford. But going into matchday nine, Marco Silva had his team sitting in a Champions League Spot. Last year, Watford would have been lucky to win this game, but this year, they’ll be upset that they didn’t. While London derbies are always tough games, Watford probably should have won this game.

The Hornets went 2-1 up with goals on both sides of halftime but had no answer for Michy Batshuayi in the second half. Watford needed to close-down the game, but Chelsea’s brilliance took over. In the long run, this won’t be a bad loss for Watford, but for now, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

7. NEWCASTLE (14PTS, GD +2)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W Crystal Palace
NEXT GAME: at Burnley

Mikel Merino, whose loan move from Borussia Dortmund was just made permanent this month, won the game for the Magpies. His 86th-minute header gave Newcastle all three points.

Full disclosure, it was a boring game and Newcastle was outplayed for most of it, but it only took one chance for Merino off a corner from Matt Ritchie. For a newly promoted team, to get three points from a game that you did not play well in is how you stay in the league.

8. BURNLEY (13 PTS, GD -1)
LAST GAME: 3-0 L at Man. City
NEXT GAME: vs. Newcastle

Burnley will feel hard done by this result.  The penalty decision in the 30th minute was a light call, but it did look like Nick Pope made contact with Bernardo Silva’s foot to bring him down.  Burnley had a few chances in the game but had zero shots on target.

A loss to Manchester City, especially with the way they have been playing, is nothing to feel bad about. Burnley is still a very tough team to beat. The loss ends Burnley’s streak of six unbeaten in the league and they still sit in the top half of the table. Next week’s game against Newcastle will be a big one.

9. LIVERPOOL (13 PTS, GD -2)
LAST GAME: 4-1 L Spurs
NEXT GAME: vs. Huddersfield

Oof… there is nothing good to say about how Liverpool played over the weekend. When you’re center-back is subbed off after 30 minutes because he was getting dismantled, that’s about as bad as you can get. Dejan Lovren was so bad on Sunday, that you would have thought he was deep undercover for Tottenham. It was his two mistakes in the first 15 minutes that led to both of Spurs’ early goals.

Mohamed Salah’s fifth goal of the season in the 24th minute pulled Liverpool back into the game, but Dele’s goal on the stroke of halftime killed any Liverpool momentum. Klopp and co. need to get it together on the road. Liverpool now only have one win on the road in five games this season. In those five games, they’ve conceded 15 times and have only scored eight.

It is still early in the season, but next week’s game against Huddersfield feels like a must-win for the Reds.

10. SOUTHAMPTON (12 PTS, GD -1)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W West Brom
NEXT GAME: at Brighton

Another boring game saved with a moment of absolute brilliance from Sofiane Boufal. If you haven’t seen the goal, here it is. It is arguably the goal of the weekend.

It was a big three points for the Saints, and with a trip to Brighton next weekend, it could be the start of a climb up the table.

11. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (12 PTS, GD -3)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W Man. United
NEXT GAME: at Liverpool

Saturday’s win against United was arguably Huddersfield’s biggest win in their history (well, besides the FA Cup they won in 1922.) Fun Fact: The Terriers won three consecutive top-flight titles in the 1920s, hence the three stars above their crest. Besides last season’s playoff win at Wembley that sent them to the Premier League, Terrier supporters will remember this game for a very long time.  Two goals in five minutes for the Terriers in the first half was all it took to give United their first loss of the season.

Former Manchester City man Aaron Mooy broke the deadlock and then Laurent Depoitre added the second after a Victor Lindelof error. After those two goals, Huddersfield sat back and challenged United to score. It looked dicey after Marcus Rashford pulled one back with 12 minutes left, but the Terriers held on for a very big win.

After this win, combined with how Liverpool performed on Sunday, the west Yorkshire Club will feel very good about their game next weekend.

12. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (11 PTS, GD -1)
LAST GAME: 3-0 W West Ham
NEXT GAME: vs. Southampton

Brighton was very, very good Friday night. Every time the Seagulls were around the 18-yard box, they looked like they could score. Glenn Murray beat a lazy West Ham defense to head Brighton into the lead on ten minutes. José Izquierdo curled in a beautiful goal to double their lead before halftime. All Brighton had to do in the second half was stay focused and get a result and that’s exactly what they did.

A team that was picked to be relegated before the season started, Brighton find themselves in the middle of the table after the first nine games. If they can play the way they did against West Ham for the rest of the season, they will be very tough to beat.

13. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (10 PTS, GD -3)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L at Southampton
NEXT GAME: vs. Man. City

West Brom really could have used a point. With teams like Newcastle, Huddersfield, Brighton and Burnley already picking up a lot of points this season, the Baggies need to pick up points from games like that. Boufal’s goal was brilliant, but he should not have been able to dribble from deep in his own territory and score at the other end.

With City, Huddersfield, Chelsea, and Tottenham in the next four league games, it’s looking dark for Tony Pulis and West Brom.

14. LEICESTER CITY (9 PTS, GD -2)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W at Swansea
NEXT GAME: vs. Everton

This was a big win for the Foxes that lifted them out of the relegation zone. Craig Shakespeare was fired on Tuesday, and just like when Claudio Ranieri was fired, Leicester responded to a coach leaving.  When Leicester fired Ranieri, the coach that led them to their miraculous title-winning season, his players were still unified. The players just needed a change and they responded to it. That was the case Saturday.

The Foxes have Everton next week and the way the Toffees are playing, Leicester will go in thinking they can win that game.

15. SWANSEA CITY (8 PTS, GD -4)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L Leicester
NEXT GAME: at Arsenal

When you’re facing a team, who fired their manager only four days earlier AND you’re at home, you need to win that game. Swansea did not do that. Lukasz Fabianski was excellent in goal early in the game for the Swans. When Federico Fernandez headed a cross into his own goal, it changed the entire game. From the own goal on, it was all Leicester.

Alfie Mawson pulled one back in the 56th minute, but Swansea wasn’t close to equalizing. The Swans, who find themselves just one point ahead of the drop zone, have a trip to north London next weekend to face Arsenal. If Arsenal continues their momentum from the Everton win, it could be dangerous for Swansea City.

16. WEST HAM UNITED (8 PTS, GD -9)
LAST GAME: 3-0 L vs Brighton
NEXT GAME:  at Crystal Palace

 “…Then like my dreams, they fade and die.” Those lyrics, straight from West Ham’s song I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, can easily describe the Hammers’ last two seasons in the Premier League. A team, with aspirations to challenge for the top six has fallen way off track. Two years ago, West Ham was in contention for a Europa League spot, but that seems like a lifetime ago for Hammer fans. The club has rebranded and moved to a bigger and better stadium, but the team on the field has struggled. I said last week that this game for West Ham felt like a must win…well, they lost.

West Ham did show signs of promise in the last 20 minutes of the first half against the Seagulls, but couldn’t find a goal for their efforts. Instead, José Izquierdo killed off West Ham’s chances on the stroke of half-time with a beautiful curling effort that made it 2-0.

The commentators were even saying during the broadcast that the London Stadium had an eerie feeling for most of the second half. Fans were leaving the stadium with fifteen minutes left after Murray’s penalty made it 3-0. The West Ham fans are at wit’s end with the club, and Slaven Bilic and co. need results now or Bilic will find himself without a job.

17. STOKE CITY (8 PTS, GD -10)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L vs Bournemouth
NEXT GAME: at Watford

A tough loss for Stoke but they had their chances. Bournemouth scored twice in two minutes in the first half, but the Potters responded well. Stoke didn’t pull one back until the 63rd minute, but the Cherries were able to hold on the rest of the way.

This loss puts Stoke just above the relegation zone on goal differential. The Potters have Watford, Leicester, Brighton, and Palace in their next four games, and it will be crucial for Stoke to take points away from all those games.

18. EVERTON (8 PTS, GD -11)
LAST GAME: 5-2 L Arsenal
NEXT GAME: at Leicester

Ronald Koeman was fired Monday morning after this loss, and it’s not surprising. Look, it’s often forgotten about with football managers, but this is their livelihood. It’s a 24/7 job and you’re always in the limelight. So, while I’ll never call for or condone someone being fired, it was time for Koeman to go. Everton spent 150 million pounds (!!) over the summer bringing in new players. With all the money that was spent, Everton should be playing better than they are. Winless in Europe and sitting in the relegation zone is unacceptable if you’re an Everton fan. Koeman never figured out his lineup or formation and he paid the price.

It is not a good time to be a fan of a Merseyside team. If the season ended today, Everton would be relegated. Wayne Rooney’s beautiful goal early in the first half—almost 16 years to the day that he scored his first PL goal, also against Arsenal—finally gave Everton fans a reason to celebrate. Everton finally looked to be clicking and playing the way they should have been all season. But after Rooney’s goal, Everton was flat-out dominated.

Arsenal had 17 shots in the first half and Everton was lucky it was only 1-1 at halftime. Everton was just outclassed by Arsenal in the second half. Idrissa Gueye’s second yellow in the second half didn’t help as Arsenal added three goals with Everton down to 10 men.

19. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (7PTS, GD -7)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W at Stoke
NEXT GAME:  vs Chelsea

This is a big win for the Cherries. I’ve said it a lot already, but it is NOT easy to go to the Bet365 and win, but that’s exactly what they did. With this win, Bournemouth is only one point from safety and three points away from mid-table.

It won’t be easy to carry this momentum with Chelsea coming to town. Chelsea is tied for second in the league with three wins on the road and has scored nine goals in four games. Eddie Howe is going to have his hands full.

20. CRYSTAL PALACE (3 PTS, GD -17)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L at Newcastle
NEXT GAME:  vs. West Ham

The loss was a real sucker punch to Palace. They had the better chances and were the better team for most of the game. But, yet again, they conceded from a set piece. A point from this game would have been fantastic for the Eagles, but another loss has them five points from safety.

More importantly, it’s another game without a goal. Palace went from scoring two against the defending Champions Chelsea, to zero against Newcastle. With Christian Benteke still out, Palace will need to bring in another striker in January to keep their PL dreams alive.

 


@ClayBenjamin_  for @CincySoccerTalk

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