Spurs 1-2 Liverpool: The weekends biggest game was also the weekends early kick-off. Spurs’ temporary home, Wembley, played host to two teams looking to stake a claim as title contenders, and as a Liverpool fan I’m pleased that only one of them looked ready to start a title tilt. From the outset it was clear that Spurs weren’t at their best, the linesman preventing Liverpool being a goal up within two minutes – correctly ruling Sadio Mane offside following Roberto Firmino’s flick from a James Milner cross. As the first half progressed Liverpool continued to be the more dangerous of the two sides, Mo Salah wastefully shooting straight at Michel Vorm in a string of poor decisions by Liverpool’s attackers, leaving their dominance under threat of going unrewarded. It took Spurs half an hour to register their first attempt on target, a now familiarly tame free-kick from Christian Eriksen. This was the highlight of the first-half for Spurs fans as not long after Gini Wijnaldum scored a looping header awarded by goal-line technology, the ball only just crossing the line following a characteristic Vorm mistake. The second-half started off evenly with both sides hitting the woodwork in the first 5 minutes after the break. However, it only took Liverpool until the 54th minute to double their lead with Mane’s cross deflecting off Jan Vertonghen and finding Firmino through the weak hands of Vorm for a tap-in. From then on Liverpool seemed the most likely to score as the Reds pushed for a third to put the game to rest, but as in the first-half, Liverpool continued to be wasteful with their chances. Spurs substitute Erik Lamela bagged a brilliant late goal from a tight angle to give Spurs a glimmer of hope before Mane tripped Son in the area with Liverpool being lucky that the referee was unsighted and so couldn’t give a penalty. A score line of 2-1 flatters Spurs after a very poor performance, however Liverpool’s failure to take their chances means that neither set of fans can be overly happy with the match. But, Liverpool’s overall dominance and the fact that they have now won 5 from 5 means that it is Liverpool and not Spurs who are being spoken about as title contenders.
Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff: The first four games of the season could not have been more contrasting for Chelsea and Cardiff. Chelsea went into their game on Saturday with a record of four wins from four games, while Cardiff were yet to win a game, and sure enough the teams contrasting form continued. However, for the first 20 minutes Cardiff threatened to upset the odds with Sol Bamba somehow heading wide from a corner before redeeming himself by finishing off a knock down from Sean Morrison. However, following Bamba’s goal this game became the “Eden Hazard Show”, Chelsea’s World Cup Semi-Finalist looking much fitter than all of England’s World Cup squad have this season, playing some of the best football of his career. Hazard managed to score Chelsea’s equaliser with a fine run and finish, making good use of Olivier Giroud’s exceptional hold-up play. Hazard was then able to give Chelsea the lead on the brink of half-time following a deflected effort from within the penalty box. Hazard continued to torment the Cardiff defence after the break with his fine dribbling but had to wait until the 80th minute to complete his hat-trick, converting a penalty won by substitute Willian. Indeed, it was Willian that completed Chelsea’s rout with a sublime curling finish from outside the box just 3 minutes after winning Chelsea’s penalty. Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea continue to look a force and could well be the dark horses in the league, particularly if they continue to get the best out of their Belgian superstar.
Bournemouth 4-2 Leicester: Often games between mid-table sides in the Premier league are boring affairs, and rarely are mid-table teams as good going forward as both Bournemouth and Leicester this weekend. Following his suspension, Leicester welcomed back talisman Jamie Vardy and early on he was claiming to have been fouled by Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as he attempted to get through on goal. However, with the referee waving away Vardy’s claims Bournemouth began to get on top with Ryan Fraser continuing his very impressive early season form, tucking away a curled finish into the bottom right corner just minutes after a penalty claim of his own. Leicester though continued to show attacking intent with Vardy and James Maddison forcing Begovic into a smart double save before Fraser doubled his and Bournemouth’s tally with a breakaway goal. It was then third time lucky in terms of penalty appeals, with Josh King causing Ricardo Pereira to handle the ball inside the area before converting the spot kick to give Bournemouth a 3-0 half-time lead. Following an action packed first-half the second threatened to be a much tamer affair, particularly when Leicester went down to ten men after Wes Morgan’s second yellow card. With Adam Smith adding a fourth for Bournemouth in the 81st minute, many would have thought the game over – however – anyone leaving to beat the traffic would have missed two more goals. Pereira was fouled by King to win Leicester a late penalty, converted by Maddison, before Marc Albrighton sparked dreams of a Leicester comeback with a fine header having run between Bournemouth’s centre-backs. Ultimately, Leicester were unable to find another two goals and the game ended with Bournemouth being deserved winners.
Watford 1-2 Manchester United: Much has been made of both Manchester United and Watford’s starts to the season. Watford, unbeaten before this weekend, were already being regarded by some as this season’s surprise package, while United fans were already fearful of Jose Mourinho’s third season curse, having seen their team only win 2 of their first 4 games. However, in the Saturday evening kick-off at Vicarage Road, Man United showed that they are still a very good team despite the recent gloom that has been surrounding them. After David De Gea’s early save from a vicious Troy Deeney shot, United began to dominate with their former keeper Ben Foster being the main reason that Watford were still drawing until the 35th minute. Ashley Young, recalled to the team in place of the injured Luke Shaw, saw his cross bundled in by Romelu Lukaku inside the six-yard box, before centre-back Chris Smalling produced a striker’s finish just three minutes later after Marouane Fellaini got a free header from a corner. From then on United had to put together a performance typical of a Mourinho side and show defensive discipline to keep ahead. While it wasn’t a vintage defensive display by United, with Andre Gray pulling one back for Watford and Nemanja Matic getting sent off, the Red Devils did enough to hold on and take the 3 points home.
Manchester City 3-0 Fulham: It’s not often that a team wins 3-0 and barely anybody bats an eyelid, but such was Manchester City’s domination last season and the quality they so often display that nobody is surprised when they run out such comfortable winners. On Saturday Man City never had to get close to their scintillating best, with Fulham often being undone by their own tactics. Fulham playing a high-line found themselves routinely under threat when trying to play out from the back, something which was exposed as early as the second minute when Fernandinho stole the ball from Jean-Michael Seri in the centre of the park, before breaking and crossing to allow Leroy Sane to score a tap-in. Raheem Sterling, who missed the international break through injury, saw an effort strike the bar before David Silva bagged his 50th Premier League goal by finishing from inside the six-yard box after Sergio Aguero’s blocked shot. Other than a couple of long-range efforts from Andre Schurrle that forced Ederson to make saves, Fulham offered little threat to Man City, with the Sky Blues putting the game to bed through Sterling prodding home an Aguero cross, having seen Sane have one ruled out wrongly for offside earlier. While not at their best Man City were always comfortable in this game, something that will worry their title rivals as much as if City had been able to score at least twice as many.
Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal: Neither Newcastle or Arsenal have impressed so far this season. A lack of backing in the summer has seen Rafa Benitez working with a squad low on talent, Rafa himself being criticised for setting his team out too defensively, although given the lack of attacking talent at the Magpies’ disposal it would be senseless to go toe-to-toe with many opponents this season. Arsenal on the other hand have drawn contradicting opinions, new manager Unai Emery being praised for trying to implement exciting attacking football at the club, although he has also faced criticism for not altering tactics enough to suit the players he has. At St James’ Park on Saturday Newcastle started in the more positive manner with two half chances falling to Jacob Murphy following mistakes by a lethargic Arsenal. Murphy was wasteful with these chances and very little else was created in the rest of the half by either side. With both sides lacking inspiration, it took a moment of magic just after half-time to break the deadlock. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won Arsenal a free-kick in the 49th minute which Granit Xhaka curled in past a flailing Martin Dubravka into the top-corner. This seemed to reinvigorate Arsenal who were suddenly able to play at a higher tempo, clearly aided by the introduction of Lucas Torreira at half-time, which saw Arsenal get a second through Mesut Ozil in the 58th minute. Newcastle continued to look devoid of ideas throughout the second half until a late header by substitute Ciaran Clark provided them with a consolation goal. Given how both teams have started this season and played in this game it is unlikely that either set of fans will have much to cheer about for the rest of the season.
Huddersfield 0-1 Crystal Palace: Neither Huddersfield or Palace have set the Premier League alight so far, but then neither were expected to. In a game that lacked inspiration, Huddersfield dominated early but could not get a goal to show for it, Steve Mounie heading the ball over the bar from Chris Lowe’s perfect cross. The next notable incident in the game was a moment of magic. Picking the ball up in Huddersfield’s half, Wilfried Zaha, so often Palace’s saviour, went on a slaloming run that ended with him bending an unstoppable effort into the top right corner of the net. This moment of quality proved to be the difference, with Huddersfield only able to hit the post through an Aaron Mooy volley in their hunt for an equaliser. As Huddersfield committed men forward it allowed Palace to counter attack, however poor finishing from Palace, including Zaha blazing a golden chance over, meant the game finished 1-0 to the away side.
Everton 1-3 West Ham: Going into this game at Goodison Park, Marco Silva and Manuel Pellegrini had experienced contrasting starts to life at their new clubs. Silva’s Everton were unbeaten in the league, albeit only winning once, while Pellegrini’s West Ham were yet to pick up a point. However, in this game West Ham started on the front foot and found themselves taking an early lead when Andriy Yarmolenko tucked away his first West Ham goal after Marko Arnautovic squared the ball to him. Yarmolenko then doubled his tally for the Hammers by cutting inside Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma to curl the ball into the net, having been given the ball by Mark Noble, the beneficiary of a Jordan Pickford mistake. Just before half-time, Everton gave themselves a lifeline when Gylfi Sigurdsson headed in a Jonjoe Kenny cross, but with only 4 shots on target in the whole game Everton were not able to find a second goal after the break. Arnautovic put the game to bed on the hour mark after a neat one-two with Pedro Obiang, giving the Hammers their first points of the season and lifting them off the foot of the table.
Wolves 1-0 Burnley: Last season was a season to remember for both Wolves and Burnley, Wolves getting promotion and Burnley qualifying for the Europa League. In this meeting, Wolves were looking to continue their excellent recent home record and made the better start at Molineux, regularly testing Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the former England number 1 making save after save during the first period, Burnley could have found themselves two or three goals down at the break instead of going in level. As it was, all of Hart’s saves were in vain as Wolves took the lead when Raul Jimenez stylishly finished for Wolves in the 61st minute. After this, Wolves continued to dominate with Burnley only creating a half-chance where Jack Cork failed to react quickly enough to tap in Matej Vydra’s volley across goal, thus seeing Burnley’s dreadful start to the season continue with them falling to bottom of the league while Wolves climbed up to 9th.
Southampton 2-2 Brighton: The Monday night kick-off is often forgotten about, but this Monday’s game deserves to be remembered. After a cagey start, Southampton began to get the upper hand in the match with Norwegian Mohamed Elyounoussi missing two glorious chances before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scored a 35-yard stunner in the 35th minute. At the start of the second half, Brighton came out of the traps much stronger with Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy making a save from Anthony Knockaert before Solly March put the rebound wide. However, in the 64th minute Gaetan Bong tripped Danny Ings from behind in the box with the former Liverpool striker picking himself up and scoring the penalty himself. Brighton seemed unfazed by the deficit being doubled and replied almost instantly with Shane Duffy scoring a header from a Knockaert free-kick. Brighton then had their tails up and pushed for an equaliser with McCarthy palming away a Jurgen Locadia header on the stroke of 90 minutes before James Ward-Prowse was adjudged to have pushed Duffy in the box allowing Glenn Murray to step up and score Brighton’s equaliser from the penalty spot, giving Brighton a point following an impressive comeback.