8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW21
7 Feb 2023
Another week in the Premier League has seen another managerial departure, as well as a new manager bounce that has effected both ends of the table. Here is our round up of eight talking points from the Premier League weekend’s action:
Record Breaker Kane Compounds City Suffering
Harry Kane put Manchester City to the sword on Sunday night, breaking Tottenham’s all time goalscoring record and frustrating Pep Guardiola’s side in the process. Tottenham were excellent across the pitch despite the absence of their head coach Antonio Conte due to illness. The Spurs full backs managed to stop any meaningful balls into Erling Haaland, while Pierre Emil-Højbjerg bossed a midfield that did not feature Kevin De Bruyne until the latter stages of the game.
City haven’t looked themselves since returning from the World Cup break and have relied on their key players to get them out of tight spots in recent weeks, rather than playing the fast paced, expansive football that we have become accustomed to. They missed the chance to close the gap on Arsenal at the top of the table and now face a period of turmoil after a series of charges from the Premier League. The dynasty that Manchester City have built over the past decade could well be starting to crumble, and Pep Guardiola’s long term future as City boss has never been in more doubt.
Dyche Delight As Arsenal Halted In Merseyside
Goodison Park played host to a clash between two sides at complete opposite ends of the table. Arsenal had lost one game all season and were flying high in 1st, while a struggling Everton were in the relegation zone and without a league win since October. Yet, with new manager Sean Dyche at the helm, Everton pulled off the unthinkable and delivered a crucial win.
The blue side of the River Mersey very much deserved the result and had the best chances. Some poor passing allowed Amadou Onana to run through and slide it across the box, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin just couldn’t make contact. He and Abdoulaye Doucouré couldn’t take their chances later as both headed good opportunities wide. Arsenal meanwhile got into some good spaces but both Eddie Nketiah and Martin Ødegaard could only sky it over the bar. Bukayo Saka had their best chance as he cleanly hit Oleksandr Zinchenko’s ball on the volley, only for Conor Coady to stand firm on the line. The defining moment came in the second half, as poor marking by Ødegaard allowed James Tarkowski to head home Dwight McNeil’s corner. It was a first Everton goal for him, and to see two former Burnley men link up showed Dyche had already made his impact.It was a great win for Everton, ending an awful run and putting them level on points with 17th place Leeds. Next up for them is a tense Merseyside derby with an out-of-form Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Gunners will feel fortunate that their lead at the top wasn’t cut, on a day they weren’t at their best. Next up for them is a decent Brentford side and Mikel Arteta will be expecting a response. For Everton it was a new man in the door and a fresh change of result, giving fans hope they may beat the drop.
Leicester New Boys Help Secure Victory Over Villa
Leicester City saw off Aston Villa in an enthralling match that ended 4-2 at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon. Both sides were looking to create some distance from the relegation scrap just below them and kick start brighter second halves of the season. Brendan Rodgers rolled out Leicester City 2022/23 v2.0 with all three of his January signings in the starting XI, however it was Unai Emery’s Villa who made the best first impression. Emiliano Buendia curled a hopeful shot from distance that beat Ward but came back off the crossbar. Thanks to some lax defending, Ollie Watkins waltzed onto the loose ball and acrobatically finished to make it 1-0.
If Ollie Watkins created his own good luck for his goal, then Boubakar Kamara and Emiliano Martinez created their own bad luck when the two played themselves into trouble from a goal kick. After some frantic stuff in the box the ball found its way to Iheanacho, unselfishly slipping it to James Maddison who calmly slid it home to make it 1-1.
The game took a 20 minute recess after the equaliser before bursting back into life with a 15 minute goal flurry to see out the half. Leicester new boy Harry Souttar had the displeasure of turning the ball into his own net before Iheanacho got on the score sheet, followed by brazilian winger Tete who rounded to keeper to bag on his debut. Denis Praet came on to secure all three points in a thoroughly eventful match.
Leicester were desperately crying out for player refreshments and the early indication is that this next portion of the campaign should see them do much better than the last. For Villa it was a day to forget with individual errors costing them big time. No matter how strong your attacking intent, defensive security is the key to survival at the bottom of the league.
Mitoma Magic Bursts Bournemouth’s Bubble
Brighton hosted a struggling Bournemouth side on Saturday afternoon, in a tight-knit but deserved 1-0 home victory – won dramatically in the closing stages of the game.
The first half was quite a cagey affair, with many controversial refereeing decisions and chances for both teams. Brighton’s best chance of the first half came from Denis Undav, who had three shots in one move, with the last of the three crashing against the left post. Bournemouth had a shot that went begging just wide from Jefferson Lerma, after a great move – and also had a penalty shout denied shortly after.
It was a dominant performance from Brighton however, with Roberto De Zerbi’s tactical installation in the setup becoming evident in gameplay and results. 72% possession and an XG of 2.5 is all you need to know about the game. The pressure was consistent throughout – which was eventually rewarded in the 87th minute. Karou Mitoma kept his fine form up in front of goal, scoring the winner set up by Jeremy Sarmiento. At just £2.5 million, Mitoma is looking to be one of the best value signings in recent Premier League time, with many excited by the prospect of the Japanese international.
Resurgent Wolves Compound Klopp’s Misery
Liverpool really seem to be in a state of crisis at the moment and a win from anywhere seems unlikely. Sitting in 10th with one point from their last three games shows how badly a win was needed. Wolves meanwhile, who couldn’t score at the start of the season, have improved under Julen Lopetegui. Liverpool once again showed their lack of belief as Wolves got one over the Reds after defeat in the cup.
The Liverpool defence had a woeful day at the office with a clear divide between both sides. A dangerous ball into the box found Hwang Hee-Chan, who had the time to play a ball across that was deflected in by Joël Matip onto the post and across the goal line. It was 2-0 soon after when lacklustre defending on a free kick gave Wolves plenty of opportunities and Craig Dawson eventually smashed it in on his debut. Darwin Núñez had Liverpool’s best chances, but he was stopped by a resolute José Sá. The final Wolves goal was a great team play with João Moutinho winning the ball back in midfield, playing through the pacey Adama Traoré who found Rúben Neves in the box, leading to a cool finish into the corner. It was non-existent again from the centre-backs and it could have got worse earlier on when Matheus Nunes bullied Matip off the ball, only for Alisson to meet his shot.
Liverpool were woeful at the back, with Joël Matip and co-letting anything through, as Alisson stopped things from getting truly embarrassing. This side seems lost and out of options and a rejuvenated Everton is not what they need. Wolves continue to improve under the new manager and look like a side that will survive another season. Next up they face a struggling Southampton side. While Wolves march on with a new gaffer, some will be questioning whether a fresh face is needed at Anfield.
Johnson Strike The Final Nail In The Coffin For Jesse Marsch
Nottingham Forest hosted Leeds on Sunday afternoon in a match that turned out to be Jesse Marsch’s last game in charge for the The Whites.
Forest took the lead in the 13th minute through Brennan Johnson – who scored a superb finish past Meslier, sparking the City Ground into a frenzy. Forest however did not offer a great deal for the rest of the game, only managing to muster up another five shots, with none of them being branded as ‘big chances’. Willy Boly led the Forest back line defensively in what was a very organised display, despite Leeds dominating possession, with 70% as opposed to Nottingham’s 30%, while they also created more chances in the final third and almost double the amount of shots.
Steve Cooper will be impressed with Forest side though, picking up another important 3 points. It was very much a ‘park the bus’ style game, with Nottingham defending their early lead for the majority of the game.
United Show Resilience After Casemiro Recklessness Against Crystal Palace
After an insightful trip to the capital Manchester United returned to winning ways, avenging their last minute 1-1 draw away to Palace in a hotly contested match at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag’s side have come a long way from their bumpy start to the season and have firmly placed themselves as serious top 4 candidates. This is in large part thanks to their formidable home form, losing just once in their 10 home fixtures this season. Add Marcus Rashford’s re-birth and the addition of ferocious defenders like Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro, the grass has a distinctly greener tinge when United play these days.
United had general control of the game, possessing the cutting edge which saw them grab a 2-0 just after the hour mark courtesy of a Bruno Fernandes first half penalty and well worked team move finished by man of the hour Rashford. However, around the 67th minute the ante was turned up after a Jeffrey Schlupp challenge on Antony led to a huge skirmish. Schlupp’s tackle itself was punishable but the ensuing “brawl” saw a host of players lose their heads with one man going above and beyond the rest.
Lord knows why but Crystal Palace seem to bring out something recklessly sinister in United’s midfield general Casemiro. At Selhurst Park, knowing a yellow card would see him miss the next match against Arsenal the Brazilian still delivered an outright bizarre knee height scissor tackle to Wilfried Zaha. In the melée he somehow found time to choke Palace man Will Hughes leading to a straight red card following a VAR check and when Schlupp poked one home to half the deficit on the 76th minute alarm bells must have been ringing.
United held their nerve and saw out a late Palace onslaught but they did go on to lose that game at the Emirates and Casemiro’s presence to many was a contributing factor in that. Red Devil fans will be hoping for better fortunes in the minimum three matches he will now miss with a top 4 finish on the agenda.
Chelsea Stars Yet To Gel As Fulham Secure Away Point
Premier League record signing Enzo Fernandez made his debut for Chelsea against neighbours Fulham on Friday night. The Argentinian had some bright moments but ultimately the Blues came up short in attack – an issue that Chelsea haven’t been able to shake off all season.
Fernandez was joined by other new signings Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, and David Fofana across the 90 minutes as Chelsea huffed and puffed to break Fulham down. There is no doubt that new owner Todd Boehly has put his money where his mouth is and invested in the squad, but it feels as if their approach to the transfer window has been scattergun to say the least. Graham Potter has a huge task on his hands to find a coherent starting eleven whilst also massaging the egos of the massive pool of players he can pick from.
Fulham on the other hand continue to gain points as they coast to safety in their first season back in the Premier League. Marco Silva has done a fantastic job and for the West London side to be above Chelsea and Liverpool in the table is nothing short of sensational.