8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW12
25 Oct 2022
A clash between two top four rivals, a new manager bounce, and more VAR controversy, here is eight things we learnt from Premier League GW12:
Casemiro Brings Manchester United Up A Level
When Manchester United signed Casemiro from Real Madrid in the summer, there was a mixture of opinions. Some said he would finally solve the Red Devils’ issues in the CDM role and others said he would be another high-profile flop like Ángel Di María. After a bit of time getting used to the league, Casemiro has shown why he is considered one of the world’s best in the position.
His comfortableness on the ball and passing range means United now are winning more midfield battles and can start attacks from further down the pitch. This was shown by his involvement in attacks in the first half, as the passing play saw Utd play through the Chelsea defence. The team in red were almost punished when some clumsy defending (hugging) of Mason Mount by Scott McTominay gave away a penalty that Jorginho dispatched. Fortunately for the Manchester side, a lovely cross by Luke Shaw was headed home by Casemiro, as his looping effort couldn’t even be stopped by Kepa’s hand, hitting the post and just creeping over the line. A first goal in United colours and we should see a few more this season.
Injury to Raphaël Varane will be a concern and the missing Anthony Martial has affected the goalscoring, but this United side looks a lot more secure and is playing good football. While there is plenty of stars in this team, Casemiro may be one of the most important this season.
Liverpool Flounder On The Road Against Resilient Forest
Jurgen Klopp cut a visibly frustrated figure in his post match interviews as Liverpool failed again to register their first win away from home. On what many thought would be a comfortable Saturday afternoon for the visitors, Nottingham Forest frustrated the Reds and found themselves a goal to the good through summer signing Taiwo Awoniyi.
Forest defended resolutely and left Liverpool frustrated as they struggled to create chances from open play. They were however a threat from set pieces, and Virgil Van Dijk could have done better with a few crosses. Dean Henderson was excellent in goal for the home team, and Forest’s afternoon could have been even better if it wasn’t for the outstretched Alisson denying Ryan Yates.
On what could be a vital turning point in the season for Steve Cooper and Forest, the pressure now mounts on Jurgen Klopp to steady the ship and guide Liverpool back into the top four places. He will need his defence to step up to the challenge, and hope that Darwin Nunez’s absence is short lived, as while the Uruguayan can be frustrating at times, his movement and power in the role of striker gives Liverpool their best attacking option right now.
Saints Stalemate Gives Arsenal First Frustrations
Arsenal have without a doubt looked like one of the best teams in the league so far – they took the trip down to St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon to take on a struggling Southampton side.
Granit Xhaka has looked a completely different player this season. With clever attacking play, defensive integrity and leadership qualities despite not owning captaincy – the Swiss international has been a great asset to the Gunners since repairing his relationship with the fans. Finding his way into the goals again, Xhaka put Arsenal 1-0 up within 11 minutes – and it looked like we were in for another dominant display. However, after going 1-0 up, it almost looked as if Arsenal took their foot off the gas – with Southampton pulling strings to find a route back into the game – that eventually came from Armstrong in the 65th minute, with a lovely worked strike placed past Ramsdale.
In what turned out to be a quite a dry game, Arsenal failed to capitalise during their periods of domination and allowed the wide channels to be exposed way too easily. Arteta won’t be happy with the way his team performed at times and will be certainly be replaying their shape in the analytical room this week. Hassunhuttl can hold his head high that his players grafted hard for the full 90 minutes and got a well deserved point out of the game.
Haaland & De Bruyne Prove Too Much For Brave Brighton
Following defeat to an out of form Liverpool side last week, Pep Guardiola’s men looked determined to bounce back, regaining their momentum and defeating a tricky Brighton side at home in an entertaining four goal spectacle.
The suggestion that bringing Erling Haaland to the Ethiad would in turn make City loosen their undisputed control in matches in return for his other worldly goal scoring ability really bore out on Saturday. After being denied a stonewall penalty, Haaland took retribution – bulldozing his way through the Brighton defence before stroking the ball home into an empty
net. He added his second from the penalty spot, leaving keeper Sanchez rooted for his 22nd goal in all comps, an empathic finish which looked to have put the visitors out before the break.
Whatever new coach Roberto De Zerbi said to his men at half time must have been incredibly motivational as The Seagulls came out on fire, taking the game to the reigning champions. Having the best season of his career, who else but Leandro Trossard would make it 2-1 with a venomous strike from the edge of the box too strong for the hands of City keeper Ederson.
De Zerbi will take great pride from his side’s display, City really struggled to wrestle back control after the goal, something you rarely see from them at home. If not for a Kevin De Bruyne wonder strike to kill the game they might have walked away with a point.
The tale of overwhelming quality just being too much of a hill to climb will be the story for a lot of sides facing City. Still though, games like this where both sides go out to play good football will always be appreciated.
Villa Bounce Back Against Naïve Brentford
Aston Villa took the trip to Brentford for their first game without Steven Gerrard in charge, having been sacked after their 3-0 defeat to Fulham in their midweek fixture. Knowing they had something to prove, Villa heavily dominated throughout in a 4-0 win, their biggest victory this season.
It didn’t take long to make a breakthrough, with Leon Bailey opening the scoring in the 2nd minute, before Danny Ings found his form again, scoring a brace within the opening 14 minutes of the game. Already 3-0 up in 15 minutes, Brentford severely lacked any clinical nature up front, and despite having twelve shots throughout the game, never really looked like causing much of a threat. Villa made it 4-0 in the 59th minute through Ollie Watkins, and like I said the last time I covered a Brentford game – “Brentford showcased a lack of defensive structure which was certainly to blame for the heavy defeat”.
With the news this weekend of Unai Emery being appointed manager of Aston Villa, each player will again have to prove their worth to the starting eleven. If they can continue to play how they did here, they’ll have absolutely no problem climbing the table over the next couple of weeks. Brentford on the other hand definitely have some work to do, and should look to work on their defensive structure and build up style.
A Tale of Two Handballs Sees West Ham Conquer Bournemouth
In what was a largely underwhelming game at the London Stadium on Monday, Bournemouth fans will rightly feel aggrieved at the lack of decisions going their way so far this season.
West Ham had the better of the opening exchanges, with Aaron Cresswell forcing a fingertip save from Neto to keep the deadlock unbroken. The Cherries lost their way slightly when talisman Dom Solanke was forced off through injury, but they will feel extremely hard done by at the lack of a handball decision for West Ham’s first goal. Thilo Kehrer seemingly kept the ball alive by volleying it with his arm, before Kurt Zouma nodded in at the back post.
The decision seems farcical and was only compounded late on when Jordan Zemura was ruled to have handballed a cross from point blank range. While I’ve seen these given in the Premier League, to have both decisions go against you is harsh to say the least.
Since Gary O’Neil has taken over at Bournemouth, they have had 10 VAR checks with none going the way of the South Coast side. While they certainly dind’t play well enough to win the game, Bournemouth will hope their luck changes as they creep closer back to the bottom three.
Newcastle Impress Against Stale Spurs
The signs of decline at Tottenham Hotspur were again bolstered with tangible evidence as they suffered a home defeat to a fearless Newcastle side.
Callum Wilson was first on target at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, taking advantage of a Hugo Lloris mistake, courtesy of a fine lofted finish on the half-hour mark. Miguel Almirón’s squeezed effort from the right of the penalty box on the stroke of half time then put the visitors up 2-0.
Tottenham’s place in the Champions League positions is becoming more and more precarious. Antonio Conte’s plan to rejuvenate his team after a midweek no show at Manchester United fell flat against an aggressive, organised opponent. In a team boasting bonafide Premier League talent, the burden to rescue something again fell on star man Harry Kane. While England captain Kane is in fine form, bagging his 10th league goal in 12 games, his teammates are most certainly not. His 54th minute headed goal served only as conciliation with Spurs manfully repelled for the remainder of the half.
Eddie Howe deserves serious credit. After being dismissed by a Bournemouth side he built from the ground up he’s had to bide his time and wait for the right project to come along. It’s easy to see why he was touted for a top 6 job and the England national team. He’s brought a
modern and effective footballing identity to Tyneside, based on the collective rather than riding the coattails of individual talent. The same characteristics found in Newcastle’s football is evident in their executive structure. Newcastle have spent big since their Saudi takeover but not foolhardily. This is a project that looks to be far ahead of schedule without even really flexing their new financial muscle, a scary thought for all concerned.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin May Be The Spark To Get Everton Going
Everton have had a mixed start to the season and struggled for goals. They came up against a Crystal Palace side who have been equally mixed in their fortunes. But, in a dominant performance, the Toffees came out on top and showed the pace and desire to attain victory.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin got his long-awaited first goal of the season, with Everton quickly going from winning the ball back to Calvert-Lewin nutmegging Marc Guéhi and finishing nicely in the bottom left corner. Everton would continue to dominate, with the pace of Alex Iwobi, Demarai Gray, and Anthony Gordon proving too much for the Palace defence.
After some top defending from Vitalii Mykolenko and Conor Coady, the former went up the pitch and had his effort tamely parried away by Vicente Guaita, allowing Anthony Gordon to finish, with the goal given by VAR. Dwight McNeil then glided through the Eagles’ defenders with ease, playing the ball through to Iwobi who brought the GK out and his backheel was finished by McNeil.
It was a terrific performance by Everton that showed the weaknesses of this Palace side, that Patrick Vieira needs to fix quickly. If Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to score, he may be the key to how high up the table Everton finish this season.