8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW15
15 Nov 2022
Going into the World Cup, there were plenty of storylines to tie up before the Premier League’s best players jetted off to Qatar. We’ve rounded up some of the key talking points from the weekend’s action:
Terrific Toney Forces City Slip At The Etihad
Manchester City failed to put away a defensively resolute Brentford side and blew the title race wide open on Saturday afternoon. After a shaky start that saw them fall behind to an Ivan Toney effort from close range, Phil Foden put them back on level terms with a sweetly struck half-volley just before half time.
City huffed and puffed in the second half but failed to create any real clear cut opportunities. Thomas Frank did a good job of organising his defence by not allowing any service to Erling Haaland. City’s goal machine cut a frustrated figure for most of the game and failed to find the space in the box to continue his fine goalscoring form this season. Pep Guardiola might feel in hindsight that he should have used his bench to help unlock the Brentford defence, as the wing play of Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez could have come in useful in order to get behind the Bees back line.
Right at the death, Ivan Toney again made City pay by finishing off a fine counter attack that put his side a goal up with seconds left on the clock. The England striker was sensational throughout and epitomised the hard work and discipline that his team showed. Thomas Frank has been on the back of some heavy defeats this season, so to be this defensively resolute will no doubt be a huge positive for the Brentford boss. City’s slip however means that Arsenal are very much in pole position for the title, and Pep will need his players to return to their highest of standards when they return from the World Cup.
Odegaard Double Gives Arsenal Title Aspirations
Arsenal took the trip to Molineux on Saturday evening as Wolves hosted Mikel Arteta’s in form side – in a game that saw the Gunners keep up their fine momentum, they go into the Christmas break 5 points clear at the top of the table, which a lot of people may have not foreseen 3 months ago. Arteta’s team always look like they are going to do damage, and this new found confidence and organisation within the side is oozing in their conduct and gameplay so far this season.
A heavily dominant performance yet again, Arsenal had 63% of possession, with almost double the passes (517) that Steve Davis’ Wolves side had (277), and it’s becoming safe to say that this Arsenal team are massive contenders for the league this season. Martin Odegaard, who has previously been criticised for not shooting enough, found himself at the double, striking in both the 55th and 75th minute with two easy finishes into the back of the net.
Wolves never really looked like breaking through the Arsenal defence, and although they had eleven shots in the game, only managed to force Ramsdale into two saves throughout the full 90 minutes. Going into the World Cup break now, Arsenal couldn’t be in any better position really – however Wolves have a lot of work to do, worryingly sat at the bottom of the league on only 10 points.
Garnacho Heroics Cap Victory At Craven Cottage
Alejandro Garnacho stole the show once again as he scored his first Premier League goal to help Manchester United to victory against Fulham. Having already scored in the Europa League and supplying two assists from the bench in the Thursday League Cup game, he continues to deliver. This future Argentinian international is supremely talented, but will he be the next Marcus Rashford or Federico Macheda?
As expected, the Red Devils started the game well, with Casemiro making a great tackle to start a counter-attack that saw Bruno Fernandes find a sliding Christian Eriksen. His finish was his first goal for the club, having been one of United’s best players and continually putting in top-class
performances. Fernandes continued to create chances, finding Anthony Martial whose effort went through Bernd Leno, and almost into the goal. He then almost set up Eriksen again, who narrowly hit wide.
Fulham came into the game in the second half, with David De Gea forced to save a close-range header from Harrison Reed. After Fernandes lost the ball, Willian started a counter, playing the ball through to Tom Cairney whose ball was an easy finish for a returning Dan James. Luke Shaw will
again be questioned for his marking, showing that despite an upturn in form, he still has issues defensively. Both sides had chances at the end, with Garnacho creating one of them. He then had a great one-two
with Luke Shaw, running past the defence and into the space where Shaw’s ball was played, slicing it across the goal and into the far-right corner. He of course celebrated with Lionel Messi’s famous holding of the shirt celebration, saving United’s bacon at the end.
Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview after the game, this win was even more vital and keeps the team in contention for the top 4 places, while Fulham once again just lost out against a Manchester club. Fans will be content with how the Erik Ten Haag era has gone so far, having been
not perfect, but making strides forward. Fulham fans will be extremely happy to be where they are in the table and will hope they keep it up after the World Cup. But, for Alejandro Garnacho the sky is the limit, and he can only get better.
Leeds And Spurs Serve up Seven Goal Thriller
After this weekend it’s fair to say Tottenham Hotspur are the Premier League’s resident comeback kings, taking the spoils after a seven goal thriller against Leeds United. In all honesty this game was something of a must win for the North London club. Heading into the World Cup break with only two wins in their last five would have been a bad look, especially
coupled with how poor their displays have been. It looked like that would be the case too, as they found themselves behind three times at home to Leeds. But much like against Marseille and Bournemouth, Conte’s men always seem to find the right number of goals needed to spare their blushes.
Leeds for their part were really lethal on the attacking end and it almost paid off despite their porous defence. The game was frantic and very much end to end, as both teams went searching for ways to go ahead, something for Jesse Marsch to reflect on perhaps. Going toe to toe with Spurs away is a risky endeavour and after taking the lead multiple times, setting up shop might have been the better option.
To be fair it’s very obvious when watching Spurs that Dejan Kulusevskl is the glue for this side and his absence through injury this season has directly affected their performance. The 22-year-old is an elite talent and his role in the comeback was as head honcho, with his directness and his near perfect decision making proving too much for Leeds. With Sweden not going to the World Cup, expecting Kulusevski to help Spurs look
more convincing winners would be a fair bet.
Frank Falters As Bournemouth Bounce Back
It has been dark times for Everton fans over the last few years, and this season has been just as poor. This once-great club now finds itself in relegation scraps, threatening its status as one of the clubs to have never been relegated during the Premier League era. But, after an awful display against Bournemouth, Frank Lampard appears to be in trouble again in his second season at a club.
The defending of Everton was abysmal and allowed Bournemouth to score three easy goals. Dominic Solanke’s curling effort was parried down by Jordan Pickford, only for Marcus Tavernier to come in and score. There was then some controversy, as, despite a clash of heads, Kieffer Moore finished from a looping header by Tavernier. There was chaos in the box during the lead-up to the goal – a mixture of lacklustre defending or reaction to the injury. The goal stood, which could be questionable due to the supposed care shown towards concussion that was not on display from the officials.
The final goal came from a Lewis Cook free kick that Jaidon Anthony came off the bench to head home unmarked for his first home Premier League goal. Everton didn’t have many chances but finished poorly as
despite being able to turn in the box, Neal Maupay blasted off target.
Mistakes and poor performances cost Everton and as a result, they lie in 17th and a point above the relegation zone. Jordan Pickford will have England fans worried, with mistakes creeping back into his game. The fans showed their anger towards the players by throwing Alex Iwobi’s shirt back at him and forcing Frank Lampard to take the players away from the fans. Bournemouth meanwhile continued their good form under Gary O’Neil and while only two points above Everton, are getting results and have talents like Marcus Tavernier. Bournemouth didn’t need to get out of second gear here due to the awful performance by the visitors. Frank Lampard is in trouble, and he may find himself out of a job by the time Boxing Day comes along.
Magpies Move Closer To Europe Against An Uninspired Chelsea
Newcastle have started the season in fine form, continuing with a statement 1-0 victory over top 4 rivals Chelsea. Eddie Howe’s men made light work of the London side in a dominant display which border lined on torturous for any Chelsea fans watching. Newcastle’s high intensity football is truly something to behold, and to pay Howe the biggest respect, he has managed to recapture that suffocating feeling early Jurgen Klopp Liverpool sides possessed.
Despite their dominance it took a wonder goal from Joe Willock to break the deadlock. However, just minutes before it was very nearly Chelsea who took the lead. After a poor clearance the Blues regained possession deep into Newcatle’s half and Connor Gallagher whipped a curling effort from the edge of the box which was expertly saved by England keeper Nick Pope. That moment proved to be Graham Potter’s side’s best chance and
highlight of the match, an indication of the dire situation they find themselves in. Finding yourself constantly playing on the margins and searching for individual moments of inspiration is never a good omen.
While Chelsea are waning under new management, Newcastle are speed running to their inevitable reign over English football. The prospect of Newcastle being ahead of schedule is scary, even more so when considering how deep their pockets go and the doors that Champions League football will open. For now we just have to watch, but as one giant looks
heavy eyed another is wiping the sleep from theirs.
Ings Brace Spoils Seagulls Party
Brighton hosted Aston Villa at the Amex on Sunday afternoon in a game that was rife with controversial decisions, a lack of discipline and inconsistency.
Roberto De Zerbi’s in form Brighton side took the lead after 49 seconds, with Alexis Mac Allister beating Douglas Luiz to a simple pass from Martinez, before slotting past the latter emphatically, recording Brighton’s fastest ever goal in the Premier League. The early goal should’ve perked the Seagulls into some quality possessive football in an attempt to increase their lead, however it had quite the opposite effect. Aston Villa dominated the rest of the first half, levelling the game through a Danny Ings penalty after Lewis Dunk slid in late on John McGinn in the box.
Brighton failed to get into any real rhythm, with Aston Villa playing the long game by sitting tight and waiting for a singular chance to come. Their patience was rewarded when Luiz this time dispossessed Mac Allister before passing to Ings, who slotted past Sanchez for his second of the game. Aston Villa led 2-1 – and although Brighton found a foothold in the game after, it was too little too late. Solly March went down in the Villa penalty area under a challenge from Digne, in a tackle that Sky Sports and numerous other pundits called a stone wall penalty; Chris Kavanagh was unmoved by it.
Unai Emery’s Villa played a very frustrating game, with many players fouling at any opportunity – resulting in six of their players being yellow carded. The referee lost control of the game and De Zerbi was also on the receiving end of a yellow card for his sideline protests. All in all, Brighton sit 7th going into the World Cup break with Villa sitting in 12th – which both teams should be relatively happy with.
Hammers Humbled By Fighting Foxes
West Ham slumped to another defeat at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester on Saturday, compounding a poor start to the season that would have been way off their expectations back in August.
James Maddison gave the Foxes the lead early in the first half, finishing high into the roof of the net before being taken off as a precaution. Maddison will be hoping to continue his fine form in Qatar, after forcing his way onto the plane for the World Cup.
West Ham struggled to create anything in the final third and could have been further behind if Fabianski had not saved a Youri Tielemans penalty in the second half. Harvey Barnes however did wrap up all three points with ten minutes to go, coolly slotting past the West Ham keeper.
The Hammers look like they are lacking pace and dynamism in key areas of the pitch, and have become too predictable in their build up play. David Moyes would have had ambitions for Europe once again this season, but right now it looks as if he will have more of a survival job on his hands when his players return after Christmas.