8 Things We Learnt From GW2 Of The Premier League
16 Aug 2022
As the second round of fixtures came to a close last night, the drama and intensity of the Premier League is back like it’s never left. We’ve rounded up some of the key talking points from the weekend’s action:
Brentford Aren’t Going To Suffer From Second-Season Syndrome
While Manchester United put in a performance that was somehow worse than their awful new third kit, many have not paid attention to just how good Brentford was on Saturday evening. They were full of energy and Thomas Frank’s side pressed and gave their all from start to finish. Even when the
game was done and Man Utd challenged them in the second half, the back five (including new signing and goalscorer Ben Mee) were solid and didn’t give the opposition much to sniff at. The forward two of Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney were sensational and their link-up play was elite, especially on the last goal. Behind them, Josh Dasilva and Mathias Jensen pulled the strings and
exposed the weak midfield of Man Utd.
Many thought the loss of Christian Eriksen, who was seen as Brentford’s saviour last season, would mark doom for this side, but boy were they wrong. This is a well-drilled and orchestrated side with a manager who knows to get the best out of his players. Don’t write off Brentford this season and
maybe give their players a look in on FPL. – Tom Atkinson
Stamford Bridge Stalemate Is A Point Lost For Chelsea
Although not an official rivalry, Chelsea vs Tottenham has always been a fixture to look forward to, especially since “The Battle of the Bridge”, Chelsea’s infamous game against Spurs from the 15/16 season. Having been filled with more action, more controversy and more talking points – Sunday’s 2-2 draw is one to add to the highlight reel. Whilst we saw the home debut of Marc Cucurella, Chelsea’s £62 million pound summer signing, what will make the most of the headlines is the new born rivalry between Tottenham’s coach Antonio Conte and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel.
Despite having brought in a new left back, Chelsea’s transfer window has definitely not been as strong as Tottenham’s – however we are yet to see much of the new signees so far. It’s clear that Conte is trying to create a brand new play style within the Tottenham culture – adapting the players to become more forward thinking and mentally resilient. With Chelsea, you get what you expect, a well organised attacking and possessive “Tuchel” side. After drawing, it seems both play styles have counteracted each other well, however from a neutral perspective Chelsea dominated, and it feels a lot more like a point gained for Tottenham and two lost for the Blues.
However, despite all the controversy, there was some great football on show. Kalidou Koulibaly lashed in a volley from a corner with his first goal for the club – before Hojberg scored an equaliser with a low driven shot outside the box. A great break of play saw Sterling set up Reece James in the 77th minute, before Harry Kane headed in a 96th minute equaliser. With both managers ending the game with a red card, after an explosive fracas at the full time whistle alongside other isolated incidents during the game, Chelsea’s visit to Tottenham next February is likely to have some serious heat to it – with not only a club rivalry but some serious manager competition in place. – Harvey Marwood
West Ham Need To Spend To Reach The Next Level
Buying 65 players in one window might not always be a bad thing. Steve Cooper’s new recruits held up well against a seasoned West Ham side with signs of unfamiliarity few and far between. Neco Williams and Taiwo Awoniyi struck up a promising chemistry, while Orel Mangala manned the midfield dutifully on his debut. Positive signs for Forest fans.
For all that Michail Antonio offers, most West Ham fans will agree that an upgrade cannot come soon enough. Betting on 23-year-old Gianluca Scamacca, their new Italian prospect should provide the pace, physical stature and most importantly technical proficiency required to lead West Ham’s front line. It’s time for Moyes to put him in.
Two games into the season and it is clear David Moyes should still be looking in the market to flesh out his squad. His problems at centre back persist and with the probable sale of Issa Diop, reinforcements are needed with haste. A midfielder and a new pair of fullbacks wouldn’t hurt either. – Jesse Williams
Manchester City Can Only Get Better
Manchester City returned to the Etihad for the first time since they were crowned champions on the final day of last season. Pep Guardiola’s side over the last few years have typically got off to a slower start in the league before they find a rhythm that carries them through to the business end of the season. Their performance on Saturday should serve as a warning to the rest of the league, as City scored four unanswered goals and barely broke a sweat in 30 degree heat.
The scariest thing about the performance was the elusiveness of Erling Haaland. The Norwegian starlet only completed two passes – one from kick off and one an assist to Ilkay Gundogan for the first goal. He could have easily bagged at least one goal on another day as well if Phil Foden squared the ball to him in the first half. What Pep has found in Haaland is an X factor that he hasn’t had at City before. The team are good enough without Haaland to dismantle most other sides in the league, but the former Dortmund man has the ability to take City into a fourth dimension.
In terms of Bournemouth, their season won’t be defined by away trips like this. A positive result on the opening day against Villa has somewhat taken the pressure off their horrible run of fixtures in August. With a couple more experienced players through the door before the end of the window there is no reason for the Cherries to be cut adrift at the bottom. Scott Parker has given his side an identity and a togetherness that might just be enough to stay up. – Joe Simpson
Aston Villa’s Forwards Have A Point To Prove
It was an entertaining match at Villa Park, which involved some shaky defending from both sides, but it was Aston Villa that took the victory. This was thanks to a much-improved performance from their attackers, in particular Ollie Watkins who stole the show. His pace and setting up of both goals
showed why Steven Gerrard has kept the faith, despite some criticism.
Danny Ings also returned to the scoresheet, which will delight the home fans who expected that when he was bought last season. The composure on the ball and the finish were sublime and showed the talent is still there. Emiliano Buendia even popped up with a goal, which was a good sign of an
improvement in that department by him.
Despite the defense still being a bit all over the place and the injury to Diego Carlos, Stevie G can find solace in that his forwards may have finally found some rhythm and their shooting boots. – Tom Atkinson
Jesus Shines While Fofana Falters
Brazilians everywhere rejoiced in the name of (Gabriel) Jesus after finding the striker who should lead them into Qatar 2022. Freshly liberated from the shackles of Pep Guardiola’s Juego de Posesión system, Gabriel Jesus put the league on alert terrorising the Leicester back line and running it back to his free scoring Palmeiras days. Expect goals and an ungodly amount of pressing from GJ9 this season.
Wesley Fofana has fully checked out of Leicester. The highly rated young French defender was put in a mixer by Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and conspired with new Foxes number 1 Danny Ward to hand the Gunners the game on a plate. Although his friend and former CB partner at Saint Etienne William Saliba scored an own goal in this match it was the latter that looked more like a £90m defender. An uncharacteristically poor performance which will see Chelsea certainly asking for a discounted rate. – Jesse Williams
Impressive Leeds Cancelled Out By Saints Subs
With Jesse March geared up for his first full season in the Premier League, Leeds visited Southampton to face Ralph Hassenhuttl’s men on Saturday afternoon. With both teams having struggled last season, particularly Leeds who stayed up on final day, this game was always going to be competitive and tightly matched. After going 2-0 up, Leeds failed to keep defensively compact, consequently conceded two goals within 9 minutes of play during the second half to new signing Joe Aribo and full back Kyle Walker Peters. With the full time result ending 2-2, there’s definitely still some positives to talk about after the game.
With the majority of Leeds creativity last season coming from Brazilian winger Raphinha, who moved to Barcelona for £55 million in the summer, there was always the question of whether they could sustain an attacking threat and give Bamford an outlet ball. However, a player who didn’t quite take the starlight last season amongst Raphinha’s shadow is Spanish forward Rodrigo, who proved his worth with a brace at the weekend. Although consistency is key in regards to ranking a forward player in the Premier League, Rodrigo has definitely started off the season sharp – so is one to keep an eye on.
In terms of Southampton, Joe Aribo is another one to watch. Having come off the bench in the second half, Aribo completely changed the dynamic of the Southampton attack. Having signed from Rangers this summer for £10 million, the Nigerian forward looked sharp, direct and technical – with his well composed finish to make it 2-1 sparking the belief for the Saints’ comeback. Both teams however, do lack consistency, and at times both lack in strong defensive intuition. However, the early signs are looking promising for this season, but time will tell. – Harvey Marwood
Darwin’s Discipline Leaves Liverpool Vulnerable
Liverpool will feel as if they are the biggest underachievers in the Premier League so far. After a complacent opening day performance against Fulham led to a draw, it looked like their misery was going to be compounded when Wilfried Zaha coolly slotted past Allison just before half time.
Crystal Palace were excellent, executing Patrick Vieira’s game plan to perfection and frustrating the home side. Against lesser opposition they look like they could be a really fun side, with Eze in particular impressing with his forward runs and link up play. It has to be said however that Jürgen Klopp’s side were dominant throughout the game, but they were let down by new signing Darwin Nuñez, who let Joachim Andersen into his head, and in turn shoved his into Andersen’s chin.
This act of petulance will certainly be a worry for Liverpool fans, as not only does their new star player miss the next three games, this moment is demonstrative of Nuñez’s requirement to mature into his role extremely quickly. We are only two games in but with the gap to City now at four points, Liverpool can ill afford another moment of madness from their new Uruguayan. – Joe Simpson