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GW4 Of The Premier League: Ten Things We Learnt

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

30 Aug 2022

The action from this weekend brought us the first sacking of the season, as well as drama at the top and bottom end of the table. Here are ten things we learnt from the weekend’s fixtures:

Liverpool Drubbing Proves Too Much For Parker

As a Bournemouth fan, Saturday’s performance was deflating to say the least. Liverpool were excellent from the first minute, with Bobby Firmino pulling strings across the park and Luis Diaz terrorising Adam Smith from the wing. Having said this, the Cherries made it incredibly easy for Liverpool to find their groove. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s goal from outside the box was a fantastic finish but the lack of closing down from anyone in a Bournemouth shirt was nothing short of shambolic. 

This defeat proved to be the last of Scott Parker’s reign as manager of the South Coast club. Although many will point to this heavy defeat as the reason for his departure, it really came down to his comments after the game and before the start of the season where he threw his players under the bus. Parker has stated on multiple occasions that this squad is not good enough for the Premier League, and while he may be correct, this pessimism goes against the ‘Together, Anything Is Possible’ mantra that Bournemouth pride themselves on. It has been a month of self-destruction for Parker and he has left his side in a precarious position at the bottom of the table.  Joe Simpson

United Use Martinez And Momentum For Victory Against Saints

Buoyed by their victory against bitter rivals Liverpool, United managed to maintain momentum with a victory at Southampton. 

Ten Hag bravely stuck with the side that beat the Reds, which meant captain Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo were kept on the bench. It is still early days but Ten Hag’s conviction in his actions is a welcome stabiliser at a team normally fraught with chaos. The omission of those harbingers of chaos is necessary despite on paper making the team weaker. Player power has long been the name of the game at United, so results like this regardless of actual performance are crucial in building legitimacy.

The game itself lacked that same cutting edge. Chances were spurned by both sides until Bruno Fernandes decided to stop shooting like he plays for Saracens applying a controlled finish to Diogo Dalot’s cross in the 55th minute. 

But it was the performance of the man they call ‘the Butcher’ that raised the most interest. Even though he is clearly lying about being 5ft 9” United’s new CB Lisandro Martinez continued his fine form at St Mary’s picking up another MOTM. Many a leprechaun and Tyrion Lannister joke has been made at his expense online but his aerial troubles are pure hyperbole, evidenced by him winning 5/5 of his aerial duels on Saturday. 

He has very quickly become the tone setter for team. A combative force in the team his presence has had an ironically calming effect on the players around him.

Unsurprisingly he’s already being bludgeoned with lazy cliches by lazy British pundits but the plucky Argentine is literally rising above it all. He really has that dawg in him. 

Green shoots for United, who now look a steadier ship but still with room for improvement.  Jesse Williams

Arsenal May Be In For A Title Shout

Arsenal has been for many years, a shadow of the side who fought with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea for the Premier League title and in recent times have even failed to get in the top 4 that people used to clown them for doing. Mikel Arteta has built a side in his image, and they are now showing their true quality.

They looked spectacular in the midfield, with Martin Ødegaard stealing the show with his silky long-range passing and showing why he was such a good signing last year. Players like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli ripped through the Fulham defence at times and Gabriel Jesus once again proved
to be a handful. And let’s not forget Granit Xhaka, whose Arsenal career came back from the dead, making himself a permanent resident in the middle of the park.

All the good work was almost undone when Gabriel Magalhães was caught napping, and Aleksandar Mitrović pounced and scored. However, this is a strong side that didn’t give up and Saka laid off the ball for Ødegaard’s deflected finish before a dangerous Martinelli corner was not dealt with and Gabriel redeemed himself and bundled it in. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins and Aaron Ramsdale was forced to make a few saves, but the Gunners
maintained their 100% record and showed that they could challenge for the title this season, something they haven’t been able to say for a while. Tom Atkinson

Kane Proves The Difference Maker For Solid Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur continue their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest. Again, like many times before, Harry Kane showed his prolific ability to make the difference in tightly fought games. Now only Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer have scored more premier league goals than the England captain. With this win, Antonio Conte’s side are showing the usual tenacity found throughout his coaching career. However, they do not yet look like a team that is hitting the same performance levels as their increasingly noisy North London neighbours, Arsenal.

While Steve Cooper’s team is sitting around the lower end of mid-table, Forest are showing signs of better things to come. Against Spurs they had greater possession of the ball and were unlucky to not find the net. Cooper is still in the process of bedding in the 17 new signings (and counting) acquired over the summer transfer window. This being the largest intake of players in the Premier League, time is needed to see how the new team gels together. After saving another penalty today, Goalkeeper Dean Henderson, on-loan from Manchester United, is already showing himself to be a very valuable procurement, with many suggesting that he’ll pose a strong challenge to the current England number 1, Jordan Pickford. Ollie Thomas

Potter Works His Magic As Brighton Continue To Impress

A fairly even game statistically, one goal was all it took from midfield maestro Pascal Gross in the 66th minute to break the deadlock – a player who has been on fine form so far this season. Creatively, Gross has looked one of Brighton’s best outfits this season, creating chances from nothing and also having three goals and an assist to his name. However, as much as you can look into the role of the players, the job that Graham Potter is doing at Brighton is nothing short of exceptional. Since joining the club, Potter has guided Brighton to their highest finish ever in the Premier League, and with the 47 year old having led former side Ostersunds to three promotions, Swedish cup and the Europa League Knockout Stages, the potential for continuous improvement this season is very promising.

What I have noticed from this Leeds side however is their lack of discipline. At times within the first half, all when Brighton were on the counter, they made three tactical fouls all resulting in yellow cards. Whether this is due to their inability to get back at pace or poor defensive shape to begin with I’m unsure, but the fines will definitely pile up if they keep getting lazy cards to get out of jail. All in all, despite a close competition, Brighton just edged the fixture to being clinical in the final third, but it wasn’t all bad for Leeds with some promising football being played. Harvey Marwood

Haaland Plays Hero For Complacent City

Pep Guardiola’s commitment to showmanship really has to be applauded. Instead of his usual melodramatic fall to his knees or zealously praising an opposition player post match in view of the camera, the City manager is now shamelessly using other teams as plot devices in heroic comeback stories. 

In all seriousness City’s ability to stack the odds against themselves just to reverse whatever advantage the other team may have is Hollywood stuff. 

Going up two to nil against City is not to be taken lightly and the South Londoner’s looked set for another victory at the Ethiad. However there isn’t much you can do when City remember to fully exploit their plot armour (their ridiculously talented squad) and flip the switch at will to blow away any developing underdog narrative.

Perhaps the perfect embodiment of this phenomena is new man Erling Haaland. Often on the periphery of City’s attacking build up, the Norwegian sparks into life when the game more urgent and the team becomes more direct with its play. With his face fixed with intent and an almost T-1000 like inevitability Haaland bagged the first of many hat-tricks in City colours.

Looking at this trend more holistically, it would be foolish to not have slight concerns. Conceding five goals in two games is clear indication of defensive fragility. Also the Citizen’s bouncebackability from self inflicted handicaps won’t always come through and will see them lose one or two of those battles for sure. Although with no clear challengers there is a clear path to the 3-peat if they can get their act together.

While Pep lives out his Spielberg era it feels like sooner rather than later the league will become a case of catch me if you can.  Jesse Williams

Wolves Lack Firepower Against Resilient Newcastle

Wolves will feel hard done by after Allan Saint-Maximin snatched a point for Newcastle late on at Molineux with a sensational volley. With Willy Boly off to Nottingham Forest, Nathan Collins impressed at centre half and the home side did a good job of containing Newcastle’s pace up top. Bruno Lage’s side only scored 38 goals last season and continue to lack a real talisman on the front line, but their points tally is not necessarily indicative of bad performances and they will be looking to put things right in their next two fixtures against Bournemouth and Southampton.

Although Newcastle have drawn three of their first four, they are still unbeaten and the addition of Alexander Isak will stand them in good stead for a European challenge. If Eddie Howe can continue to make St James’ Park a fortress whilst being difficult to break down away from home, they will not be a side that others will look forward to facing.  Joe Simpson

Cause For Concern In Claret And Blue

Having not picked up a single point in their opening three games, West Ham pinched a 1-0 win against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon at Villa Park.

Many have questioned David Moyes tactics and criticised him as having ‘out of fashion’ views within the training ground, however the Scotsman got them just right for this fixture. Despite having less of the ball and less shots than the Birmingham side, the Hammers caused much more of a goal threat with a more clinical ratio, having the higher XG throughout the game. Declan Rice shone in the midfield truly acting as that defensive thinking midfielder that has the ability to progress the team up the field as and when is needed, which he also showed by providing the assist for the goal that came from Spaniard Pablo Fornals in the 74th minute. Subsequently, this meant they only had to shut up shop for around 15 minutes after the goal to halter the relentless pressure from Villa chasing the equaliser – a well timed goal in that respect, and a win that what will come as a major relief to West Ham fans and Moyes.

However, both sides really haven’t got into their groove so far this season. With both teams sat on 1 win from their opening 4 games, if they don’t start racking up some points within the next few fixtures questions may be asked of Steven Gerrard and David Moyes. Phillipe Coutinho seems to have struggled fully finding his feet again in the Premier League, and West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen hasn’t seemed as much of a threat either so far this season. It’s still early days, but as a West Ham or Aston Villa fan I would probably be on the brink of starting to get a bit anxious about the season ahead. Harvey Marwood

Points Shared As Pressure Mounts For Lampard

Despite a well taken early opening goal from Anthony Gordon, reportedly the £60m Chelsea target, Everton settled for an uninspiring 1-1 draw against Brentford. After two losses in their opening games, back-to-back draws can be taken as a sign of progress for the Merseyside club. However, performances have often looked tame and hardly representative of the £158m net spend over the past 5 years. Everton currently sit 18th in the Premier League, and Frank Lampard’s reign is yet to leave 2nd gear. With the upcoming fixtures against the in-form Leeds United and the imperious Liverpool, Lampard could be set for a tough couple of weeks. 

After narrowly losing to Fulham 3-2 last week and demolishing Manchester United 4-0 the weekend before, Brentford’s mixed start to the season continued. This week, the west London side were unlucky to only come away with one point after they created sustained pressure throughout the game and saw numerous chances hit the woodwork. Brentford manager, Thomas Frank, told BBC sport: “How did we not win?… In many ways it was better than the Manchester United game.” If Brentford can maintain this level of performance throughout the season, a top half finish is certainly on the cards. Ollie Thomas

Leicester Are In Big Trouble

Everyone remembers the fabled Leicester City side of 2016 who shocked the world to win the league. While it appeared that they were maintaining themselves as a competitive side under Brendan Rodgers, a mediocre season and now a poor start to this campaign have shown that their time at the top is over, and the Foxes are now bottom of the league.

It appeared it might be Leicester’s day as a penalty was ruled out for a Kai Havertz offside and Conor Gallagher was sent off for two silly challenges, which may affect his Chelsea future. Yet despite these advantages, Leicester failed to deliver, and Raheem Sterling showed his class by finishing off chances created by Marc Cucurella and Reece James. When a nice one-two between Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy was scored, there was hope of a comeback but poor finishing and Édouard Mendy coming back into form secured a victory for the Blues.

Leicester showed fight but didn’t take charge of the opportunities given to them and that cost the former champions anything from the game. They sit bottom of the league without a win and having lost key players like Kasper Schmeichel and Wesley Fofana, they need replacements quickly. Tom Atkinson

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