Eight Things We Learnt From GW6 Of The Premier League
6 Sep 2022
The weekend’s action saw some stuttering from the Big Six and some spirited performances at the bottom of the table. We rounded up some key talking points from Premier League GW6:
Naivety Comes To The Surface For Arsenal At Old Trafford
As one bubble burst another inflates. Like the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’, and after romping to five wins on the trot Arsenal dropped points for the first time this season in a sobering lesson at Old Trafford.
The biggest take away from an Arsenal perspective would be that despite being filled with precocious young talent, on Sunday the ‘young’ got the better of the ‘talent’ part.
No one player exemplified this more than one Sambi Lokonga. On reflection his performance for the most part was fine. On the ball he was tidy, offering good passing angles and ball retention as Arsenal built up. But he fell short in his positioning, leaving his defenders exposed on multiple occasions. For both United’s goals he is noticeably absent from the #6 position, finding himself in areas where he can’t do his job as a defensive screen.
Playing in such a mentally taxing system as is Mikel Arteta’s 2-3-5 shape would be hard on any defensive midfielder, but it’s clear Sambi just doesn’t have the instincts for it right now.
His eagerness to press was certainly appreciated by £85m man Antony who found himself 1v1 against Ramsdale as the gunners scrambled to cover the space Lokonga left. Cooly slotting home, the Brazilian sparked into life and sent OT into raptures, the highlight of a fairly quiet 60 minute prem debut.
While William Saliba looks every bit the heir apparent to Virgil Van Dijk and his “aura” defending throne, he also fell foul to inexperience. Caught out by a sublime through ball by Bruno Fernandes and a dastardly run from Marcus Rashford, his lack of experience led to him over zealously chasing an interception rather than the man running into acres of green grass. A decision which proved a turning point in the match as Arsenal’s controlled momentum turning into chaotic desperation.
Despite it sounding like Arsenal only fell prey to their own naivety, United boss Ten Hag is to be commended. Noticeably United outshone the Gunners with their cutting edge. The decision to start Rashford as striker over Cristiano Ronaldo paid off with the former having a hand in all three goals for his side. United showed real determination to remain compact and seize their moments. That’s now 4 wins out of their last 4 after starting the season so horribly. Jesse Williams
Jordan Pickford Is Still In Contention For the England No. 1 Jersey
Many people have turned their noses up at Jordan Pickford and pointed out his short arms and his drop in performances. Many see Aaron Ramsdale as the safe bet for the GK jersey for the national team, but a continued upturn in form has put Pickford back in contention. In what was a goalless draw, both sides and both goalkeepers put on a show.
Posts were slammed, crossbars were hit and even VAR ruled out a goal for offside. This was very much a derby to remember and Pickford and Alisson Becker both showed their class, in particular, Pickford’s save from a Darwin Núñez chested volley, onto the crossbar. He also parried away two separate efforts from Roberto Firmino, while making the goal impenetrable to Mo Salah’s late effort which could only bounce off the post.
Everton may be without a win and will be disappointed that Tom Davies could only hit the post, but one man showed his importance. Jordan Pickford is going to be the difference for Everton this season, and maybe for England at the World Cup. Tom Atkinson
Chilwell and VAR Save Stuttering Chelsea
Chelsea’s blushes were spared by a contentious VAR decision at the end of their clash against West Ham on Saturday. Thomas Tuchel’s side once again laboured to break down their opposition and found themselves a goal down after some more questionable goalkeeping from Edouard Mendy.
Tuchel cut a visibly frustrated figure on the touchline for the majority of the game, and it was one of his substitutes, Ben Chilwell, who turned the game on its head. It feels as if this could be a huge turning point for the left back, as if he is able to stake a claim back for his starting spot then it will stand him in good stead going into the World Cup.
West Ham will rightly feel aggrieved by this result and the Premier League have apologised for the decision. David Moyes may take solace in the fact that his side were relatively comfortable for the majority of the game, but they still lack a cutting edge at the top end of the pitch. Joe Simpson
Brighton Are Bouncing As Foxes Fear The Drop
Goals, goals and more goals. Sunday’s 2pm kick off at the Amex was definitely an entertaining one – with Brighton keeping up their great start to the season with a 5-2 win over Leicester.
Despite going 1-0 down within 52 seconds to an Iheanacho tap in, Brighton kept level headed to turn the game around to 2-1 within the first 15 minutes. Then hit by a first half equaliser from Patson Daka, the Seagulls displayed an impeccable second half performance, scoring three goals to win the game 5-2. Alexis Mac Allister stood out as one of Brighton’s star player’s, scoring a beautiful free kick 25 yards out in addition to a penalty, as well as having what would’ve been one of the goals of the season disallowed for a marginal and controversial offside. VAR was a huge talking point in the game, with the said disallowed goal taking more than four and a half minutes to rule out; evidently not that clear and obvious. Brighton look like a very well organised side – every player knows their roles and they have a great team shape, polar opposite to their opposition on Sunday.
As far as Leicester go, it’s very much doom and gloom. The lack of defensive structure and positioning would and should be deeply concerning to any Foxes fan. Throughout the game it was visibly noticeable that the players were arguing and unable to take accountability for mistakes. I can’t see Brendan Rodger’s being in the job for much longer should he not start to get some results, with his side sitting firmly at the bottom of the table as we go into gameweek 7 this weekend. Harvey Marwood
Steady Spurs Roll On Against Fulham
Tottenham Hotspur have been impressively consistent this season without necessarily being the most interesting team to watch. Their ability to grind out results so far however has been very impressive, and they now sit just one point off the top spot. Antonio Conte has developed a well drilled Spurs side who have the ability to execute his defensive tactics, whilst a combination of his front four have the quality to put away a high percentage of their chances.
Other fanbases desperate to maintain pace with the top four should be scared that Son Heung-Min is yet to start firing on all cylinders. At his best he is one of Spurs’ best players and can change a game by himself. If Spurs continue to win ugly whilst they develop in Conte’s system, they could be right amongst it come the end of the season. Joe Simpson
Terrific Toney Shines For The Bees
Thomas Frank’s Brentford tore Leeds United apart, finding time to put five past their northern visitors for their second win of the season.
Having already put up a monster performance against United, Frank’s side look far from suffering any second-season syndrome. The story of the game however lies with one man, Ivan Toney.
Anyone suggesting Toney is a very good footballer would be making the coldest of takes, especially coming off the back of him going 18/18 on penalties for the Bees to taking his goal tally to 50 in 96 appearances. His combination of height, technique and selflessness is an oddity. Profiling as a slightly undersized target man he offers so much more than what we associate with that role. A physical nightmare, he also has a lovely feel for the games more technical details.
The former Newcastle man was a one man highlight reel scoring his trademark short run penalty, before sending a delectable free-kick flying into the left-hand corner of Meslier’s net, and demonstrating expert technique for a deft chip from outside the box. His exploits led to Frank backing his main man for what would be a deserved England call up!
For Leeds there wasn’t much in the way of a silver lining. Luis Sinisterra looks a capable Raphinha replacement if that’s any conciliation on a day to forget for Jesse Marsch’s men. Jesse Williams
Solanke Stars In Cherries Comeback
Another thrilling game from this weekend, Bournemouth turned around a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 against Nottingham Forest at the Vitality stadium, picking up their second win this season.
First half strikes from new signing Kouyate and striker Brennan Johnson saw Forest up at the half time whistle; Phil Billing scored early in the first half to spark a courageous Bournemouth turn around, before Solanke scored a fantastic acrobatic shot and Jaidon Anthony won it for them in the 87th minute. A very even game as a whole, Forest edged most of the ‘big’ opportunities, however the Cherries were just way more clinical with their chances. Some Bournemouth fans may have been concerned around the sacking of Scott Parker last week, however this will come as a sigh of relief with the side showing their character and will power to secure a lucrative comeback – regardless of external influences and talk. Dominic Solanke had an exceptional game, notably also getting an assist; his spacial awareness and ball control caused the Forest defence problems all throughout the game. He finished the game as the most fouled player, and it felt as though it was an unlocked shimmer of the threat that he so was used to providing in the Championship.
It’s obviously very early days, however I’d say the signs from both sides are generally quite positive. I’d be slightly concerned that they may not be enough time to gel together all these new Forest signings, however they have brought in a lot of talent over the summer transfer window. Harvey Marwood
The Same Problems Persist For Wolves
Wolverhampton Wanderers are a well-built side, that is solid at the back and fast in the attack. However, they lack goals as shown by the fact they scored 38 goals in 38 games last year, and this season they have 3 in 6 games. Bruno Lage is missing the final piece of the puzzle and that is a goal- scoring striker.
Daniel Podence scored his second goal of the season, finishing a ball across from new boy Matheus Nunes, already equalling his league total for last year. The bobbled effort was enough for a victory and a moment Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu will want to forget. Further efforts from Jonny and Pedro Neto didn’t hit the target, showing they need to practice a bit more in training.
Strong defending stopped the Wolves goal from being breached, with Rúben Neves putting himself in between the goal and Joe Aribo, to stop Che Adams’ ball from amounting to anything.
Wolves are a good side and Bruno Lage knows his stuff, but without a goal scorer, we won’t see much progress from the West Midlands outfit. Tom Atkinson