A weekly roundup of the games in the Premier League from Matchweek 1 – 38.
After a frantic opening weekend, clubs lined up for the second round of action which kicked off in Wales with Swansea City playing hosts to Manchester United. The game started well for the hosts, but for a Phil Jones header that hit the crossbar following a Juan Mata free kick, Swansea managed to repel most of United’s attacks. The Red Devils got the breakthrough just before the half. A corner met by Paul Pogba’s header was saved before the rebound was stabbed home by Eric Baily. After the break the game followed a similar pattern and not much quarter was given by either side until the 80th minute. Substitute Anthony Martial dribbled past a few before the ball reached Henrikh Mkhitaryan who played in Romelu Lukaku for a simple finish. Mkhitaryan then played provider again as he slipped Pogba in about 2 minutes later. Pogba started the move, intercepting a pass and continued his run, to finish with a neat dink over the keeper. Martial wrapped up proceedings with a 4th in 4 minutes for United as the Frenchman coolly finished after beating two players.
Watford travelled to AFC Bournemouth and it was the visitors who left the happier. In a closely contested match Watford managed to carve out more meaningful chances that had to had been taken eventually. That came in the second half as new signing Richarlison poked home after his initial shot was saved but not gathered. While still on the ground the Brazilian managed to fling a leg at it and gave the Hornets the lead in the 73rd minute. This was followed by superb strike by substitute Étienne Capoue (86’). One of the goals of the season, so far; Capoue collected the clearance following a corner 25 yards out, before hitting it on the half volley finding the bottom left corner.
A new look Burnley dominated in possession and created some decent chances against an as ever defensive West Bromwich Albion side. The game was ultimately decided by a lively 20-minute cameo by Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu. Having come off the bench Robson-Kanu made West Brom appear more threatening and latched onto a flick on quicker than his marker, he then shrugged on his defender and finished emphatically in the 71st. He was then sent off 12 minutes later for what was deemed a flailing elbow.
Premier League newcomers Brighton &Hove Albion continued their tough start to life. The Seagulls lost 2-0 to title favourites Manchester City and again this weekend to Leicester City. Riyad Mahrez’s 1st minute shot could have been dealt with better by Albion keeper Mat Ryan; Shinji Okazaki made no mistake putting in the rebound. In an easy win for the Foxes, Harry Maguire rose highest to head home a Mahrez corner (54’), putting last week’s 4-3 loss to Arsenal behind them.
In an admittedly forgettable game, Liverpool bounced back from their 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road last week to win 1-0 against Crystal Palace. Palace have a decent record at Anfield in recent years and hoped for a favourable result after a shock 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield at home last week. Both teams were guilty of wasting opportunities but it was Liverpool through a Sadio Mané goal that proved the difference. Mane kept moving and was rewarded for his industry with a fumbled ball rolling through for him and he rightly prodded in the ball in 73rd minute.
By stark contrast a dramatic game at St. Mary’s Stadium saw hosts Southampton win 3-2 over West Ham United. The Saints hadn’t scored a goal at home in 6 games and finally did so when Manolo Gabbiadini slotted past Joe Hart in goal in the 11th minute. They followed that up with a Dusan Tadic penalty in the 38th minute; the ball actually hit Hart and ricocheted high into the net. A double from new boy Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, first in the 45th then again the 74th brought the Hammers level, despite a red card for record signing Marko Arnautovic in the 33rd. The game seemed destined for a stalemate but a last-minute penalty conceded by Pablo Zabeltta (another new recruit) was converted by Charlie Austin leaving West Ham and their manager Slaven Bilić feeling hard done by.
In Saturday’s late game Arsenal faced a difficult trip to Stoke City’s Bet365 Stadium. Stoke fended off a relentless Arsenal attack to snatch a 1-0 win. Jesé Rodriguez may be late to the party but joined the debutant scorer club as he finished smartly in the 47th. Arsenal bombarded Stoke’s goal with shot after shot. Despite an overwhelming dominance, there was an air of futility about their attempts. Ultimately, a disallowed goal (rightly called but amazingly so) was the closest they came to an equalizer.
In a fairly even encounter Huddersfield looked more convincing and came away deserving winners in their first home game. The goal by James Mooy was good enough to win any game but especially one lacking quality. Mooy produced a neat curling strike from the edge of the box with the time he was afforded. Two wins in two for the newcomers in contrast to 2 losses in 2 for Newcastle who the Championship last season to be promoted.
The standout fixture this weekend saw champions Chelsea face off against their closest rivals last season, Tottenham Hotspurs. Added significance was the venue; Wembley Stadium. In the first Premier League game to be played in the English national stadium, Chelsea ran out 2-1 victors. Going ahead in the 24th minute via an exquisite Marcos Alonso free kick, Chelsea were then pinned down for majority of the game until substitute Michy Batshuayi put the ball into his own net just 3 minutes after coming on. An unyielding Tottenham side finally got some reward for their efforts and seemed set for draw. But their keeper Hugo Lloris attempted an ill-advised throw to Victor Wanyama who did no better. Having won back the ball Alonso made a lung-busting final charge and fire a shot at Lloris who couldn’t sort his feet and let the ball through. Alonso’s second proved the winner and Spurs’ Wembley hoodoo continues.
In the first Monday game of the season Manchester City and Everton squared off. City’s attack seemed irresistible for most of the game and it was all the Toffees could do to keep them at bay. At the other end, Dominic Calvert-Lewin had the lonely role of being the out ball for Everton. It worked a treat though as he set up Wayne Rooney in the 35th against the run of play. With a simple placement, Rooney becomes only the second player to score 200 Premier League goals second only to Alan Shearer. The game was far from over however. Kyle Walker was sent off for a second bookable challenge, adjudged to have elbowed Calvert-Lewin in the 44th. The second half, even with a man less, City looked dangerous throughout and finally penetrated when an attempted headed clearance set up Raheem Sterling to one time a volley into the net. To consummate the equality of the teams, Morgan Schneiderlin got his second booking of the game and sent was off 2 minutes from time. In the end, the points were shared after a breathless game.
We’re eager to see what the next match day brings and how teams respond to the events of the preceding week.