We all got our weekly fix of Premier League action this weekend after the cold turkey that is international football.
There was plenty to get our teeth in to as it’s already beginning to shape up at either end of the table. Here are things we learned from this weekend’s fixtures.
Players still showing some fight for Jose
Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley’s late equaliser at Stamford Bridge robbed Manchester United of what would have been three huge points. Yet again it was a tale of two halves for Mourinho’s side, once again it took going in at half-time behind for them come alive. However, once they did, they looked excellent value for their 2-1 lead going into stoppage time.
Martial took his two goals really well and when they did get forward, they looked a real collective threat. Mata also looks a more natural fit in the side and the team looks a lot more creative when the Spaniard features. A draw at Stamford Bridge is really never a bad result, and United fans should take heart that at least some of the players are showing some fight for their manager and their club.
Man City learning to ride their luck
It may sound a strange thing to say after another thumping win for the champions, but they really were fortunate in this game. Perhaps it’s a sign that they are now an established “big” club that they are getting a few breaks from the officials in matches and at crucial moments.
Kompany’s lunging tackle inside the first minute, on Aaron Lennon was as straight forward a sending off as you’re likely to see. Lennon was left with a nasty gash and was visibly hurt, yet Jonathon Moss chose to take no action. He also chose to ignore an ugly kick out from Leroy Sane in the second-half, however the game was well and truly done at this stage.
Playing at home with ten men, Man City may well have had different afternoon. To make matters worse for Burnley and the chasing pack, the referee and linesman missed the ball blatantly going out of play in the build up to the second goal. It’s these kind of breaks that you need at times and was yet another terrible advert for the standard of officiating in the Premier League.
Spurs and Liverpool still sitting on a solid base
It’s hard to see the wood for the trees sometimes as fans. Maybe Spurs and Liverpool supporters are collectively guilty for taking for granted their team’s recent run. Spurs have bounced back strongly since their horrific run of three straight defeats, while Liverpool remain unbeaten and have conceded just three times in nine games.
Both sides were again far from their best and will need to step it up at some point. However, for two clubs with such recent bad memories of defensive woes, they can be happy enough with how solid they are at the back at this stage of the season. Liverpool have kept pace with City and are level on points with the champions, while Spurs remain very much in the race. It’s a case of substance over style at the moment for both sides, but you expect them both to improve as the season goes on.
Newcastle favourites for bottom spot
After a horrible capitulation to Man United in their last outing before the International break, Newcastle fans will have hoped to put some points on the board as Brighton came up North. Their first half performance at Old Trafford showed some signs of life for the Magpies, but true to form, they slumped to yet another demoralising home defeat.
With Cardiff winning their first game of the season and Huddersfield at least showing some real fight in their last three games, it’s hard to make an argument for Newcastle. Even the Rafa factor is looking fraught, and the Spaniard’s players on the pitch look devoid of ideas and leadership. It’s hard to see a way back for the beleaguered Geordies unless something drastically changes.
Eagles in danger of being dragged in
The league’s most blatant one man team, Crystal Palace look really out of sorts at the moment. Just five goals in their opening nine games, penalties missed and an almost clinical dependency on Wilf Zaha, the Eagles just don’t look as intimidating as they once were.
As previously mentioned, Cardiff and Huddersfield are at least showing signs of fight and determination, whilst Fulham do have some individual quality of their own, despite their horrific defence. Each season there is normally one side expected to be comfortable, but end up being pulled in to the dog fight. It could well be Palace this year. They lacked bravery, creativity and composure against Everton, and although in Hodgson they have an expert in Premier League Survival, they may lack the quality to avoid being sucked into the chaos of a relegation battle.