The Premier League season is now well underway after the second round of fixtures and we’re back with our Heroes and Villains from the latest action.
Premier League Heroes and Villains from Gameweek Two:
Hero: Solly March
Solly March scored twice during Brighton’s big win at Wolves with the winger the joint-leading scorer in the Premier League after two games. For so long an honest, hard-working winger with limited end product, March’s game has evolved across the last 12 months with the 29-year-old now an effective – and consistent – weapon for the Seagulls.
March’s double – an emphatic first and well-taken second from close range – has taken the winger to 15 goal involvements in his last 20 appearances. His brace for Brighton came in front of the watching Gareth Southgate, who has namechecked March previously and might just be considering a call-up for September’s international break.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) August 20, 2023
Villain: Michael Keane
Sean Dyche will have despaired at how easily Everton capitulated at Aston Villa this weekend, with the Blues battered 4-0 in a performance littered with calamitous (and avoidable) errors.
At the centre of his side’s struggles was Michael Keane, who has perhaps come to symbolise Everton’s recent decline. The central defender is a model professional with a commendable attitude, but there are few at Everton who feel his £30m fee has been justified across seven up and down seasons at Goodison Park.
Keane was dropped during last season’s run-in as Everton secured Premier League survival and the calls for the 30-year-old to be removed from the side will grow louder after individual errors for both the third and fourth goals.
It’s time for Everton to give Jarrad Branthwaite – promising on loan at PSV Eindhoven last season – his chance after a bad day at the office for Dyche’s defenders.
Hero: Pape Matar Sarr
The Ange Postecoglou era is up and running after Spurs beat Manchester United in north London, with the Australian’s new look midfield impressing this weekend.
Yves Bissouma appears a player reenergised after a difficult debut season with the club, while James Maddison has added a touch of elegance to the Spurs engine room. In alongside them was Pape Matar Sarr, with the 20-year-old producing a fine box-to-box performance this weekend.
The midfielder was full of dynamism in the centre of the pitch and tested Andre Onana after a good run, before breaking the deadlock at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a surge into the box and controlled finish. Sarr was alert and aware to capitalise on United’s flat-footed backline and fire home, the highlight of an all-action performance from the Senegal international.
𝘽𝙞𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙣 today, very happy to score my first goal with the @SpursOfficial in our stadium ! 🤍🤲🏾
A moment I’ll never forget.
𝘾𝙊𝙈𝙀 𝙊𝙉 𝙎𝙋𝙐𝙍𝙎 ! 🤍 pic.twitter.com/c1h0RRDIbF
— Pape Matar Sarr (@papematarsarr15) August 19, 2023
Villain: Paul Tierney
Jurgen Klopp’s ongoing feud with Paul Tierney continued after this weekend’s action, with the official again at the centre of a contentious decision involving Liverpool.
Klopp was banned for two games last season after suggesting the official had an agenda against his side, a stance that the German is unlikely to have changed after Alexis Mac Allister’s red card against Bournemouth.
Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth was the first time Tierney has been appointed for a Liverpool game since the clash with Klopp last season, with the 42-year-old named as VAR at Anfield. His decision not to send on-field referee Thomas Bramall to the monitor after sending off Mac Allister has been criticised, with the midfielder’s challenge on Ryan Christie more mistimed than dangerous.
Liverpool have suggested an appeal will be made with Mac Allister set to miss games with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Wolves as things stand. Klopp’s issue with Tierney looks set to rage on.
Hero: Mateo Kovacic
Pep Guardiola loves a midfielder, doesn’t he? And certainly one as accomplished as Mateo Kovacic.
Manchester City’s signing of the classy Croatian from Chelsea might just be the best value deal of the transfer window, with Kovacic an ideal fit for the treble-winners.
The 29-year-old was excellent on his home debut as the champions beat Newcastle 1-0 at the Etihad, showcasing his full repertoire of mazy dribbling, progressive passes and assurance in possession.
It’s been a good week! pic.twitter.com/mbsUSlaUsB
— Mateo Kovacic (@mateokovacic8) August 19, 2023
Give Kovacic the ball and he’ll protect it at all costs,
Villain: Issa Diop
Fulham were mightily fortunate to escape from Everton with a win on the opening weekend, but the club’s defensive issues were punished by better opposition this time around.
Marco Silva’s side were humbled 3-0 at home to Brentford, with their west London rivals cruising to a comfortable win at Craven Cottage.
Fulham’s downfall began just before half-time when Issa Diop under-hit an attempted back-pass, releasing Yoanne Wissa in behind to round Bernd Leno and open the scoring.
Things went from bad to worse as Tim Ream was sent off for bringing down Bryan Mbuemo in the box and there was no coming back on a disappointing day for Fulham, one kickstarted by Diop’s defensive disaster.
Hero: Alphonse Areola
Alphonse Areola has been made West Ham’s number one goalkeeper for the new season, replacing the veteran Lukasz Fabianski after spending much of the last two campaigns earning his minutes in cup competition.
The Frenchman has responded with a strong start to the season and was crucial as the Hammers beat Chelsea to earn their first win of the Premier League campaign, saving Enzo Fernandez’s penalty kick with the scores level.
Areola DENIES Fernández from the spot! ❌ pic.twitter.com/gsFSlvM3CI
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 20, 2023
That save provided the platform for West Ham to go on and claim a 3-1 win, while Areola again came to the rescue after tipping Noni Madueke’s effort around the post in stoppage time. The 30-year-old has had to be patient for his chance at the London Stadium, but has shown why he is now the club’s undisputed number one.
Villain: Moises Caicedo
Moises Caicedo endured a nightmare debut for Chelsea this weekend, with the club’s record signing struggling during his substitute appearance against West Ham.
Brought on as Chelsea looked to claim all three points at the London Stadium, the Ecuadorian’s errors contributed to his side’s 3-1 defeat. Caicedo’s cameo saw him lose possession eight times in just 37 minutes on the pitch, before the midfielder clumsily brought down Emerson to concede a stoppage-time penalty.
Room for improvement.
Moises Caicedo’s Chelsea Debut by numbers:
37 minutes played
8 losses of possession
1 shot off target
1 error leading to shot
1 penalty conceded
Next time… pic.twitter.com/yt0xMUWNIz
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 20, 2023