Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Gallagher misses Chelsea chance
Conor Gallagher had high hopes upon returning to Chelsea this summer, with an impressive loan spell at Crystal Palace having seen the midfielder break into the England squad.
The 22-year-old has had to be patient during the opening weeks of the season, but was handed a full debut for the west Londoners during this weekend’s clash at Leeds.
Injuries to N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic handed Gallagher a chance from the start, but it was one he failed to make the most of during a disappointing defeat for Chelsea. The Blues were overran in midfield with Gallagher looking uncomfortable as part of a two-man pivot, a more disciplined position than the one he excelled in for Palace.
The academy graduate was full of endeavour but loose in possession, posting a pass accuracy of just 73%. It’s a performance that is unlikely to have won the trust of Thomas Tuchel, who refused to comment on Gallagher’s performance post-match.
When asked about Gallagher’s performance after the game, Tuchel replied: “No, better not. It’s not the day to talk about individual performances.”
He improved after a move to a midfield three, but Chelsea often operate with two central players. It is a favoured formation that Gallagher might struggle to find a role in.
Harry Kane one of the greats
Harry Kane celebrated a decade since his Premier League debut earlier this week and marked the occasion with a landmark goal, scoring his 250th for Tottenham in the club’s 1-0 win at Wolves.
Kane’s close-range header is unlikely to make up a montage of his best moments, but it was a goal that saw him become just the second Spurs player to reach the 250 milestone.
Jimmy Greaves’ club record of 266 goals could fall before the end of the current campaign, while it is unlikely to be the last record Kane sets in a career of Premier League prolificacy. Kane’s winner against Wolves was his 185th in the top flight, one which moved him above Sergio Aguero as the fourth-highest goalscorer in the division’s history.
Harry Kane doesn't get the respect he deserves. pic.twitter.com/wHILtsTnit
— GOAL (@goal) August 21, 2022
He also eclipsed the Argentinian as the player with the most goals for a single club, while – arguably for the first time – Alan Shearer’s all-time record (260) looks in danger.
Kane will almost certainly eclipse Wayne Rooney (53) as England’s leading goalscorer after bringing up a half-century for the Three Lions and whilst major honours have eluded the 29-year-old so far, his individual contributions stack up with the modern greats.
Mitrovic has last laugh for Fulham
Fulham’s 3-2 win over Brentford was one of the game’s of the weekend, as the Cottagers squandered a two-goal lead before snatching a last-minute winner.
The west London derby had the added element of a personal rivalry, with Ivan Toney’s decision to mimic Aleksandar Mitrovic’s trademark celebration in front of the home crowd coming back to haunt the Brentford forward.
Ivan Toney did Mitrovic's signature celebration after scoring the equaliser against Fulham.
Mitrovic then scored the game-winner in the 90th minute 😤🔥 pic.twitter.com/jG7utvPxqd
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) August 21, 2022
Toney’s equaliser looked to have rescued a point for the Bees, before Mitrovic – who broke Toney’s goal record in the Championship last season – powered home a header to seal all three points for Fulham. The Serb wasted no time in sending a jibe in the direction of Toney post-match.
“Everybody has idols,” he said of Toney, as per the Times. “He used to play with me in Newcastle and he was my boy. My idol was [Alan] Shearer and I am probably his idol.”
Mitrovic has now scored three goals in three games to help Fulham to an unbeaten start, helping to silence those who doubted his ability to perform at Premier League level. After a yo-yo existence in recent campaigns, Fulham appear to have the tools to consolidate this season.
“I don’t care about the critics,” Mitrovic said.“I always know I belong here. I am enjoying the Premier League and I am happy. Helping the team and working hard is all I am looking for. The critics are always going to have different opinions. I don’t really care about it.”
City show spirit of champions
Manchester City were made to work to preserve their unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign, with the champions forced to come from 3-1 down to rescue a point at Newcastle.
Pep Guardiola’s side found themselves in trouble against an ambitious Magpies side, but recovered to earn a 3-3 draw at St James’ Park.
Remarkably, it was the third consecutive time that City have rescued a result when falling two goals behind in the Premier League, having done so memorably against West Ham (2-2) and Aston Villa (3-2) during last season’s title run-in.
3 – Manchester City are just the fourth side ever to avoid defeat in three straight @premierleague matches when falling 2+ goals behind, after Man Utd (Oct 1997), Liverpool (Dec 2008) and West Ham (Apr 2016). Steely. pic.twitter.com/X2zlSn4P7S
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 21, 2022
Before that draw with West Ham in May, City had never previously recovered a two-goal deficit to earn a result in the Premier League under Pep Guardiola’s management.
The levels of the City are so high that even an off-day can still be salvaged. There’s both character and class in the champion’s squad.
Seagulls’s success should surprise no one
Brighton’s best-ever Premier League finish of ninth last season was followed with high-profile departures this summer, as key figures in Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma departed for divisional rivals.
Those sales and a difficult-looking start to the season had seen many suggest a fall from grace for Graham Potter’s side, but things are looking good following a brilliant start from the Seagulls.
Brighton are now unbeaten in a club-record eight Premier League games, having started the campaign with seven points from three games, conceding just one goal (an own goal) in those fixtures.
Impressive away wins at Manchester United and West Ham – who finished sixth and seventh in the table last season – have seen the Seagulls exert levels of control on opponents backed to compete for a place in Europe this season. Their only dropped points of the season came despite a dominant display in a goalless draw with a Newcastle team on the rise.
Moises Caicedo has stepped into Bissouma’s role to turn the heads of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, while the likes of Leandro Trossard and Lewis Dunk continue to be undervalued away from the Amex Stadium.
Potter has laid the foundations for continued success on the South Coast, with clever recruitment and an environment that allows for progress despite inevitable departures.
Premier League points gained in 2022:
Man City 49
Potter working his magic. 💫 pic.twitter.com/slTUZ4hUZB
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 21, 2022
“I think it’s a foundation set by everybody in the club, It’s a good environment to work in and everyone is together and understand the value of the team,” Potter said, as per the Sussex Express.
“Of course, individuals are important. You can’t do anything without good players, but the collective idea of the team is really strong.
“It’s football, it’s life, people come and go, but the key core of people are still there and we saw that from our hard-working performance today.”
Brighton’s relative lack of stature as a Premier League club means their headline results still garner surprise, but on the eye-test alone the Seagulls have shown themselves as a side capable of competing with any team in the division.
On current form and with other ‘best of the rest’ candidates faltering around them, the Seagulls can challenge for a first ever venture into continental competition.
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