Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Match 2 Week Results: Leicester Goes Top; Crystal Palace Surprises; Saints Look Hellish

Top of the Table

Leicester sits atop the table for the first time since their Premier League    championship season. A fluid attack has marked their early games, matching league debutante Leeds for the most goals scored to date at seven. The schedule has been kind, however, with newly promoted West Brom and an injury depleted Burnley presenting the opposition to date. 

Everton continued to feature a rejuvenated attack as they rolled over a West Brom side which played the second half with 10 men. In form Calvert-Lewin added a hat trick to his winning goal from Week 1 and James Rodriguez scored his first Premier League goal. 

An unlikely top of the table battle takes place next week when the Toffees visit Crystal Palace, winners of their opening two Premier League matches for the first time in Eagles' history. James McArthur and James McCarthy have been unsung heroes for their defensive work in the midfield for Palace. Wilfried Zaha delivered a brace for the Eagles in a 3-1 victory against a Manchester United team which had once employed his services.

Arsenal remained unbeaten with a late goal winner versus a dogged West Ham side. Arsenal struggled for much of the game but captured the three points on an 85th minute goal by Eddie Nketiah. Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney was injured in warmups and back line depth now bears watching for a Gunner squad with its eyes on European places.

Liverpool remained perfect with their 2-0 win over Chelsea, featuring two goals from Sadio Mane. Mane's header set up by the passing of line mates Salah and Firmino demonstrated the brilliance which is Liverpool's front three. The Reds took opportunity in the second half to introduce new midfield signing Thiago Alcantara. The transfer from Bayern Munich should add additional creativity to the hard-working Liverpool midfield. Liverpool has also added additional squad depth with the recent signing of midfielder Diogo Jota from Wolves.

Manchester City capped the weekend action with a 3-1 victory over Wolves. An extra time goal by City's Gabriel Jesus was the 44th Premier League goal of the weekend, breaking the league record for goals in a match week.

Mid Table

Defensive deficiencies were on display as Chelsea fell to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. A red card assigned to center back Andreas Christensen put the Blues a man down through the entire second half while a misguided clearance attempt by Chelsea goalie Kepa Arrizabalaga handed a goal to Liverpool. A second half penalty kick by Chelsea's Jorginho was saved by Liverpool goalie Allison to keep Chelsea scoreless. Defensively, the Blues can look forward to the pending introductions of Ben Chilwell at left back and Thiago Silva at center back. A deal for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was expected to be finalized this week. While early, the quiet play to date of expensive new acquisition Kai Havertz, oddly positioned on Sunday in a center forward role by manager Frank Lampard, is drawing attention. 

The Son never set on an explosive Spurs attack at Southampton with Son Heung-min scoring four goals and Harry Kane contributing four assists. Things could get even more exciting in North London with the addition of Gareth Bale on loan. Defender Sergio Reguilion also joins the team from Real Madrid to help with lingering back line concerns.


Brighton looked sharp in a 3-0 defeat of Newcastle. Neal Maupay had a brace for the Seagulls. Former Chelsea product Tarig Lamptey drew a penalty for one of Maupay's goals and the nineteen-year-old defender has been a bright spot in both Brighton games this season. Newcastle fell behind by two goals after only seven minutes as it failed for a third consecutive time to score in a match against Brighton. 

An aggregate 14 goals have been scored in Leeds' first two matches, representing the highest number of goals in a team's opening two games in the English topflight in more than fifty years. Leeds high flying attack leaves it volnerable in its own third and more fireworks can likely be expected.

Aston Villa saw immediate dividends from its acquisition of former Arsenal goalie Emi Martinez. Martinez's first save for Villa was on a penalty kick, preserving a scoreless first half against 10-man Sheffield United. Aston Villa went on to score a second half winner and capture all three points from the undermanned Blades.

Wolves awakened in its second half with Manchester City but failed to convert several chances. Winger Daniel Podence's assist on a Raul Jimenez goal Monday followed a much-remarked nutmeg of Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne.

Bottom of the Table

Fulham displayed some mettle in scoring the final two goals in its 4-3 loss to Leeds. A brace by Alexander Mitrovic again highlighted his criticality to the Fulham attack as he was inserted back in the starting lineup after a second half substitute appearance in the season opening loss. Scott Parker's gamble to go to a high press after falling behind 4-1 was daring but enabled the Cottagers to finish strongly.

West Brom has now allowed eight goals in its two losses and received two red cards on Saturday versus Everton, one assessed to frustrated manager Slaven Bilic. 

Southampton's employment of a high line against Spurs was an unmitigated disaster against the speed of and pace of Spurs. Many pundits and supporters are questioning why no in-game adjustment was made once Son began running amok, benefiting from some excellent through balls from Harry Kane. The Saints look terrible to date but do have a history of streakiness.

West Ham played better in their second match of the season but fell late as David Moyes continued his futility streak of never winning away to the Gunners. With all due respect to hardworking Michail Antonio, the Hammers look desperately in need of a true number nine striker. Sebastien Haller, acquired from Eintracht Frankfurt last year, was to have been that player but has not performed.

Manchester United was shut down by a Crystal Palace team which seems to have found a second home at Old Trafford with a second consecutive victory. The front line for Manchester United delivered little but for a missed Mason Greenwood header opportunity in the second half. Donny van de Beek scored shortly after his second half debut, but Manchester United hopes were quickly dashed by a second goal from their former player, Wilfried Zaha, in the 3-1 loss. The vulnerability of the Manchester United defense to the pace of the Eagle counterattack highlights a problem which may need to be addressed this transfer window. Controversy surrounding a Crystal Palace penalty score was largely side show to a disappointing performance for United.

Burnley was hamstrung in its 4-2 loss to Leicester by an injury depleted back line which was missing stalwarts James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

Sheffield United got off to a tough start for a second consecutive week. Down 2-0 to Wolves after six minutes last week, the Blades went down to 10 men against Aston Villa in the twelfth minute on Monday. Playing respectably in the balance of those games was small solace for the Blades.

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