Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Week 6 Review: Praise the Saints; Bam Goes Villa; Gunners Firing Blanks

Top of the Table

Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash

Everton – Everton stays on top but only by virtue of a better goal differential than rival Liverpool.  The Toffees received a rude reception on the south coast, suffering their first loss of the season, 2-0, to Southampton.  Depth issues were evident for the Toffees.  Alex Iwobi proved an inadequate replacement for the suspended Richarlison. Young center back Ben Godfrey was forced into an unaccustomed role at right back and struggled.  Everton’s loss marks the first time in more than 50 years that there is no undefeated English topflight team after six games.

Liverpool – Liverpool overcame an early Blade penalty kick to move past Sheffield United 2-1. Newly acquired winger Diogo Jota scored his second goal of his brief Liverpool tenure.  Lest he walk alone, Bobby Firmino added the winner with a rare scoring strike for the center forward.  While victimized by the debatable first half penalty call, Fabinho played well in his new role at center back in place of the injured van Dijk.

Aston Villa – Aston Villa fell a place to third in the table, dropping their first points of the season in a 3-0 loss to Leeds.  Villa seemed to lose composure after the first of three Leeds second half goals, all scored inside a twenty-minute window as the tempo dictated by Leeds appeared to wear on the Villans. Aston Villa still has a game in hand versus the top two clubs.

Leicester – Jamie Vardy, returning from injury, delivered the second half winner in a 1-0 victory for the Foxes.  Vardy has now scored more goals against the Gunners than any player but Wayne Rooney.  Manager Brendan Rodgers employed a deep lying defense to defuse the Gunner attack and register the Foxes’ first away win at Arsenal in forty-seven years.

Tottenham Hotspur – Son Heung-min provided the winner on an assist by Harry Kane as Spurs took all three points in a 1-0 win at Burnley.  Son’s eighth goal of the season added to his league leading total while Kane’s eight assists are twice that of any other league player.  The Spurs dynamic duo have now combined for twenty-nine Premier League goals as teammates, a total that trails only former Chelsea teammates Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.

Leeds – Leeds rockets to sixth in the table following their 3-0 defeat of previously undefeated Aston Villa.  Patrick Bamford scored a hat trick to double his season’s goal output.  Having previously played for five different Premier League teams, Bamford is playing his best football under Manager Marco Bielsa.  Newly promoted Leeds has won three of their initial six games.


Mid Table

Southampton – Southampton employed a high press to great effect in their 2-0 defeat of league leading Everton.  The Toffee attack managed just one shot on target in each half.  Leading Saints goal scorer Danny Ings played the role of creator on Saturday, assisting on both goals.  Southampton’s third victory in their last four matches occurred on the one-year anniversary of their infamous 9-0 loss to Manchester City.

Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace employed their best recipe for success with a disciplined defense and a large dose of Wilfried Zaha in a 2-1 defeat of still winless Fulham.  Zaha assisted on Jairo Riedewald’s first career goal for the Eagles before scoring the winner himself.  The Crystal Palace captain is thriving in a more central position up front this season.  The Eagles’ third win of the season moves them into the top half of the table.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Wolves seemed headed for a third consecutive 1-0 league victory before Jacob Murphy of Newcastle curled an 89th  minute free kick around a poorly constructed Wolves wall.  The final score marked a fourth consecutive 1-1 draw between the two teams.  Raul Jimenez scored his fourth goal of the season for a Wolves team which has scored only six on the season.

Chelsea – Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s second clean sheet in as many starts enabled Chelsea to salvage a point in a scoreless draw in the rain at Old Trafford.  Thiago Silva’s return from injury also helped on the defensive end for Chelsea.  The expensively acquired Blues attack, however, stalled versus the Manchester United defense.  Chelsea has now drawn three of their last four league games, falling to 10th in the table.

Arsenal – The Gunners continue to fire blanks in a second consecutive 1-0 loss.  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has now gone five league games without scoring and probably needs to be positioned more centrally.  Manager Mikel Arteta has been playing Arsenal’s best scoring threat on the left or right of Alexandre Lacazette in attempts to incorporate both forwards into the starting line-up.  It has not worked of late.  

West Ham – West Ham is now on a four-match unbeaten run following their 1-1 draw with Manchester City.  The Citizens followed Wolves, Leicester and Spurs as teams who have been unable to nail the Hammers during their streak.  Michail Antonio had the goal for West Ham which earned its first point against City since 2016.

Manchester City – City was limited to a single goal for the third consecutive match in their 1-1 draw with West Ham.  Phil Foden was the goal scorer for a City team which struggled to convert chances off its 70% possession of the ball.  Worse yet, Sergio Aguero suffered another injury. Pep Guardiola’s team is 13th in the table, albeit with a game in hand versus most of the field.  

Newcastle – Newcastle stole a point in their 1-1 draw at Wolves, courtesy of the 89th minute goal from defender Jacob Murphy.  Murphy was one of four line-up changes made by Manager Steve Bruce following the previous week’s heavy defeat to Manchester United.  A determined defensive effort, featuring five at the back, risked going for naught until Murphy’s late free kick.


Bottom of the Table

Manchester United – United remained winless at home this season with their 0-0 draw with Chelsea. A six-game home winless streak is now the longest in over thirty years for the Red Devils.  There seems work yet to do for United after encouraging wins at Newcastle and in the Champions League over PSG.  Fifteenth place in the table seems a strange address for the proud franchise.  Edinson Cavani teased with a narrowly missed chance in his United debut.

Brighton & Hove Albion – Brighton Manager Graham Potter is beginning to express frustration at the lack of production from The Seagulls.  While generally playing attractive football, the Seagulls relied on a West Brom own goal in their 1-1 draw with the Baggies.  The Seagulls had drawn with Crystal Palace by the same score the week before.

West Bromwich Albion – A late goal by striker Karlan Grant, playing just his second game with the Baggies, enabled West Brom to salvage a point in their 1-1 draw with Brighton.  A first half own goal prevented a second consecutive clean sheet and what would have been a much needed three points for the Baggies.   

Burnley – Burnley looks better as key players return from injuries but the 1-0 loss to Spurs still leaves them among the relegation clubs.  The Clarets can take some encouragement from having survived relegation two years ago after an identical start of one point won from the opening five matches.    

Sheffield United – Sheffield United scored a third goal of the season in their 2-1 loss to Liverpool.  The score came on a disputed penalty.  A lack of goal scorers still seems a fatal flaw for this hard-working team.

Fulham – The Cottagers were thoroughly dominated in their 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace before an extra time goal by Tom Cairney. The defeat enables the Cottagers to retain their hold on the 20th table position despite pressure from Sheffield United to dislodge them.

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