Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Week 2 Results: Tempers Flare at Stamford Bridge; Arsenal Outguns Leicester; Liverpool Loses More Ground; Red Devils Go Up In Flames; Historic Win for Nottingham Forest

The much-anticipated derby at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur delivered all that was expected and more as Spurs came back twice in a 2-2 draw that saw both managers flagged with red cards at game’s end. Chelsea took a first half lead on a frozen rope strike by Kalidou Koulibaly from a corner by fellow defender and Chelsea newcomer Marc Cucurella. Almost 50 minutes of regulation time would pass before Spurs drew even on a goal from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and the tense tone of the match reached a new level. Tuchel was angered by an uncalled foul he believed occurred in the buildup to the Spurs goal. Conte’s energetic celebration of the goal then unfortunately bought him into the path of the unhappy Tuchel for a brief face to face before the managers were separated by the fourth official. Chelsea would break the tie less than ten minutes later with perhaps the best stretch of play from either team on the day. Koulibaly triggered the attack with his pass to Ngolo Kante who passed to Raheem Sterling who found Reece James for the score. James’s goal so excited Tuchel that he sprinted down the touchline in a manner reminiscent of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea tenure and in a manner that was sure to have further irritated former Chelsea manager Conte. Chelsea looked to have secured the three points, but Spurs were not done. Harry Kane dramatically headed in an equalizer more than five minutes into stoppage time to salvage the away point for Spurs and wind up Tuchel once again. The Chelsea manger objected to yet another perceived oversight by the referee when Cucurella’s hair was pulled by a Spurs player before the fateful corner. The handshake between the managers escalated into their second angry confrontation of the day with Tuchel refusing to release Conte’s hand.

Red cards were assessed as Kane’s dramatic goal was almost overshadowed by the touchline drama that unfolded between the two ambitious and prideful mangers. Kane’s goal tied him for the fourth highest career total in Premier League history with Sergio Aguero.

Another London club is also trying to crash the top four party. Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus celebrated his home debut at the Emirates with two goals and two assists as a newly dangerous Arsenal attack was too much for Leicester in a 4-2 Gunner victory. Manager Mikel Arteta’s squad displayed grittiness in quickly responding each time Leicester tried to make a comeback. After taking a 2-0 lead on the pair of goals by Jesus, the Gunners restored their margin within two minutes of each of Leicester’s ensuing two goals. Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli had the second half goals which snuffed out Leicester’s comeback efforts.

Leicester center back Wesley Fofana had a poor game for the Foxes which could cause Chelsea supporters to think twice regarding his rumored transfer to Stamford Bridge.

Crystal Palace lined up against Liverpool with five men in the back, four midfielders lined up tightly in front of the defenders, and only Wilfried Zaha in a forward position. Manager Patrick Vieira’s master plan worked as his Eagles left Anfield with a point after a 1-1 draw. Zaha had Crystal Palace ahead at halftime after his goal on a lightning counterattack was triggered by a finely threaded pass from Eberech Eze which undid the Liverpool defense. Darwin Nunez then incurred a red card in the 57th minute to put the Reds down to 10 men. Luis Diaz gave Liverpool hope with a less than five minutes later, but the Eagles were able to hold on and leave with the point. Liverpool falls four points behind Manchester City and will be without their high-priced striker for a string of games after Nunez’s ill-advised head butt to the face of Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen. Crystal Palace Manager Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, burnishes his managerial reputation with his tactical master class.

Manchester United embarrassed themselves again in a 4-0 loss at Brentford. Manager Eric ten Hag became the first Manchester United manager to lose his first two matches in 101 years as his club conceded all four goals in an abysmal first half. Mistakes by goalkeeper David De Gea accounted for the first two goals by the Bees while newly acquired center back Lisandro Martinez was outmuscled on a header by Brentford’s Ben Mee for the third goal. Martinez, Luke Shaw and Fred would all be yanked by their manager at halftime. Bryan Mbeumo’s strike at the 35-minute mark provided the fourth goal in an impressive home win for the Bees who remain undefeated for the season.

Manchester United, meanwhile, are left searching for elusive answers to questions regarding their lack of tactical nous, seeming absence of desire by the players, and a front office which has fared poorly this transfer window in the face of crying need.

No such problems exist across town at Manchester City. The Citizens have yet to concede a goal this season after a 4-0 demolition of newly promoted Bournemouth. Erling Haaland was held without a goal but assisted on the opening score as Ilkay Gundogan, Keven De Bruyne and Phil Foden found the net in the first half against a tightly packed Bournemouth defense. A second half own goal by the Cherries’ Jefferson Lerma completed scoring in the one-sided contest. Bournemouth managed just a single shot on target as they stubbornly and futilely parked the bus for the entire match.

Nottingham Forest began to reap the benefits of an active transfer window as new signing Taiwo Awoniyi delivered the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over West Ham.

The starting line-up for Forest featured eight new signings as Forest notched their first Premier League victory in this century. The Hammers, meanwhile, will rue their missed opportunities at the City Ground venue. West Ham had a goal called back because of a Michail Antonio foul, rattled the crossbar on two other occasions and missed a penalty kick by Declan Rice. Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Dean Hendersen, on loan from Manchester United, made the stop on Rice and was man of the match for Manager Steve Cooper’s promoted side. West Ham lost a second consecutive match as they continue to search for their first goal of the season.

Southampton showed unexpected fight in coming back from a two-goal deficit to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Leeds. Saints Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has been the subject of sack speculation which seemed likely to continue after his club fell two goals behind at the 60-minute mark. Southampton responded, however, after the manager made some key substitutions. Newly signed Joe Aribo came off the bench to notch the first goal before Kyle Walker-Pieters scored the equalizer on an assist from 20-year-old Sekou Mara, a second half substitute and another summer transfer signing. Leeds will rue the dropped points after two goals by Rodrigo early in the second half had put the Whites in a commanding position.

Steven Gerrard won his managerial duel with Frank Lampard as Aston Villa defeated Everton 2-1 at Villa Park. Ollie Watkins assisted goals by Eric Buendia and Danny Ings for Gerrard’s side while a late own goal by Aston Villa’s Lucas Digne gifted his former club for their score. Everton has yet to score a goal on its own this season and has few options in attack.

Brighton dominated proceedings, but Newcastle held on to earn a point in a goalless draw at Amex Stadium. Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope kept the Seagulls at bay while Brighton’s leading scorer for the last three seasons, striker Neal Maupay, was left out of the squad pending a rumored transfer move. Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a second half penalty as the Cottagers settled for a goalless draw at Wolverhampton.

Fulham has now notched a point in each of its first two matches upon returning to the Premier League. Wolves have not won in nine Premier League matches dating to last season and could be drawn into the relegation fight alongside their Saturday opponent.  

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