Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Week 3 Results: New Look Manchester United Shocks Liverpool; Arsenal Tops The Table; Manchester City Salvages Point; Leeds Embarrasses Chelsea; Spurs Nick Wolves; Undefeated Fulham Stings Bees; Hammers Fall Into Basement; Zaha and Adams Notch Braces

Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire took a seat as Manchester United Manger Eric ten Hag sent a message regarding his expectations. The team icon and its captain looked on as a pacier and more aggressive United club swept by Liverpool in a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford. Changes were needed after two poor performances and ten Hag made the tough decisions. The attack was much more fluid without Ronaldo as the primary focus and the speed of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho presented problems for Liverpool’s defense. Sancho’s first half goal was his first since March and provided a seldom seen glimpse of the promise hoped for when he was expensively acquired from Borussia Dortmund. Sancho flashed more than just pace in a composed turn to find the space to launch his opening strike. Rashford scored what proved the winner early in the second half on a through ball from Anthony Martial.

The connection between the two forwards was reminiscent of what former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had envisioned from his forward line some years ago. Manchester United’s defense was equally impressive despite a late Mohamed Salah goal which halved the margin and created some understandable anxiety for the Old Trafford faithful. Raphael Varane partnered well with a hard-working Lisandro Martinez at center back while Harry Maguire observed from the bench. Left back Tyrell Malacia, newly signed from Feyenoord this window, impressed in his first start for the Red Devils. The Netherlands international largely contained Salah despite the Egyptian’s late header from inside the box. Salah had scored eight goals in his last four appearances versus Manchester United but had difficulty with the physical play of Malacia and fellow new signing Martinez. The oft injured Varane, meanwhile, provided an experienced and composed presence on the backline. Only time will tell whether Monday was a turning point for Manchester United Manager ten Hag who now welcomes Real Madrid defensive midfielder Casemiro to the fold.

Liverpool remained winless on the season and are already seven points behind league leading Arsenal. A puzzling lineup decision made by Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp on Monday was the omission of defensive midfielder Fabinho who might have provided some protection for an underperforming and injury riddled Liverpool defense. Virgil van Dijk delivered an aloof performance which was particularly evident when he failed to close down Sancho on the game’s first scoring action. Ancient midfielder James Milner was visibly troubled by van Dijk’s lethargic manner and could be seen scolding his captain. Joe Gomez was playing alongside van Dijk due to injuries and failed to make a case to move past the injured Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip in Klopp’s pecking order.

Table leading Arsenal remained undefeated after three matches with a 3-0 win at Bournemouth. Martin Odegaard scored two goals before 12 minutes had passed in the match as the dynamic Arsenal attack overwhelmed their newly promoted opponent.

Gabriel Jesus continues to be the engine of the Gunner attack with the former Manchester City man slicing past Bournemouth defenders in the buildup to what become Odegaard’s first goal. Jesus was later denied his own score when VAR overturned a pretty goal set up by an Odegaard pass. William Saliba struck in the second half for Arsenal’s third goal and the 21-year-old defender’s first Premier League goal. Bournemouth was a heavy underdog entering the match, but a lack of fight raises concern on how competitive the Cherries can be this campaign for Manager Scott Parker.

Arsenal moved to the top of the table with their victory as Manchester City dropped its first points of the season in a 3-3 draw at Newcastle. The defending champions found themselves behind by two goals before Erling Haaland triggered a second half comeback with his third goal of the season. City had opened the match with an Ilkay Gundogan goal after 5 minutes but quickly relinquished control of the game as Newcastle surged ahead on scores by Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier. Following Haaland’s tally, Bernardo Silva scored the match’s final goal to salvage a point for the Citizens. Newcastle fans will have mixed thoughts on the contest as the Magpies  went toe to toe with the far more talented Citizens yet let a two-goal margin slip away.

Leeds United (States of America) trails only Arsenal and Manchester City in the table after a dominant 3-0 home win over Chelsea at Elland Road. Brendan Aaronson pickpocketed Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to tap in the match’s first goal which was followed less than five minutes later by a Rodrigo header assisted by Jack Harrison. Rodrigo would return the favor when he assisted on Harrison’s goal at the 69-minute mark which put the game out of reach. Insult was added to injury when Chelsea went down to 10 men when Kalidou Koulibaly received his second yellow card in the 84th minute. Raheem Sterling missed a clear chance for Chelsea in the opening minutes which might have changed the complexion of the match, but his wide shot was all too typical of the inaccuracy of Chelsea’s strike force. The club is rumored to be chasing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as their next forward experiment after multiple past failures on the transfer market. Aaronson’s opening goal for Leeds was the first time an American player has scored a goal while playing for an American manager. Leeds Manger Jesse Marsch also had reason to be proud of the performance of fellow American Tyler Adams who frustrated Chelsea from his position as defensive midfielder. Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, made another late match appearance for Chelsea which produced little. The US international continues to be the subject of speculation that his Chelsea career may be nearing an end.

Tottenham Hotspur are level with Leeds in the table after a 1-0 defeat of Wolves. Harry Kane continued his unusually strong early season form with his 250th career goal for the north London club. Kane had provided a dramatic equalizer versus Chelsea the week before in an opening month where he has historically struggled. Wolverhampton, meanwhile, failed to win for a tenth consecutive league match dating to last season. Wolves continues to be toothless in attack, scoring just once in its three matches to date.

Brighton and Hove Albion are yet another of four clubs clustered behind Arsenal with seven points after the Seagulls dispatched West Ham by a 2-0 margin on Sunday. Alexis Mac Allister opened scoring in the first half with a successful penalty kick after Danny Welbeck was taken down in the box by a Hammer defender. Leandro Trossard’s 66th minute goal closed out the scoring for the Seagulls’ second win of the young season. Brighton is now unbeaten in eight league matches dating to last season. West Ham, meanwhile, has lost all three of their outings this season and is yet to score a goal this campaign. Hammer Striker Michail Antonio had little influence on the outcome versus Brighton with the fewest touches of any player involved in Sunday’s match, including the two goalkeepers. The Hammers currently reside at the bottom of the table as the only Premier League club not to have captured a point this season.

Undefeated Fulham registered its first win of the season when Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in the 90th minute to defeat Brentford 3-2. The Bees’ Ivan Toney had knotted matters at two goals apiece in the 71st minute before Mitrovic’s dramatic game deciding header delivered Fulham’s first win of the season after two opening draws.

The loss by Brentford to the newly promoted Cottagers was surprising for a club which manhandled Manchester United the week before. Fulham, meanwhile, seems intent on demonstrating it is much improved from previous failed attempts to capitalize on promotion and survive at the top level. Mitrovic will be key to answering whether that is so.

Crystal Palace also won for a first time this season when the Eagles defeated Aston Villa 3-1. Wilfried Zaha had a pair of goals and substitute striker Jean-Philippe Mateta registered his first goal of the season as the Eagles overcame an early Ollie Watkins goal for the Villans. Zaha has scored more Premier League goals this calendar year than all but Spurs stars Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and the Ivorian is tied for the fifth highest league total since the start of the 2020/21 season. Aston Villa has lost two of its three matches, with the only victory coming over a poor Everton side, as pressure mounts on Steven Gerrard to get more out of an expensively constructed roster.

Che Adams scored twice to give Southampton a 2-1 road victory over struggling Leicester. The Saints overcame an early goal by Leicester’s James Maddison to capture the victory while the Foxes’ Wesley Fofana sat in the King Power Stands. The young center back is the focus of transfer activity involving Chelsea and was deemed by his manager to not be in the right mindset to stop the Saints march. Leicester managed just one shot on target as Manager Brendan Rodgers’ sinking ship rests only above West Ham in the relegation zone.

Everton earned its first point of the season when Demarai Gray scored in the 88th minute of a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford provided the through ball on Gray’s equalizer. Despite the late disappointment, Nottingham Forest has four points in three matches as the club returns to the Premier League after a 23-year absence.

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