Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Premier League Week 2 Results: Manchester City Wins Early Showdown; Seagulls Soar; Chelsea Transfers Flop; Bees Swarm Cottagers; United Mounts Little Challenge at Spurs; Villa Rebounds Against Hapless Toffees; Arsenal Survives Selhurst

Manchester City asserted its championship pedigree with a 1-0 victory in an early season challenge over rising contender Newcastle. Phil Foden looked more than comfortable in the central playmaking normally occupied by the injured Kevin De Bruyne. The England international set up Julain Alvarez for the match’s only score and repeatedly set up opportunities for striker Erling Haaland. The Norwegian striker failed to make the scoresheet on Saturday but his connection with Foden could prove ominous for upcoming league opponents. Bernardo Silva was ill for the match, which provided the opportunity for Alvarez to start in the Citizens’ midfield. The natural striker delivered the match winner from his unaccustomed position. Newly purchased Matteo Kovacic also proved his value in a revamped City midfield which met the challenge of a Newcastle squad which had dominated the pitch a week earlier versus Aston Villa. The Magpies were unable to generate the attacking prowess that resulted in five goals on the opening weekend. On the bright stage of the Etihad, Newcastle was held to one shot on target, with that one unthreatening attempt not coming until the 70th minute.

In contrast to Newcastle’s diminished output, Brighton lit up the scoreboard for a second consecutive week in a 4-1 win at Wolverhampton. The Seagulls won by the same lopsided score for a second consecutive week as a three-goal barrage inside a nine-minute span early in the second half sent Wolves down to a second consecutive defeat. Brighton veteran Solly March struck for a brace in the match, assisted both times by Julio Enciso.

Manchester United, narrow winners over Wolves earlier in the week, stumbled Saturday to a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. A Lisandro Martinez own goal in the 83rd minute ended hopes for the Red Devils as new Tottenham Hotspur Manager Ange Postecoglou was victorious in his home debut. The Spurs midfield, particularly James Maddison and Yves Bissouma, helped execute Postecoglou’s  up-tempo style of play which is much appreciated by Spurs fans frustrated by the club’s unimaginative play of the past few seasons.

Manchester United, meanwhile, has several early season concerns. Marcus Rashford has been exceedingly quiet up top, newly acquired midfielder Mason Mount has failed to impress in his two starts, and Casemiro has looked a step lower in protecting Manchester United’s back line.

Brentford had one major question entering this season and that was how to replace the 20 goals of the now suspended Ivan Toney who will not be returning until January. The question was answered in the Bees’ first two matches by forwards Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa. Mbeumo scored two goals and Wissa added one in a 3-0 drubbing of Fulham, one week after both players had tallied in an opening 2-2 draw. The Bees are now undefeated in their last 11 London derbies. Fulham supporters, who saw their club reduced to 10 men in the 64th minute of the home defeat, received more bad news after the match when it was confirmed that striker Aleksandar Mitrovic will be departing for the Saudi Arabian league.

Liverpool was similarly reduced to 10 men at home but were undeterred in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth. Reds’ forwards Luis Diaz, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota all scored to bring Liverpool back after an early Bournemouth goal.

The Cherries’ early lead resulted from another error by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold who continues to deliver mixed results from his hybrid midfield positioning. The Reds’ plethora of quality attackers was able to carry the day, however, despite Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister being shown a red card in the 58th minute.

Arsenal was also victimized on Monday by the fifth red card assessed by Premier League officials in this week’s nine matches. A second yellow card incurred by Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu saw the Gunners park the bus beginning in the 67th minute as they successfully clung on to a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at a raucous Selhurst Park. The Eagles defended tenaciously but switched off for a critical moment early in the second half. Arsenal moved quickly to take a free kick before the Crystal Palace defense was set. Gabriel Martinelli found an unmarked Eddie Nketiah who barreled unfettered towards goal before being taken down by Crystal Palace Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone. Martin Odegaard’s ensuing 54th minute penalty kick was to be the match’s only score as Arsenal would revert to a low block to frustrate the Eagles following Tomiyasu’s exit.

Chelsea also enjoyed a man advantage from the 67th minute on in their match at West Ham. Like Crystal Palace, Chelsea was unable to capitalize. Highly priced midfielders Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez did more harm than good Sunday against the Hammers. Caicedo, the most expensive player in Premier League history, entered the pitch as a second half substitute in time to commit a penalty which sealed the match for West Ham’s 3-1 victory. Fernandez, who previously was the highest priced transfer in the league before Caicedo’s signing, missed a first half penalty which could have given Chelsea a lead and changed the course of the match. Chelsea’s best moment was a dazzling first half goal by Carney Chukwuemeka. Unfortunately for the Blues, Chukwueneka became the eighth injury casualty of the young season for the Blues later in the half. The 19-year-old will miss an estimated six weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Mykhailo Mudryk, yet another expensive transfer signing, entered the match for Chukwueneka and posted a notably poor performance. A Mudryk shot in the second half was so poorly hit that the ball skied backwards rather than towards the goal. Possessing the ball for just 24% of the match, West Ham was content to sit back and capitalize on Chelsea mistakes. The first Hammer goal, only seven minutes into the match, was scored by an unmarked Nayef Aguerd from a West Ham corner kick. The second Hammer goal was scored by Michail Antonio on the counterattack where the Jamaican international easily got the better of two different Chelsea defenders. Then came the penalty which marked the inauspicious debut of the Premier League’s most expensive player in Caicedo. West Ham’s far more economical transfer purchase, James Ward-Prowse, assisted on both of West Ham’s first two goals in his London Stadium debut.

Nottingham Forest’s Serge Aurier also had two assists for Nottingham Forest as the Tricky Trees prevailed at home in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. As many Premier League squads search for a top-notch striker not named Haaland, Forest seems to have discovered gold in Taiwo Awoniyi. It took less than three minutes on Friday for the Nigerian striker to score in a sixth consecutive Premier League match. Some 86 minutes later Aurier provided his second assist of the match on a cross expertly headed in by Forest’s Chris Wood, the former Burnley striker. Nottingham Forest won their fourth consecutive home match at the City Ground dating to last season.

Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin returned from his extended injury absence only to go off in the 36th minute of a 4-0 loss to Aston Villa. Everton has little hope of scoring without their oft injured striker and on Sunday the Toffees also saw their defense collapse. Everton’s errors bordered on the comical as one Villa throw-in found Leon Bailley for a quick stroll through the Everton box for one goal. A second throw-in, this time by Everton, was easily intercepted and resulted in a later breakaway goal by Aston Villa. Everton Manager Sean Dyche is squarely on the hot seat. Aston Villa Manager Unai Emery, meanwhile, can be ecstatic at the response to his club’s humbling opening week defeat to Newcastle. Four different players scored in Villa’s eighth consecutive win at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: