Monday, October 30, 2023

Premier League Week 10 Results: Top Five Sweep To Victory; Nketiah Hat Trick; Haaland Brace; Salah and Son Score; Newcastle and Brighton Drop Points; Angst For Manchester United And Chelsea; Cherries Win; Newly Promoted Could Be Newly Relegated

There were no changes to the top of the table as the current top four and an ambitious Aston Villa all won on the weekend. League leading Spurs won by the narrowest margin in a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace. The defensive minded Eagles held Spurs without a first half shot for the first time this season. An own goal by Crystal Palace then broke the ice in the 55th minute  before Son Heung-min scored his eighth goal of the season for the insurance goal which rendered a stoppage time score by Crystal Palace meaningless.

Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah, playing in place of an injured Gabriel Jesus, scored a hat trick to lead Arsenal to an easy 5-0 win over hapless Sheffield United. The Blades are the only winless team after Bournemouth’s victory this weekend.

Manchester City also coasted to an easy victory in its Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Manchester United’s 3-0 loss to the Citizens enormously increased the heat on Manager Eric ten Hag. An uncompetitive loss to their cross-town rival was bad enough but ten Hag’s decision making is very much in question. An available Raphael Varane was passed over for ancient Jonny Evans at center back, with the latter being exploited by the league’s leading scorer, Erling Haaland. Right footed center back Victor Lindelof was inserted at left back and looked uncomfortable all game. Meanwhile, expensive acquisitions acquired on ten Hag’s watch, Antony and Mason Mount, failed to crack the starting line-up and were their usually ineffective selves when substituted in. Ten Hag’s tactics and the squad’s playing style were unclear to most observers. Erling Haaland punished the Red Devils with two goals which raised his league leading total to 11 on the season and kept his club level on points with Arsenal, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur.

An emotionally distraught Liverpool club kept pace, just a point behind Manchester City, with a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Luis Diaz was not with the club due to the kidnapping of his parents in his native Colombia. Thankfully both parents were rescued by the Colombian authorities. Diogo Jota raised the jersey of his absent teammate in a show of support following the match’s opening goal on Saturday. Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah would add goals against overmatched Nottingham Forest. Salah has scored in each of Liverpool’s five home matches this season at Anfield, a venue where the Tricky Trees have failed to win since 1969. Forest are now just five points from the relegation zone after having failed to win in the league since September 2nd.

Aston Villa sits just outside the top four, just a point behind Liverpool. A 3-1 victory over Luton Town marked a 12th consecutive win at Villa Park for Manger Unai Emery’s side. The walkover against the newly promoted and likely to be relegated Hatters, however, will not remove the doubt planted by the Villans’ earlier decisive league defeats to better competition in Newcastle and Liverpool. A late November tilt at Tottenham Hotspur will speak volumes about Aston Villa’s top four chances.

Newcastle and Brighton are likely feeling the strain of unaccustomed European  competition. Managers Eddie Howe and Roberto De Zerbi rotated their lineups on the weekend to accommodate fatigue and injury after midweek contests against European sides. Newcastle additionally has the issue of Sandro Tonali’s suspension for gambling violations to deal with. A 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton was thus not an altogether bad outcome for the Magpies. Wolves have been an improving side and extended their unbeaten run in the league to five matches with Saturday’s draw.

Brighton will be less satisfied with dropping points at home in a 1-1 final with Fulham. The Seagulls dominated the play and took an early lead on the Cottagers with a goal by Evan Ferguson who became the first teenager to score 10 or more Premier League goals in a calendar year since Wayne Rooney in 2005. The Seagulls faltered, however, in the second half when they lost possession in a dangerous area and were victimized by a 65th minute strike by Fulham’s Joao Palhinha.

West Ham had an even worse homecoming at London Stadium. The sluggish Hammers fell 1-0 to Everton as the Toffees’ Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the winner and dedicated the win to long time Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright who died earlier in the week. Calvert Lewin was surrounded by no fewer than three West Ham players as he found a way to launch the winning shot. West Ham, meanwhile, struggled to penetrate a staunch Everton defense. The Hammers managed just two shots on goal as West Hm supporters are once again criticizing the conservative game plan of Manager David Moyes.

Criticism of Chelsea Manager Mauricio Pochettino is more muted, but his project took a step back on Saturday with an embarrassing 2-0 home loss to Brentford. The Bees won for the third consecutive time at Stamford Bridge, the home of their London “rival.” Chelsea, meanwhile, has won just once in its last 13 Premier League home matches. Chelsea had seemed to be making some progress in recent weeks, leading Arsenal last week before collapsing, but the performance against Brentford once again highlighted deficiencies in attack, leaving Pochettino to bemoan his lack of a proper striker in post-match comments. Ineffective striker Nicolas Jackson, a curious purchase amid Chelsea’s wild spending spree, was drawn into an unpleasant encounter with a disgruntled fan. Pochettino himself intervened between Jackson and the unhappy supporter. Bournemouth Manager Andoni Iraola may have pulled himself back from the brink with his Cherries’ 2-1 win over Burnley. The victory was the first of the season for Bournemouth and Iraola’s first as a Premier League Manager. The three points pulled the Cherries out of the relegation zone and portends darkly for the relegation bound Clarets. Burnley, managed by former Premier League star Vincent Kompany, was thought to be the promoted club most likely to survive this season. The Clarets, however, are rooted in the drop zone along with the other two promoted sides, Sheffield United and Luton Town. The last time all three promoted sides were immediately relegated from the Premier League was the 1997/98 season. 

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