Premier League Report Card Matchday 3

What a weekend of Premier League football that was! Let’s ditch the preface and get right into it.

Arsenal. Eased to a consummate win at Bournemouth with Jesus, Zinchenko and Saliba continuing to excel, fuelling confidence that a sustained challenge for the top four is on the cards for Mikel Arteta’s men. (A)

Aston Villa. Another away game where Villa were outfought and outthought. Worrying times for Steven Gerrard as a massive fan base increases its disgruntlement. (F)

Bournemouth. For the second successive week, they were woefully outmatched by their opponents. The Cherries already look like clear relegation favourites. (E)

Brentford. They lost a game they would have most hated to lose, but even then showed tremendous quality and tenacity to get back to 2-2 after Fulham’s early salvo. The positive momentum garnered by last week’s win over United very much remains. (B)

Brighton. I am trying my best to ensure I don’t normalize the Seagull’s quality of play. Is it a surprise to see them outplay most of the teams in the division anymore? That’s six points out of six on the road for Graham Potter’s men after a controlled win at the London Stadium. (A)

Chelsea. An absolute disaster of a performance by the Blues at Elland Road. Edouard Mendy’s errors are starting to become frequent while Chelsea were ill-equipped to deal with Leeds’ relentless pressing. Thomas Tuchel didn’t do himself any favours pairing Conor Gallagher next to Jorginho, with the young Englishman dealt a harsh lesson that being a hard-running midfielder in a lower mid-table team and being able to play with varied tempos for a top team are two completely different things. The onus is now on Tuchel to get his team in the right frame of mind for the season, as Chelsea bizarrely find themselves in a funk despite having a high quality squad. (F)

Crystal Palace. Followed up their impressive performance at Anfield with a dominant victory over the Villains, as Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze look primed and ready to have starring roles this season. (A)

Everton. Disaster just about everted with that late equalizer courtesy of Pickford’s sublime assist Gray. Losing to newly promoted Forest would surely have resulted in mutiny at Goodison Park. (D)

Fulham. Being undefeated after three games already marks a significant improvement over their previous two campaigns after winning promotion. That they beat their biggest rivals only makes it sweeter, and that they scored the winner after letting a two-goal lead slip speaks well of the mental fortitude fostered by Marco Silva. (A)

Leeds. And … liftoff! Easily Leeds’ best performance since Marcelo Bielsa left as a raucous Elland Road crowd enjoyed a fantastic day as their team exemplified Jesse Marsch’s best traits in a comfortable win over Chelsea. That midfield trio of Roca, Adams and Aaronson looks tastier by the week, proving that not only is there life after Kalvin Philipps, but it could possibly be better too. (A)

Leicester. Clearly the crisis team in the league, which is quite some feat considering the challenges some other teams are facing. Losing at home after taking the lead is never a good look,  made worse when the team who beat you have won only thrice the whole calendar year. We know this is heading in only one direction. (F)

Liverpool. Calling their performance at Old Trafford mediocre would be an understatement. A few different aspects were damning. Their intensity was lacking and their passing with the ball was below average, combining to give an embittered team the jolt of confidence they needed. Jurgen Klopp’s bizarre decision to not start Fabinho further contributed to the malaise, only further highlighting the limitations of his currently available midfield. The Reds diced with danger in 20-21, relying on stop-gap solutions in the face of an injury crisis that almost took them out of the top four. In a league where even teams from 10th to 17th now have a couple of Champions League standard players, can Liverpool afford to take the same gamble again? (F)

Manchester City. As was the case last season, creators of chaos frazzled City, with Allan Saint-Maximin twisting and turning to leave their defence with a bloody nose. It could be a warning sign, but the nature of their response to adversity could ultimately turn out to be a bigger warning to others, as Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva somehow took their games to an even greater level in the last 30 minutes of the game. (B)

Manchester United. A much-needed win delivered in the most important game for their fans. It came out of nowhere, and it was nowhere near Erik ten Hag football, but it gets them off the mark. For a club that lives in the narrative more than any other, it at least gives the Red Devils some positivity until the next time they’re on the pitch. Plus, who didn’t enjoy seeing Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford finally smiling. (A)

Newcastle. And … umm, not quite liftoff, but pretty close. Fans on Tyneside have waited years for a performance like this against a big side. For 70 minutes St James’ Park was in dreamland as Eddie Howe’s men played inspired football against the champions, with the gap in quality ultimately denying the Magpies a statement win under their new ownership. If this is simply stage one for Newcastle, then the portents are there for a great rivalry in the future of the league. (A)

Nottingham Forest. Of course, a point at Goodison Park is to be celebrated for a newly promoted side. But the fact that they took the lead so late and failed to hold on will surely leave Steve Cooper and his side underwhelmed. (C)

Southampton. Stop it Mr. Hassenhuttl! Another great result, coming from behind to win against an opponent that still haunts the memories of Saints fans. The Austrian manager writes his own scripts every season, but for all the drama, the quality of play when his team is at its best is not to be messed with. (A)

Tottenham. For the second successive week Spurs were outplayed in the centre of the park, but the ability to troubleshoot and find solutions keeps them in good stead. Antonio Conte probably had to fire a few rockets in the dressing room at half-time, but aided by having a true game-breaker in Ivan Perisic, Spurs took the lead and held on for a deserved victory. (A)

West Ham. While the first two losses of the season had mitigation, being completely outplayed at home by a side that spent less than half of what West Ham have so far this summer is not a good look for David Moyes. (F)

Wolves. Another excellent display with the ball as they commanded midfield at the Tottenham Stadium. Matheus Nunes already looks too good to be at Wolves, but looking good with the ball has never been Wolves’ problem has it? Can they consistently find the back of the net this season? (C)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s