Premier League Report Card Matchday 4

Another weekend with many talking points in the Premier League is behind us. Some clubs are really finding their stride, while some managers are now facing mounting pressure. Let’s get stuck in with the ratings for all 20 clubs.

Arsenal. After easy victories to start the campaign, the win against Fulham tested their resolve and tenacity, which could prove to be more significant in the long run. Not that the football wasn’t good again, thanks to some sublime conducting of play from captain Martin Odegaard, but late winners take a life of their own, providing important momentum as the season gets busier. (A)

Aston Villa. The boos after the final whistle at Villa Park tell the story perfectly. Worryingly for Villa, it’s Arsenal and City away next. (F)

Bournemouth. I agree with Scott Parker that the Cherries’ squad as it is right now, is not equipped to handle the challenges of the league. But losing 9-0 conveys issues far greater than quality, leaving Scott Parker on a slippery slope with Bournemouth barely even having a honeymoon period on their return to the league. (F)

Brentford. Thomas Frank can quibble about nothing but the final result. The Bees dominated Everton from start to finish, with the post, crossbar and some bad finishing denying them what really should have been a comprehensive win. (B)

Brighton. Another dominant performance based on intelligence, intricate play and sublime interchanges in possession. Pascal Gross capped a virtuoso performance with a deserved goal to hand the Seagulls the three points. There simply is no ceiling to good coaching. (A)

Chelsea. They had to hold on for dear life at the end and were arguably a bit lucky to take the three points, but winning when you’re a man down in the first half can never be taken for granted. Meanwhile, as the Blues continue to look for a striker, Thomas Tuchel could do worse than build his attack around Raheem Sterling, whose brace on Saturday finally brought the goals his quality of play has deserved since he joined Chelsea. (A)

Crystal Palace. For the first 45 minutes it looked like Patrick Vieira had outsmarted Pep Guardiola for the third game in a row. Eberechi Eze duly took on the leadership mantle from the injured Wilfried Zaha as Palace looked to have executed their plan to perfection. Then City and Haaland happened. (C)

Everton. They were extremely lucky to escape Brentford with a draw, but if it is accepted that the Toffees are in a relegation dogfight, and everything suggests they are, then a point gained by hook or crook could actually end being very crucial in the final reckoning. (C)

Fulham. Even though they were outplayed at the Emirates, the Cottagers never lost their shape, keeping their focus and discipline even as the eventual Arsenal winner felt inevitable. A first defeat of the season, but the positive vibes of their encouraging start remain. (C)

Leeds. A deserved loss in their first flat performance of the new season. (E)

Leicester. Brendan Rodgers could make the case that his Foxes merited at least a point at Stamford Bridge, but having your defence cut a part with a man advantage and conceding two goals is just unacceptable. Rodgers will be hoping that Leicester can somehow get in a couple of new faces in the last days of the transfer window, or it will be hard to see anything changing. (D)

Liverpool. If 9-0 wins were instructive in anyway, then Leicester and United would have achieved their aims when they trounced Southampton by the same scoreline, which everyone knows they patently didn’t. Such thrashings reveal a lot more about the losing team. Keeping that to one side, Jurgen Klopp needed this, Liverpool needed this, Anfield needed this and plenty of their players needed this. We’ll know soon enough if this actually kickstarts the Reds’ campaign, but it was a much-needed shot of confidence going into the most gruelling part of the early season. (A)

Manchester City. Pep Guardiola is right to be worried about how his champions are starting games, but for the second successive week, I can’t be churlish about a two-goal comeback. The intensity was right for the second half, and then there was Haaland’s hat trick — well-positioned header, poacher’s strike, topped of with the trademark run on to a through ball and exquisite finish. An easy demonstration of incredible quality by a player surrounded by quality. (A)

Manchester United. Again, it wasn’t Erik ten Hag football, but a lousy away streak has been snapped as the Red Devils at least move out of neutral thanks to their grit. (A)

Newcastle. Such is the buoyancy and calmness in this team and squad that they went from losing a game that they probably deserved to, to almost winning it in the last moments. It is this quality that lays the foundation for bigger successes that are slowly, but surely coming. (B)

Nottingham Forest. There was a lot of endeavour on display at the City Ground, but Forest never truly felt like they could trouble Spurs. Amongst his plethora of new signings Steve Cooper will have to make a call soon on whether Jesse Lingard actually deserves to start every game, because the last thing Forest need is players being selected on reputation rather than merit. (D)

Southampton. They deserved a point on the balance of play as United were hanging on near the end, but even in defeat there were plenty of encouraging signs from the many different youngsters the Saints bought this summer. (B)

Tottenham. A performance of control, even though the scoreline may suggest the game was closer than it actually was. Harry Kane has probably had his best August ever, but the supporting cast continues to perform at a high level, topped off by the cross of the season so far courtesy of Richarlison. When you consider Son hasn’t even opened his account yet, one feels Conte’s Spurs still have a few more gears to shift in them. (A)

West Ham. They were better than Villa on the day, which is admittedly a low bar. But a first win of the season always brings some relief and reduces the jitters. Now let’s see if Lucas Paqueta can be a game-changer for the Hammers. (A)

Wolves. There are only so many different ways I can say the same thing. Another game they dominated. Another game in which they didn’t finish. I am not a huge fan of copying and pasting, so it’s up to you now Sasa Kalajdzic — please score some goals for Wolves. (C)

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