Premier League Report Card Matchday 8

The Premier League resumed after a week off with an abridged matchday which was nevertheless quite interesting. Let’s rate the 14 protagonists.

Arsenal. It looked like the slipperiest of banana skins considering what happened last year and what just happened in their last away trip. But the Gunners bossed Brentford from start to finish, playing with the right intensity and letting their increasingly evident quality on the ball do the talking. Such games are often a barometer to see where Arsenal are the mental strength scale, which reads pretty strong for now. (A)

Aston Villa. To paraphrase Steven Gerrard’s post-match comments, sometimes you just have to win ugly. Villa were nowhere near fluent, but crucially they followed up that hard-earned point against City with three points against a team they should expect to beat. (A)

Bournemouth. I seriously doubt Gary O’Neil is overseeing much more than a temporary bounce, but what a bounce it is. Three games unbeaten including two on the road, the latest of which was a demonstration of grit at St. James Park when they could easily have buckled under pressure. (A)

Brentford. Outclassed on the day which is no shame considering the gap in quality. If anything, this result underscores how much Thomas Frank’s side over perform on a consistent basis. (D)

Everton. Extremely lucky to get the win against West Ham, but a first win of the season was due, the three points just reward for the recent improvement in performances. As I have said before, if the Toffees are to come out on top in a relegation scrap, having Conor Coady and James Tarkwoski is as good as a centre-back pairing that Frank Lampard can wish for. (A)

Fulham. A first away win to add to their already brilliant start to the season. Fulham were deserved winners at the City Ground, made even more impressive by the fact that they won without Mitrovic scoring. Also, exactly how did Fulham persuade Joao Palhinha to join them? (A)

Leicester. Even during the catastrophic thrashing at Spurs, there were moments in the first half where Leicester’s attacking play was a joy to watch. But all of that is nullified by the defensive shambles they currently represent. That’s 11 goals conceded in their last two games and I can only see that metric getting worse, unless something changes during the international break. (F)

Manchester City. There was a brief period in the second half at Molineux where the champions were unsettled, but that trident of De Bruyne, Foden and Haaland is simply purring right now, making it hard for any opposition to live with City for too long. (A)

Newcastle. An exhibition in hitting the woodwork. The Magpies had more than enough chances to win comfortably against Bournemouth, but for all the buzz created with their quality of play, Eddie Howe’s men go into the international break with only one league win to show for their efforts. The boos at full time were harsh in my opinion, but I also understand the frustration at St. James Park. (D)

Nottingham Forest. That’s six goals conceded in back-to-back home games against fellow promoted sides. That’s two matches lost at home after taking the lead against fellow promoted sides. Steve Cooper needs a functioning defence pronto. (F)

Southampton. I think I prefer the Saints being unpredictable and a bit crazy than just plain nondescript. (E)

Tottenham. A perfect riposte to their midweek low in Europe. Spurs didn’t really play with control in the first half when the Foxes went toe-to-toe with them, but scoring six is always a shot in the arm and Son’s hat trick felt especially cathartic. Conte’s men go into the break unbeaten in the league. Can’t remember the last time Spurs had such a start to the season. (A)

West Ham. It might seem bizarre to say this about a team in the relegation zone, but I just can’t explain how the Hammers didn’t win at Goodison. They were on top throughout and played some truly delightful football, but somehow didn’t score. It’s easy to be negative, but I think West Ham are playing well enough to go on a good run in the league soon. (B)

Wolves. The red card against City was always going to make this an uphill task, but even Pep Guardiola was forced to admit that Wolves were more likely to score in the second half before his side scored the third goal. That speaks well of the desire and application that Bruno Lage is still able to get from his men, but the goals can’t come soon enough. (C)

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