Premier League Review – Matchday Two
Saturday 21st August, 2021
Liverpool 2 Burnley 0
Of course, the TV made a massive fuss about the return of fans (a full house) to Anfield, and of course they gave precedence to YNWA! Jordan Henderson returned for Liverpool and Harvey Elliott (who once abused Harry Kane on Twitter) was given a first Premier League start. For Burnley, Brownhill and Barnes replaced Westwood and Rodriguez. Burnley's starting line-up wore the squad numbers one to eleven. (See this article for some relevant history).
The 97th Hillsborough victim - Andrew Devine - who died in July from his life-threatening injuries suffered in 1989 - was remembered before kick-off.
McNeil had a shot cleared off the line by Alexander-Arnold, but there was a delayed offside flag anyway. Burnley, who beat Liverpool at Anfield last season, were frustrating the home team and fans and Alisson had to flap away a near post header by Wood after a McNeil cross. However, Jota gave Liverpool an 18th minute lead when he headed home a cross by Tsimikas. This goal was scored in front of The Kop.
Alisson had to save again from the lively McNeil. Pope made a confident save from Salah, diving to his right. Salah thought he had made it 2-0 in the 26th minute when he received a pass from Elliot and beat Pope with a curling shot across goal. VAR called him offside.
Mane went close in front of goal after receiving from Alexander-Arnold, but he met the ball with his shin and fired over.
Ashley Barnes fired home in the first minute of the second half, but he was offside. Mane wanted a corner when Van Dijk's shot seemed to be deflected by Ben Mee, but goal-kick was the decision. Salah then went close after receiving a good cross by Elliot, but his effort was blocked. Pope somehow managed to save Mane's shot after 61 minutes, and the goalkeeper cleanly held the resulting corner. After another corner and a left-foot cross by Alexander-Arnold, Mane's soft header was easily saved.
Mane did score at last in the 69th minute following a good move from the back. Van Dijk passed long to Elliot who passed inside to Alexander-Arnold. The right back lifted a short ball into the area where Mane scored with power and accuracy with a right foot shot.
Pope held a shot by Alexander-Arnold after 83 minutes, and although Liverpool dominated possession and chances, they could not increase their lead. Burnley tried hard to get back in the game, but the closest they came was in the dying throes of the game when Alisson saved well from Ashley Barnes.
Burnley established a Premier League record for the most consecutive matches without receiving a red card (95). This is one more than Ipswich Town’s previous record of 94 matches. (Courtesy of Declan Mulcahy)
Aston Villa 2 Newcastle United 0
Danny Ings scored a sensational late first half goal to send Villa on their way to their first win of the season and leave Steve Bruce’s side in the doldrums yet again. Callum Wilson got the better of Mings after 5 minutes but put his shot wide when he had only the keeper to beat. Mings wanted a foul but had no joy from the referee. There had been few chances, but Ings scored in first half added time with a superb scissor kick from 12 yards.
Villa were awarded a second half penalty after VAR reviewed the blocking of a Mings header which followed a corner. A handball was spotted, and El Ghazi converted from the spot in the 72nd minute. Fifteen minutes from time Wilson raced into the area for Willock’s ball and Martinez raced out and collided with the Newcastle striker. Referee David Coote awarded a penalty and booked Martinez, but VAR found that Wilson had been offside, so there was no penalty.
Crystal Palace 0 Brentford 0
There was plenty of colour at Selhurst Park with the red and blue flags being waved vigorously before kick-off, but Patrick Vieira’s side has yet to show any sparkle, leaving the home fans disappointed. Conor Gallagher had a bright start though, taking a return pass from Zaha before hitting the woodwork at the corner of the goal with a good shot. Gallagher was on loan at West Brom last season and has been loaned again by Chelsea. Toney hit a left foot shot just wide at the other end. Brentford had a free kick after 39 minutes, taken from the right of the box by Mbeumo whose shot rolled off the top of the bar. Guaita had to save from Onyeka in first half added time.
Brentford started the second half well too, with Guaita punching away Toney’s effort from a corner. Benteke headed over at the other end from a cross by Ward. Toney had another chance from a corner, but also headed over. McArthur had the best chance after 69 minutes, receiving from Zaha but seeing his shot tipped over by goalkeeper Raya.
Leeds United 2 Everton 2
There was entertainment and excitement galore at Elland Road, hosting a full house for the first time since their return to the top flight. The match was preceded by respect for a host of Covid victims and quite a number of Leeds legends who have passed away in the last two years.
Calvert-Lewin was denied a penalty when he was held back trying to reach Digne’s cross, but after viewing the pitch-side monitor referee Darren England pointed to the spot. The offender Liam Cooper was shown a yellow card too. Calvert-Lewin scored off a short run up in the 30th minute and had his second goal of the season. Klich scored an equaliser in front of his ecstatic fans in the 41st minute, receiving a short pass from Bamford. Doucoure had a low shot saved at the other end by Meslier.
Five minutes into the second half, Doucoure provided the assist with a pass to the left of the area where bargain purchase Demarai Gray (once of Leicester) scored with a left foot strike across the keeper. Soon after, Gray passed inside to Calvert-Lewin whose close-range shot was just about held by Meslier. Meslier saved well from Calvert-Lewin rushing out to the striker’s feet after Iwobi’s pass. Raphinha equalised with a sensational left foot strike from the right edge of the box, following a Leeds corner. (72 mins)
Manchester City 5 Norwich City 0
City bounced back from their opening defeat at Tottenham in emphatic style. Norwich have had the most difficult start to their programme against Liverpool and City and already have an 8-goal deficit to contemplate. Pep Guardiola made 5 changes to his side, which saw the return of Walker, Laporte, Bernardo Silva and Rodri. Jack Grealish made his home debut. Norwich’s starting line-up was unchanged.
The first goal came in the seventh minute following a low powerful cross from the right by Jesus which was first intercepted by Hanley but went into the net of Krul who was “credited” with the own goal. It looked as if City had doubled their score through Torres, but referee Graham Scott was called to the monitor and awarded Norwich a free kick for a foul in the build-up, much to the relief of the aggrieved Daniel Farke. It was 2-0 in the 22nd minute, and Grealish had his first City goal. There was not too much deliberation about it though as Jesus’s cross (again from the right of the area) basically bounced in off Grealish’s thigh.
It took city until the 64th minute to increase their lead and secure the win. The goal followed a Gundogan corner from the left and Laporte scored with a well-placed shot inside Krul’s left post. Raheem Sterling had come off the bench and he made it 4-0 in the 71st minute had receiving another Jesus cross to score with an easy finish. Another sub – Mahrez - completed the rout after 84 minutes collecting Ruben Dias’s lifted ball into the box, before firing past Krul.
The performance and result puts Spurs’ excellent win last week into perspective.
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Watford 0
The “Seagulls” have maximum points from their opening two games. Last season it took Graham Potter’s men 8 games to reach that number. Brighton had a corner after 10 minutes and Shane Duffy scored his first goal since returning from his season-long loan at Celtic. He scored with a header which went in off the underside of the bar to the right of the keeper. Brighton’s second goal came after Watford’s mistake when they tried to play out from the back. Bissouma seized the ball and set up Maupay for a 41st minute finish.
Watford were not at the races today and Aaron Connolly missed a chance to make it 3-0 when Gross’s cross rebounded to his feet. All Watford had to show for their efforts was a Cleverley shot saved by Sanchez and a Hernandez effort going over the target. Duffy had another header from a corner cleared and Gross had a low shot well saved by Bachmann at his left post.
Sunday 22nd August, 2021
Southampton 1 Manchester United 1
After last week’s 5-1 win against Leeds and Southampton’s defeat at Goodison Park, most people (me included) would have fancied United to win this game. It did not work out that way. Southampton were unchanged from last week, and captain James Ward-Prose has this week signed a new long-term deal. United’s high-profile signings Varane and Sancho were on the bench. United played in an unusual blue and yellow strip. Once upon a time, you’ll remember they changed what was considered an unlucky grey strip during this fixture.
Southampton kicked off and within a minute had a free kick when Adams was fouled. Ward-Prowse stepped up and tested De Gea with his shot, bringing a save at the keeper’s right post. Fred was fouled five minutes later at the other end and after that free kick by Fernandes, Harry Maguire’s effort landed on the bar and rebounded before Martial’s effort was somehow successfully blocked on the line by Salisu.
The United defence was looking shoddy after half an hour and it looked as if Che Adams had beaten De Gea with his shot, but it was an own goal by the unfortunate Fred. Bruno Fernandes was convinced he had been fouled by Stephens in the build-up, but the referee and VAR said “No”. Needless to say, Solskjaer had something to say about that decision after the game too. 18-year-old right back Tino Livramento, signed this summer from Chelsea, made an exciting lung-bursting run from deep in his own half, but his cross into the danger zone was too far ahead of another signing Adam Armstrong.
United levelled the scores after 55 minutes. Bruno Fernandes was involved twice in the move which ended with Greenwood’s shot which took a touch off Salisu and did enough to put off McCarthy in goal. Sancho came on for Martial. Pogba went close after good skill in the area, confusing four defenders, before he hit a shot just wide across the goal. Greenwood headed Fred’s short ball just over the bar. Fernandes headed quite powerfully towards goal after a cross by Wan-Bissaka, but McCarthy saved. Maguire was slack in his own half and that led to a big chance for Armstrong and an equally big save by De Gea.
Despite only getting a draw, United did beat the Premier League record for the number of away matches undefeated which now stands at 27.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Spurs 1
Hugo Lloris, making his 300th premier League appearance, won your man of the match vote for his competence in goal, where, in truth, he only had one save of note to make, which was the one-on-one against Traore. Spurs are being strongly linked with an initial loan (then transfer) bid for the Wolves pace-man, clearly much-admired by his former coach. We have to wait and see regarding that, and of course the Harry Kane situation.
Thanks again for your comments, which I shall try to include in these reports on future occasions.
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2
Oh dear! Arsenal have made their worst start for 75 years apparently. They have yet to score a goal. Next weekend they play Manchester City away. Oh dear!
Romelu Lukaku made his first Premier League debut for Chelsea 10 years ago, almost to the day. That was against Norwich. He didn’t score though and had to wait till the end of the season for a Premier League start. Lukaku’s first Chelsea goal was scored today on his second debut after being signed for not much less than City paid for Jack Grealish. Reece James came into the Chelsea side, along with Havertz. Havertz replaced Pulisic who has tested Covid-positive and Chalobah made way for James.
Arsenal missed their £50 million centre-back Ben White, who was having to isolate due to Covid. Whilst Aubameyang has tested negative, he was on the bench. Arteta played Martinelli up front, supported by Pepe, Smith-Rowe and Saka. Another new signing, goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, was on the Arsenal bench.
Lukaku’s goal came in the 15th minute. He had held up, then passed the ball back to Kovacic who found James on the right. Lukaku made his run and indicated to James he would like the cross. James obliged and Lukaku finished from close range. It was 2-0 inside 35 minutes and this time James scored himself after receiving Mount’s pass. This was all too easy for Chelsea, who will be genuine money-no-object title contenders along with Manchester City.
All Arsenal had to show for their first half efforts was an early Smith-Rowe shot, comfortably held by Mendy, and a late penalty appeal when James and Saka collided. VAR supported Paul Tierney’s no penalty decision.
Mendy had to tip over a deflected Saka shot in the second half when the Emirates was subject to some heavy rain. (We had sun at Molineux – just saying!) Holding headed wide following a corner with Mendy well beaten. Lukaku had a powerful 77th minute header sensationally saved by Leno whose touch was enough to push the ball up to the bar and away from goal. Leno also had to save from Havertz four minutes from the end.
Because they are not in Europe, Arsenal have a tricky away League Cup game against West Brom to play before their trip to The Etihad.
Monday 23rd August, 2021
West Ham United 4 Leicester City 1
Both teams were unchanged from their opening game, and both were seeking a second win which could take them into the early top four. The London Stadium was hosting a full house for the first time since February 2020. Leicester were missing new signings Bertrand and Vestergaard, along with Evans and Fofana at the back.
Leicester played towards their fans in the first half, but West Ham kicked off. Leicester had the best of the early possession, but it was Benrahma who forced the first save of note with a shot which had Schmeichel diving to his left after 5 minutes.
Antonio had a powerful run, leaving Ndidi behind before hitting a shot from 20 yards which passed wide. West Ham had offered most threat and took the lead in the 26th minute. Vardy had failed to control a pass just inside the West Ham half and "The Hammers" took advantage with Benrahma passing into the danger zone from the left and Fornals putting a left foot shot beyond Schmeichel’s reach. Soucek went close two minutes later with a header from the right of goal.
Bowen won and took a corner after 34 minutes, which was headed wide by Dawson. Ayoze Perez was sent off in the 40th minute by referee Michael Oliver, who initially showed no card, but saw that the challenge was dangerous (upon Fornals) on the pitch-side monitor. Leicester were rattled and needed Brendan Rodgers' half-time talk to settle them down.
West Ham piled on the pressure early in the second half with Soucek going close and Schmeichel having to push away Antonio's header. Soyunci committed football hari-kari in the 56th minute, misjudging an intended pass inside to Schmeichel. Instead, the ball went to Antonio who teed up Benrahma in the middle to fire home.
Benrahma and Antonio attacked in tandem again and Schmeichel had to make a good save from Antonio. From the resulting corner, Cresswell fired over. Leicester had a goal back after 69 minutes. Vardy and Maddison made progress down the left flank. Maddison's pass reached Tielemans, whose first effort was blocked but fell back to him, enabling him to score. This was Leicester’s first shot on target since the first half of their previous game against Wolves.
The points were sealed in the 80th minute by Antonio, who swivelled on Rice's cross and hit a rocket shot past Schmeichel. Antonio thus moved ahead of Paolo Di Canio as West Ham's top Premier League scorer with 48 goals. Antonio had a second goal four minutes later. Coufal crossed from the right and after one clever touch which beat two defenders, the goal was at Antonio's mercy. He will have to wait for his 50th Premier League goal though, as he was substituted to a standing ovation.
The margin of the win put "The Hammers" top of the fledgling league table. They are away to Palace on Saturday.
Fixtures and results - 21-23.08.21
Saturday 21st August, 2021
Liverpool 2-0 Burnley
A. Villa 2-0 Newcastle
C. Palace 0-0 Brentford
Leeds 2-2 Everton
Man City 5-0 Norwich
Brighton 2-0 Watford
Sunday 22nd August, 2021
S'hampton 1-1 Man Utd
Wolves 0-1 Spurs
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea
Monday 23rd August, 2021
West Ham 4-1 Leicester
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. West Ham 2 2 0 0 8-3 5 6
2. Chelsea 2 2 0 0 5-0 5 6
3. Liverpool 2 2 0 0 5-0 5 6
4. Brighton 2 2 0 0 4-1 3 6
5. Spurs 2 2 0 0 2-0 2 6
6. Man Utd 2 1 1 0 6-2 4 4
7. Everton 2 1 1 0 5-3 2 4
8. Brentford 2 1 1 0 2-0 2 4
9. Man City 2 1 0 1 5-1 4 3
10. A. Villa 2 1 0 1 4-3 1 3
11. Watford 2 1 0 1 3-4 -1 3
12. Leicester 2 1 0 1 2-4 -2 3
13. S'hampton 2 0 1 1 2-4 -2 1
14. C. Palace 2 0 1 1 0-3 -3 1
15. Leeds 2 0 1 1 3-7 -4 1
16. Wolves 2 0 0 2 0-2 -2 0
17. Burnley 2 0 0 2 1-4 -3 0
18. Newcastle 2 0 0 2 2-6 -4 0
19. Arsenal 2 0 0 2 0-4 -4 0
20. Norwich 2 0 0 2 0-8 -8 0