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Premier League

Premier League Matchday 8: The good, bad and bizarre

Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton played at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester on 15th October 2016 / Football - Premier League 2016/17 Manchester City v Everton Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Rd, Manchester, United Kingdom 15 October 2016 (Photo by BPI/Imago/Icon Sportswire)
(BPI/Imago/Icon Sportswire)

Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad, and the bizarre.

The Premier League has finished up its eighth week of play. Manchester City dropped points for a second straight week as they had to settle for a draw at home to Everton, while Tottenham saved a late draw on the road against WBA. At the bottom of the table, Stoke recorded their first win of the season as they defeated Sunderland after two goals by Joe Allen. Here’s a full rundown of what happened over the weekend.

Chelsea Dominates Leicester

What Happened: Chelsea took a convincing 3-0 victory over champions Leicester City on Saturday at Stamford Bridge after goals by Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses.

Chelsea sticked with the 3-4-3 formation that worked so well against Hull City before the international break, and it turned into a very dominant performance against the reigning champions. Diego Costa opened up the scoring in the seventh minute, after the Spanish international slipped away from his marker Wes Morgan on a set piece, allowing him to put the ball into the back of the net from close range.

Eden Hazard showed fine form for Belgium in the World Cup qualifiers, and he looked to have bottled it as he made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Leicester were toothless going forward, leaving Thibaut Courtois to have a nice uneventful afternoon in net. The Foxes changed their formation for the second half, and looked a little better, but it failed to translate to any real scoring chances, as they failed to get a single shot in target. Victor Moses, who has had a good run as wingback, capped off the scoring in the 80th minute after a nice give and go with Nat Chalobah.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea looks a lot more confident at the back after switching to the three central defenders, and David Luiz had his best game since returning from PSG. Two clean sheets in a row will surely please manager Antonio Conte, and on the attacking end they are showing good promise with Costa scoring his sixth league goal of the season. Alarm bells should be starting to ring for Leicester. After having lost just three games last year on their way to the title, the Foxes have already lost four games this season.

City Held To Draw By Everton

What Happened: Maarten Stekelenburg had a phenomenal game in net for Everton as the Toffees held league leaders Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The Dutchman saved two penalties along with a string of other good saves to earn Everton a point. City dominated the first half, and was given a golden opportunity to take the lead just a couple of minutes before halftime when they were awarded their first penalty of the game. Kevin De Bruyne was back from injury and stepped up for City, but his effort was saved by Stekelenburg.

Instead it was Everton that took the lead against the run of play in the 64th minute when Romelu Lukaku scored his sixth league goal of the season. City got their second penalty in the 70th minute, but Sergio Aguero failed to score as Stekelenburg guessed the right way to dive and made the save. Nolito finally got City on the scoresheet in the 72nd minute with his third league goal of the season, putting a deft header into the back of the net from close range after a nice cross by David Silva. City pushed for the win, but Everton withstood the barrage.

Seb’s Take: There was some questions ahead of the game if City would be able to bounce back with a win after suffering defeat to Tottenham just before the international break. They had troubles beating teams in the top six last season, and we are starting to see signs of that again this season.

Bournemouth Smashes Hull

What Happened: Bournemouth scored a club-record six goals against Hull City on Saturday as the Cherries took a 6-1 win at the Vitality Stadium.

Bournemouth took command of the game early in the opening half, with Charlie Daniels finding the back of the net with a thunderous strike in the fifth minute. Ryan Mason tied things up in the 34th minute, but after that it was all Bournemouth. Steve Cook retook the lead for the home side in the 41st minute and before the half was over, Junior Stanislas had made it 3-1 from the penalty spot.

Bournemouth had 10 shots on target and got a great return on their scoring chances. Stanislas netted his second of the game in the 65th minute to make it 4-1. Hull were abysmal at the back, and Mike Phelan will be having nightmares about his first game as permanent Hull manager. Callum Wilson made it 5-1 in the 83rd minute before Dan Gosling capped off the scoring with two minutes remaining of regular time.

Seb’s Take: It was an amazing result for Bournemouth and treating the fans to a club-record scoring match will surely lift the spirit of the supporters. Hull had a decent start to the season, but has fallen off the map a bit in their last couple of matches. Phelan has his work cut out for him if he wants to stay on as permanent manager for longer than the rest of the season.

Arsenal Holds On To Beat Swans

What Happened: Arsenal managed to hold on for a 3-2 win over Swansea City on Saturday, despite going down to 10 men with 20 minutes to go.

Arsenal looked to be cruising to a nice and comfortable victory, as two goals from Theo Walcott in the 26th and 33rd minute put the Gunners up 2-0. Swansea pulled one back through Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson in the 38th minute.

Mesut Ozil, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Saturday, made it 3-1 in the 57th minute before Borja Baston scored his first Premier League goal for Swansea to make it 3-2. Xhaka was sent off in the 70th minute after bringing down Modou Barrow from behind as the Gambian international was flying down the sideline. Swansea pushed on for an equalizer but Arsenal managed to hang on for the win and move into second place in the standings, level on points with leaders Manchester City.

Seb’s Take: Bob Bradley’s debut as Swansea manager ended in defeat, but he shouldn’t be too downhearted by the loss. He still has ample time to work with the side and get them into safety. Arsenal will take the three points and played extremely well in the opening half.

Stoke Takes First Win Of The Season

What Happened: Stoke picked up a 2-0 win at home over Sunderland on Saturday, recording their first victory of the season in the league and leaving Sunderland as the lone team without a win.

Joe Allen was the hero of the day for Stoke, who has struggled at the start of the season, scoring both goals for the home side. Despite having a good team on paper and coming off a good season last year, the Potters found themselves sitting second from the bottom heading into Matchday 8. Allen opened up the scoring in the eighth minute and added a second in stoppage time in the first half.

Sunderland is stuck at the bottom of the table with a mere two points in eight games.

Seb’s Take: Things are looking bleak for Sunderland. New manager David Moyes is off to an awful start and it’s no surprise that he’s the favorite to get sacked when checking the odds. Despite bringing in a lot of new players to bolster the squad that just barely avoided relegation last season, nothing has gone according to plan. Stoke has some quality in the side, and they’re poor start to the season has raised a few eyebrows.

Tottenham Saves Late Draw

What Happened: Tottenham managed to grab a point on the road against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday after a late goal by Dele Alli.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, and it could be seen as two points drop for Tottenham in the race at the top of the table, but WBA are strong at home and love boring teams to death with their destructive brand of football. It worked initially against Tottenham, as the Baggies clogged things up in the middle of the pitch.

WBA took the lead in the 82nd minute when Nacer Chadli smashed home a rebound from Hugo Lloris on a corner. Alli came up big for Spurs with one minute remaining of regular time and saved a point.

Seb’s Take: WBA have shown on numerous occasions that they are difficult to beat, but with Manchester City dropping points against Everton, Tottenham had the chance to go top of the table. Instead they had to settle for one point and with the parity in the league, those two points could prove costly.

West Ham Edges Out Palace

What Happened: West Ham managed to snap their five-game winless streak in the league by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in the London derby at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Manuel Lanzini scored the lone goal of the game in the 19th minute. The Argentine midfielder met a low cross by Aaron Cresswell inside the penalty box and guided the ball past Steve Mandanda in the Palace net. The home side got a golden opportunity to equalize right before halftime when they were awarded a penalty. But Christian Benteke sent the ball high and wide from the spot, much to the delight of the away supporters. West Ham held on for the win, despite going down to 10 men with 15 minutes remaining of the second half when Cresswell picked up two yellow card in the span of a minute.

Seb’s Take: West Ham looked a lot better, and it seems like the international break gave them some time to regroup. The team has a lot of quality and has been the biggest disappointment so far this season. Palace is enjoying another good start to the season, just like last year, and it’s up to Alan Pardew to make sure that they don’t suffer the same freefall as they did last season.

Watford Pulls Out Win Over Middlesbrough

What Happened: Watford managed to snag a 1-0 win over newcomers Middlesbrough at Riverside on Sunday after a goal by Jose Holebas.

Middlesbrough dominated possession and seemed the more likely to score, but it was Watford that nicked the lone goal of the game after a dire first half. Holebas unleashed a shot that seemed to come out of nowhere in the 54th minute that beat Victor Valdes in the Middlesbrough net.

The win gave Watford a good start after the international break after failing to win their last two league games against Bournemouth and Burnley. Middlesbrough hasn’t won since Matchday 2, and has only picked up two points in their last six matches.

Seb’s Take: It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the shot by Holebas was phenomenal and turned out to be all that was needed for Watford in order to take a much-needed win. Middlesbrough tries and tries, but are having trouble to create enough in the final third of the pitch.

Austin Scores Brace In Southampton Win

What Happened: Southampton picked up a 3-1 win over newcomers Burnley at St. Mary’s Stadium on Sunday, with striker Charlie Austin scoring a brace.

After a scoreless first half, Southampton snagged three goals in the span of 14 minutes in the second half. Austin opened up the scoring in the 52nd minute with a real mucky goal where he forced the ball into the net from close range. Nathan Redmond made it 2-0 in the 60th minute with his second goal of the season before Austin made it 3-0 from the penalty spot in the 66th minute.

Burnley pulled one back through Sam Vokes from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute, but Burnley was nowhere near to get anything out of this fixture. The newcomers are still to pick up an away win, and Vokes’ goal was the first scored away from Turf Moor this season for the Clarets.

Seb’s Take: Southampton are extremely sound defensively and came into the game with six straight clean sheets in all competitions. As long as they can get some offensive production from guys like Austin and Redmond they should be able to stay in the conversation for a Europa League spot. Burnley looks a bit too weak, and they will hope that they can rack up enough points at home to have a fighting chance to avoid relegation.

Stalemate Between Liverpool & Man United

What Happened: The hyped up match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on Monday ended in a scoreless draw.

United looked the better side in the first half and had a couple of half chances. The Red Devils managed to control the tempo of the game and pressed Liverpool high up the pitch, keeping them from turning up the pace. Liverpool took over in the second half, and David De Gea had to make a couple of big saves to keep United in the game and earn a point.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the match that he didn’t like the performance from his team, and that the clean sheet was the only positive thing he could think of.

Seb’s Take: The game surely didn’t live up to the expectations, and it was clear that United played more not to lose than to win. They didn’t really push Loris Karius to make any big saves. Neither side will feel too downhearted, but it feels like the game should have been so much more.

The Good: Chelsea

Manager Antonio Conte gave the 4-2-4 formation an honest shot, but decided to implement the 3-4-3 formation, which is something he’s more familiar with from his time with the Italian national team and Juventus. Although those sides played more of a 3-5-2 at times, it’s clear that he chose to do the right thing putting three players at the center of defense and play with wing-backs. They were dominant in the 3-0 win over Leicester and didn’t let the reigning champions get a single shot on target.

The Bad: Hull City

It’s never acceptable to let in six goals. What made Hull’s 6-1 defeat to Bournemouth hurt a little bit extra was the fact that it was Mike Phelan’s first game in charge after he finally got his wish to become the permanent manager of the Tigers. He spoke ahead of the game that it was important for the side to come together etc. and instead we saw the exact opposite. Phelan’s contract runs until the end of the season, but if Hull continues its downward spiral, he might be out of a job a lot sooner than that.

The Bizarre: Aaron Cresswell getting sent off

Cresswell was finally back on the pitch for West Ham after coming back from an injury he sustained in the preseason. The left wing-back had a good game and provided Manuel Lanzini with the assist on the lone goal of the game against Crystal Palace. But his return was cut short after he received two ridiculous yellow cards by referee Martin Atkinson in the span of a minute to get himself sent off in the 75th minute. First he was deemed to have simulated inside the penalty area, which upon review was clearly not the case. He then got a second card for a perfectly good challenge down the wing against Wilfried Zaha.

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