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Premier League

Premier League Matchday 9: The good, bad and bizarre

Stamford Bridge, London, England. Premier League Football. Chelsea versus Manchester United. Chelsea Midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates making it 3-0 (Photo by Mark Kerton/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)
(Mark Kerton/Actionplus/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 finished up its ninth week of play. Manchester City dropped points again as they were held to a draw by Southampton, while Chelsea played Manchester United off the pitch in Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge. Here’s a full rundown of what happened over the weekend.

 

Bournemouth Holds Tottenham To Scoreless Draw

What Happened: Bournemouth did well to keep Tottenham Hotspur of the scoresheet on Saturday as the game at the Vitality Stadium ended in a scoreless draw.

Bournemouth had a strong showing on Matchday 8 when they put six past Hull City. But against Tottenham they had to focus on the defensive effort as Spurs is a dangerous side going forward. The Cherries did a great job of keeping up with the frenetic pace of the game. Tottenham had the majority of the ball, but were unable to break down the Bournemouth defense.

The point was well earned, and took Bournemouth up to 10th place, while Tottenham slipped down to fifth.

Seb’s Take: Spurs are coming off two straight draws, and they will be very happy that Harry Kane is getting closer and closer to making his return from injury, as they are significantly weaker without their top goalscorer.

 

Burnley Pulls Out Late Win

What Happened: Newcomers Burnley managed to grab all three points against Everton on Saturday at Turf Moor after a late winner by Scott Arfield.

Sam Vokes gave the Clarets the lead in the 39th minute with his third league goal of the season. The Welsh international showed good awareness to pounce on a rebound and slot the ball into the back of the net from close range. Yannick Bolasie scored his first goal for Everton since joining the club from Crystal Palace, as he tied things up in the 58th minute after breaking into the penalty area and unleashing a low and hard shot that beat Tom Heaton in the Burnley net.

It looked like the game would end in a draw, but Scott Arfield managed to find a winner for the home side in stoppage time to earn Burnley a much-needed three points.

Seb’s Take: With 10 points in nine matches, Burnley are on pace to grab just enough points to be able to stay up. With their away form being anything but good, getting points ahead at Turf Moor is vital for the Clarets.

 

Arsenal Held To Draw

What Happened: Arsenal were held to a scoreless draw against newcomers Middlesbrough at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners were coming off a 6-0 thrashing of Ludogorets in the Champions League, and many thought it would be a similar story on Saturday as they were taking on a Middlesbrough side coming into the game on a six game winless streak. Arsenal had several chances, but seemed to have burned all the powder in their artillery against Ludogorets. Victor Valdes made six saves in the game for the newcomers, who had a mere 26 percent of the ball possession throughout the whole match.

For Middlesbrough it was a bonus point, as they never really expected to get anything from the match, and they will just hope they can scrape together enough points to stay up this season.

Seb’s Take: It was a missed opportunity for Arsenal who could have gone top of the table, as both Manchester City and Tottenham ended up dropping points. Arsene Wenger said after the game that fatigue could have played a part in the poor performance, but even if that’s the case, they should be able to take care of business at home against a newcomer.

 

Shaqiri Coming Up Big For Stoke

What Happened: Stoke City took their second win in a row thanks to a double salvo by Xherdan Shaqiri in the 2-0 victory over Hull City.

Stoke have picked up some much-needed points in the past two weeks, as they’ve picked up wins over Sunderland and Hull, after struggling at the start of the season. Against Hull, Shaqiri stepped up and showed the quality that is in the side. The Swiss international opened up the scoring in the 26th minute with a cracking long-range effort. He then added a second in the 50th minute with a phenomenal free-kick.

The win took the Potters out of the relegation zone and up to 16th place. Hull are in a bad run of form, having suffered four straight losses.

Seb’s Take: Stoke has some quality players in Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic, Joe Allen, and Wilfried Bony. It’s been a bit surprising to see them struggle this much. The wins over Sunderland and Hull gives them something to build on, as they should be aiming to get much higher up in the standings.

 

Leicester Snaps Three-Game Winless Streak

What Happened: Reigning champions Leicester City recorded their first league win in just over a month, as the Foxes defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Leicester’s has been in fine form in the Champions League, where they have picked up three straight wins. In the Premier League though, things haven’t gone as well. They did manage to get the win over visiting Crystal Palace after a couple of really nice goals.

Ahmed Musa opened up the scoring in the 42nd minute with a rocket from just outside the penalty area. It was the first goal in the Leicester shirt for the Nigerian international since his move from CSKA Moscow this summer. Shinji Okazaki made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute with his first goal of the season, before Christian Fuchs made it 3-0 in the 80th minute with his first goal for the club. Palace pulled one back through Yohan Cabaye five minutes from time.

Seb’s Take: Leicester desperately needed to break their funky spell in the league, and the win over Palace saw them move into 12th place. They have enough quality to challenge for a Europa League spot, but it’s understandable that they will put focus on the Champions League, as it seems very unlikely that they would be able to finish in the Top 4 this season.

 

Bradley Picks Up First Point As Swansea Manager

What Happened: Bob Bradley got his first point as Swansea City manager on Saturday, as his side played a scoreless draw against Watford at the Liberty Stadium.

The Swans created some good scoring opportunities, but were unable to beat Heurelho Gomes in the Watford goal. The point was Bob Bradley’s first since taking over from Francesco Guidolin as Swansea boss. The New Jersey native is the first U.S. manager in the Premier League, and will look to get the Swans out of the relegation zone. They currently sit second from the bottom with 5 points, so Bradley will look to start picking up some wins to get the team to safety. Watford are doing just fine and sits in 9th place with 12 points.  

Seb’s Take: Swansea needs to start getting some wins and at least put themselves in a situation where they can go out on the transfer market in January and try to add a piece or two to make sure that they can pick up enough points to survive. They have a class player in Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the Icelandic star has been a bit unlucky this season.

 

West Ham Edges Out Sunderland

What Happened: West Ham United grabbed a 1-0 win over bottom of the table Sunderland on Saturday at the London Stadium after a late goal by Winston Reid.

The Hammers have struggled at the start of the season, and have been one of the biggest disappointments so far. They broke their bad run last weekend with a win over Crystal Palace, and now they have two straight 1-0 victories. Reid found the winner in the 94th minute with a strike from outside the penalty area that managed to go through a slew of players and in behind Jordan Pickford.

Sunderland are stuck at the bottom of the standings, and are still without a win in league play this season.

Seb’s Take: West Ham are slowly starting to find their way and look more like the team we saw last season. Dimitri Payet is still the key for this team, and he’s yet to get up to the level of the 2015/16 campaign. Sunderland is a wreck, and they seem destined for relegation.

 

Liverpool Hold Out To Pick Up Win Over WBA

What Happened: Liverpool managed to hold on for a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool had a comfortable first half that saw them go up 2-0 after goals by Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho. The Reds had a heavy advantage in possession, and WBA were unable to shut up shop like they did for most of the game against Tottenham last week. In the second half, the visitors started to push up the field and got within one with nine minutes to go after a goal by Gareth McAuley. WBA tried to goal all out and grab the equalizer, but Liverpool managed to hold on for the win.

The three points took Liverpool into 3rd place, as they are level on points (20) with leaders Manchester City and second-placed Arsenal.

Seb’s Take: Liverpool found a way to break through a very defensive-minded team, something they were unable to do against Manchester United on Matchday 8. Manager Jurgen Klopp is slowly turning Liverpool into a very dangerous side, and if they can find a level of consistency, then they could definitely put up a title challenge.

 

Man City Held To Draw By Southampton

What Happened: Manchester City dropped points for a third straight league game, as the league leaders had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home against Southampton.

City is on a poor run, having failed to win any of their last five games in all competitions. Against Southampton, they fell behind in the 27th minute after a good strike by Nathan Redmond as he made the most of an errant backpass by John Stones and rounded goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

City found an equalizer in the second half through Kelechi Iheanacho, who replaced Kevin De Bruyne at halftime. The 20-year-old Nigerian international has three league goals in seven appearances (three starts) and is showing more and more that he’s ready to challenge for a starting spot.

With the point, City are level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool, but remains at the top as they have a better goal differential.  

Seb’s Take: Just like last season, City has been having trouble against other teams towards the top of the standings. They had a fairly easy schedule to start off the season, and now they will have to show that they are made of. A lot of it falls on manager Pep Guardiola, who said after the match that he isn’t worried about the dip in form.

 

Chelsea Dominates Man United

What Happened: Chelsea picked up a dominant 4-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge ended in total disaster for the former Chelsea boss. The Blues got off to the perfect start as Pedro scored the opening goal for the home side after just 30 second. Gary Cahill doubled the lead in the 21st minute to give Chelsea a comfortable 2-0 lead at halftime. Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante scored in the second half to complete the humiliation of Mourinho.

It was a class performance by Chelsea, and United never had a chance in this one. Coming off a very dire showing against Liverpool on Matchday 8, United once again played a poor game. Chelsea picked up their third straight win, and clean sheet, since switching over to a 3-4-3 formation.

Seb’s Take: United were horrible at the back, and lacked creativity going forward. Mourinho has been heavily criticized, and rightfully so. Chelsea looks like they have found their way under Antonio Conte, who made the right move switching to the 3-4-3.

 

The Good: Chelsea

After making the switch to a 3-4-3 formation, Chelsea has been looking strong at the back, and lethal going forward. With three straight wins and three clean sheets in the process, there’s no doubt that manager Antonio Conte made the right decision. Eden Hazard looks more and more like the player who won the PFA Player of the Year award two seasons ago, and Diego Costa is finding the back of the net again.

The Bad: Jose Mourinho

When Mourinho was picking up titles, you could defend his style of play. But after the debacle last season with Chelsea, and the way his Manchester United career has started, it seems like the game has passed Mourinho by. With offensive-minded coaches like Mauricio Pochettino, Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp in the league, Mourinho’s defensive style doesn’t seem to fit United’s philosophy, and it could turn out to be another mistake hiring by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

The Bizarre: David Moyes

The Sunderland manager took over a side that barely escaped relegation last season. Despite making 10 signings over the summer, Moyes’ side sits at the bottom of the table, and is yet to pick up a win. Ahead of the weekend’s loss to West Ham, Moyes said he was hoping that his side can get enough points to still be in contention to stay up by January and that he will go out shopping during the transfer window. It seems a bit weird to come out and say in October that you’re looking at bringing in more players in January. It might act as a motivational tool for the players, but it could easily go the opposite way and Moyes could end up losing the dressing room.

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