Its matchday 3 of the new Premier League season. In this week, we saw the cityzens losing to foxes in a shocking fashion, Seagulls somehow lost to the Red Devils as the ending was unpredictable as Shakespearean drama. While the handball rules infuriated the Spurs as they drew against Newcastle in the last minute. As usual, the Premier League does not lack drama nor suspense, so let’s return to England and take a look at what we learned this week of the new Premier League season.
Brighton Hove & Albion 2-3 Manchester United
No better script than this
A dramatic injury-time penalty gave Manchester United victory at Brighton and their first three points of the season in a stunning game at Amex Stadium. It was A match packed full of incidents was settled with the very final kick as Bruno Fernandes coolly stroked in the winning penalty, spotted and awarded via a VAR check for Neal Maupay’s handball from a corner, all after on-field official Chris Kavanagh had blown to signal the end of the match.
Just moments before, Brighton thought they had sealed a point that would have been the least they deserved when Solly March headed in a cross from Alireza Jahanbakhsh. It was a fitting finale to a madcap, seesaw game that had seen Albion take the lead through a Maupay penalty before United clawed their way back into the ascendency thanks to a Lewis Dunk own goal and a superb solo effort from Marcus Rashford.
The magnetic frame
As if that wasn’t enough, the home side also struck the woodwork five times (with Leandro Trossard responsible for three of them), saw one awarded penalty overruled by VAR, and another potential one waved away by Kavanagh. On top of that, the visitors had two goals ruled out for offside. But despite still being far from their best, it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side who emerges with a first win of the Premier League campaign, helping quieten some of the criticism that followed their surprise opening-game loss to Crystal Palace. For Brighton, it is a flooring loss at the end of an emotional rollercoaster – their second from three games.
Brighton victims of their own profligacy
In the closing stages of the game, the television cameras captured Brighton boss Graham Potter in slow motion in an extended, lip-wobbling exhale, and make no wonder. Having impressed in defeat by Chelsea before wiping the floor with Newcastle, his side again demonstrated what they are about with a patient, effective and incisive display that should have got them a point and could easily have given them all three. That they did not get either is partly down to a new handball law that continues to harshly penalize defenders, but also their own failure to take the chances that came their way.
The Belgian forward Leandro Trossard is a superb player and was central to Albion’s display but he has developed a frustrating knack for hitting the woodwork as opposed to the net. He was somewhat unfortunate with the two long-range efforts that struck the post in the first half, but he should definitely have scored with the second-half shot that hit the bar.
The salt in Brighton’s wounds is the fact that they had a penalty of their own overturned by VAR after the break, although when they view it back they may agree with the officials that Connolly was pulling Pogba’s shirt before then tumbling under a clumsy challenge. Just three months ago, Potter’s team were outclassed here by United, going down 3-0 without having laid a glove on them.
MAN OF THE MATCH: LEANDRO TROSSARD
Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton
Fluid in attack, question marks in defence
This is the first time Everton have won their first five fixtures of a season since 1938 – and the first time they have started a top-flight campaign with three successive victories since 1993-94. The Toffees were made to work hard against a Palace side who themselves had started the season with back-to-back league wins, but Ancelotti’s team fully deserved the three points.
The visitors – unchanged from last weekend’s win over West Brom – were quick to gain a stranglehold on possession and took the lead when Rodriguez’s first-time pass released Coleman, whose cut-back was tucked home confidently by Calvert-Lewin. The 23-year-old is the first Everton player to score in three consecutive matches at the start of a season since Steven Naismith did so in 2014-15. Calvert-Lewin should have doubled his tally in the second half when he beat two Eagles defenders to a Rodriguez corner, but he failed to direct his effort on target.
Michael Keane then appeared to get in the striker’s way from another Rodriguez delivery moments later, allowing Jordan Ayew to clear the danger. Though pleased with his side’s overall performance, Ancelotti will be disappointed with the manner of Palace’s first-half equalizer, with Kouyate rising unmarked to nod Andros Townsend’s corner past Pickford.
Ward and Palace rue their luck
English right-back Joel Ward, who was making his 250th appearance for the south London club, was visibly aggrieved at referee Kevin Friend’s decision to award Everton a 39th-minute penalty after consulting his pitch-side monitor – although the defender’s arm was away from his body when it made contact with Digne’s header. The 30-year-old had survived an earlier video assistant referee check for a similar incident involving Richarlison, but Friend ruled in favor of the Palace man on that occasion.
There were positives for Roy Hodgson’s team, with summer signing Eberechi Eze producing a lively performance on his full Premier League debut for the club. Other than Kouyate’s equalizer, however, the hosts failed to muster a shot on target on Pickford’s goal. The makeshift centre-back went closest to a second Palace equalizer after half-time, but failed to hit the target with his far-post header.
The result stretches the Eagles’ winless home run against Everton to 10 league matches.
MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMES RODRIGUEZ
West Bromich Albion 3-3 Chelsea
Lampard with mixed feelings
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looked furious slumped in his seat in the dugout after sending his players out early for the start of the second-half following a horrific defensive display. Having been handed the captain’s armband on his first Premier League appearance since arriving on a free transfer, this was supposed to be a day to remember for 36-year-old Brazil centre-back Silva. Instead, his mistake allowed Robinson to get his second after the former Sheffield United forward had broken the deadlock following Alonso’s careless header.
It went from bad to worse when no-one picked up defender Bartley to make it 3-0 before Chelsea finally got a grip thanks to goals from three homegrown players. Since the start of last season, Chelsea have conceded more away Premier League goals than any other team but as bad as they were at the back, Lampard’s side were always a threat going forward.
Baggies let it slip
This was a case of so near yet so far for West Brom, who are still searching for a first win since returning to the Premier League. They have conceded 11 goals in 270 minutes of top-flight action – but when the dust settles Slaven Bilic will surely seize on the positives from this incident-packed encounter. Robinson showed excellent composure for both his finishes, while Pereira has been directly involved in three of West Brom’s five Premier League goals this season.
After following up his goal and assist at Everton last week, the Brazilian provided the pass for Robinson’s first goal. Abraham’s late equalizer will hurt but if Bilic can tighten up his defence, the Baggies could give themselves a fighting chance this season after showing they have the ammunition to cause problems in attack.
MAN OF THE MATCH: CALLUM ROBINSON
Burnley 0-1 Southampton
Decisive Danny Ings
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side largely answered his pre-match calls to prove they were better than their opening results and performances had suggested, producing the gritty display necessary to take the points at Turf Moor. Southampton lost both league games to Burnley last season – including a 3-0 loss in Lancashire – but they offered a resolute response to Sunday’s concerning 5-2 defeat by Tottenham.
Once again it was Ings who made the difference for Saints, though it was summer signing Walker-Peters who stepped up from right-back to produce the defence-splitting pass which allowed Adams to tee up his strike partner.
England forward Ings, fresh from finishing as joint-second top goalscorer in the Premier League last season, has now scored 46% (25) of Southampton’s past 54 goals in the competition and looks ready to mount another Golden Boot challenge. With no other Saints player scoring more than five in that time, he will be required to improve on last season’s 11th-place finish.
However, following the heavy defeat by Spurs – which featured a worrying second-half collapse – just as pleasing for Hasenhuttl will surely be the enduring focus and desire to see out a clean sheet on Saturday, despite coming under late pressure.
Burnley stretched to limit
The challenge facing the Clarets boss at the start of this season was visible for all to see at Turf Moor – with Dyche himself perhaps hoping to emphasize a point of his own. On his 400th game as a manager – his 351st at Burnley – Dyche chose to make no substitutions as his side sought a route back into the contest.
With key figures in captain Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Ashley Barnes, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady, and, most recently, Jay Rodriguez sidelined, Dyche named four players on his bench aged 21 or under and yet to play a Premier League game. Dyche has rightly been lauded for his ability to deliver with a modestly assembled Clarets squad – delivering a second top-10 finish in five Premier League seasons in 2019-20 – but an already threadbare squad is operating at its limit.
The hosts were bolstered by the arrival of midfielder Dale Stephens from Brighton on Thursday and, out of necessity above all else, he was thrust into the Clarets’ midfield for his debut on Saturday. On his 100th Premier League appearance, Stephens demonstrated why Dyche wanted to add him to his ranks, as the 31-year-old made more tackles than any other player. It was Wood who led the hosts’ attempts to claw back level but, after seeing his header well saved by McCarthy, he was flagged for offside before rounding the Saints goalkeeper as he missed out on becoming the first Clarets player to score in five successive top-flight games since Willie Irvine in 1966.
Dyche reiterated his message to the board through his absence of changes late on and, with little over a week of the transfer window remaining, he will be desperate to add further reinforcements.
MAN OF THE MATCH: DANNY INGS
Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds United
Meslier lays grounds for Leeds victory
Leeds have enjoyed an exciting start to the season, having scored and conceded seven goals in their opening two fixtures against Liverpool and Fulham. The fact they pushed the champions close in a 4-3 loss at Anfield and held out to beat Fulham by the same scoreline suggests they will win many new fans this campaign. But against Sheffield United, they showed they could grind out a victory and were thankful to Frenchman Meslier, who excelled in goal.
In thwarting Lundstram from eight yards, he pulled off one of the saves of the season so far. He also denied George Baldock with another superb effort. Led superbly by midfielder Kalvin Phillips – a timely performance, with England manager Gareth Southgate watching – Marcelo Bielsa’s side created plenty of chances themselves in a finely-balanced game. But they could not find their way past Ramsdale, who denied Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas’ toe-poke in the first half before other efforts from Helder Costa and Bamford after the break. When Dallas finally rounded Ramsdale from Ayling’s long through-ball, Chris Basham cleared his tame effort off the line.
But Leeds finally found a way through in the 88th minute as Bamford nodded in a downward header to clinch three points.
Blades paying for lack of punch upfront
Wilder will feel like misfortune is becoming too common a companion for his side, who unexpectedly finished ninth last season after their return to the Premier League following a 12-year hiatus. Having lost to Wolves in their opening game, they also lost John Egan to a contested red card in the defeat by Aston Villa – although Ethan Ampadu was an able deputy here – and Wilder said before kick-off that defender Jack O’Connell would need surgery on an injured knee.
But for a team built on a solid defence, their big problem is the lack of goals, an issue that has been underlined this season. They had the chances to score and having weathered an early Leeds onslaught, finished the first half on top. Lundstram, who was a key scorer for the Blades in the first half of last season, should have beaten Meslier after David McGoldrick’s clever flick from Ben Osborn’s cross.
Five minutes before half-time the Leeds keeper showed his class again with a fine save from Baldock’s rising drive and Enda Stevens could not find a way through in the second half. But it was a barren day for Blades’ front pair of Oli Burke and McGoldrick, who did not have a shot on target between them.
As they pressed for a winner, with substitute Billy Sharp aiming to score against his former team, they began to leave gaps at the back which Leeds exploited. The defeat leaves Wilder’s team at the bottom of the table and their task is not set to get any easier with Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City all to come next month.
MAN OF THE MATCH: ILLAN MESLIER
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle United
Spurs were hugely unfortunate – but they will have to take some blame for their poor finishing. Watched on by their new signing from Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, not yet fit to play, and with Dele Alli left out of the squad entirely, they started brightly. Kane and Darlow’s personal battle started in the third minute. The keeper pulled off a fantastic double save to keep out Giovani lo Celso’s free-kick and Kane’s close-range follow-up. After nine minutes he kept out Kane’s header from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s cross.
Kane may have been kept scoreless but he has developed a role as a creator in the past week. It was his ball across the six-yard box that was converted by Moura at the back post. He has set up five goals in his last two Premier League games – having created all of Son’s goals last weekend. That equals his assist tally from the previous 54 league matches. Seven – back in 2016-17 – is the most he has set up in a Premier League season. Kane had a 25-yard effort saved by a diving Darlow and then found Son, who hit the post from outside the box.
Son then hit the crossbar from a similar distance after good play by Matt Doherty. The South Korean was replaced by Steven Bergwijn at half-time. It was more of the same in the second half as Moura had a couple of headers saved by Darlow, who kept out two Lo Celso efforts and an Erik Lamela free-kick. Probably the closest they came to conceding before the end was when Hojbjerg almost scored a late own goal after getting in the way of Ben Davies’ clearance. They were made to pay when Wilson scored with only Newcastle’s third shot on target in three Premier League games this season. They have scored all of them.
What was VAR doing?
“VAR is ruining our game,” said BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Clinton Morrison after seeing the late drama. And Spurs boss Mourinho clearly agreed as he stormed away following Wilson’s equalizer – although he would not speak about it at full-time.
The decision came after a long wait – with four minutes between the incident and the goal. Dier had his arms in the air while he was jumping with Carroll, with his back to the Newcastle striker, who headed the ball directly against his arm from inches away. VAR checked whether there was an offside in the build-up and then if it was a handball. Peter Bankes eventually went over to the monitor and pointed to the spot. Spurs coach Nuno Santos was sent off for his angry reaction.
The Premier League admitted at the start of the season there would be more penalties for handball. And they were right. Spurs’s defender Eric Dier’s arms were not next to his body and that is why it was a penalty by the new laws, although football fans, managers, players, and pundits all agree it has to change.
MAN OF THE MATCH: KARL DARLOW
Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City
Why were City short of ideas?
Manchester City were without injured forwards Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, who could both be out for several weeks. Being without a recognized striker on Sunday was obviously going to be a problem, but it was the knock-on effect of dealing with that which had a bigger impact on their performance. City manager Pep Guardiola usually goes with a single pivot as part of a 4-3-3 but, with the players he had available, he went with two holding midfielders in Fernandinho and Rodri and moved Kevin de Bruyne to more of a number 10 position, behind Raheem Sterling who was playing as a central striker.
Sterling is far more dangerous when he cuts in from the left and De Bruyne is usually at his best when he can go down the right – a central right rather than wide right – and put in his trademark crosses. We did see the Belgian do that a little bit in the second half, but before the break, it was all central and he couldn’t really influence the game like he usually does.
Also, City academy graduate Phil Foden stayed out wide on the left rather than in the middle, where he sees more of the ball and is more effective. So, arguably, City had three, four, or even five players out of position – or at least not playing in their best position – and, on top of that, their full-backs never offered anything attacking-wise down the flanks. No wonder they were so short of ideas.
The foxes’ success
As bad as Manchester City were, Leicester deserves lots of credit because their game plan worked perfectly. The foxes’ talisman Jamie Vardy did not just get his hat-trick, he dropped back and stopped Rodri getting on the ball to build attacks and left City’s two centre-halves to have the ball.
Leicester’s two central midfielders, Youri Tielemans, and Nampalys Mendy, were fantastic – aggressive and tenacious in the tackle, but also showing great quality on the ball when they looked to start a counter-attack. At the back, Jonny Evans and Calgary Soyuncu are a top-class centre-back pairing – as good as anyone else in the Premier League. If you compare them to what Pep has got, they would start for his team, no doubt about it.
Leicester City played in a three with Daniel Amartey at Etihad Stadium, but Evans coming back after his suspension played a massive part in the Foxes’ success. He was everything Manchester City were missing – a leader, a talker, and good on the ball too. It looks like Pep sees Benfica centre-half Ruben Dias as the answer to his side’s problems there, with him and Aymeric Laporte becoming City’s first-choice centre-back pairing.
Whoever it is they bring in, though, City will need to improve in front of them too. It doesn’t matter who your defenders are – if you keep letting attacking players like Vardy and Harvey Barnes get at your defence, they are going to cause you problems.
“Reality check for the blues” – Fan reaction
As always, Manchester City fans have strong opinions on their club’s defeat at the Etihad. “Yeah, a reality check for sure. Was more worried about the scoring factor as opposed to the conceding factor beforehand, so the start was perfect. Story of the first half: chances not taken. Had Fernandinho put the header the other side of Schmeichel or Rodri held his run by a second or two, I think 2-0 would have buried Leicester. Lapses in concentration from walker started the whole avalanche, and the rest is history to be completely honest,”
“Pep’s tactics might be a bit dated. I liked a tweet I saw. It stated that the league is getting used to Pep, with some teams copying him and maybe even outdoing him at his own game. Flexibility needed. His sub to bring in Delap for Fernandinho who was bringing a good balance seemed wrong. Raheem Sterling was played in the wrong position.”
MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMIE VARDY
West Ham United 4-0 Wolves
Woeful Wolves lack threat
While Wolves enjoyed the majority of possession they simply lacked the speed of thought and foot to trouble the hosts. Adama Traore barely got a touch on the right of their attacking trio, while behind him debutant Nelson Semedo endured a tough start to life in the Premier League after signing from Spanish giants Barcelona.
The Portugal full-back, who was deployed on the right of a midfield four, was eventually withdrawn, while Pedro Neto, who did show purpose on the opposite flank, was too often ignored to make an impact. In many ways Ruben Neves’ 45th-minute shot summed up Wolves’ evening, lacking in power and conviction to beat Lukasz Fabianski. Had that gone in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side would have reached the interval all square after being outplayed. And while they briefly rallied, not even the introduction of their new record signing Fabio Silva could help them turn the contest around.
A result to please the absent manager
After showing improvement in their narrow defeat to Arsenal last Saturday this performance represented a large leap in the right direction for the Hammers. Having started the evening in the bottom three, few would have predicted that they would end up thrashing Wolves using a similar template.
While manager Moyes was not present, it was clear from the opening moments that his side had been set up to operate on the counter-attack. That, coupled with taking advantage of a 3-4-3 Wolves formation without natural full-backs, helped the Hammers establish control. Ryan Fredericks, Bowen, Arthur Masuaku, and Fornals all impressed working in or coming off wide positions, and Michail Antonio’s physical presence and pace provided another type of outlet upfront.
The 30-year-old, who has kept record signing Haller out of the side since his conversion into a central striker at the end of last season, was a menace throughout. And he tellingly contributed to both of the hosts’ opening two goals, winning a free-kick from Willy Boly for the first and powering clear on the left to tee up Fornals before Bowen’s second. Moyes, communicating with assistant Alan Irvine from home throughout, will have been buoyed by the nature of the victory and the fact that his side could have enjoyed an even more emphatic win, had Fornals and Soucek both converted good chances from close range.
It was also the perfect way in which to go into a challenging set of fixtures in October when the Hammers will face Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and last-season champions Liverpool
MAN OF THE MATCH: JARROD BOWEN
Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa
Villa continues with momentum
Villa stayed up last season thanks to eight points in their final four games. Dean Smith’s side have carried that good form into this season with four wins from four games, including two in the Carabao Cup. They will face much tougher tests than this one though. Villa were clinical and scored with three of their five shots on target, all the result of good play.
That was the earliest Villa have gone 2-0 up in a Premier League game since May 2011 – and the first time McGinn has set up two goals in a game for Villa. Dean Smith’s side did not create too many clear opportunities but still managed a third goal. Tyrone Mings had the freedom of the penalty area to tuck home a left-wing Hourihane free-kick.
Bad feeling Fulham
Fulham are only the fourth team to concede at least three goals in each of their opening three Premier League games – following West Brom this season and West Ham in 2010-11 and 2017-18. Scott Parker tried a five-man defence instead of his usual back four, but it did not work. Perhaps the problem is the personnel and not the tactics.
Only one of their starting line-up – Ivan Cavaleiro, with Wolves in 2018-19 – has ever played in a Premier League team who have not been relegated. There are a combined 10 Premier League relegations in 11 seasons (six with Fulham and four with other teams) among the rest of the team. They were sloppy for all Villa’s goals and their attacking tactics were one-dimensional. Fulham ended the game with 36 crosses from open play – by comparison, Villa tried two. They thought they had a goal when Decordova-Reid pounced after Emiliano Martinez spilled Aboubakar Kamara’s shot. But after viewing the screen, referee Stuart Attwell decided Mitrovic had fouled Konsa as the first shot came in.
MAN OF THE MATCH: JOHN MCGINN
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Ominous Liverpool back in the old-routine
Liverpool’s response to Arsenal taking the lead sent a powerful message to anyone with hopes of challenging Jurgen Klopp’s side for the Premier League title this season. In contrast to the collapse we saw from Manchester City once Leicester City took control at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, Liverpool simply went through even higher gears after Lacazette pounced to give the Gunners the lead.
Led by the irrepressible Mane, Liverpool were back on terms within two minutes and a tidal wave of attacks saw them ahead by the interval. Mane is the star of the show at Liverpool at the moment, outshining even Salah with his potent mixture of pace, work-rate, and goal threat. The attacker may have ridden his luck early on, however, when he caught Tierney full on with that raised arm and might have been very relieved to only see the yellow card produced by referee Craig Pawson. Liverpool’s squad strength was also on display, with new signing Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson missing through injury, they coped impressively and the icing on the cake was provided by Jota’s lively late cameo, in which he missed a great chance, had one taken off him by Salah and then scored in a moment which clearly delighted Klopp on the sidelines.
The challengers will have hopes of depriving Liverpool of a second successive title – but on this evidence, it will take some doing.
Work in progress – Arsenal
Arsenal have plenty of reasons for optimism under Mikel Arteta, fuelled by last season’s FA Cup win and a good start to this term. This, however, was an illustration of just how far they have got to go and why it is perfectly understandable Arteta is not getting carried away and stressing just how much rebuilding still needs to be done.
Arsenal flirted with danger as they knocked the ball around at the back in the face of Liverpool’s high press, not helped by the lack of quality on the ball when they did work it into midfield.
MAN OF THE MATCH: SADIO MANÉ
Premier League table after matchday 3
Our Team of the Week
GK: Karl Darlow (Newcastle United) CB: Trent-Alexander Arnold (Liverpool) Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) Arthur Masuaku (West Ham United) CDM: Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City) CM: Abdoulaye Doucouré (Everton) RM: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) LM: Jack Harrison (Leeds United) ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) Callum Robinson (West Bromich Albion) Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)