EPL Match Week 6 - Liverpool and City Stopped, Gunners Not Up For Man Utd
The two red and sky-blue giants of the English Premier League were stunned in Match Week six by two young, under-pressure coaches who played for Liverpool and Chelsea not too long ago. Arsenal failed to maintain their winning streak in the real test of the season, and Chelsea moved to fifth place after a controversial win against the Hammers. Here is a quick review of this weekend's games.
Everton vs. Liverpool, Phenomenal Pickford:
The Merseyside derby has always been a fascinating game of soccer to watch. I have said before that playing in Goodison Park is not easy, even when Everton are not in good form. Liverpool, the favorite to win, had a slow start to the game. Although they hit the post three times, Everton had a goal ruled out for offside. Lampard's tactics to stop Liverpool's attacking force paid off, and Pickford made some extraordinary saves, giving him the "Man of the Match" title. The heated derby ended in a goalless draw - a frustrating result for Liverpool but a treasured one for Everton.
Brentford vs. Leeds, The Bees Stung Again:
The last couple of games suggested that Brentford had lost their magical power to stun their opponents even at home. Some predicted a Leeds win. But the Bees got their sting back, and Leeds were the proper victim. The visitors were so annoyed that their manager, Marsch, lost his temper and was sent off by the referee. Although they almost revived their hopes of making a comeback twice, Toney's hat trick meant they suffered a 5-2 defeat and lost the chance to move to fourth place before Sunday's games.
Chelsea vs. West Ham, Slow and Controversial London Derby:
Chelsea handed their recent signing from Leicester, Fofana, his debut in this London derby that both teams had a slow start. It was predictable that the Hammers would approach the match with caution following their bad results, but Chelsea had every motivation to pressure the visitors. VAR was involved a couple of times, ruling out a West Ham goal in the final minutes. Shocked by West Ham's 62nd-minute goal, Tuchal sent Chilwell and Havertz in for Chelsea. They both scored to give the hosts a hard-fought victory.
Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace, Magpies' Wealth Not Helping:
Last season, Newcastle's change of ownership saw them bought by the wealthy Suadi Arab state-run Public Investment Fund. They're considered the richest soccer club in the world, yet Newcastle are sitting at 11th place with only one win after six matches. Magpies had chances and scored goals that VAR ruled out, but they also saw their goal under attack by Viera's team. Nick Pope's saves put Newcastle in the game, but they failed to capitalize on the home game and shared the points with the Seagulls.
Nottingham Forest vs. Bournemouth, Another Comeback Story:
Following the 9-0 defeat to Liverpool and a goalless draw against Wolves, Bournemouth seemed an easy-win game for the hosts. They almost snatched the three points as they went to the dressing room with a two-goal advantage at the end of the first half. The visitors responded quickly in the second half and converted the 2-0 loss to a 2-2 draw before scoring a last-minute winner to rub Forest of their home advantage. The hosts had a few chances, which they wasted.
Tottenham vs. Fulham, Spurs in Great Form:
It was hard to believe Spurs would end up in the top four at the beginning of this season, but they're one point behind Manchester City in third place. Spurs maintained almost constant pressure on Fulham's net and scored the first goal before the first-half whistle. Their continuous pressure in the second half handed Kane his first and Spurs' second goal. Richarlison came close to making it 3-0, but he was denied by the woodwork and for offside. The visitors managed to score once, but that didn't help them take any points from this match.
Wolves vs. Southampton, Wolves Celebrate First Win:
Coming into this home game, Wolves had not won a game and were facing an opponent that, despite losing two games, had been impressive so far. However, the visitors failed to show their good form this time around. Their only goal was scored by hand in a clumsy attempt by Che Adams and was automatically ruled out. Not yet in good form, Wolves held on to their victory against the half-hearted attempts from Southampton and snatched their first campaign win.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester City, Haaland's Magic Not Enough:
Facing a side under tremendous pressure, City had an excellent chance to increase the gap with their arch-nemesis. They had a slow start to the game and almost fell behind, but Watkins' shot was wide. City regained dominance, and Haaland scored for them to give the visitors a one-goal advantage. Gerrard's side made a few attempts that were wasted by their poor final touches. Leon Bailey's unstoppable shot found City's net, and the two sides shared the points.
Brighton vs. Leicester, Foxes in Shambles:
I have repeated time and time that Ward is not a suitable number one for Leicester. His shaky performance was a testimony of that. Now, if they don't make a change, they will see themselves fighting to stay in EPL. Foxes had a firey start and scored the first goal of the game inside the first minute. That was really it for them, as they pulled back to the shambolic game they've shown this season. Brighton dominated Leicester in every corner of the field, forcing the visitors to make several mistakes. Although Foxes succeeded in equalizing the game before the first half, they did not have what it took to resist Brighton's attacks.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal, Gunners Not Making It Six:
I had predicted that Arsenal would lose points in this traditionally heated game of the English Premier League. I also predicted that if United played in the same fashion as they did against Liverpool, they could even win this; however, the cautious prediction was a draw. Erik ten Hag had a different idea as he gave Antony his debut shortly after signing him. The $100 million player shined in his new jersey and scored his first goal for Red Devils' in 35 minutes. Although Arsenal equalized early in the second half, United's Rashford scored twice, and the game ended 3-1 for the visitors.
The Manchester United that has made four wins out of their last four EPL games looked nothing like the lackluster team that was humiliated against Brentford. Arsenal, hoping to make it six wins out of six, were tested for real this season. Their five back-to-back wins had come from games they were expected to win on paper. They had more of the ball in this game, but, as I have repeated, soccer is not won by statistics.
Manchester United's victory against Arsenal and Liverpool sends a message to the rivals. The Red Devils are back with a reborn spirit. Old Trafford is, again, a venue to fear. And if they keep their improving process, it may be a matter of time to count Manchester United as potential title contenders. Arsenal's challenging games against big teams are around the corner. That's when they can show what they're truly made of.