EPL Match Week Three: Broken Records & Breaking Hearts
If you're new to the EPL or have been a long-time follower, the results from the third match week were a reminder that EPL is the most unpredictable soccer league in Europe (if not the world.) At the end of this upset week, records were broken; and of the three managers who excited fans as players in opposing teams in EPL's most recent history (Gerrard, Lampard, and Viera), only Viera guided his team to victory. The peek of this week was the clash between the arch-rivals, Manchester United and Liverpool, and what a game! This is a brief recap of the games.
Tottenham vs. Wolves, Kane Breaking Record and Wolves:
Spurs hosted Wolves in the weekend's opening game in a match that progressed with fairly even statistics. Both sides maintained nearly equal possession of the ball and created opportunities. Tottenham's defensive mindset enabled Wolves to produce dangerous moments that could have seen the hosts trailing before halftime if they'd been more careful in their finishing.
Harry Kane was involved in a couple of opportunities for Spurs in both halves and even saw his header denied by the crossbar. He made history in the 64th minute as he headed his 185th goal in the EPL and Spurs' winning goal in Wolves' net from a corner kick. Kane broke the record for most EPL goals scored.
Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa, Old Foes Back At It:
Patrick Viera and Steven Gerrard put up great shows on the pitch as Arsenal and Liverpool players. The encounter between Palace and Villa put them against each other as managers. Goals didn't long to come as Watkins scored his first of the season in the 5th minute. But, as I mentioned in the preview, Palace's Zaha could make trouble for Villa. He took the ball in midfield and tucked it away in Villa's net only two minutes later. As predicted, the game was very even, and with VAR denying Schlupp's goal for offside, the two sides went to dressing rooms at 1-1.
The second half began on equal terms, with both sides creating scoring opportunities at both ends of the pitch. Zaha's troubles for Villa's defenders carried on, and he put Palace ahead with his second goal from the rebound of his missed penalty. Only a minute after coming in, Mateta put the ball in Villa's net for the third time to give the hosts a 3-1 victory.
Everton vs. Nottingham Forest, Lampard's Struggles Continue:
As a Chelsea player, Frank Lampard won several trophies, but his career as a manager is not as successful. As predicted, this game was close. Henderson was again brilliant in the visitors' goal, making great saves that crowned him "Man of the Match" for the second consecutive week.
Goals came late. Pickford deflected substitute Yates' ball into Johnson's path, who gladly scored for the visitors in the 81st minute. It seemed game-over for Lampard until Gray equalized for Everton in the 88th minute from Pickford's long ball that put him one-on-one with Henderson. The game ended in a draw, as I had predicted. Odds Shark and Five-Thirty-Eight (51% Everton win chance) predicted a win for Everton.
Fulham vs. Brentford, The Bees' Stings Didn't Work:
Following their stunning victory over Manchester United, Brentford were expected to earn the three points of the game against Fulham. The storyline of the West London derby didn't begin in Brentford's favor. Losing the ball in their half, they found themselves defending a chaotic situation in their 18-yard zone, leading to the hosts' first goal just 45 seconds in the game. Palhinha's brilliant header in the 20th minute gave Fulham a two-goal advantage that was shortened to a one-goal difference by Nørgaard's finish right before halftime.
70 minutes into the game, the Bees sting again by Toney to equalize the game at 2-2. Fulham produced their antidote in the game's closing minutes through another brilliant header by Mitrovic, stunning Brentford with a 3-2 victory for Fulham. My prediction was a Brentford win, and Five-Thirty-Eight had given a 40% chance win victory to Brentford. Odds Shark's prediction was a victory for Fulham.
Leicester City vs. Southampton, Distracted Foxes Lose:
The news about Fofana's future at the club gave Leicester City a costly distraction before the game. With Chelsea in his pursuit, Fofana was left out of the hosts' squad for the game. The two sides found it hard to score, and the first half ended in a goalless draw.
Maddison exploited Southampton's poor wall formation against his free kick to score Fox's first goal. Fourteen minutes later, Adams directs the ball into Leicester's net minutes after coming in to equalize the game. He proved a valuable substitute for the visitors as he gave them the first three points of the season with a stunning volley in the 84th minute and became the man of the match.
Bournemouth vs. Arsenal, Gunners Look Fresh:
With their form improved, Arsenal were anybody's guess as the winner of Saturday's last match. The Gunners' didn't have to wait long to change the scoreline as Jesus initiated an attack in the 5th minute, which Ødegaard put in the hosts' net. Jesus' hard kick put the ball in Ødegaard's path again for Arsenal's second goal six minutes later.
This was predictably a one-sided match where Bournemouth barely threatened the visitors. Saliba struck a lovely ball that turned into Arsenal's third goal giving the keeper no chance to save the ball. Jesus' goal was ruled out for a close offside for the game to end 3-0 for the Gunners. Arsenal's third win in their first three games was a record they broke after 18 years.
Leeds vs. Chelsea, Pressure Broke the Blues:
Chelsea's visit to Leeds United was nowhere like their match-up against Spurs last week. Leeds' gameplay is based on putting pressure on the opponent. This troubled the Chelsea side, who require space. In addition, Chelsea's lack of quality strikers showed today as they failed to threaten the hosts. The title hopefuls saw the ball in their net from Mendy's mistake, who came under pressure from Aaronson. Rodrigo made it 2-0 for the home side four minutes later to end the first half 2-0.
Chelsea failed to make a comeback in the second half as their half-hearted attempts barely reached the target. The three points were sealed for Leeds by Harrison's 69th-minute goal. Chelsea's misery continued with Koulibaly seeing a second yellow card in the 87th minute.
All predictions favored Chelsea as the winner. Five-Thirty-Eight gave 62% chances of winning to the visitors.
West Ham vs. Brighton, Hammers Hammered At Home:
West Ham United are the only team who have not scored a goal yet in this campaign. They were looking to make a statement in the third game of the season, which was predicted to be close. In fact, Five-Thirty-Eight had given them only a 37% chance of winning over a 36% chance of winning for Brighton. Odds Shark predicted a West Ham win, and my prediction was a draw.
Hammers were not able to cope with Graham Potter's Brighton. Potter is known as the "Thinker Manager" of the league. He put his thought into continuing his team's great form, and they didn't face too much trouble pocketing the three points of this game from Mac Allister's 22nd-minute penalty and Trossard's 66th-minute goal.
Newcastle vs. Manchester City, Champs' Black & White Nightmare:
Manchester City seemed to have a comfortable job to mount pressure on the title-race rivals in the first few minutes of their match-up at Newcastle. Their 5th-minute goal suggested another feast of goals from the champions. But, their fast-paced start was countered by Newcastle's storm of attack after attack. Manchester's Blues found themselves in a Black-and-White nightmare as Newcastle responded to their goal with two of their own before the break.
Trippier's fabulous free-kick shook the champions to the core as their early 0-1 advantage turned into a 3-1 defeat 54 minutes in the game. Guardiola's side are known for coming back from difficult situations. As Newcastle ran out of energy, City took back control and salvaged one point from a game that seemed to go against them. My prediction was a strong City win, as was predicted by Five-Thirty-Five, giving them a 70% chance of winning, and by Odds Shark.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool, Icing on the Upset-Week Cake:
Betting on any of the opening Manchester United games this season must have been the most frustrating thing. Still, no Man United fan betting against their team would be unhappy with the Red Devils' performance against arch-rival Liverpool. It is safe to say that Liverpool did not expect the type of game United demonstrated right from the beginning. Elanga's shot hitting the post shook the Reds to their core, and Liverpool lost their tempo.
Sancho received the ball in Liverpool's eighteen-yard zone and put it in the net after deceiving the defender with a flick. United made more opportunities to score, none of which made it through. Liverpool's attempts during the last ten minutes of the first half were not fruitful either.
Manchester United brought Martial in the second half, who has been different from the last couple of seasons. He was involved in the Red Devils' game and contributed to several scoring opportunities. Rashford, who has come under lots of scrutiny, found himself in a one-on-one situation with the Liverpool keeper and scored United's second.
The Reds' pressure lacked aim and quality. Their final passes did not reach the end, and the shots were off. Salah scored Liverpool's only goal in the 81st minute from a ball initially saved by De Gea. That was it for the Reds as they saw themselves below the Red Devils at the end of match week 3.
The last match of the week could not be any more exciting and one that all soccer fans deserved. This is how the clash between the two red England giants should be, although it went against all predictions. My prediction was a Liverpool win, Five-Thirty-Eight gave the visitors a 57% chance of winning, and the visitors were favorites by Odds Shark, too.