Nothing hurts more than losing all three points in the dying seconds of a match, missing the game winning goal, or simply being torn apart on the pitch when your actual quality is higher than you displayed. Chelsea and Liverpool showed why they’re the best two teams in the land, Sunderland finally won a match, and Pep Guardiola suffered a shocker due to incompetence from his team. These are just some of the things we learned this weekend in the Premier League.
1) Watford Stung By Liverpool
It may have only been Watford, but Liverpool’s win over the Hornets should not be minimized, as it was a clinically balanced win. Phillipe Coutinho may have been the star of the day, but this was a team win. At no point were Watford ever given a genuine chance, but they still managed a total of eight shots on target for the day. Liverpool’s 17 shots on target were the most by any team since 2003.
Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Phillipe Coutinho are without a doubt one of the two best attacking forces in England, and it showed as they combined for four goals and three assists on the day. However, it’d be unfair not to mention the performances of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana. Can even contributed one of the six goals Liverpool scored. With their win, Liverpool now go top of the league with a one point advantage over rivals Chelsea. Liverpool can distance themselves come Christmas, but it will take more efforts such as the one we saw on Sunday. Keeping their attacking trio healthy might prove to be the salvation of their year if they continue their title challenge.
2) Blue Is The Colour
Blue was definitely the colour at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Chelsea were not in the mood to play polite hosts against Everton. If you think Liverpool’s win over Watford was a masterclass, then you must not have seen the 90 minutes of Chelsea’s demolition of Everton. To put things into perspective, this was quite possibly the best performance by any club this season. That’s saying quite a bit, considering Chelsea’s recent 4-0 win over Manchester United a fortnight ago and the recent impressive wins by Liverpool as well. Everton were no match for Chelsea, and it left them with another gaping wound to recover from.
Chelsea took a total of 22 shots, whereas Everton had only one, and that came late in the match. Chelsea have not lost in the league since their 3-0 embarrassment at the hands of Arsenal. Since then they have won five, scored 16, and conceded ZERO! This is far from resembling the club who looked lost in September, and it speaks volumes of the work Antonio Conte has done to revitalize a sleeping giant.
Eden Hazard already has seven goals this season after his brace on Saturday, leaving last year’s disastrous year far behind him. Pedro, Hazard and Diego Costa just may be the Premier League’s top strike force trio, and their dominance this weekend showed why. Even if Chelsea went top of the table for only a day, their momentum will keep Liverpool on their toes as Chelsea look to bring back the glory they feel entitled to hold. Chelsea are title contenders.
3) Sunderland Get A Win
Some may have already written off Sunderland this season, but they can actually stretch Saturday’s win over Bournemouth as far as they need to. Their first win wasn’t easy, but under the circumstances it showed that David Moyes’s side can actually pull together for the cause. Bournemouth won every stat category, but all Sunderland truly needed were the two shots on goal that went in. Victor Anichebe played hero for the day, scoring the equalizer, and then Jermain Defoe settled the score with a 74th minute penalty.
Winning in these circumstances was impressive, as Sunderland were a man down after Steven Piennar’s red card in the 59th. Against those odds, no one would have given The Black Cats a smidgen of a chance. It’d be a fair assumption considering their record and their previous inability to break down any teams with eleven men, let alone ten. However, Sunderland did enough to pull together and keep Bournemouth quiet at the Vitality Stadium. Jot this one down if you’re a Sunderland supporter, because your next win may not come for some time, but then again a bit of heart can go a long way.
4) Yawns At The North London Derby
If you woke up early in America to watch the North London Derby, then I feel absolutely gutted for you. You gained an hour of sleep that night due to daylight saving on Saturday evening, but you lost 90 minutes if you saw this match in it’s entirety. Was it worth waking up for? Certainly not if you are a neutral, but even the die-hard Spurs or Gooner fans must’ve dosed off from time to time. Arsenal’s goal came through a Kevin Wimmer own goal before the half, but the Gooners should have done a bit more, because one was not enough.
Tottenham were glad to have a half fit Harry Kane back in the lineup, as he scored the equalizer from the spot, giving Spurs a draw to extend their undefeated season. It was evident that even Tottenham’s stingy defense was having issues containing Arsenal, and Mauricio Pochettino switched his back line to three. Neither team was truly able to make the best of their chances, and Arsenal couldn’t capitalize on Manchester City’s draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday. For now Arsenal are right at home, sitting fourth, while Spurs sit behind them in fifth despite having yet to lose this season.
5) Stoppage Time Is Still Regular Time
Marten de Roon’s stoppage time goal against Manchester City set off quite mental celebrations among the traveling Boro support. Rightfully so, as the point earned moved the Teesiders into 15th place. If anything saves Aitor Karanka and Boro from being relegated, it will be their stiff defense which is difficult for anyone to break down. No matter how you see it, they do enough to contain teams until that final whistle blows. Very similar to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea or even now at Manchester United, they will counter you when you lose possession, but don’t expect Boro to impress you with their passing or shots on goal.
The draw was well deserved, but if you’re Manchester City then you only have yourselves to blame. City had 26 shots with seven of those on goal. It was Victor Valdes who played hero for the day, keeping the Manchester City attack at bay. Sergio Aguero scored his 150th for the club, but the celebrations of his milestone would be soured by the result. The midweek win over Barcelona in the Champions League was not enoughh to give City the edge in momentum going into the match. With the draw, they now lost sole possession of the top of the table, and they then fell to third after Liverpool and Chelsea ran riot in their matches. Middlesbrough may not score much, but defensively they have what it takes to experience a sophomore season in the Premier League.
Thanks for reading.
Photo via the Guardian.