What a distinction a season makes. Exhausting up on the again and barely capable of identify the identical defensive partnership twice final season, Liverpool may afford to depart a match Joel Matip and Joe Gomez out of their 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, and hand a debut to Ibrahima Konate on the coronary heart of their backline.
With out knocking January signings Ozan Kobak and Ben Davies, Konate is in a unique dialog – as his £36m price ticket confirmed. He loved some brilliant moments on his Anfield bow, and a few others the place he might want to enhance, however most significantly regarded snug with the tempo and physicality required in his first style of the Premier League.
Other than his efficiency on debut, his inclusion highlighted how issues have modified for Jurgen Klopp since final season. Konate is his solely main summer season signing however, with out the horrific harm issues which dogged 2020/21, he was capable of omit three of his first-choice again 4, primarily utilizing the sport as a welcome likelihood to rotate, and nonetheless oversee a victory that took the Reds three factors clear on the high.
“Some video games you keep in mind as being enjoyable, some you keep in mind as being necessary. This is a crucial one,” he mused after full-time, understandably relieved Liverpool had lastly shaken off Palace’s risk with two targets within the remaining 12 minutes.
It was not a glittering efficiency, however to make use of the supervisor’s apt selection of phrases, definitely “hard-fought”. You aren’t getting the sensation Liverpool may have made sweeping defensive adjustments final season and are available away with this scoreline, deserved or not. And that’s the reason transferring high of the desk this early within the season feels extra sustainable than it proved this time final season.
It was all arrange completely for one more Arsenal stumble. Bodily Burnley, hungry for a primary victory of the season at Turf Moor, may have licked their lips as Mikel Arteta named an XI which solely had Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes as real bodily presences.
The stage was there for Burnley to devour Arsenal’s gentle underbelly, to take them to locations they seldom go, to take advantage of their all-too-familiar defensive flaws, however the Gunners had different concepts.
After outplaying Burnley on the ball within the first half and coming in a aim to the nice due to Martin Odegaard’s sensible free-kick, we noticed a brand new facet to Arteta’s Arsenal, one which has the starvation and focus wanted to beat the duty positioned in entrance of them.
White and Gabriel stifled the specter of Chris Wooden and Ashley Barnes, and their replacements Maxwel Cornet and Jay Rodriguez, in an assured and gritty defensive show.
When the again 4 had been bypassed, Aaron Ramsdale proved an impressed final line of defence within the Arsenal aim, as he stretched his run with out conceding to 5 video games with an imperious efficiency.
And, crucially, fortune favoured them as referee Anthony Taylor reversed his determination to award Burnley a second-half penalty.
Arsenal made issues arduous for themselves by shedding their first three video games, however the nook has properly and actually been turned. Again-to-back victories have lifted the temper and, with Tottenham on the horizon, issues may get even higher.
Aston Villa’s emphatic ending of Everton’s unbeaten begin to the Premier League season didn’t look possible till Dean Smith summoned Leon Bailey from the substitutes’ bench.
The sport was meandering in direction of a stalemate by the hour mark, however Smith was capable of name upon superior reinforcements that had been spearheaded by the membership’s £25m summer season recruit from Bayer Leverkusen.
He could not have performed a task in Matty Money’s opener, however, as Everton buckled, it was Bailey who took the sport away from them.
Having seen his devilish nook flicked into his personal internet by Lucas Digne, the Jamaica ahead pilfered a aim of his personal, and a primary in entrance of the jubilant Holte Finish.
Bailey advised Sky Sports activities: “To have my household there watching it, to have the followers chanting my identify once I was happening, it is such a terrific feeling. I really feel I’ve welcomed myself right here as a Villa participant.”
His cameo efficiency was curtailed by a thigh harm quickly after, however it’s a signal of his significance that Smith was so keen to forestall additional aggravation.
Following a blended set of outcomes that had not been reflective of Villa’s performances within the opening month of the season, they’re now within the high half. You sense it’s the place they may keep.
The early indications are that Villa have re-invested properly on the £100m acquired for Jack Grealish. In Bailey, there’s a new darling of Villa Park.
Rafa Benitez’s sport plan was clear: sit deep and play on the break.
With Richarlison becoming a member of Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the sidelines, Everton sought to comprise Aston Villa whereas utilizing the tempo of Andros Townsend and Demarai Grey on the counter-attack.
However he watched on helplessly, scribbling away frantically in his notepad, as his facet had been steamrollered by three Villa targets in 9 second-half minutes.
This was a task reversal for each groups following final weekend’s outcomes; Villa someway discovered themselves on the fallacious finish of a 3-0 loss at Chelsea whereas Everton’s personal second-half blitz overcame Burnley.
Right here, their defensive errors weren’t one thing often related to a Benitez facet, however the Everton again line regarded unsettled with out the presence of Jordan Pickford and captain Seamus Coleman.
Benitez rued missed alternatives and revealed it will be “a minimum of one or two weeks minimal” earlier than the pair are again out there.
“What we can’t overlook about us is that we’re a workforce who completed tenth final season with a brand new supervisor,” he rightly identified.
With 10 factors from 5 video games and in fifth spot, there is no such thing as a have to panic, however Benitez can be involved with the way his facet crumbled within the absence of key first-team members.
It can be crucial those that are match study from this impolite awakening if Everton’s high-quality begin is not going to go to waste.
If my reminiscence serves me properly, there was a interval in every of Burnley’s Premier League campaigns the place their top-flight standing has not solely been questioned however has been given a stern evaluation. 5 video games into the present season, that second seems to be to be right here already.
Defeat to Arsenal confirmed a fourth Premier League loss for Sean Dyche’s winless Clarets, who sit second-bottom within the desk, only one level above pointless Norwich.
It took Burnley eight video games to get their first victory on the board final season and a equally sluggish begin is with out query a trigger for concern at Turf Moor. And but, whereas different golf equipment in the same place could be getting into disaster mode and probably making rash choices, Burnley calmly go about their enterprise secure virtually within the data that they may get out.
Distinction that sense of safety and religion to ideas circling round Carrow Highway for the time being, and also you get a reminder – when you wanted it – of simply how necessary Dyche is to this Burnley undertaking.
Sure, Burnley are winless and haven’t scored a aim from open play in 5 video games this season, however with Dyche on the helm, now will not be the time for concern.
A complete of 52,698 had been in attendance on the Etihad Stadium however the majority of them finally left upset on Saturday as Manchester Metropolis recorded simply the one shot on course of their goalless draw with Southampton.
“I really feel a bit responsible as a result of we did not play good,” Pep Guardiola admitted in a match the place VAR drama denied Southampton a penalty after which Metropolis a late winner.
It was an emphatic halt to a run of three 5-0 wins at house for Metropolis within the Premier League, whereas the flash factors took the eye away from Guardiola’s pre-match comments when he known as for a greater attendance following the Champions League turnout in midweek.
Metropolis followers current on the Etihad on Saturday chanted Guardiola’s identify simply earlier than and after kick-off, and with the attendance greater than it was towards Norwich (51,437) and Arsenal (52,276), Guardiola will hope this matter is now put to mattress.
It was an undesirable distraction for Metropolis within the build-up, and Guardiola can be reluctant to debate it additional given Metropolis’s upcoming run of video games.
After a Carabao Cup match at house to Wycombe, Metropolis face journeys to Chelsea, PSG after which Liverpool – three video games which may have a significant say in how their season ultimately performs out.
Ivan Toney’s confidence was by no means in query going into his first correct Premier League season. “I am unable to wait to close individuals up,” he mentioned after Brentford’s play-off remaining win in Could. Requested about Brentford’s targets this yr he told Sky Sports in August: “Profitable the league.”
The latter could also be a attain, however he’s attaining the previous already. A aim and an help in Brentford’s 2-0 win at Wolves means he has scored 33 for the reason that begin of final season, greater than another participant within the high 4 tiers of English soccer.
And people doubters who questioned whether or not he may lower it within the Premier League are awfully quiet – Toney is a Premier League striker with layers to his sport.
He has picked up Sky Sports activities‘ man-of-the-match award thrice in Brentford’s 5 Premier League video games and his participant rankings learn 8/10, 7/10, 7/10, 7/10 and eight/10, although Thomas Frank described his Molineux efficiency as 10/10. Even when Brentford haven’t received, he has been efficient.
Toney will not be the kind of striker who touches the ball a handful of instances and has to take his likelihood; he touched the ball 45 instances towards Wolves, the fourth-highest in Brentford’s workforce, a rarity for a striker, helped by successful most of his 25 duels.
He comes brief as Bryan Mbeumo runs off him, prompting Frank to match the duo to Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. Excessive reward certainly.
However Toney’s work will not be restricted to the ultimate third; successful a match-high 4 fouls towards Wolves, he contributed to Brentford’s administration of the sport – his numbers had been the identical towards Arsenal on opening evening – slowing it down, even with Wolves’ numerical benefit.
Brentford have each likelihood of surviving comfortably with Toney and Mbeumo on the town.
Towards Watford, Norwich boss Daniel Farke opted for a extra attacking line-up than the one he put out towards Arsenal the earlier weekend with Josh Sargent and Milot Rashica lining up alongside Teemu Pukki in a entrance three. It didn’t work.
Norwich’s lacklustre efficiency towards Watford was typical of how the Canaries have performed this season. Very completely satisfied to push ahead in numbers, however seemingly equally completely satisfied to depart gaps in behind, which performed straight into Watford’s palms. Pacey wingers Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr unsurprisingly thrived within the open house they had been afforded.
Farke mentioned post-match he’s totally conscious his facet want to enhance defensively, however maybe throwing Ozan Kabak straight into the beginning XI for his Norwich debut was not the most effective thought when there’s a League Cup fixture towards Liverpool on Tuesday which regarded a extra appropriate time to ease him in.
There is no such thing as a doubting Norwich have gifted attacking gamers and have good depth alongside the ahead line, however Farke have to be way more pragmatic if his facet are to face any likelihood of survival this season.