Welcome to the Premier League Review: Oct. 2 – 3, and what a Premier League weekend it was. Chelsea moved to the top of the table, Liverpool and Man City put on a match for the ages, and Brentford pulled out a last gasp winner to beat West Ham. So, let’s lace up our boots and head to the pitch for the Premier League Review: Oct. 2 – 3, shall we?
Man Utd 1 Everton 1
I’m sorry, I’m not having it. For Ole Gunnar Solskjær to claim that the reason he left Ronaldo on the bench was that he’s 36 and needs a rest should prove to everyone that was still on the fence that he is so far out of his depth it will only be a matter of time before he drowns. I don’t care that he’s closer to 40 than he is to 30, he’s Cristiano Bloody Ronaldo. You signed him for just that reason and – unless his legs have been chopped off in a freak yachting accident – he should be the first name on your team sheet every week. He is a goal-scoring machine and the best player the world has ever seen – sorry Messi fans, the little magician is almost untouchable, but Ronaldo has done it in England, Spain, Italy, and is doing it again in England – so to claim you were resting him in the final match before the international break is so much bull-honkey that the Mars Rover just called to ask me to tell you to stop lying. This was about flexing your managerial muscle, trying to prove to everyone that you actually run the show at Old Trafford and not the greatest player on the planet, and it backfired so spectacularly that I could genuinely hear my neighbor laughing through the walls at full time. He’s a lifelong City fan, by the way. Also, benching Pogba while he’s in the form of his life and continuing to play Fred – who was bullied off the ball by Demari Gray who weighs about 110 pounds soaking wet – should be a sackable offense all on its own. I said last week that Everton are a different beast under Rafael Benítez and they proved that here. They never looked overwhelmed, even after going a goal down, and it isn’t hyperbole to say that the way he’s gotten Townsend and Gray playing to their full potentials is miraculous. Everton currently sits two points off the Premier League summit and fully deserves to be there. They may not win the league, but they’re becoming my dark horse pick for the Champions League spots.
Chelsea 3 Southampton 1
Don’t let the final score fool you, this was a lot closer than it suggests. In fact, while the scores were level it really looked as if Chelsea were going to struggle to break down a Southampton defense that was putting in the kind of performance that saw them hold Man City to a draw a few weeks back. Then Mendy sold Jorginho a short pass, Ward-Prowse went steaming into a challenge he had no chance of winning, nearly broke Jorginho in half and saw a red card for his trouble. I’ve seen fans and journalists alike arguing over whether it was a sending-off offense and I’ll settle that argument for you right now. It was, he could’ve broken the guy’s leg, don’t be so bloody stupid. After that, it was only a matter of time before Chelsea got the result they needed and when Timo Werner scored – which I’m pretty sure is one of the signs of the apocalypse – it was a forgone conclusion. They left it late, mind you, and if Southampton had all their players on the pitch there’s a very good chance they wouldn’t have. As for The Saints, I’ve already said they’re going to regret not replacing Danny Ings in the summer and I stand by it. Goals win games and nowhere is this more important than in a league that will eat you alive in the blink of an eye.
Wolves 2 Newcastle 1
Newcastle are going down. Sorry, Toon Army. I know we’re only seven games into this season but there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that I’ve seen from your team this season that even remotely suggests that they are up for a relegation battle. At least, not under the Human Cabbage that is Steve Bruce. I read last week that Bruce was so despondent and so disillusioned with life at Newcastle that he was contemplating walking away from the job. If he cares about the club as he claims he does then that’s what he should do. Otherwise, by the time Ashley decides that he needs a new manager more than he needs the severance pay he’d have to fork out to get rid of him, you’ll be so far adrift that even The Avengers couldn’t save you. As for Wolves, they’ll be alright, mid to top half finish and in Hwang Hee-chan they’ve got an exciting prospect. He looks proper and if he keeps this up for the rest of the season the biggest problem they’ll have is keeping hold of him next year.
Burnley 0 Norwich 0
Boring as hell. Norwich picked up a point – which is one more than I thought they’d pick up all season – and Burnley looked average, at best. Snorefest all around.
Leeds 1 Watford 0
Leeds got their first win of the season and Watford sacked their manager the following day. I was so close. I said it’d be Wednesday but they jumped the gun. Bastards! At the time of writing this, it’s rumored that Claudio Ranieri is lined up to take over the hot-seat – though why anyone would want that poisoned chalice is beyond me – but unless he forgets how to manage, and with Newcastle, Southampton, and Burnley all forgetting how to football, Watford should be alright. Leeds were impressive, as they’ve been all season, and this time they got the result their play has richly deserved thanks to Diego Llorente.
Brighton 0 Arsenal 0
21 shots. Brighton had 21 shots in total against Arsenal in the evening kick-off and do you know how many of them were on target? Two. That’s an awful stat. For all the good that Brighton have done this season until they get a bonafide goalscorer then when their good start to the season bubble pops – and it will – they’ll be fighting relegation once again. Stupidly, I expected more from Arsenal this weekend. Having put their hated rivals Spurs to the sword last time out, I fully expected them to push on. Yet, this was nowhere near the level of the previous performance and if Brighton had their shooting boots on, it could’ve easily been another loss for The Gooners.
Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 1
Villa manager, Dean Smith, said in his post-match interview that the difference between the two teams was Son Heung-min, and he was right. With Nuno seemingly struggling to earn the respect of the fans and players, and Harry Kane still sulking around the pitch like my three-year-old after she’s been told she can’t watch any more Blippi – if you know, you know – Son took it upon himself to drag Spurs to a much-needed win and three points. He put in a masterclass, proving once again that if the world was a just place, it’d be his door the big clubs were knocking down and not the England captains. Were Villa unlucky not to get a point? Yes, I think so, but when you’ve got someone like Son on the pitch who can turn a game in an instant, then they don’t really have a lot to complain about.
West Ham 1 Brentford 2
Another week, another stellar performance from Brentford. This team will not lay down for anyone and having played out a magnificent 3-3 draw with Liverpool last weekend, they snatched all three points here with the very last kick of the game. It was a rip-roaring 90 plus with a combined 31 shots in total, 11 of which were on target, but it was the final one from the boot of Yoane Wissa in the 95th minute that saw Brentford run out winners. He’s making habit of these last gasp goals, having scored against Liverpool in the 82nd minute last weekend to make it 3-3, and he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on this season. West Ham looked good again and were unlucky to lose, and I’ll hold my hands up now and admit that I was wrong about David Moyes. When he returned to the club, I thought that Golem would fail miserably again, but The Hammers look a force to be reckoned with, and it’s still early doors. Expect them to be there or thereabouts in the battle for the European spots, come the end of the season.
Crystal Palace 2 Leicester City 2
I’ve been saying for weeks now that Leicester seems a little off this season, and nowhere was this more evident than here, where they threw away a two-goal lead at half-time against a Palace team that showed more testicular fortitude than a room full of Mick Foleys. The thing is, you know it was coming. Even with a seemingly insurmountable lead, there was always that thought in the back of the mind that said “If Palace score, Leicester are going to collapse”. And that’s what happened. I’m taking nothing away from the Eagles here – their improvement under Patrick Viera is astonishing – but as soon as the score went to 2-1, it was obvious that The Foxes defensive frailties would see them collapse quicker than my gran if you kicked her walking stick away from her. Brendan Rodgers needs to sort out his backline and sort it out quickly, or Leicester will be lucky to get Europa Conference football for 2022.
Liverpool 2 Man City 2
What a godd*mn game. What a godd*mn game! I try to refrain from swearing here on SPOBS but f*ck me, that had everything, didn’t it? A first-half that saw Man City swarm all over Liverpool and yet fail to convert their chances. A second-half that saw Liverpool improve 100%, Mane score the opener before Fodden equalized, James Milner not getting sent off for his second bookable offense in the 72nd minute – sorry James, you should’ve walked – before Mo Salah scored an absolute worldy and De Bruyne leveling it for The Blues in the 81st. But that wasn’t the whole tale. Normally, these big matches fail to live up to the hype. You spend the entire week looking forward to the battle of the big teams and they, usually, play out a sterile, boring draw or a sneaky 1-0 win. This was not that. It was like watching Ali vs. Frazier in The Thrilla in Manila. Two world-class heavyweights, just standing in the ring throwing shots at each other. Neither Liverpool nor City were going to back down from this fight and it was glorious. If you’re reading this out of curiosity – and have never seen a Premier League match before – then go watch Liverpool vs. City, it’s the perfect advert for the Premier League.
I didn’t do one of these last week – mainly because I am old, senile, and I forgot – but I feel that nearly all of this weekend’s games were of the highest quality. Sure, there were a couple of misses – Burnley vs. Norwich springs to mind – but overall the Premier League delivered once again. It is a pleasure to watch some of the greatest teams ever assembled duke it out, and this season is going to be the closest one yet. If Liverpool can keep their unbeaten run going past October, then they’ve got to be favorites for the title. This is down to the fact that they’ve only got Man Utd left to face out of the other top three teams before the turn of the year, while City and Chelsea both have to face The Red Devils, and Man Utd are a tad boned if Ole is still in charge. But that’s the beauty of the Premier League, come back in a few weeks after the International break and there’s a very good chance that Everton could be sat astride the pack. With two points separating the top six, all it takes is one weekend of results going their way and they’re your new Premier League leaders. Also, it’s a pleasure to watch Mo Salah play and he is, currently, the best player on the planet. He turns it on every time he steps onto the grass, and if Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, or Ronaldo had scored that goal against City, the press would be breaking their backs to kiss their arses. Anyway, that’s it from me for now. I may do Hits or Misses for the International break, or I may not as International football bores the hell out of me. Either way, I’ll be back on Oct. 19th for another Premier League Review. Until then, look after yourselves.