Goals, Goals and More Goals: Week 4 Talking Points

Premier League 20/21 Week 4: Talking Points

I’m sure we all thought last weekend’s Premier League fixtures would produce some surprising results, but that speculation has turned out to be absolutely nothing compared to some of the final scores we got this weekend, in particular, three fixtures that took place on Sunday. It was goal after goal after goal! There is so much to unpack from week four of the Premier League season, so lets get started.

Excellent Everton… Again

I know, I know. I’m talking about Everton again, but there’s good reason for that—they’ve just been that good. The new signings have been superb, and the squad that were already at the club look to have dramatically improved under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti.

The player who looks to have improved the most under the stewardship of Ancelotti is striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He has become a lethal one-touch finisher in the box, which was evident again on Saturday as he scored the opening goal of a 4-2 win over Brighton, his 9th goal of the campaign. His form has been rewarded by England boss Gareth Southgate, who has called the 23 year-old up to the national team for the first time.

As good as Everton were on Saturday, between their clinical counter-attacks and excellent defensive shape for the majority of the game, the performance of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will yet again be a cause for concern for the manager, as the Everton and England number 1 dropped a simple catch to allow Neal Maupay to equalise in the first half. With a huge Merseyside Derby against Liverpool on the horizon after the international break, Ancelotti has a big decision on his hands. Does he stick with an out-of-form Pickford, or does he pluck for new signing Robin Olsen, who arrived from Roma on deadline day? It’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on as the fixture rolls around.

Leicester Brought Back Down to Earth by the Hammers

Following their drubbing of Manchester City last week, Leicester fans surely would’ve expected their side to stroll past West Ham, but that was not the case at all as the Hammers came out 3-0 winners at the King Power Stadium.  There were clear issues for Leicester, especially how exposed the defence looked every time West Ham got on the counter, but the Hammers’ confidence and real quality finishing was something unseen so far for large parts of David Moyes’ second spell at the club.

Now, I’m not saying West Ham are better off without David Moyes on the sideline and at training, but they’d won just three of their last eleven league games following the restart of the Premier League in June of this year, while they’ve won both of their games since he’s been at home quarantining following his positive Covid-19 test result, a very interesting turn of fortunes.

As for Leicester, they’ll be hoping to bounce back after the international break, while West Ham will be hoping they can continue their recent fine form in two weeks’ time.

Spurs Decimate Manchester United

Many people expected a tight game on Sunday between these two sides, but what we got instead was a massacre of Manchester United that sums up just how far they’ve fallen as a club over the last seven years since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in May of 2013. The same problems that plagued David Moyes in his spell in charge in 2013/14 is almost the exact same as the one Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will face over the course of this season: how do you win games when you have a defence that simply cannot defend? Since 2013, Manchester United have spent over a billion pounds in the transfer market, but they have not possessed a single top class defender in that time. How is it possible that a team can spend so much money but not have a squad that’s anywhere near close enough to challenging for a league title?

Many Red Devils fans were clamouring for the signing of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, when it was painfully obvious from early on that they weren’t going to get him. Fans should’ve instead been clamouring for a new back four. Man United have five senior centre backs; Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe. There is a common denominator between these four central defenders; they’re all error prone.

That was painfully clear for the opening goal on Sunday as Harry Maguire, who by the way was Manchester United’s club captain last season, made three consecutive mistakes in less than ten seconds before Tanguy Ndombele’s equaliser after four minutes. Harry Maguire cost £85 million last summer from Leicester City. There are very few, if any, defenders in the Premier League that are capable of making three mistakes in ten seconds that lead to a goal, one of which includes pulling his own teammates to the ground. It really is incredible how some of the players in that team are at the club.

At the end of it all, I actually felt quite sorry for right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is in fact a very talented young man and someone who could become a top player in the future, but I don’t know how he’ll ever develop his game around the rest of the players in that defence. David De Gea should’ve been dropped from the starting XI two years ago. None of the central defenders should be anywhere near the club and, unfortunately for Luke Shaw, he is nowhere near the level he was once at prior to his horrific leg break.

On the other side of things, Tottenham were absolutely magnificent. The Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son link-up play was superb again as they opened up the Man United defence time and time again. Things were made easier for Spurs following Anthony Martial’s red card, when the game was still in the balance at 2-1, but that is no excuse for how poor Man United were. They were so disorganised all over the pitch, which gave Tottenham so much space to play into throughout the game. It was a day to remember for Jose Mourinho and Spurs but it was an utterly disgraceful day in the history of Manchester United, and it symbolised just how far from grace they have fallen since 2013.

Aston Villa Blow the Champions Away

Going into the final game of the weekend, we would’ve all been thinking that things would calm down a bit as focus switched to Villa Park, where Aston Villa faced reigning champions Liverpool. What we witnessed over the next ninety minutes, however, was one of the most shocking results the Premier League has ever seen. Liverpool hadn’t conceded seven goals in a game since 1964, but Aston Villa updated that record for them as they absolutely dismantled a Liverpool team that looked like they’d completely forgotten how they were supposed to play. They held a high line, but their signature high pressing was nowhere to be seen as Aston Villa players found themselves in acres of space, allowing them to play passes over the top of the Liverpool defence to their front three of Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins and Trezeguet.

They, along with new arrival Ross Barkley, caused Liverpool constant problems throughout, with Ollie Watkins managing a hat-trick, his first goals in the Premier League. Dean Smith was clearly delighted after the game, as he should be. His side utterly dominated the Premier League Champions from start to finish, capping off a weekend of unexpected results.

Performance of the Week

Ollie Watkins

It’s rare a player scores his first Premier League goal against the league champions, but it’s even more rare to score the perfect hat-trick against them. Ollie Watkins, signed for 33 million from Brentford in the summer, put in a performance for the history books on Sunday as he bagged his first goals in the claret and blue of Aston Villa. He wasn’t satisfied though, as he said he was disappointed he hadn’t scored more, having missed two great chances towards the end to add to his goal tally. That is the type of attitude that will see a striker succeed at the top level, and if Watkins can continue such goal-scoring and continue his development, he will become one of the most feared strikers in English football.

Written by Gerard Mooney

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