The Premier League returned after the international break with a bang. Over the ten games played, it became much clearer who would be for the title and the European places and who looked like relegation contenders. The one-week break also allowed teams time to work on the new signings who had signed on deadline day.
Another big worry was how these players would perform, with some being in action for their national teams as few as three days before representing their clubs. This affected the performance as this game week only saw 22 goals being scored as compared to 41 scored in the previous one.
However, these five games have now indicated the good, bad or ugly to each team. This week also saw many upsets, which are now becoming the norm rather than the exception for the league. So, what did we learn from game week five of the Premier League?
Manchester City, Liverpool look like proper title contenders
For the better part of the last five seasons, the Premier League has seen a two-horse race for the title between Liverpool and Manchester City. And this season is starting to show glimpses of it. Both the teams were travelling on the road, facing formidable opponents. Liverpool faced Wolverhampton Wanderers and fell behind early as Hwang Hee-Chan opened the scoring.
The hosts continued the pressure and had several chances with Pedro Neto, especially giving Trent Alexander Arnold a hard time. Alexis Mac Allister, who had just returned after playing against Bolivia at the Estadio Hernando Siles, one of the most challenging places to play owing to its height and lack of oxygen, was especially very lacklustre, giving the ball away several times.
The second half, though, was a completely different story as Mohamed Salah worked his magic as a creator rather than goalscorer by providing three assists to help Liverpool go top of the table for a few hours.
Meanwhile, Manchester City also faced one of their toughest challenges away to David Moyes’ West Ham United. The Hammers started the game brilliantly as their star player, James Ward Prowse, opened the scoring.
However, City played their natural game, forcing the opponents to make a mistake, and the goals finally came courtesy of new signing Jeremy Doku. From there on, City kept up the pressure as West Ham defended gallantly but found the defending champions’ attack too hot to handle. Bernardo Silva got the second goal, which forced the hosts to attack as they searched for the equaliser. This opened up gaps in the pitch, which City exploited to the full, and Erling Haaland put the final nail in the coffin to maintain City’s 100 per cent winning record.
Manchester United, Chelsea keep getting progressively worse
It’s been just five games into the new season, but Manchester United have already faced plenty of problems. First, their right winger Antony was accused of domestic violence and, as a result, was suspended by the Brazilian Football Federation and has not been part of the team ever since. In addition, their other winger, Jadon Sancho, is also not in the team after a spat with Erik Ten Hag.
And the performance on the pitch has been equally worse, with United suffering a 3-1 defeat at home to Brighton. The defeat highlighted that despite finishing third last season, the team has gotten worse. The lack of cohesion, especially in the back four, has been a constant theme across the five games. Their next game comes in the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich, their strongest opponent yet. And if they perform similarly against the German champions, things could go south quickly.
However, as bad as United have been, they are still better than Chelsea, for whom even scoring a goal is looking a tall order. Chelsea’s journey after the end of the Roman Abrahimovic era has been the stuff of nightmares. Despite spending over £1 billion, Chelsea look by far the most disjointed team in the league. The attack has failed to fire, while the defence has been far from perfect.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also facing the heat after the recent goalless draw against Bournemouth. While Chelsea scored through Lewi Colwill, he was in an offside position. In fact, barring Raheem Sterling, none of the players contributed meaningfully to the attack.
The only positive Chelsea can take from the game is the one-week time they have to prepare for the next game against Aston Villa.
Tottenham, Brighton continue to impress
Before the start of the season, the news was dominated by the transfer activity of top clubs. However, what went under the radar were the shrewd signings that were made in spades by teams such as Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton. Despite losing their biggest stars over the summer, the two teams have strengthened themselves by smartly using the money received to improve the squad across the board.
Under Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham have become ‘mentality monsters’, and their recent game against Sheffield United was a perfect example. Being 1-0 down, the team scored two late goals, the first in the eighth minute of injury time and the second three minutes later.
One of them was scored by RIcharlison, which will come as a massive relief to Postecoglou, who just two days before had said that the club would do everything in their capacity to help the striker get into form.
Meanwhile, Brighton put in an almost flawless display to come away with all three points from Old Trafford. The Seagulls started the game aggressively, pressing their opponents to create chances. This, coupled with some lacklustre defending from United, was what led to the opening goal from Dany Welbeck.
United then went on the offensive and scored through Rasmus Hojlund, but the goal was disallowed as the ball had gone out of play. Meanwhile, Brighton kept the pressure and got their second, followed by another disaster class from the defence. The visitors added another goal through Joao Pedro to seal the result, with Hannibal Mejbri’s goal being nothing more than a consolation for United.
Arsenal ground out an ugly win
One of the significant reasons why Arsenal’s Premier League faltered last season was their inability to win ugly, which is the hallmark of champions. This is why their away win against Everton will be a huge boost for Mikel Arteta. At their best, hardly any defence can keep the Gunners at bay. However, what big teams do is win even when they are playing far from their best.
Facing an Everton side who are in the relegation zone, Arsenal, for the most part, failed to make anything out of their 74 per cent possession of the ball. The teams took 13 shots in total, with only four on target. However, in the 69th minute, Leandro Trossard finally got the game’s opening and winning goal.
After the goal, Arsenal controlled the game, allowing the opposition little time on the ball and taking all three points home.