Thankfully the English Premiership returned on the 14th of October after a fortnight of international football. Congratulations to the national teams that have secured a place in Russia and all the best to the teams who still have a thing or two ore to do before they take part in the showpiece in Russia next summer. Enough small talk and lets us get into the games of matchday 8 that started a roller coaster of emotions for the true fans of English football.
United frustrate the Reds in front of the Kop
The first game of the match day was the fiercest rivalry in English football. With the early kick-off on a sunny Saturday; a day that a new stand was commissioned and named after the legendary Kenny Daglish; former player and manager of Liverpool. The Kop must have been relishing the thought of defeating arch rivals Man United and denting the title hopes of the Red Devils by inflicting the first defeat of their season.
This was not to be as the foxy United manager; Jose Mourinho set up his team in a very cautious manner that made it difficult for the Reds to get enough chances on goal. The Reds were without Sadio Mane but the attacking trio of Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firminho and Mohammed Salah were enough to pose major threats to the United defence with the latter forcing a world class save from David De Gea with an effort from close range late in the first half.
Romelu Lukaku had the only real chance for the Manchester United team but hesitated and had his shot saved by fellow Belgian, Simon Mignolet. The second half did not have a lot of chances, this led to Jurgen Klopp accusing Jose Mourinho of engaging negative tactics. The game ended goalless as United continue their unbeaten start to the season and remain second on the log. Liverpool are 8th on the table and they are a total of 7 points behind their rivals from Manchester.
Wilfried Zaha; Prince of the Palace
Crystal Palace hosted the defending champions of the league after playing seven games and losing ll without conceding a goal. It seemed like a bad time to host a Chelsea side that featured Balon d’or nominee, Eden Hazard although Kante and Morata were out injured. Chelsea had demolished Stoke at the Britannia and lost their last game by a narrow score line to “unstoppable City”. Palace were without main striker and major goal threat Cristian Benteke and some fans expected it to be a routine win for Chelsea.
Wilfried Zaha however had other plans as he stepped up to the plate and delivered a performance that the football idols would be proud off. He made countless runs off the back of the Chelsea defenders that made them remain in sixes and sevens. A Cabaye shot deflected off Azpilicueta and gave Hodgson’s men their first goal of the season. Bakayoko pulled one back with a header from a corner but Zaha danced his way through the Chelsea defence and slotted in a cool finish just before the end of the first half.
The game ended 2-1 leaving the Chelsea manager with a lot of worries as they slipped to 5th position on the table. Conte must figure out how to keep his team fresh and fit especially with the added stress that comes with European competitions. Palace remain bottom of the table and are still 5 points away from safety, however they must remain hopeful that their luck has changed for good after their performance last time out.
Spurs finally win at Wembley
A goal from Christian Eriksen gave Spurs their first premier league win at Wembley as they beat Bournemouth 1-0 on Saturday. The visitors tried to break the Tottenham defence in the first half with Eric Dier almost putting the ball in his own net. Kane also tested the opposition defence as he hopes to start scoring in Wembley so that the general home form of Tottenham may improve.
The game ended with late drama as Jermain Defoe came on and tried to inflict hurt on his former club. Hugo Lloris denied the Englishman to secure the win. Spurs remain third on the log as they look to challenge for the title for the third consecutive season. Bournemouth are 19th on the table, it is pretty early in the season but the manager must realize that they need to string a couple of consecutive wins that would take them out of the trouble zone.
Shark Team claims another victim
Manchester City seemed to struggle at the start of the season with unconvincing wins at Brighton and a draw at home to Everton. These days, they merely turn on the style and put opposition to the sword with a perfect blend of few touches, possession football that creates chances every few seconds.
The Manchester City scored seven goals on Saturday thereby damaging the morale and performance of their opponents, Stoke. The Potters managed to pull two back when they were three goals down in the first half but City remained calm before drilling four in after the break. Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne particularly impressed as the Citizens remain top of the table after 8 games.
Watford; The Silva Lining
Arsenal traveled to Watford for the late kick-off on Saturday after Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea had dropped massive points. The Gunners were hoping to capitalize and close the gap but the Hornets had other plans and bigger dreams of their own.
The gunners took the lead early on with Per Mertesacker turning in a cross from Granit Xhaka and it looked like a routine win. Watford continued to string good passes together but they lacked the all-important touch in the final third. In the second half, Hector Bellerin fouled a Watford player that was tricky with his change of pace in the box and Troy Deeney converted the resulting penalty.
With the last kick of the game, Tom Cleverly smashed the ball into the top corner from close range and handed Marco Silva’s men a winning goal that s the foundations of the Vicarage. Watford lie 4th on the table after 8 games while Arsenal remain sixth.
….in other games.
Burnley and West Ham played a 1-1 draw just like Everton and Brighton on Sunday and Swansea defeated Huddersfield 2-0 at The Liberty Stadium. Southampton and Newcastle played another draw that ended 2-2 at St. Mary’s. Leicester struggled to hold West Bromwich Albion to a 1-1 draw in a game that turned out to be the last for Craig Shakespeare as Leicester manager.