After a week off for the International Break, the Premier League kicked off Matchweek 5 with a much anticipated derby on Merseyside and ended with a dramatic last minute goal in Yorkshire. Let’s take a look.
The game of the week isn’t always the prettiest contest, nor even necessarily the most thrilling. This week the nod goes to the most significant tilt on the list, a much anticipated Merseyside Derby that ended with no one quite satisfied, but began with an injury that throws the champions title defense into doubt.
It had been ten years to the day since Everton last defeated their next door neighbors Liverpool in league play. But with the Toffees riding an unbeaten start and the Reds still reeling from their 7-2 evisceration at the claws of the Lions at Villa Park last time out, hopes were high at the whistle for Everton to finally get that monkey off their back.
Liverpool looked fine in their opening salvo, displaying their trademark slick passing to set up an Andy Robertson cross to a Sadio Mane finish only three minutes in. The Reds were charging again a couple minutes later when disaster struck. The best center back in the world perhaps, Virgil Van Dijk, having pushed forward for a corner kick was taken down by a truly reckless challenge in the box by the Everton keeper Jordan Pickford. As the big Dutchman limped off the field with what turned out to be a potentially season ending ACL injury, the broadcast team and the fans at home watched the replay befuddled. Van Dijk was offsides, so there was no penalty to award, but no one could adequately explain why Pickford wasn’t shown a red card for endangering the safety of his opponent.
Joe Gomez, who had been replaced by Joel Matip in the lineup after his poor play against Aston Villa, came off the bench and Liverpool soldiered on. Micheal Keane headed in a James Rodriguez’s corner at twenty minutes to level the match at 19 minutes, but Mo Salah put Liverpool back on top after the half with a sensational volley at 72 minutes. Nine minutes later Dominic Calvert -Lewin headed in his 7th of the young season to pull even again.
The match went screwy again as we entered extra time. Notable Brazilian hothead Richarlison was sent off and handed a three game ban for a challenge that could have broken Thiago’s leg. And at the death a Liverpool matchwinner, this time from Mane to Robertson, was overturned when VAR decided that Sadio Mane was a micrometer offside to start the play.
Everton comes out ahead in the exchange, staying out of the loss column and holding on to their spot despite Liverpool looking the better side for most of the match. Meanwhile Liverpool are not only angry about the outcome, but are now facing a season without their defensive lynchpin. Last season it was Aymeric Laporte’s early season injury that derailed the Man City’s title defense, losing VVD may be an even bigger blow to the Reds campaign.
The Rest of the Weekend: Wolves and Villa win Squeakers, Chelsea and Spurs are Big Leakers
This week was the first of the year to provide us with a bunch of draws. Crystal Palace versus Brighton and Hove Albion ended 1-1 when Alexis Mac Allister deposited his first goal in the top flight to save a point for the Seagulls in the 90th minute of a chippy affair between two longtime rivals. Sheffield United and Fulham were looking at the first scoreless draw of the season before a flurry of late activity got both teams a goal to go with their point. That dubious distinction went to West Bromwich and Burnley, who flailed uselessly against each other for 90 minutes at the Hawthorns.
Two other matches were headed for the dreaded nil nil result but were setteled by dramatic late goals. A Leicester City side without a dinged up Jamie Vardy struggled to gain purchase against a stubborn Aston Villa squad. It wasn’t a dull affair though, as the teams combined for 21 shots and nine on target. But it was Ross Barkley, liberated on loan from Chelsea’s bench who got the last shot in with next to no time on the clock for the 1-0 victory. At Ellend Road, a Leeds United team eager to prove they deserve their spot hosted the last team to rocket out of the Championship red hot, Wolverhampton Wanderers. There was little to separate the two until Raul Jimenez, who recently committed to another four years with Wolves, scored his third of the year in the 70th minute for the 1-0 result. And Manchester City did it the other way around, with Raheem Sterling scoring early and then hanging on against a puissant Arsenal attack for their own 1-0 win.
Two of the Top Six built up early leads, only to surrender to late game heroic’s from the underdogs. Timo Werner established the lead for Chelsea over Southampton with his first two goals in blue, but the Saints clawed each strike back, first with a Danny Ings breakaway against the run of play to close out the half. Then Che Adams took advantage of a defensive mixup to equalize just after the break. The Blues other big signing from Germany, Kai Havertz got them back in front soon after, but they couldn’t hold out until the final whistle as big defender Jannik Vestergaard headed in a set piece play in the 92nd minute.
Spurs had an even more epic collapse against visiting West Ham. Son Heung-Min scored only a minute into the contest, assisted once again by Harry Kane, then the two switched roles for Kane’s strike seven minutes later. Kane added another at 18 minutes and it looked like a rout was on. The Hammers stiffened their defense, even when Gareth Bale finally made his return to the Tottenham pitch. With just ten minutes of regulation left Fabián Balbuena found the net for West Ham, just to keep up appearances. But then Davidson Sanchez did his own team dirty with his head for an own goal three minutes later and suddenly West Ham had hope. And attacking midfielder Manuel Lanzini fulfilled that hope with the goal of his life with extra time ticking away, a strike into the top right corner from the other side of London it seemed.
Finally, a slow clap for Manchester United. The opening goal of their match against Newcastle was a bad clearance by Luke Shaw into his own net. But that was the only rake United stepped on as they settled down and handily dispatched the Magpies 4-1. The Red Devils needed the boost in esteem, and it paid dividends when they opened their Champions League campaign with a solid 2-1 victory of last year’r runner up Paris St. Germain on Tuesday.
It’s still a wide open league folks, this might be the year for another surprise winner.
“From our Haus to Yours