Manchester City increased their lead in the standings to seven points with a win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Troubled Fulham beat Everton 2-0, while Arsenal beat Leeds 4-2 and Chelsea beat Newcastle 2-0.
Wolves and Burnley also won, while Brighton finished scoreless against Aston Villa.
Consult my team of the week and make your own choice at the end of the article.
Goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Emiliano Martinez: A stop from Leandro Trossard at the start of the game against Brighton gave an indication of the form Martinez is currently in. I particularly liked the save from Dan Byrne, whose header looked like a sure goal if Martinez hadn’t been so athletic. Joel Weltman was the next to fail. Danny Welbeck made a brilliant stop at the first post that surprised everyone but Martinez. The Argentine is looking for all the elements of a top four goalscorer, and if he can’t do it with Villa, I suggest he does it with someone else.
defenders – Matthew Lawton (Burnley), Joachim Andersen (Fulham), Issa Diop (West Ham)
Matthew Lawton: Burnley’s return to the Premier League should not be underestimated. The Lancashire team has won and drawn three of its last six league games. She is eight points ahead of the last three. Two months ago, they looked dead and buried. The man of the match against an uninspired Crystal Palace was Burnley’s Matthew Lawton, who normally clears in goal, but excelled in his goal. I have great respect for Roy Hodgson, but I hope he quits at the end of the season and on his terms. The Palace must move forward and Eddie Howe is an absolute necessity. Howe could be their next Steve Coppell.
Joachim Andersen: What a result for Fulham and Scotty Parker. Everton are another team in the race for FA Cup glory, and that could come at the cost of a season in the top four where anything seems possible. Fulham took advantage of an Everton squad that looked unconvincing after the nine-goal thriller against Spurs in midweek. But the star of the show was Joachim Andersen, who made headlines and seemed to intercept every ball that entered Fulham’s penalty area. A win that will ring alarm bells, especially for Brighton, Burnley and Newcastle, who are slowly but surely being dragged into the relegation battle.
Issa Diop: I must be dreaming. West Ham in the top four? They were for a brief moment after beating Sheffield United, who for the first time seemed to be a team resigned to their fate. The Hammers do exactly what Sheffield United don’t do: score goals, keep the zero and win football matches. Issa Diop returns to the squad after missing the last game through injury and it looks like he never left the squad. Great defensive effort from the man.
Midfielders – Jesse Lingard (West Ham), Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandez (Manchester United), Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)
Jesse Lingard: The way Jesse Lingard is currently playing at West Ham is casting doubt on the wisdom of Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to loan him out to East London. David Moyes knows all too well from his own time at Old Trafford what the youngster is capable of and plays him in a role that is perfect for the England international. When he is fit, and he is at the moment, his ability to move the game from defence to attack is better than anyone else’s and he showed that perfectly against Sheffield United. Sure, Manchester United have Bruno Fernandez, but if something happens to him, they might regret letting Lingard go.
Ilkay Gundogan: Well, I’ve been excited about Ilkay Gündogan for a while now. After Kevin de Bruyne’s injury, the German international was exceptional and carried City to the top of the league on his shoulders. I know anyone with a sharp mind could see his genius, but he was still a remarkable observer. The question now is: If Gündogan’s groin injury against Tottenham sidelines him for a while, can Phil Foden play that role and live up to the potential everyone dreams of? As for Spurs, Jose Mourinho convinces no one when he tries to make Tottenham fans believe that his side are fighting or bracing themselves for the job after eight goals against in two games.
Bruno Fernandez: Is Bruno Fernandez the only Manchester United player who believes he can win the title? What a chance to stay five points behind their arch-rivals Manchester City. Valuable points were given against a very ordinary West Brom. Where were Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford? They never showed up. If there was ever a day Fernandez needed some help from his friends, it’s now. United played an FA Cup match midweek, but could not have done better than against the Baggies. If United work so hard to win games like this, it could be difficult to finish in the top four, let alone win a title.
Harvey Barnes: Harvey Barnes has put Liverpool in trouble down the right-hand side. Clearly, the visitors didn’t think this emerging talent deserved more attention than usual. Well, they certainly paid for it. Trent Alexander-Arnold couldn’t handle Barnes’ mercurial for most of the day. The winger was responsible for a free kick that created a chance for Maddison, he made a brilliant save on Alisson’s shot (before the keeper collided with his own defender) and then finished the game with a brilliant goal for the champions. Former Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers must have taken great satisfaction from beating a team that kicked him out in disrespectful fashion.
Speakers – Timo Werner (Chelsea), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Pedro Neto (Wolves)
Timo Werner: It ended with 14 scoreless games when Timo Werner finally scored. Indeed, it was Werner who, with the help of Olivier Giroud, turned the game around for Chelsea after the Blues lost Tammy Abraham to a dubious tackle by Jamaal Lascelles, and then went on to do so. The cheers after Werner’s goal show that the player’s popularity among his teammates is proportional to his quality.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The old adage that a happy player is a good player seems to be working very well for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal captain put his family before football by looking after his ailing mother, with the problem compounded by the fact he had to leave the Arsenal coronavirus bubble to do so. Arsenal may have to do without him, but the Gunners were rewarded on his return with a stunning hat-trick from the Gabonese star. But if Leeds had started the game as it ended, the story would have been very different.
Pedro Neto: It was a match turned on its head by a shocking decision. Can anyone tell me what handball is? Graeme Scott’s penalty against Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand not only made a mockery of the Wolves game, but almost gave the visitors a point. But Pedro Neto’s goal was pure class. The Portuguese striker provided a magical moment to decide the match. However, the Premier League should take note that this new handball rule (as well as the offside rule) must be changed before fans return. A generation of players won’t be the only ones who can’t stand it.
There is no greater fear than hearing the ice crack beneath his feet. However, it looks like the cracks in Liverpool’s title defence are already showing in the first game of the season. Leeds United made things difficult for the champions and without VAR and a bit of luck, Liverpool would have lost out to the newcomers to the Premier League. Most of us heard a disturbing crackling sound Saturday night, but ignored the signs. The 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa shortly afterwards, a game in which the injured Virgil van Dijk is now playing, proved that something was wrong, but we decided to ignore the signs anyway. After all, it was Liverpool with a team full of world class players. But you don’t need a team of world-class players to have a crisis of confidence before the ship starts to sink – just one or two.
What we saw at Anfield, when Alisson appeared on the field of battle against Manchester City under immense pressure to try and retain the title, was the moment when suddenly everyone sat up and took notice. The reality is that we just ignored the evidence. As if the draws against Fulham and West Brom at Anfield weren’t enough, the home defeats against Brighton and Burnley should have made us realise that the Liverpool ship is not only damaged, but in danger of sinking. I have said several times this week that the relationship between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane is not ideal, while the team’s surrender at Leicester is another cause for concern. Sure, their fans can make a difference, but what’s the point of speculating? They’re not here.
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