10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 6
What happened in the Premier League this weekend? Almost everything.
Liverpool dropped points again and was a little fortunate to get one from struggling rivals Everton. Man City dominated Aston Villa but walked away with a draw. Manchester United beat Arsenal to end the last perfect start to the Premier League season.
Oh, and VAR. That’s a big topic. Chelsea got three points instead of one, while Newcastle’s chances of the same fate were stopped for... some reason?
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Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
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Let’s get to it.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 6
1. Aggressive United rattle Arsenal’s slick youngsters (Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal): In waves Arsenal’s slick attackers pulled United all over the place. But it was United’s blunt aggression which ground Arsenal down over the 90 minutes. McTominay rattled into challenges, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane kept chipping away at the lively Gabriel Jesus and Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia both never stopped surging up and down their flank. Arsenal’s young side were very impressive but United just battered them. (JPW)
2. VAR leaves many questioning views, what’s clear and obvious (Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace | Chelsea 2-1 West Ham): Let’s start up North, where Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita was rocked by Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock on what looked destined to be a Tyrick Mitchell own goal specifically because Mitchell shoved the onrushing Magpie into the keeper. There was a question whether the referee saw only the angle broadcast caught him reviewing or if he saw other views which showed a pretty clear push. Was it hard enough? Sure seemed so, and Newcastle was denied a go-ahead goal on a play which hardly seemed to require rectifying...
Then there was the London derby between Chelsea and West Ham. Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy’s soft bid to clear a ball out of danger saw a leaping Jarrod Bowen clip the keeper’s arm on his followthrough. Mendy stayed down, grabbing his arm, as West Ham’s Maxwel Cornet collected the rebound and lashed the ball upper 90 to give West Ham a 2-2 score line. But wait! VAR asked referee Andy Madley to take a peak at the possible foul, which not a single Chelsea player was protesting. Prodded by suggestion, the referee now sees something in the leaping Bowen’s back foot dragging into Mendy and calls off the goal. Surprising if not shocking, as Chelsea catches a huge break. The Premier League’s reportedly apologized to both offended clubs, which doesn’t help them on the table. (NM)
3. Haaland might break the Premier League goals record (Aston Villa 1-1 Man City): He really might. Erling Haaland is on pace for 63.3 goals in his first league season with Manchester City. He won’t even get 50, but we have to consider 40 as a legitimate option: Haaland scored 10 times through six games. That’s if he stays selfish, because the Norwegian is looking more and more comfortable in possession play, deferring to teammates on occasion on a day he could’ve had two assists. (NM)
4. Someone weird is going down this year, and Leicester has to internalize that (Brighton 5-2 Leicester): The Foxes won the Premier League in recent memory and have been to European competition more than once. But the investment and relative strength of two newly-promoted clubs and a pair of wins for the third seem to indicate that we’ve reached an age where a more traditional Premier League club could go down this year. Leicester’s defending was ravaged on Sunday. There’s no other way to put it, and it’s fair to say that the Foxes as currently constructed are probable to be in a relegation fight all season. (NM)
5. Richarlison makes an impact every game he plays (Spurs 2-1 Fulham): Richarlison has played all of 167 PL minutes this season, including 90 in his first start on Saturday, and it’s already clear that he’ll overtake one of Dejan Kulusevski or Son Heung-min for a regular starting spot sometime soon. The Swede and the Korean certainly apply themselves defensively to a satisfactory degree for Conte, but Richarlison takes the gritty, hard-nosed part of the game to an entirely different level. No longer forced to carry a relegation-threatened side as the main striker, the Brazilian has injected energy and intensity into a side which sometimes lacked those key intangibles in the past. Out of possession, he’s a ball-seeking box-to-box midfielder. In possession, he’s popping up in dangerous areas to link and facilitate play in a way that flows to Kane, rather than always through him.(AE)
6. Liverpool’s injury-hit squad stretched to its limit (Everton 0-0 Liverpool): This Liverpool side looked tired after their dramatic win against Newcastle in midweek. Jurgen Klopp started with youngsters Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott in midfield and Liverpool just never really had control of the game. That said, Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nunez all hit the woodwork and on another day they could have snatched the win. All-in-all, a draw was a fair result and Jurgen Klopp will praise the effort and commitment of his banged-up squad. The Reds have a UEFA Champions League trip to Napoli to kick off a marathon of midweek and weekend action pretty much from here until the World Cup in November. Liverpool simply cannot have any more injuries; That is why Robertson started and Alexander-Arnold was taken off. But the biggest impact of injuries has been in midfield as Liverpool couldn’t control the game. (JPW)
7. Ivan Toney producing like one of the PL’s best (Brentford 5-2 Leeds): Six games into the season, Toney has five goals and two assists to his name after tallying 12 and five last season. There’s plenty more that Toney does for Brentford, much of which doesn’t show up without digging deep into the advanced stats, and while it’s all well and good that he’s aerially dominant and able to hold the ball up against any defender in the Premier League, it’s the “putting the ball in the back of the net” part of his job which separates the Bees from other sides in the bottom half of the PL hierarchy. He’s virtually automatic from the penalty spot, he’s a marksman on free kicks and he’s as composed and confident as anyone from anywhere on the field — all of which were evidenced in his first PL hat trick on Saturday. (AE)
8. Little bit of luck finally arrives ahead of tough run for Wolves (Wolves 1-0 Southampton): They have deserved to win a few games this season but luck has not been with them. It was with them on Saturday. From Podence’s scuffed shot to Che Adams’ incredible error, Wolves dug deep and worked as hard as ever and they had the rub of the green. They now face Manchester City and Liverpool and some of the pressure is off Lage after their first win in 13 Premier League games. Given their performances, there is no way they should have been on that run but my word, are they glad it is over. (JPW)
9. Gary O’Neil staking a claim for Bournemouth job (Nottingham Forest 3-2 Bournemouth): He has had a few impressive stops (including Liverpool’s U23s) on his coaching career so far and O’Neil has plenty of Premier League experience as a player. He is now using that at Bournemouth and his players have responded to his tactics and methods in just a few days. He switched formations at half time to 3-52 and it worked wonderfully as Bournemouth’s wing backs bamboozled Forest. He may not get the top job this time but O’Neil is staking his claim to be an important part of the coaching staff at Bournemouth, or elsewhere in the PL, in the future. (JPW)
10. Villa shows well for under-fire Steven Gerrard (Villa 1-1 Man City): The goal came out of nothing, and so, in a sense, did the performance. Steven Gerrard has been ready to credit his team’s effort in their losing run, preferring to put the onus on the club’s mistakes instead. There were a lot fewer of the latter on Saturday, as Emiliano Martinez and Tyrone Mings kept the defending unit as compact as possible and ready to counter attack. In truth, Villa will feel aggrieved to not have gone up 2-1 on Philippe Coutinho’s offside goal that wasn’t, but it’s impossible to know whether City would’ve reacted differently to the Brazilian’s post-whistle shot from distance. (NM)