Premier League Roundup: Five talking points from Saturday's matches

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© Getty Images

Premier League Roundup: Five talking points from Saturday's matches

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Abhishek Iyer


After two weeks of boring international football, fans were glad to see the Premier League return and the seven Premier League matches on Saturday certainly did not disappoint. While Arsenal and Chelsea entertained audiences in their wins, Manchester City and Tottenham were held for draws.

As football fans sat through a tedious two-week international interregnum, they pined for some real league drama. None of this sterile world cup qualification rigmarole, they wanted the blood-and-thunder of mistimed tackles, last minute goals, feverish crowds, and spittle-laced tribalism. And the seven Premier League matches on Saturday certainly did not disappoint. 

Bournemouth slayed the Hull tiger with six poison-laden cherries, Arsenal went Jekyll and then Hyde in an electric affair with Swansea, Chelsea continued their recovery by swatting Leicester aside with consummate ease, Spurs faced West Brom in the battle of late goals, and Man City continued to display chinks in their gilded armor against Everton. Red cards, missed penalties, Joe Allen goals, and a West Ham win – this Saturday truly lived up to the Sky-bestowed adjective of Super. 

Arsenal pip Swansea in Emirates Bollywood flick 

The Gunners’ encounter against bogey team Swansea followed the trajectory of tinsel town’s finest. Theo Walcott, that hero who does a few good arthouse films before burning the public’s nasal hair with his stink for the next two years, wooed the metaphorical damsel by coming up with two fox-in-the-box goals. Granit Xhaka, the hero’s treacherous best friend with lecherous thoughts, set his machinations in motion by giving the ball away and allowing Swansea back into the game. 

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Mesut Ozil, in an SRK-like cameo appearance, set the hero on the right path with an item-number of a left foot volley. Nacho Monreal, the mustached side-villain with face warts, spiked someone’s drink to malevolent background music by letting the Barrow-Borja combo score and reduce the deficit again. Xhaka conducted a back-stabbing magnum opus before getting sent to jail, erm, an early shower. And although the world was saved as the final whistle blew, Theo was not allowed to consummate his budding relationship with a match ball, instead being friend-zoned at the final furlong as he hit bar and post. 

Arsene Wenger will hope the next game against Middlesbrough has a much more vanilla love story vibe. 

Battle of the ex-Barca cadets ends all square 

Ronald Koeman and Pep Guardiola are no strangers to each other, both featuring heavily in the Barcelona side that ran through opponents like a juggernaut in the 90s. This meeting was more adversarial than amicable, however, the two men occupying opposing dugouts as high-flying Everton met higher-flying Man City. 

It was very much a case of Man City attack versus Everton defense. The home side dominated possession, shot count, and corner count, but both Everton and the score-line refused to budge. The Everton performance was made even more impressive by the fact that Jagielka had a very poor game. First he tripped Silva in the box and conceded a penalty, only for Stekelenburg to save smartly from De Bruyne. Then, when Man City were chasing the game in the second half, Jagielka was at it again, this time bringing down Aguero in the box. The Argentine’s penalty was well struck but the Everton keeper was equal to the task yet again, stretching wonderfully to deny an equalizer. 

Earlier in the game, Romelu Lukaku had continued his excellent form by bearing down on the left wing, turning Clichy inside out, and slotting the ball confidently in the far corner past Bravo. While Man City eventually drew level through a Nolito header, Everton were far more impressive in the implementation of their gameplan than Man City were in theirs. Both teams, albeit with wings slightly clipped from this draw, continue to fly high. 

Leicester fairytale takes grim turn as Chelsea run riot 

To be fair, no one would have expected Leicester to repeat last season’s heroic showings with similar drive and aplomb. But after keeping most of their star players together and purchasing a bevy of attacking reinforcements, the Foxes’ current lower-table travails are also unexpected. Ranieri’s men suffered their fourth straight away defeat in the league at Stamford Bridge, the hunger and desire of last season markedly absent in their marking from set pieces and tracking of runners. They were regularly harried out of possession by diligent wing-play from Alonso and Moses. 

Conte’s Chelsea, in their re-jigged 3-4-3, didn’t take long to start scoring. A corner was flicked on, Morgan let Costa go, and the feisty Spaniard swept home his seventh league goal of the season. Then Matic played a hopeful vertical pass that two Leicester defenders collided over, letting it run to Hazard who rounded the keeper and got his third goal in eight league games. 

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Leicester were limited to potshots from distance before beautiful interplay between Moses and Chalobah laid it on a plate for the former to score. Barring the usual suspects, Moses has been a quiet revelation at Chelsea this season, working hard in a new position that he is quickly making his own. 

As for Leicester, they aren’t making the table-topping position their own at all. 

Bournemouth’s vitality too much for Hull 

It was coming. Bournemouth have had a great mismatch between the number of chances created and goals scored so far this season. They have hit the woodwork more than any other side and dropped important points despite having enough opportunities to put the ball in the net. Against Hull, Eddie Howe’s ideal Bournemouth blueprint saw the light of day. 

When Junior Stanislas’s free-kick hit the woodwork, Bournemouth fans could have been forgiven for heaving sighs of resignation. But this time the ball fell to Daniels who volleyed home to give the Cherries the lead. Ryan Mason equalized for Hull from a shot deflected off Steve Cook, but Cook quickly popped up at the other end to head Bournemouth into the lead again. 

From that point on, it was all Bournemouth. First Stanislas fired home a penalty before half time and then banged in a second from the edge of the box. Star striker Callum Wilson scored Bournemouth’s fifth with a strong header, and substitute Dan Gosling curled in the sixth to complete the rout. After a shaky start, Bournemouth now have three home league wins on the spin and sit pretty in ninth place. 

As for Hull, Mike Phelan was officially confirmed as manager this week, and he has his work cut out. His team has conceded 17 goals in its last four league games; points total notwithstanding, that is the defensive record of relegation candidates. 

Unbeaten Spurs motor along 

Tottenham spent most of last season solidly swimming under the radar before bursting to life in spring and having their balloon burst in May. They’ve started in similar fashion this season. Five wins and three draws is an impressive if unspectacular return that sees them continue as the only team unbeaten in the league so far. 

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They came pretty close to being beaten at the Hawthorns though. When a scuffed shot from a corner in the 82nd minute was saved by a combination of Lloris and the post, old Spurs boy Nacer Chadli glided in and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. With the clock ticking down and Pochettino’s men staring down the barrel, England youngster turned elder statesman Dele Alli rose to the occasion. Son, who has led the line well in Kane’s absence, twisted and turned in the box before feeding Eriksen, who had a shot blocked before passing to Alli to expertly guide home. 

The finish with the outside of his boot, if Alli meant it, demonstrated a calmness and confidence that belies his tender years. If last year’s failed title tilt has hardened Tottenham’s youngsters, they might not fade away so easily this time.

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