Stellar Sterling and Darwin’s Double: Premier League Week 3 Review
Round three of the Premier League provided plenty of drama. 31 goals. Three red cards. Late equalisers and winners. It’s safe to say the weekend had it all. There are plenty of talking points from the fixtures on display, but here are five things we learned:
1. Sterling’s resurgence provides attacking hope for Chelsea
Chelsea beat Luton 3-0 on Friday to claim their first win of the season. England international Raheem Sterling put in a Man of the Match performance, scoring twice and providing an assist.
Despite a disappointing first season in west London, Sterling looks back to his best under Mauricio Pochettino. Speaking to http://skysports.com, he confirmed he “had a conversation with the manager last week.” Within this, he shed light on his frustrations from the previous campaign, and on how he prefers to play.
The Englishman seems to have recaptured his form from previous seasons. He looks capable of beating players again, and is certainly a presence in the box. His first goal came from him weaving into the box with remarkable footwork, finishing the move by slotting home past Thomas Kaminski.
Sterling’s second goal was a result of another beautiful attacking sequence. Moises Caicedo found Malo Gusto on the right, with Gusto’s subsequent delivery finding Sterling in the box, who finished sublimely. He also set Nicolas Jackson up to score his first Chelsea goal, and kill the game off to secure Chelsea’s first three points.
In a side which has often lacked attacking inspiration, the revival of Sterling’s form is a big positive for Chelsea.
2. Is Kai Havertz hindering Arsenal’s performance?
Fulham came back from 2-1 down to draw at the Emirates on Saturday. Arsenal’s attack looked limited in effect again, with very little output in addition to another penalty. This certainly does not bode well given their lackluster response to Fulham’s fast start and late leveller, even with 10 men.
Arsenal fans took to social media following the result to share their disappointment. Kai Havertz in particular was targeted, with many questioning what the German brings to Mikel Arteta’s side. Some speculated that Arteta has changed the team’s setup in order to facilitate him in the side.
Thomas Partey has shifted to right back, inverting to form a box midfield when Arsenal have possession. This has also been criticised, with Partey often not fulfilling his defensive role in transition, leaving Arsenal vulnerable down his side.
In the attacking section of Arsenal’s box midfield, Havertz has proved ineffective so far. With no attacking contributions, and fans frustrated over his lackluster performances, questions have been raised. Players with arguably more merit to start are being kept out of the side for Havertz, shown by Fabio Vieira’s cameo. His presence in the box is also just as disappointing as it was during his Chelsea tenure, failing to threaten with chances.
Does Havertz still warrant a place in Arsenal’s lineup?
3. West Ham’s smash-and-grab football strikes again
West Ham provided a second upset in a row this weekend, winning 3-1 against Brighton at the Amex. This follows their same scoreline against Chelsea last week, and once again the Hammers had less than 25% possession.
Brighton started as they meant to go on by suffocating West Ham with chances. Despite this, West Ham capitalized on poor defending from Adam Webster in transition, with James Ward-Prowse poking home following Billy Gilmour’s challenge setting the ball up for him.
West Ham continued to endure Brighton’s flurry of attacks, and their second goal best surmised Moyes’ counter-attacking style. Said Benrahma was found on the break with few of the Seagulls’ players back. The Algerian carefully picked out Jarrod Bowen in the box, who took the ball down and finished past Bart Verbruggen. With Antonio’s masterful finish adding to the smash-and-grab goals, West Ham had the three points in the bag.
Alphonse Areola spearheaded a brave defensive performance, suffering every Brighton attack and dealing with all bar one. West Ham look able to ruffle the feathers of many top sides this season.
4. Manchester City still have the motivation to succeed this season.
Manchester City left it late but secured all three points at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Despite their struggles to penetrate the Blades’ goal throughout the game, City finished their business eventually.
Their struggles were best embodied by Erling Haaland, who missed a penalty in the first half among a host of other big chances. With Wes Foderingham looking formidable in goal, the Norwegian finally converted in the 63rd minute.
Even though the Blades had failed to cause City much harm during the game, they certainly weren’t down and out. Following a Kyle Walker mistake, the ball found its way to Jayden Bogle in the box, who dispatched his shot past Ederson to level the game. Bramall Lane was sent into raptures.
After reaching club football’s pinnacle last season, many may have questioned whether City will have the desire to go again and repeat this feat. Rodri’s pile-driver proved many doubters wrong, however, showing that they still have the ability to go up a gear and win at all odds.
City’s fighting spirit remains intact, even in Pep Guardiola’s absence.
5. Klopp’s ‘Mentality Monsters’ make a return
Even with 10 men, Liverpool fought back to claim three points against Newcastle. The Geordies went ahead via Anthony Gordon early in the first half, with Virgil van Dijk’s dismissal compounding the Reds’ misery.
As is the fashion when a team goes down to 10 men, Newcastle remained on the front-foot throughout the game. They saw a host of chances go begging, most notably Miguel Almiron’s effort which hit the woodwork after an impressive run.
Despite this, Liverpool remained in the game, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister consistently probing. However, it was the introduction of Darwin Nunez that inspired Liverpool’s comeback. The Uruguayan created chaos as he often does, capitalizing on a Sven Botman mistake and levelling with a venomous finish.
Deep into stoppage time, Nunez completed the mission. After defensive substitutions and confusion at the back, he was slipped in by Mohammed Salah. Much like his first goal, he fired home fiercely, sending the away end into pandemonium.
With such capability to snatch a result from the jaws of death, Liverpool cannot be ruled out this season.