It was another intriguing week of English Premier League action. Here are five quick takes from Round 3.
1. United continue their dominance
Manchester United were once again ultra-impressive in their third-round match up against Leicester, their dominance was prominent in the first 45 minutes with a Juan Mata conversion disallowed due to offside and Paul Pogba’s rockets from long range were whizzing past the posts.
As the second half began it was no surprise to see Leicester invest in defence as their attack was dried up, they were resolute at the back and managed to hold Manchester out until a Marcus Rashford volley from a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross found the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, Belgian Maruaone Fellaini had a sharp cross fired in at his feet and he clumsily prodded it past Kasper Schmeichel. United now have a +10 goal difference and seem as though they might already be running away with the title
They face a likely dogfight with Stoke after the international break.
2. Sterling’s stunner
Raheem Sterling would have a rollercoaster of emotions heading into the international break, after his 97th-minute winner was followed by a yellow card for excessive celebration which saw him sent off after being coupled with an earlier offence.
A match that started in absolute madness after a Charlie Daniels strike that was simply out of this world saw Manchester City on the back foot. Gabriel Jesus was then able to open his season’s account with a nifty play with David Silva saw him calmly put the ball wide of Asmir Begovic.
Both teams after this had attempts hit the upright’s and it seemed destined for a draw, until that moment in the 97th minute.
3. Woeful West Ham
After West Ham were dominated 3-0 by Premier League returnees Newcastle United, the Hammers’ manager Slaven Bilic is under intense scrutiny from both the fan-base.
On the flipside, Rafa Benitez, who has publicly stated his disdain for his club’s lack of financial support during this transfer window, was afforded a sense of relief after the superior performance.
Newcastle have been pushed down into one of the more likely teams to be relegated and gaining the three points here was crucial for the campaign. West Ham have some work to do if they wish to be in the top flight next year.
4. Britos’ Brain fade
Two weeks ago, I featured Miguel Britos for his headed goal in the 93rd minute to steal two points from Liverpool, two weeks later and here we are again but this time for possibly as worse a challenge as Ryan Shawcross on Aaron Ramsey, minus the injury of course.
Watford were the bad boys in last year’s campaign as they racked up 84 bookings, and new manager Marco Silva wants the club to fix up their discipline issues. So you can imagine that he was seething at Britos’ disgusting tackle attempt.
Silva may have something to cheer about this week though as he has likely secured the services of Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs.
5. Arsenal in dire straights
Arsenal have been the talk of the town his week after their thumping at the hands of Liverpool. Give credit to the Reds, as they were fantastic and have certainly found one in Mohamed Salah, but Arsenal were just woeful, so much so that star midfielder Mesut Ozil penned an apology to the Arsenal faithful over Instagram in the wake of the defeat.
Blame us, shout at us, criticize us, but I'm also very disappointed about today's game ?. We wanted to achieve a positive result before the international break but we were simply not good enough during the 90 minutes and Liverpool deserved the win without a doubt. Usually I'm too angry to post on social media after such frustrating days like today, but I don't want to let this match go uncommented before traveling to the DFB Team. Nevertheless… Gunners, I'm sorry – especially for the fans who travelled all the way up to Liverpool to see us fighting. But we will try everything to improve in the next game and bounce back from the disappointment we are all feeling at the moment ?? #LFCvAFC @arsenal
The club clearly needs a change and it will likely have one as it seems imminent that first team players Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Skrodan Mustafi will all depart before the transfer deadline.
Manager Arsene Wenger will have a decision on his hands after he was heavily criticised last week after he left record signing Alexandre Lacazette and new boy Sead Kolosinac to start on the bench with the latter never taking the field. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see changes in midfield with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey putting in less than impressive performances.
Gunners fans will eagerly await to see how Wenger will handle the last few days of this transfer period and look to see how the squad shapes up leading into the rest of the campaign.