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Opinion

Mané milestone, City and Spurs stumble, Villan's stunning debut - Premier League Talking Points

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20th September, 2021
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After some mid week European action, the Premier League was back in action and as usual there’s plenty to talk about.

The battle at the top of the league is looking like it will be a thrilling four horse race and the next few weeks will show whether the other pretenders to the crown can keep up with Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man United. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the talking points from this past weekend.

Leon Bailey gets man of the match on debut, playing just 21 minutes!
Earning the Man of the Match award in any game is tough. To do it on debut is impressive. To do it on debut and earn the award playing just 21 minutes is special, and that’s what Leon Bailey did as he helped Aston Villa beat Everton 3-0.

Bailey, a Jamaican international, was bought from Bayer Leverkusen for $56.7milion and fans have been eagerly awaiting his first run out and he certainly lived up to expectations. He came on off the bench with the scores still 0-0 as both sides struggled to create genuine chances.

He played with real pace and confidence, happy to take on defenders and his crossing caused real problems for the Everton defence.

His goal in the 74th minute was very well taken – picking the ball up in space about 35m out from goal he drove forward and then struck an absolute thunderbolt that was in the back of the net before the keeper could move.

When Jack Grealish was sold to Man City in this past transfer window, there was an obvious question about how Villa would be able to replace his attacking ability. Bailey has stuck his hand up straight away to fill the void and with Danny Ings starting well for the club and Emiliano Buendia showing off some of his skills already, it looks like the club have spent wisely.

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Mané reaches two milestones as Liverpool beat Palace
Sadio Mané brought up his 100th goal for Liverpool this weekend and became the first player in the Premier League to score in nine consecutive matches against the same opposition as Crystal Palace couldn’t stop Jurgen Klopp’s men from racking up a 3-0 win.

Klopp has done a great job with Mané of turning the attacking winger into a genuine goal scorer and the whilst Mané’s tap in goal against Palace wasn’t his best ever, it certainly demonstrated how he’s become such an instinctive predator in front of goal.

“It is a massive achievement,” said Klopp. “In the glorious history of this club, only 18 players could score 100 goals.”

Mané’s goal against Palace not only broke the deadlock as the second half kicked off but it also put him level with Robin van Persie for scoring in nine consecutive games against the same opposition. For van Persie it was Stoke who became his favourite opponents and Mané shared how much he loves playing against Palace. “I love to play against Crystal Palace,” he said. “It would be great to play them every single weekend.”

To be fair to Palace they were in the game up until Liverpool’s second goal with just 12 minutes to go and the 3-0 scoreline doesn’t do their effort justice. The London club didn’t have lots of possession – just 40% across the game – but when they did have it they always looked to press forward and created 13 attempts on goal and 5 corners.

Lingard and Man Utd shake off Young Boys loss to beat West Ham
David de Gea and Jesse Lingard helped Manchester United bounce back after their embarrassing loss to Champions League minnows Young Boys earlier in the week.

The Man United keeper pulled off his first penalty save in 21 attempts – to deny West Ham and Lingard scored an absolute beauty with just two minutes to go to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the perfect response to the loss in the Champions League opening round.

Lingard is in a tough position at the club at the moment – he’s had some real ups and downs and many feel that he’s likely to be sold in January to help free up cash for Manchester United to make a huge play for Paul Pogba’s resigning.

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It was Lingard’s poor back pass that allowed Swiss team Young Boys to steal the win and whilst his stunning winner against West Ham will have improved his stock at the club, he’s never been able to truly cement a starting position in Solskjaer’s approach.

The battle for Pogba is hotting up meanwhile with Man Utd allegedly putting together a long term deal that will see the midfielder paid $750,000 per week. They seem desperate to outbid rivals PSG and Real Madrid who could well be putting together their own offers.

Interestingly, Lingard was on loan at West Ham for the second half of last season and he showed a great deal of class as he refused to celebrate his winner this weekend. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was welcomed back to London if the club can find the money.

VAR makes more of an impact as Man City’s strike force held by Southampton
After scoring six goals in the Champions League just a few days ago, Man City will be bitterly disappointed at landing just one shot on target as they drew 0-0 with Southampton.

Following their game against RB Leipzig, manager Pep Guardiola had asked fans to turn out on the weekend for the game against Southampton and he will be frustrated and maybe even embarrassed that his team put in such a poor display having made that call to arms.

With so much attacking power in their squad, it’s rare for Man City to create so few chances with their only genuine shot on target coming in the final few minutes of the game as Phil Foden went close with a header.

But it was VAR and some reversed decisions that were the big talking points from the game. Man City had a Raheem Sterling goal disallowed upon review for offside and then Kyle Walker was sent off and then called back and Southampton had the penalty they had earned overturned all thanks to the VAR system.

Southampton felt that referee Jon Moss had given them the crucial edge they needed as he pulled out the red card after Walker appeared to bring down Adam Armstrong after 60 minutes. But moments later the red card was cancelled and there was no penalty for Southampton to trt and take the lead.

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VAR continues to divide opinion – many felt that the right decision was made after Moss was able to review the replays but there are plenty who feel that not only was the referee’s original decision correct, but that VAR continues to disrupt the flow of the game and ruin the spectacle of the sport.

In a season that looks like City, United, Liverpool and Chelsea will all be fighting it out for the Premier League title, dropped points like these could end up costing City. With Guardiola’s side facing Chelsea and Liverpool in the next two rounds, he will want to see a big improvement from his side, especially in the way they built from the back which was poor against Southampton.

Another Spurs stumble as Chelsea step up a gear
Chelsea retained top spot in the Premier League with a ruthless second half performance that saw them put three goals past a Tottenham side that has now conceded six goals in their past two league matches.

The Blues came out after half time and peppered the Spurs goal with 10 shots on target – more than any other side has managed in a full game this season so far.

Whilst it took their attacking effort 45 minutes to get into gear, Chelsea’s defence was in miserly form all afternoon and Spurs struggled to create many chances at all. Spurs had plenty of the ball – 47% of the possession throughout the game – but they couldn’t turn that into any sort of real threat with Harry Kane looking out of sorts and all alone up front. The England striker is having a poor start to the season – not a single goal so far this season; the first time that’s happened since 2015.

Chelsea go up against Man City next week in a proper six point top of the table clash and will know that they will need to start better but they will be happy with their unbeaten form and confident as they welcome City to Stamford Bridge.

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Brighton are a surprise name in 4th position

With teams like Man City, Everton and Spurs all stumbling, Brighton have continued their great start to the season and are sitting 4th in the Premier League having overcome Leicester City 2-1.

The south coast club were the better side for at least an hour and deserved their two goal lead. They’ve become a much more clinical side and less wasteful with the ball since last season. Against Leicester they only had 37% of the ball but turned that into 12 shots, three of them on target and scored twice.

Brighton will be grateful for VAR on this occasion as it ended up denying Leicester two penalties but that shouldn’t take away what a great effort the Seagulls put in and they deserved the three points.

They are becoming a very hard side to beat who are comfortable without the ball and trust their defence. With a new found attacking threat as well they’ve been able to pick up four wins already this season and well deserve their spot towards the top of the table.

Do they have the quality of squad to keep up this pace for the rest of the season? Probably not but they will keep being a very tricky away trip for sides.

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