The European Championship qualifiers are upon us again but wait I hear you ask, wasn’t that what the Nations League fixtures are all about? Well yeah a bit, but not really.
Anyway before we get into that, let’s look back at the Premier League action from the weekend in gameweek 4 because let’s face it, international football’s not great is it?
Manchester United kicked off the gameweek 4 weekend with a draw against Southampton in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
Daniel James got his third goal of the season early on but the Saints managed to equalize in the second half, before going down to 10 men after Kevin Danso’s second yellow of the match.
Ralf Hassenhuttl will be disappointed the Saints did not build on their 2-0 win over Brighton the week before though. While Ole Gunnar Solskjær now has two weeks to build on some encouraging play and work with the players he has after shifting some apparent dead weight in the summer window.
United face Leicester in their next outing while Southampton have a trip to Sheffield in the diary.
Chelsea blew a two goal lead at home to draw with Sheffield United and while they’re only 2 points off the top four. Frank Lampard will be looking for a turnaround in results before starting a difficult Champions League group.
Tammy Abraham’s brace is an encouraging sign of things to come but there’s tightening up to be done at the back before their European excursions begin. A difficult trip to Wolves is next up for Lampard’s men while the Blades face Southampton at Bramall Lane.
Aston Villa were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace after Villa had a late equalizer disallowed thanks to a rather theatrical dive from Jack Grealish. They now find themselves in the bottom 3 after 4 games and will probably feel very hard done by.
Palace were dominant on the day, having 22 shots on goal but Wilfried Zaha is still struggling in front of goal having only managed 1 in his last 17 home appearances. If he’s in your fantasy team, get him out sharpish.
There were plenty of cards in this match, if you’re a fan of the booking points market with 4 in the first half alone and a total of 8. Villa midfielder Trezeguet (not that one, he just looks like him) seeing red in the second half.
Palace will hope that their good form continues when they face Tottenham after the break, but Villa have a date with fellow Claret and Blues West Ham in two weeks.
Jamie Vardy had a party against Bournemouth, the 32 year old netting in both halves and now the Foxes find themselves 3rd in the table and unbeaten so far this season.
They couldn’t again, could they? Probably not, but still they should comfortably be crowned “Best of The Rest” by the time the season’s over.
The Cherries were poor, their only chance of note being Callum Wilson’s equalizer on 15 minutes. However they were unable to build on that and find themselves 15th in the table going into the break, with Everton visiting just after.
Eddie Howe will hope for more creativity in the midfield from the likes of Harry Wilson, Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing if they are going to break their 2 game losing streak.
It seems as if every time I look at the score of a Manchester City game they’re at least 3-0 up. Maybe I should stop looking?
Kevin DeBruyne opened the scoring after just 68 seconds before a brace from Sergio Aguero (his 98th and 99th goals at The Etihad) and rounded off with Bernado Silva’s 79th minute strike.
Worryingly for City though, Aymeric Laporte was stretchered off in the first half and looks to be out for some time. Fernandinho could be drafted in to provide cover, the absence of Vincent Kompany is now suddenly a gaping hole.
Brighton surely weren’t expecting anything from this but with Burnley and Newcastle on the horizon they should expect to get at least 3 points out of one of those games. They did create some chances against City and manager Graham Potter will look to build on that in their upcoming games.
City visit Norwich City after the break before beginning their Champions League campaign in what could be the easiest group ever drawn for anyone ever!
Watford scored only their second goal of the season against Newcastle and despite conceding just before the break managed to hold on to give Javi Gracia’s men their first points of this campaign.
In a game where both teams lacked creative spark, just a third of the shots taken were on target. Both teams need to improve results, Watford firmly rooted to the bottom of the table for now and Newcastle sit just a point from the relegation places.
Both teams face top 6 opposition in Liverpool and Arsenal after the internationals things aren’t likely to improve anytime soon.
I quite fancied Norwich to beat West Ham last weekend so I should have really expected The Hammers roll out 2-0 winners, that’s how these things usually work.
Sebastien Haller scored his third goal in two games and is starting to look like the answer to West Ham’s striker problem. Andriy Yarmolenko got his first for 349 days in the win.
After a heavy opening day defeat to Manchester City, they’ve turned around somewhat and find themselves in 7th place. Norwich have slipped to 19th after just one win this season despite some early promise.
A trip to The Etihad in their next fixture won’t inspire any hope for Daniel Farke’s men either, they’ve conceded the most goals in the league so far this season and despite Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell impressing. They’ll need to tighten up defensively if they’ve any hope of staying up this season.
Saturday was rounded off with Liverpool’s visit to Burnley where the league leaders maintained their 100% record with their first clean sheet of the season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold believed he had opened the scoring with one of those crosses that he definitely didn’t mean to land in the back of the net, but thanks to a deflection off Chris Wood that’s exactly where it ended up.
Jurgen Klopp’s face when he was told post match that it was given as an OG was priceless. (watch below you’ll laugh)
Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino rounded off the scoring, the former of which was furious after being subbed off in the second half after not receiving a pass from Mohamed Salah when he was through on goal.
Apparently they’re all friends now though, a sigh of relief for Liverpool fans everywhere.
Burnley looked good at times but unfortunate mistakes proved to be their downfall, a few errant passes led to big chances for Liverpool’s front three. Burnley face Brighton in their next fixture, while the European Champions travel to Newcastle.
Everton ended a spectacular run of clean sheets at home after Wolves equalized in the 9th minute on Sunday. This game was 2-1 after 15 minutes and continued to entertain throughout the 90. Richarlison grabbed a brace and Alex Iwobi got his second goal in as many matches for the Blues.
Wily Boly capped off a disappointing day for Wolves by getting his marching orders in the 95th minute.
In fairness, they have played 5 more games than their opponents so far this season and face a tough Europa League schedule, so they can be forgiven for dropping points but that’s not a good habit to get into.
A visit from ailing Chelsea for Wolves is up next and Everton have a trip to the south coast to take of Bournemouth.
The North London Derby delivered goals, as it so often does. Spurs looked to be in control after taking a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, Alexandre Lacazette pulled one back just before half time.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang salvaged a point for The Gunners with 20 minutes to play.
Going down two goals in the first half would have made Arsenal teams of the past wilt and the character they showed to get back into the game points. Unai Emery should be proud of his team, but they were not without mistakes.
Careless defending gifted chances to Tottenham and when you have a goal scorer as prolific as Harry Kane coming at you, you have to be on your toes. That said it’s been a bit of an indifferent start for Spurs this season with just one win in the first four games.
Next up for them is a home game against Crystal Palace, while Arsenal make the short trip to Watford where they’ll probably pick up all three points.
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