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#PL #PLStories 2020-2021 Season – Matchday 2

Heung Min Son Tottenham

Below fixtures were played and we provide you with stories that developed during the match

Match Date Home Team FT Away Team HT
21.09.20  20:00 FT Aston Villa (9) 1 – 0 Sheffield Utd (17) (0 – 0)
21.09.20  22:15 FT Wolves (12) 1 – 3 Manchester City (7) (0 – 2)
20.09.20  14:00 FT Southampton (19) 2 – 5 Tottenham (6) (1 – 1)
20.09.20  16:00 FT Newcastle (13) 0 – 3 Brighton (8) (0 – 2)
20.09.20  18:30 FT Chelsea (11) 0 – 2 Liverpool (4) (0 – 0)
20.09.20  21:00 FT Leicester (1) 4 – 2 Burnley (14) (1 – 1)
19.09.20  14:30 FT Everton (2) 5 – 2 West Brom (20) (2 – 1)
19.09.20  17:00 FT Leeds (10) 4 – 3 Fulham (18) (2 – 1)
19.09.20  19:30 FT Manchester United (15) 1 – 3 Crystal Palace (5) (0 – 1)
19.09.20  22:00 FT Arsenal (3) 2 – 1 West Ham (16) (1 – 1)


Stories That Developed

Aston Villa 1 – 0 Sheffield Utd

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Villa got off to a good start and within a minute right-back Matty Cash – making his debut – fired a dangerous ball into the box but John McGinn’s volley flew over the bar.  Aston Villa were gifted the upper hand inside a quarter of an hour when Egan pulled back Watkins as he raced on to Mings’ long ball and referee Scott showed the red card. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Lundstram could have given United the lead from the spot 20 minutes later but Martinez, who arrived from Arsenal for £17m earlier this month, dived to his right to deny the midfielder. Conor Hourihane’s deliveries were causing problems and although Villa were unable to capitalize initially, they deserved to take the lead through Konsa’s header after Jack Grealish and Watkins each went close.

A needless error from Egan made United’s task much harder and Wilder was forced to sacrifice striker McGoldrick before the break. New signing Ethan Ampadu’s introduction was a shrewd tactical decision – releasing Basham into midfield and moving John Fleck across to deal with Cash.  Sheffield United kept their organization and steel at the back – pushing back every set-piece and squeezing out the space in which Villa tried to work for the next half an hour.But Konsa’s header was the key blow and while United had glimpses of hope on the counter-attack, they never truly tested Villa from open play.

Wolves 1 – 3 Manchester City

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Kevin De Bruyne was superb in the number 10 role as City made light of the absence of seven senior players. The Belgian extended his record of being involved in more goal assists than any other player since the start of 2019-20 league campaign. City had to be on their toes defensively and new £40m centre-back Nathan Ake performed well as well.  It was also a good match performance for Phil Foden. His goal was a thing of beauty, as he firmly finished off a move he started from Sterling’s cutback. Foden also nearly scored a sensational second with a floated effort that went narrowly wide of the far post.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has challenges ahead to refresh his team after transfers and strains of long previous season.  Matt Doherty, who has gone to Tottenham, is yet to be replaced in the right wing-back role. Adama Traore is being asked to fill in. However, the Spaniard does not have a defender’s instinct and can fail to read opponents’ runs, and using him in that position blunts him as an attacking force. On the other side, with Jonny on the long-term injured list, Nuno brought in Marcal from Lyon for £3m. Unfortunately for the hosts, the game was barely five minutes old when the Brazilian wandered over to his manager to tell him he had to come off. It weakened Wolves on both flanks and, in trying to cover, they were carved up down the middle. By half-time, they were in big trouble. Coming back from 2-0 down to win the corresponding fixture 3-2 was one of the Premier League highlights of last season. With no fans in the stadium on Monday, the hosts had to try to generate their own momentum. But Wolves lost their way and City had the game under control before Jesus administered the final blow.

Southampton 2 – 5 Tottenham

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This was a badly-needed win for Tottenham after a difficult start to the season in which they were beaten by Everton on the opening day.  A significant reason for their defeat to the Toffees was their lack of creativity in midfield – with Dele Alli taken off at half-time.  Dele Alli was again omitted from the side for the trip to St Mary’s, with Jose Mourinho saying his absence was down to having “too many players” in certain positions. For a long time in this game, Mourinho’s bold move looked destined to be the talking point as Tottenham sorely lacked creativity in midfield. Aside from a couple of disallowed goals for Kane, the visitors barely troubled the Southampton defence and even when they did manage to score right before the half-time whistle it came from Tottenham’s only shot and only touch in Southampton’s box in the entire first half. But after the break, Son and Kane took centre stage, taking advantaging of Southampton’s high line and slow defence as they demonstrated an understanding that seemed almost telepathic at times. Kane assisted just two league goals in the entirety of last season but almost every pass he provided in the second half of this game was to set up a Son goal as he became the first player in Premier League history to assist a single team-mate four times in the same match.  With the return of Gareth Bale, Tottenham have the potential for a front three that could rival the very best in the world.

Southampton fans had plenty of reasons to be optimistic for their side after a marvellous run in during previous season. However, outcomes on the pitch have so far not gone to plan. The Saints have been beaten in both premier league games played so far this season, losing to Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener.  Danny Ings, who scored 22 league goals last season, has been linked with a move to Tottenham in this transfer window and he showed why it is crucial that the Saints keep a hold of him. His first goal in this game was a superbly taken finish and he was a constant thorn in the Spurs side in a first half Southampton had the better of as he pressured defenders in possession and linked up play in attack. But Southampton cannot rely on Ings to win games on his own and will need to show better in defence than they did in the second half as time and again they failed to pick up the runs by Son.

Newcastle 0 – 3 Brighton

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Graham Potter was delighted to see the industry and creativity of his side fully rewarded with full 3 point.  A lightning start and some typically slick football saw his team slice through Newcastle on several occasions to gain a two-goal cushion they rarely looked like relinquishing. Just as pleasing is the form of 19-year-old Lamptey, who was outstanding for the second successive week.  The recently capped England Under-21 international turned down a new contract at Chelsea last season in favour of a move to Brighton and on this evidence he appears to be making the most of playing regular first-team football.  Lamptey impressed when starting in seven of the Seagulls’ nine Premier League matches when football resumed in June and he has picked up where he left off.  An early break down the right served notice of his pace and awareness and moments later he drew a clumsy foul from Saint-Maximin to help set Brighton on their way.  His energy and quality were a feature throughout the first half. His talent was not just restricted to going forward with one superbly timed challenge on Callum Wilson preventing the forward from having a clear run on goal. Despite being withdrawn after 58 minutes, Lamptey made more interceptions (four) and won more fouls (four) than any other player on the pitch.

Newcastle United had made an assured start to their Premier league season at West Ham. However this performance was almost the exact opposite as they struggled against more energetic and fluent opponents.  Too often they were left chasing shadows in the early stages and appeared to have few ideas of how to cope with Brighton’s 3-4-3 formation. Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden appeared overworked and outmanoeuvred in midfield and Andy Carroll and Wilson, who worked well together a week ago, were on the periphery. Aside from Saint-Maximin, who was substituted with a first-half injury, no player that started had fewer touches than Newcastle’s front two, who both managed 21 each.  Manager Steve Bruce introduced three substitutes – Ryan Fraser, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton – but there was little improvement, with Wilson heading over a difficult chance from Almiron’s cross. The only consolation for Bruce and Newcastle supporters was that the margin of their defeat was not even greater. 

Chelsea 0 – 2 Liverpool

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Liverpool were helped by Christensen’s moment of sheer panic that reduced Chelsea to 10 men right on the break – but they were head and shoulders ahead of a negative home team even before that crucial moment. The champions dominated from the first whistle and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored, pinning Chelsea back in their own territory and probing for openings at will. And when the breakthrough came, Mane produced a brilliant header. Highlight of Liverpool and Mane’s performance was  forward’s pace which forced an error from Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa.  It was all so easy for Liverpool after that, Thiago easing his way in as a substitute although there will be a concern about yet another injury for captain Henderson, who went off at half-time.

This was a brutal reality check for Chelsea after a summer of big spending by manager Frank Lampard – and surely the final flawed contribution from error-ridden keeper Kepa. Chelsea’s gameplan appeared to be to sit back and attempt to catch Liverpool on the break with Werner’s pace but in the end it was all too passive, the home team resembling a side that would have been happy with a point. Werner showed the odd flashes of what he will undoubtedly bring to Chelsea but he was feeding off scraps at best here and his struggles reflected a surprisingly conservative approach. As for Kepa, the £71m keeper who has never lived up to his lavish price tag, this must surely be the final straw for Lampard, who dropped the goalkeeper last season and is now pursuing Rennes’ keeper Edouard Mendy in a £20m deal. Kepa had already had a couple of near misses before he cleared the ball straight to Mane, who induced panic in the keeper and scored the visitors’ second. Lampard’s side will have better days and patience will be required with such an influx of new faces, the likes of Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech yet to be involved, but this will have been a real disappointment and is a missed opportunity to make a statement of their own.

Leicester 4 – 2 Burnley

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Leicester’s game was a fluid attacking play with extra sharpness. The home side controlled the ball throughout with Barnes and Belgian midfielder Praet coming to the fore on the left of midfield.  Whether it was going directly up against Burnley right-back Phil Bardsley or moving intelligently into infield positions, Barnes’ movement and pace was a key ingredient of Leicester’s attacking play.   The England U21 international had more shots (five) than any other Leicester player but his final contribution of the evening was significant one in another way, as he skipped away from three defenders to pick out Praet who did the rest with a sublime effort.

Dyche has repeatedly talked about the need for Burnley to add to their squad since top-flight football returned in June and conceded that they would be “stretched to the limit” for this fixture.  And although he was disappointed by the outcome and the unfortunate manner in which they fell behind, Pieters inadvertently deflecting Timothy Castagne’s cross past Nick Pope, he said he “marvelled at the spirit” of his depleted team. Already without five first-choice players and at the physical disadvantage of having not played last weekend, the Clarets’ task was made harder when midfielder Robbie Brady went off with a rib injury during the first half.  But there were plenty of positives, with Dyche’s side managing more efforts on goal than the hosts and threatening to set up a tense finale when Wood hit the post late on.

Everton 5 – 2 West Brom

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Carlo Ancelotti’s work in the transfer market has produced great results in 2 games so far for Everton. Additions of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure already appear to have significantly improved their midfield just two games into the season. But it is the signing of Colombian forward Rodriguez that looks set to be the pick of the deals, as well as perhaps the best bit of business completed this summer in the Premier League. James Rodriguez caught the eye with his impressive footwork and vision in Everton’s opening win against Tottenham and built on that in this game as he was involved in three of the home side’s five goals. Not only producing brilliant goal, Rodriguez showed great vision for Everton’s fourth, lofting the ball into the box for Richarlison, who squared for Calvert-Lewin, and was on hand again to provide the assist for the English striker’s third.  Ancelotti clearly is a manager who can get the best out of Rodriguez.  And the former Chelsea boss appears to be having the same influence on Calvert-Lewin. The striker had not scored more than six goals in a season in his first three Premier League campaigns but got 13 last term – eight of those under Ancelotti – and already has four this season.

When West Ham sold Diangana to West Brom this summer, it prompted an unexpected and angry message on social media from Hammers’ captain Mark Noble, who said he was “gutted, angry and sad” that the club had decided to sell the youngster. His goal against Everton showed just why Noble rated Diangana so highly and justified West Brom’s decision to spend £18m of their budget on the England youth international. Diangana’s raw talent coupled with the creativity of Pereira – who with 17 assists is second only to Kevin de Bruyne as top creator of goals in English football since the start of last season – means the Baggies have attacking flair that could serve them well this season. But they have now conceded eight goals in just two games and there will need to be significant improvement in their defensive displays if they are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Leeds 4 – 3 Fulham

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A narrow opening-day defeat at champions Liverpool illustrated Leeds were not just one to take this season as an experience to cherish. Leeds United once again played  adventurous attacking and energetic style which this time got rewarded with all three points – although it was still a performance underscored by moments of naive defending.  Bamford and Costa in particular, excelled for the hosts leading from the front at every opportunity.  Costa’s pace and trickery repeatedly occupied more than one visiting defender at a time as he constantly demanded the ball. Not only did that invaluably create space for his team-mates, he was at his clinical best scoring with both of this two shots resulting in goals.  Bamford’s showing as Leeds’ lone striker will also have pleased Bielsa. In a system that means the 27-year-old is likely to have to sacrifice himself at times, Bamford superbly created Costa’s goal on the left. And he showed a cool head to convert his only real chance of the game from Klich’s pass.

While Fulham boss Scott Parker has already conceded his team are likely to lose more games than they win this term he will have been disappointed by the way they gifted Leeds their opening goal.  For the second week in succession his team conceded from a corner and were punished for a lapse in concentration and poor organisation.  Bryan’s push on Bamford will also go down as a moment that was easily avoidable with the full-back and central defender Denis Odoi both caught out of position. However, unlike their home defeat by Arsenal, Fulham did at least show the character to respond against a side that had beaten them 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last term.

Manchester United 1 – 3 Crystal Palace

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Palace’s 73-year-old boss Roy Hodgson is just five years younger than Sir Alex Ferguson, who watched this game from the directors’ box. Ferguson must have been impressed with the youthful exuberance of the Palace side. Despite conceding possession, they were by far the most inventive and gave central defensive pair Harry Maguire and Lindelof a torrid time. Lindelof was shrugged away far too easily by Schlupp in the build-up to Townsend’s goal and Ayew would have had a second for Palace before the break had it not been for De Gea’s brilliant one-handed save. That it should be Zaha whose contribution eventually proved decisive was a further painful memory for United. Zaha was Ferguson’s last signing as United boss. But the Ivory Coast international never settled at Old Trafford and was sold back to Palace in 2015. After ending last season with a whimper, Palace could not have done better over the past fortnight. 

Despite being given an extra week off because of their European exploits, United were flat. The spark that player of the year Bruno Fernandes brought to the United side in January was missing. Pogba was poor and guilty of too many unforced errors. United’s defence struggled badly, with Maguire and Lindelof out of position far too often, and they have now conceded first in four successive home league games. Their best chance until Van de Beek’s goal was a far-post Mason Greenwood header which the striker sent disappointingly wide. On this evidence, it is hard to see United matching last season’s third-place finish without further additions to Solskjaer’s squad.

Arsenal 2 – 1 West Ham

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While there have been considerable signs of improvement at Arsenal since Arteta took charge last December this performance appeared to fizzle out after Lacazette had registered his 50th goal in all competitions for the club. The crispness of passing, swift attacking and solidity at the back were all noticeably missing and it allowed West Ham a route back into the encounter. However, the pleasing aspect for the Spaniard will be that his team were still capable of eking out a victory from an under-par showing. Nervy at the back throughout, Arteta’s side survived several close scares and struggled to break free of their lethargy despite the introduction of £72m winger Nicolas Pepe.  It took another substitute, Nketiah, to make the difference, with his tap-in coming eight minutes after he had come on to replace Lacazette.

After making a cautious start which invited pressure, the Hammers appeared transformed once they committed men forward to chase the game.  Antonio’s goal was a prime example, with four visiting players breaking quickly as Fredericks superbly overlapped down the right before finding the forward. Since top-flight football resumed in June, the 30-year-old has now scored more goals than any other Premier League player bar Raheem Sterling (both have nine).  And on another day the Hammers may have profited fully from a rampaging display from Antonio that unsettled the home defence. As it was, the Hammers were left feeling aggrieved after failing to take their chances and having had a penalty appeal turned down when Tomas Soucek’s header appeared to hit Gabriel’s arm. While it was difficult to see just how West ham were going to score in their opening day defeat to Newcastle, this performance will offer David Moyes hope that goals and points are just around the corner.  

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