Premier League: Matchweek 2 Review
Updated: Aug 22
Ollie Jones - 21/8/23
The curtain closes on a second weekend of Premier League football, however the show is only just beginning. Upsets, wonder goals, tactical masterclasses and controversy were in abundance in matchweek 2. The weekend kicked off with a last-gasp winner by Chris Wood to edge Forest past Sheffield United 2-1, after an earlier wonder strike by new man Gustavo Hamer levelling the score. Brentford cruised past rivals Fulham to claim the bragging rights in West London and a reinvigorated Tottenham side under Ange Postecoglou, stunned Manchester United. Aston Villa vindicated their first match misery with a 4-0 thumping of a despondent looking Everton side, before West Ham dampened Chelsea's promise with a 3-1 win over the Blues, in a week where Chelsea have once again splashed out, breaking the British transfer record, set by themselves, for wondekid Caicedo. In this article I will try to review all the action and will give my match, player and team of the week, as well as any other conclusions that can be drawn from this weekend's fixtures.
Nottingham Forest 2 - 1 Sheffield United
Fulham 0 - 3 Brentford
Liverpool 3 - 1 Bournemouth
Wolves 1 - 4 Brighton & Hove Albion
Tottenham 2 - 0 Manchester United
Manchester City 1 - 0 Newcastle United
Aston Villa 4 - 0 Everton
West Ham United 3 - 1 Chelsea
Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Arsenal
Debut delight and despair:
It was a tale of two stories for the debutants this weekend at the London Stadium, where Ward-Prowse made his highly anticipated debut, after his move from Southampton. It didn't take long for him to welcome himself to the home crowd, as his trademark set-piece ability was showcased to the hammers faithful, delivering a delicious out swinging corner on only the 6th minute mark, which was headed in at the back-post by a rising Aguerd. He followed this up with a beautifully clipped ball through the helpless Chelsea defence to Michail Antonio, who was too strong for Colwill, as he fired a rocket through the legs of Disasi and into Robert Sanchez's goal to fire the Irons ahead, before going onto win the match 3-1.
The fault for West Ham's third lies in the hands of Caicedo, who endured a very different debut. He made his first appearance in Chelsea blue from the bench in place of Chilwell after 60 minutes, however this quickly turned into a nightmare, looking understandably overwhelmed by the occasion. He gave possession away cheaply, committed 2 rash fouls and was poor positionally before giving away a penalty in added time as Chelsea searched for an equaliser, which Paqueta cooly converted to seal the 3 points. While fans were disappointed after the large sum the Blues have forked out for the young midfielder, it would be ignorant to judge him off one performance, especially with the pressure of the record transfer fee looming over his head, which in almost all cases has affected players mentally, like Maguire and in many instances taken players a long time to live up to the fee, as seen with Grealish, therefore Caicedo must be given time to produce the performances he's capable of, as shown at Brighton. However he will likely want to move on very quickly from this weekend.
VAR - Liverpool's friend and foe, and red cards galore:
Many Liverpool fans will feel conflicted about the role that VAR played in their 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, as although VAR agreed with the awarding of a very soft penalty on Szoboslai, which could've also been deemed as simulation, as contact with Rothwell was minimal. Giving Mo Salah the opportunity from the spot to take the lead at 1-1, which he did, after a brief scare when Neto acrobatically saved Salah's initial effort, before he tapped in the rebound.
However, later they were rightly aggrieved by the also controversial decision to send off Mac Allister, for a minimal contact with Christie. Although not affecting the end result of the game, as Liverpool comfortability retained their lead to win 3-1, it sees Alexis miss the Reds' next crucial match with Newcastle. Liverpool's troubles with quality and depth in the midfield are widely reported, so his absence will be felt in a game against another challenger for Champions League qualification, in a match that could prove crucial come the end of the season.
Mac Allister's red was one of the 5 red cards dished out in this weekend's 9 Premier League games, as the FA and PGMOL take steps to decrease dissent and time-wasting which has seen the cards racking up this matchweek, therefore making this likely to be a common occurrence this season.
Match of the Week:
It was hard to pick only one match that had it all this weekend, as their was drama everywhere, however, only one can win the title of 'match of the week' and that was Spurs vs Manchester United. In a match where Tottenham were lucky to still be in with contention at half-time, it was a complete smash and grab performance, where two unlikely heroes in Pape Matar Sarr and Ben Davies beat Onana to score twice, completely against the run of play. Shots cannoning off the crossbar left hearts in mouths for supporters and incredible reflex saves from Vicario to retain his clean sheet and Spurs' 3 points were phenomenal. It produced a fascinating tactical battle, as we caught glimpses of the style of play Postecoglou is trying to implement at Spurs, with great build-up play the architect of their second goal. United may have 3 points from 2 games, but have started poorly in both matches and Ten Hag will be rapidly trying to rectify this.
Player of the Week:
Brighton's 4-1 demolition of Wolves produced many candidates for 'Player of the Week', as Mitoma, Enciso and Estupinan caught the eye once again, but Solly March was instrumental in securing the result and Brighton's place at the top of the table at the end of Matchweek 2. He demonstrated his striker instincts, as the versatile winger was first to 2 inviting crosses which he stabbed both home like a seasoned poacher. It wasn't just his goalscoring though that secured Brighton the win, as his defensive output was phenomenal this game, making 3 clearances, 4 interceptions and 4 tackles, highlighting his tenacity to get back and help his teammates. He covered the whole pitch on Saturday and was my 'Player of the Week'.
Team of the Week:
Guglielmo Vicario - Was one of the stand-out performers for Spurs against Manchester United, producing some incredible reflex saves from point-blank range to constantly deny United, which ultimately gave him the clean sheet and Spurs the crucial 3 points
Lucas Digne - Dinge left Moshiri ruing selling him after his incredible performance against Everton. He showed great one v one ability against Patterson, beating him before often whipping a wicked crosses into the box, causing havoc in the Everton defence, a trait the Blues are ironically lacking
Marc Guehi - despite his best efforts, Palace lost on the night but Guehi was mightily impressive, looking composed and strong at the back, with confidence to progress with the ball into midfield to start attacks
Ethan Pinnock - Pinnock didn't put a foot wrong in Brentford's 3-0 win over rivals Fulham, as he was strong aerially and was called upon when needed to snuff out Fulham attacks
Serge Aurier - Playing in the wing-back position for Forest against Sheffield United gave Aurier the creative freedom going forward that is a great asset to his game, and he didn't disappoint, providing 2 great assists in their 2-1 win
Declan Rice - Rice was Arsenal's best player and proved again why they prioritised his signature, as his link up play between defence and attack was world-class, alongside his well-timed tackles that shut down Palace counter-attacks swiftly, he just oozed class
Pape Matar Sarr - scored his first ever goal for Tottenham in emphatic fashion and was important to their 2-0 win
James Ward-Prowse - as outlined earlier, he enjoyed a breathtaking debut, providing 2 terrific assists
Diogo Jota - Jota has embraced the false 9 role he's been deployed in under Klopp, and was clinical once again to grab a goal and played a key role in Liverpool's free-flowing attack, linking play with his teammates
Raheem Sterling - Despite not enjoying the most successful time at Chelsea so-far, he reaffirmed his tremendous ability with an individual masterclass against West Ham, producing glimpses of Eden Hazard with his dribbles into the box, that won one penalty, that unfortunately for him wasn't converted. He was a glimmer of hope in a poor performance
Solly March - won my 'player of the week' award, say no more!
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