The Premier League’s Week 3 action gave us so much to dig into as we had surprises galore with big comebacks, stunning goals and the usual incredible drama.
Never change, Premier League.
From Manchester United surging back to win, Tottenham looking good once again and 10-man Liverpool fighting back to stun Newcastle, there was a lot we learned as we head towards the September international break.
It was a Premier League weekend worth a deep review, and our writers Joe Prince-Wright and Andy Edwards got stuck into analysis.
Midfield shines as Bruno Fernandes leads comeback
Erik ten Hag had twice started Mason Mount, so an injury to the ex-Chelsea man would’ve led to internal questions about the midfield even if outsiders would’ve thought Mount hadn’t been at his best in the win over Wolves and loss to Spurs. So the fact that Bruno Fernandes drove the comeback from the tip of the midfield spear while Casemiro and Eriksen ran the game and also chipped in goals? Chef’s kiss. Raphael Varane’s exit will be monitored closely — we’ll have Ten Hag’s words as soon as they escape his mouth and cling to a microphone — but Victor Lindelof played well in his stead. The Red Devils still need better center-forward play, and Anthony Martial struggled in starting this match, but Rasmus Hojlund’s arrival will be welcomed… presuming it comes soon! – Nicholas Mendola
Same old story for slumping Toffees
This was so similar to Everton’s opening weekend home defeat to Fulham it was scary. And that start to the new Premier League season will be giving Evertonians everywhere nightmares. Are they unlucky? Yes. Are they feeling sorry for themselves? Yes. Are the fans angry? Yes. All of that adds up to a treacherous situation. Sean Dyche’s side worked hard and carved out opportunities but they snatched at them as they have yet to score this season and the pressure appears to be getting to this injury-hit Everton squad. Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin and McNeil returning to this lineup improves it massively but due to their financial situation, this squad is so thin that you do worry about how bad things will get in the early months of the season. They simply have to win away at Sheffield United next weekend to get some kind of positive momentum before the international break. A win in their next game, plus signing a striker or two in the final days of the transfer window if their financial situation allows it, has to happen to give Everton a chance of not being embroiled in a relegation battle for a third straight season. – Joe Prince-Wright
Not ‘good enough for Gunners
Mikel Arteta said it best after the game when noting the two errors that led to Fulham goals: This Arsenal team is good enough to outscore anyone and should’ve had more on the day. Every team has off games but it sure stings even more when you attack better than the opposition and fail to claim all three points, especially when it happens at home. Leandro Trossard gave an uninspiring performance as a false nine and neither Kai Havertz nor Martin Odegaard will like their early departures from the game. But Arsenal’s first three subs — Eddie Nketiah, Fabio Vieira, and Oleksandr Zinchenko — played huge roles in getting the Gunners in front before Fulham’s equalizers, and Arteta will know that Gabriel Jesus’ late cameo is a prelude to the star’s return to the fold. However, there’s now even more pressure on a Week 4 visit from Manchester United. Both sides will be looking for an early-season statement win and — obviously — only one will be able to lay claim to it. Draw incoming? – Nicholas Mendola
Attackers add a finishing touch as Angeball continues to deliver at Tottenham
Over the first two games none of Spurs’ front four had scored. Not now. Maddison and Kulusevski both finished and it was their perfectly-timed runs from deep to get on the end of perfectly-weighted passes that summed up Angeball at its best. Spurs played with real quality, composure and ruthlessness and there was a calmness about their play even when Bournemouth had a good spell at the start of the second half. The most important thing here is that Tottenham have belief in what they’re doing under Postecoglou and the entire team knows they have to deliver and play their part if they’re going to be successful. Harry Kane isn’t around anymore to bail them out but if Heung-min Son and Richarlison can get going and get on the scoresheet soon (both had chances), then Angeball will be turbo-charged. This start to the season was exactly what the Australian coach wanted and there is a very real possibility that Spurs will go into their north London derby trip to Arsenal a month from now being the form team in the Premier League. That is when we will really find just how good they are, especially in defense. For now, things are flowing in midfield and attack and Tottenham’s fans are loving it. – Joe Prince-Wright
Liverpool make most of Newcastle’s mistake with momentum
Newcastle appeared quite happy to protect their goal and man advantage, rather than remaining on the front foot in pursuit of a second goal, and eventually, they were made to pay for it. Liverpool’s 81st-minute equalizer came courtesy of some laughable luck as Dan Burn got tangled up with the ball and sent Nuñez through with a shooting chance from a very difficult angle. The Uruguayan struck a two-bouncer off the inside of the far post with his first touch. 11 minutes later, it was essentially the same attacking sequence, and the same result, from Liverpool. Salah timed the through ball perfectly as Nuñez peeled away from Burn once again. Nuñez ran onto the ball and placed another first-time finish inside the far post. Newcastle were made to rue their decision to take off Sandro Tonali and Anthony Gordon as they handed the initiative to Liverpool and handed them the momentum to try and launch an improbable late comeback win. Even when they’re down to 10 men, Jurgen Klopp’s side don’t give up opportunities like this. – Andy Edwards
Pochettino is a project manager, not an overnight miracle worker
Here’s the good news for Chelsea fans: your team got better as Friday’s game went on, and eventually all of their hard work paid off. Pochettino’s tenure is likely to follow a similar course, navigating some bumps in the road early in the season as he molds the Blues in his own image. Pochettino was a massive success at Tottenham, but he didn’t have a ton of success right away. Spurs started 6W-2D-56 in his first 14 games in charge, including humbling defeats to West Brom, Newcastle and Stoke City. They finished with fewer points (64) than the previous season (69), but it was clear to see that the groundwork was being laid. From there, Pochettino never finished a season outside the top four (3rd, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) and reached the Champions League final. Given the injury crisis currently engulfing the (admittedly very richly constructed) Chelsea squad, expect some good early on, and a bit of bad as well. The first three games have showcased plenty of both. – Andy Edwards
Hard-fought, Moyesian, and probably unsustainable performance
David Moyes’ men helped him turn back the clock and issue a performance straight out of his early century vintage with Everton. It was relentless, aggressive, composed, and ready. The Irons understood the plan and implemented it, prepared to strike with vigor whenever the rare chances arrived at their doorstep. But how many times can a team expect to give away the ball for more than 3/4 of the game, take 1/3 of the game’s shots, and win by multiple goals? It’s great practice for some Europa League nights and surely we’ll see it again when the Irons meet Man City (Sept. 16) and Liverpool (Sept. 24), but hopefully, Moyes opts to go get it at Luton Town on Friday and Sheffield United on Sept. 30. And surely he will. Right? – Nicholas Mendola
Guardiola-less Manchester City leans on Haaland, and Rodri to get the job done
Erling Haaland caused problems galore with runs in behind the Sheffield United defense, as he strayed offside once or twice while trying to toe the line and find the decisive opening. In the end, it was a floated cross from Jack Grealish that undid the Blades and found Haaland rising highest at the back post. Everything was looking incredibly comfortable for Manchester City, with Sheffield United attempting just three shots in the game up until the 85th minute. That’s when Jayden Bogle equalized after former Blade Kyle Walker cheaply gave the ball away inside his own penalty area. It was the first goal Manchester City conceded this season. Parity wasn’t long for this world, though, as Man City feverishly chased a winner from the restart. Three minutes later, Phil Foden found Rodri with a cut-back ball and the Spaniard rifled the ball far post, top corner, where no goalkeeper in the world could reach it. When City needed them most, their two most consistent performers who always seem to deliver in the big moments did it once again. – Andy Edwards
Can Palace find an attacking solution without their talisman like Brentford have?
Losing Ivan Toney for half of this season was a massive blow for Brentford but their front three of Wissa, Schade and Mbeumo have scored all six of their goals so far and they are stepping up. Big time. That is very handy for such a well-organized team and by the time Toney returns in early 2024, the Bees should be in a good position for their talisman to kick them on in the second half of the season. Like Brentford, Palace are extremely solid and if Hodgson is able to stop Eze, Andersen and Doucoure from leaving between now and the end of the summer window then they will be a solid midtable once again. But where will Palace’s goals come from? That is the big question, especially after losing Wilfried Zaha to Galatasaray this summer. But should it be? Palace look certain to sign at least one forward in the final days of the summer window and Zaha’s seven goals last season for Palace were important. But what is more important is finding a clinical finisher who fits into their system and letting Olise, Eze and Co. create chances galore. Brentford has shown they can cope without Toney and now Palace needs to do the same without Zaha. – Joe Prince-Wright
Ruthless Aston Villa continues strong start
Matty Cash was the scorer of an unlikely early brace, as the Aston Villa right-back got on the end of crosses from Ollie Watkins and Diaby. Goal no. 1 came in the 8th minute, and it looked like the chance had gone after Watkins took a long touch and lost his angle to shoot on goal, only to hook the ball across goal for Cash to slide in and turn it home. The second goal was exactly as designed, with Diaby overlapping and cutting a cross back to Cash, who smashed it home at the near post for 2-0. Their two-goal lead was eventually restored as Aston Villa left no doubt over the fact that all three points would be heading home with them. Lucas Digne streaked down the left side and found Diaby with a square ball on the edge of the penalty area. Diaby put his left foot through the ball, kept it low and placed it perfectly inside the far post. This was a ruthless Villa display as Unai Emery has created a team totally in tune with his identity as a manager. Villa hits people hard where it hurts and are so stubborn to break down. They are a horrible team to play against and Emery loves it. – Andy Edwards