The final action of Week Nine in the Premier League took place on Monday, starting with the early evening kick-off at Turf Moor…
Burnley 1 Crystal Palace 0
Hosts Burnley was yet to win in seven league starts so far although the two points they had picked up came in their last four fixtures, it has been a tough start to the season for the Lancastrians, but they knew a win here would propel them out of the bottom three and still having a game in hand on everyone around them too.
Palace, on the other hand, was sitting in ninth position after a solid start to their campaign, although their last five games had seen just about every outcome possible although they did come into this one with two wins in their last three, and they knew the third win in four would see them go level with fifth-placed Southampton and sixth-placed Everton.
Burnley have had problems scoring this season though, only three goals in their seven starts with none of those coming at home, whilst Palace seem to score and concede in equal measures but what would happen here this evening?
Well, Palace were dealt a blow when Wilfred Zaha, who has netted five goals, two more than the entire Burnley side had managed, and provided two assists this season, was missing as he was self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, it would have been his 200th Premier League appearance too this evening as well, so that will have to wait, but he would be a big miss for the visitors in this one.
Eight minutes in and Burnley had their first goal at Turf Moor this season as after Johann Gudmundsson had launched a high ball towards the Palace area, defender Cheikhou Kouyate sent a terrible headed clearance to Jay Rodriguez who sent a first-time flick into the path of Chris Wood and he rifled home. The hosts certainly looked right up for this early on, but apart from that goal, not a lot else happened in the first half although Wood and Rodriguez had been superb for the hosts and the Palace full backs and centre-halves had been in a battle.
It meant Burnley were forty-five minutes away from getting their first win of the campaign and climbing out of the bottom three, whilst Palace would be dropping a place to tenth underneath Man United who would go up a place on goal difference.
Could Palace respond in the second period? Well, they nearly fell further behind eleven minutes after the break when Burnley saw Gudmundsson send a shot from the edge of the box crashing against the crossbar, but Palace should have levelled just past the hour mark when Michy Batshuayi, in for the absent Zaha, pounced on a poor back pass from Dwight McNeil, but Nick Pope came off his line to block the shot, and then punch away before the striker could get a second chance to score.
As the game reached the final few minutes Palace began to put the pressure on to try and gain a point, and Pope came to the host’s rescue in the 90th minute when substitute Christian Benteke hooked a shot at goal from point-blank range which Pope threw himself at it to somehow keep it out, he is arguably England’s number one keeper right now no?
It meant Burnley did hold on to grab their first win of the season and climb out of the bottom three, this was a massive three points and one that could maybe kick start their season. For Palace is was a very frustrating evening and they will feel they should have got something from this game, did they miss Zaha, probably, but this defeat sees them drop a place to tenth.
The final match of Week Nine took us to the Midlands and Molineux for Wolves against Southampton in the Monday night game…
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Southampton 1
The hosts knew a win would see them go from midtable to level with fifth, currently occupied by their opponents prior to kick off, such as the tightness of the division early on in the campaign, and they came into this contest having seen their four matches unbeaten run come to an end last time out, and they were up against a Saints outfit who were flying high this term, and knew three points on the road would see them up to third in the standings and just a point behind the leaders.
And the Saints latest form was very impressive, having won five of their last six fixtures and unbeaten in six Premier League matches, so they would have been very confident of three points here. The hosts were without skipper Conor Coady as he continued to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19, the defender had not missed a minute last season so this was a bit alien for the home side.
Theo Walcott was starting for the Saints, and it was fifteen years ago when he made his debut for Southampton in his first spell at the club as a sixteen-year-old against, you guessed it Wolves, was it really that long ago now??? Crikey. The Saints began on the front foot but Wolves had the first real opportunity when Alex McCarthy had to make a smart stop from Nelson Semedo and then made a superb stop to deny a follow-up effort from Leander Dendonker, whilst Walcott, who had finally got his wish to play up front, got in behind the Wolves defence but Rui Patricio made a routine save, it had been a pretty good first twenty minutes in this one.
McCarthy had to be alert to stop an Adam Traore effort which took a deflection just past the half-hour mark, but the game had gone a bit flat and needed a goal, and it so nearly came a minute later for the visitors as a cracking move ended with Che Adams sliding in Stuart Armstrong who could only poke his effort on the stretch across goal and wide.
Wolves then went close after Daniel Podence guided a header on target but McCarthy clawed it over, and it meant the sides would go into the half all square, a half that had overall been a bit slow and steady after a decent opening. McCarthy had to make another decent stop early in the second period from Podence, before Raul Jimenez squirted a header wide of the visitor’s goal, but then came the breakthrough, and it went to the visitors just before the hour mark, and it was no other than Walcott who grabbed the goal, tapping in an Adams low ball across from the right for his first goal for the club in fifteen years.
He should have had a second nine minutes later when Adams sent him clean through and with just the keeper to beat, stuck it wide, it was a huge chance to put this game out of the hosts reach perhaps. Would it prove a costly miss?
Well, Pedro Neto, who had only come on a few minutes earlier and almost scored with his first touch, did net a Wolves leveller with fifteen to go when after Jimenez thumped an effort against the base of the post, the ball popped out to Neto who cushioned a side-footed finish into the net to set up a potentially cracking last fifteen minutes or so.
Three minutes after and with the host’s tails up, Jimenez sent a header into the far corner, but he was flagged offside, but they were now looking for the winner, and Neto, who was certainly making his mark since coming on, burst into the area at lightning speed but saw his effort saved by McCarthy who was certainly earning his stripes this evening. In the end, though a draw seemed about right, and it means The Saints stretch their unbeaten run to seven, whilst for Wolves, it’s now just one loss in six.
This is how the table looked after Week Nine’s action…
It pretty tight with just three points between first and fifth, and then three points between sixth and 12th, whilst down the bottom, only four points separate Burnley in 17th and bottom side Sheffield United.
Still, early days but this has the potential to be a wide-open title race and also in the race for European spots too, and it also proves to be quite a battle down at the bottom. Let’s hope it stays tight as that would make it a very exciting season indeed.