Arsenal FC 1: 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Gabriel 30’ : Pedro Neto 27’, Daniel Podence 42’
With news filtering through on Raul Jiminez’s successful surgery, viewers of the late-night game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal FC can breathe a sigh of relief. A nightmarish crack emitted across the length and breadth of the stadium as the Mexican forward clashed with Gunners defender, David Luiz during the early stages of this premier league fixture.
The seriousness of the clash was evident as players immediately gesticulated for the medics. Luiz having been on the ground for a few minutes himself, chose to get up and immediately inquire about his opposition’s well-being. In the aftermath, both coaches addressed and praised the medics, their minds far from the result.
Questions and inquiries though are already underway as to the continued involvement of the Brazilian defender and whether he should have been allowed to continue having being concussed.
Notwithstanding the post-match press conference reactions, the game was an excellent watch, as both sets of players threw themselves into the game with utmost zealousness and zeal. Adama Traore was a menace as he ran at the Gunners defence. His turn and release at the half-way mark to release his team-mates for the second goal was in his own way a tribute to the legendary Maradona who passed away earlier on Wednesday evening.
Arsenal did have their chances but their run of miserable form continues in the Premier League which currently puts them in 14th place in the league. Mikel Arteta did speak well about the positives although the caveat of ‘taking positives from the games’ is starting to wear thin. Arsenal’s captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again off target and his failure to score from open-play was highlighted by his tentative movements.
Nuno’s men were on the go from the start and it was not surprising when Pedro Neto put them ahead, finishing of a smart move having seen the initial header from Dendoncker crash against the cross-bar. Despite Gunners, Gabriel’s equalizer, it was Daniel Podence’s flick and finish which will live long in the memory and was the highlight of the game.
It was a fiendishly clever finish as the Portuguese managed to take the ball in his stride before flicking it over the onrushing Bernard Leno and then gathering his footing to slam home a finish (all in a matter of milliseconds), as he put his team into the lead.
While Wolves exhibited different styles of fluidity and one-touch football Arsenal chose a more stuttered approach. Arsenal may have edged their opposition in possession but they hardly seemed to do anything meaningful with it, instead, they were left with more questions than answers as the game progressed towards its conclusion.
Both teams play their next set of fixtures on the road with Arsenal visiting old foes Spurs to renew their North London rivalry, while Wolves travel to Anfield. Spurs currently at the top of the league are probably relishing the opportunity to face Gunners. While Klopp despite earning some tidy results with Liverpool, will be wary of Wolves.
Southampton 2: 3 Manchester United
Bednarek 23’, Ward-Prowse 33’: Fernandes 60’, Cavani 74’ 90+2’
Ralph Hasenhüttl, the Southampton coach was left searching for words as he struggled to explain the result. The German was of the view one doesn’t know what to expect of this United team. As one evidenced the mad-clap display one could feel for the German boss and his players who seemed to be on their last legs. United though seemed buoyed as the game entered into its final stages. Of late, United’s performances have been a rollercoaster ride and this game was equivalent of a thrill a minute.
United having started on the front foot found themselves 2 goals down at half-time, courtesy of a header from Bednarek and a glorious free-kick by Ward-Prowse. The Southampton captain’s free-kick was an exquisite one with the despairing De Gea’s dive adding the dollop of helplessness to it. De Gea was later replaced as the keeper injured himself in the process.
Solskjaer’s men had been guilty of some pivotal misses in the first half with Greenwood being the culprit on two occasions. Having seen enough, the United manager then brought on the 33-year-old Cavani as both teams stepped out for the second half as he went for experience and a skilled finisher.
Cavani having scored his first goal before the international break was an inspired substitution as he came on and played a role in all the three goals for United. The Uruguayan crossed from the right for Bruno Fernandes equalizer before finishing superbly in the latter stages of the game to give United all three points.
His stoppage-time winner was a class in movement, as the veteran hung back initially before darting past the confused Southampton defence to plant a near-post header past the Saints keeper. The movement can be best described as a slingshot movement as he dived perfectly to make contact and score the decisive goal.
United next travel to London to play against a resurgent West Ham United side who are under the tutelage of former United boss, David Moyes. The Saints in turn travel to Brighton Hove & Albion where they will be reunited with one of their former charges in the form of Adam Lallana, though there is a high probability that the mid-fielder may miss the game through injury.
Chelsea FC 0: 0 Tottenham Hotspur
Mischievous Mourinho left Stamford Bridge with a satisfactory point in the London derby as his team held the Blues to a draw. A game pitted as a clash between Roman Abramovich’s favourite manager and favourite player meandered to a draw as both teams concentrated on retaining their shape.
Lampard’s team has benefitted from the arrivals of Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell in defence with Mendy’s late arrival from Rennes adding to their defensive nous. The keeper has been in stupendous form and this was his third clean sheet in his last four Premier League games.
And this match was a resemblance to a boxing bout as both teams like boxers, circled each other around the ring waiting for the other to make the first move. Spurs were content to hit on the break and Lampard having seen Manchester City’s breakdown last week against Spurs was right to be cautious.
The metronomic Kante was at the base of the Blues midfield scurrying, harrowing and nipping as many attacking threats as possible. The Son-Kane duo which has been central to the Spurs gameplay was never allowed to settle and the nil-nil result was an apt reflection of the tactics on display. As is a trait of Mourinho’s teams, possession was conceded without hesitation with Spurs preferring the Blues to hog the ball.
Chances were far and few and with a combined total of 4 shots on target, the game didn’t make anyone jump out of their seats. The lack of action meant talking points were hardly an issue with Mourinho’s post-match conference being worthy of a highlight reels after he made comments attributing his team as a pony in the race for the title.
The Blues next welcome Leeds at Stamford Bridge and that should be a wholesome change from Spurs. Mourinho though will be rubbing his hands in glee as he welcomes Arsenal and a great opportunity to get one over derby rivals. The Portuguese though will have no complaints as he finished another week on top of the premier league, surroundings which he is familiar with.
West Bromwich Albion 1: 0 Sheffield United
Conor Gallagher finally got his name on the score-sheet as his shot found the bottom corner through a melee of players to give West Brom a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. West Brom as a team this season have been plucky having shown the determination to succeed despite results and decisions not going their way.
Bilic’s side who were hard done last weekend after the referee overturned a penalty given to them were much sharper this week. More importantly, Lady Luck finally smiled on them as the onslaught by Sheffield United failed to trouble the scorers. The Blades are currently on a wretched run of form and with every passing day, Chris Wilder’s position becomes tenable, not that the sack can be expected.
Wilder himself cannot finish the umpteen number of chances that his team created and at times it was harder to miss than to score. Baldock, McBurnie and others contrived to miss chances from scoring positions with Sam Johnstone, the West Brom keeper coming to recuse on other occasions. The three points for West Bromwich also meant that for a brief while they were also out of the relegation zone.
Wilder though complained of the lack of composure and are the third side in English top-flight history to earn a solitary point after 10 rounds of league games which puts them alongside the 1930-31 Manchester United side (zero points) and the 1985-85 West Bromwich Albion side (one point).
The Blades next host Leicester City while West Bromwich Albion will welcome Crystal Palace. With both teams in the lower half of the premier league table, the three points for West Brom may go a long way in this relegation fight.