It is time for the Premier League Week 8 Review. On this edition of the Premier League, City’s annual wobble, is AngeBall slowly deflating? ScottLand pulling Manchester from hell, and replays going for everyone!
Martinelli Puts City to the Sword
For a team so star-studded, it’s crazy how different Manchester City looks when they are missing one player, right? Now albeit it did take a late winner from Gabriel Martinelli to take down the blue side of Manchester but City didn’t look remotely close to the high-quality play we’ve come to expect from Pep Guardiola’s side. And I think it is down to not having the heart of the team. And that is Rodri. City were also lucky not to leave London with a second midfielder on the suspended list either.
One of the major talking points from the game was whether Croatian central midfielder Mateo Kovacic should have seen red. Kovacic’s initial strong tackle on Martin Odegaard was sent for review to VAR, with the result just being a yellow card.
However, almost instantly after this booking, Kovacic tested fate with an equally brutal foul on Declan Rice. However, Michael Oliver saw the foul as not worthy of a second booking. No doubt RefWatch will be debating that one Monday morning.
When the match stats are broken down, there isn’t a single stat from Sunday’s clash where City were above and beyond better. They had 51% possession which, for City, is extremely below-par to their usual possession-full games. Arsenal had a lot more shots, although only one more on target, but that is all the difference they needed. Martinelli’s wicked shot from the edge of the box thumped off of Nathan Ake’s face to wrong-foot Ederson and launch the ball flying into the net, sending all three points to the Gunners.
Spurs Go Top but for How Long?
The Ange Postecoglou era is in full swing at Tottenham, and it couldn’t be going any better at the moment. Micky Van de Ven saved their blushes at Kenilworth Road, however. Spurs had several chances, namely Richarlison did, in the first half that they couldn’t put away. Son, Maddison, and Kulusevski were all creating chances for fun in the first half, but to no avail. FPL managers were ripping their hair out watching potential assists go to waste. I’d know I was one of them. (Also captained Maddison, so I was very invested.)
Yves Bissouma saw red just before halftime; the Malian received two yellows in seven minutes to send him packing down the tunnel on the stroke of halftime. Luton slowly started to enter the game as it stretched on. Chances for Adebayo and Ogbene went begging for Luton before Van de Ven broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute following a magic run from James Maddison. So even though Tottenham took the spoils, there has to be question marks over this team.
Right now, they are on a fantastic run of form, but how long is it going to last? No doubt Ange’s substitutions are debatable at the best of times, but it won’t be questioned until Spurs go through their usual rough patch. And what then? How does Ange adapt? So do I see Spurs as legitimate title challengers? No. I think they have a lot to prove before they can even be put into the ideal bracket of potential suitors for matching up against the likes of Man City and Arsenal. I rate Postecoglou as a coach, but there are a lot of unanswered queries about this side.
Scotland’s McTominay Shows Brave Heart to Save United
Sitting here expecting to cover yet another United defeat. It is almost a weekly occurrence now. It is sad that there is no confidence in any United fan, no matter who they come up against. Yet somehow, they were ripped out from the depths against Brentford just as everyone thought it was all said and done.
This was a trademark 2023 Manchester United game for 93 minutes today. Dominate the ball, work hard, and create chances for the first 20-25 minutes, concede through abject defending followed by questionable goalkeeping, create a sparingly few chances, and mope off at full time. United started brightly until Matias Jensen’s shot squeezed somehow through the hand of Andre Onana. Again a common statement this season, just change the goalscorer’s name (high-quality journalism hack for you, rinse and repeat).
United then came close through Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford but to no avail, as Brentford keeper Thomas Strakosha was keen to impress on his Premier League debut. The Albanian had completed six saves and looked to get his first clean sheet until Erik Ten Hag made the substitution that may well have saved his job until at least post-international break.
With just three minutes of normal time to go, Sofyan Amrabat was removed from the game and replaced with Scott McTominay. McTominay was on the pitch for 2 minutes when he had the ball in the net for the equalizer, but it was ruled out by VAR as Anthony Martial was found to be offside in the build-up. And yet it didn’t deter the Scotsman. Three minutes into the seven added minutes after 90 monotonous minutes of football, McTominay recovered Diogo Dalot’s saved shot to bury an equaliser in the bottom left. And just when Old Trafford thought United was going home with a valuable point, The Scottish midfielder was planning on sending the fans home even happier, as he rose to meet Harry Maguire’s flick-on to nod in a 97th-minute winner with practically the last touch of the game.
Manchester United need to seriously improve. Erik Ten Hag is on borrowed time whether the fans like it or not. Whether he has lost some of the dressing room remains to be seen. But results and performances need to start turning up for the Dutchman if he wants to reside in Manchester any longer. It is hoped that a win like this can be the turning point, but that remains to be seen. As for Brentford, they will feel extremely hard done by. Ethan Pinnock put in a defensive masterclass just to be on the losing side. They also have not won a game in 7 Premier League outings. Thomas Frank has definitely done enough to be safe for another while, but in this league, do not count your chickens.
Promoted Sides Still Searching for Joy
Sheffield United and Bournemouth came up as the two teams most likely to compete in the Premier League as opposed to Luton. Yet the Blades and the Cherries are the only two sides out of the twenty teams in the division yet to pick up three points from a game. Sheffield went to Craven Cottage on Saturday and yet again came away with nothing as goals from Bobby Decordova-Reid and Willian either side of a Wesley Foderingham own goal gave Fulham the points in a 3-1 victory.
Bournemouth’s sour return also continued as they took a trip to Merseyside to face fellow strugglers Everton who seem to be slowly turning a corner for Sean Dyche. James Garner, Jack Harrison, and Abdoulaye Doucoure put the South siders to the sword. Manager Andoni Iraola is currently the favourite to be the first manager to get the axe this season, and it’s clear why. The team isn’t even performing remotely well enough to earn a draw recently.
Treated to an early Sunday afternoon drawing session
Sunday afternoon was set up with a triple header kicking off the day with Newcastle celebrating their thumping victory over PSG with a trip to London to take on West Ham, who themselves had European success on Thursday with a win over Freiburg in Germany in the Europa League.
It was the Hammers who got off to a quick start as Emerson rounded Nick Pope and squared the ball for Thomas Soucek to tap in for the lead inside 10 minutes. Just after half-time, Alexander Isak pounced to put the ball past Alphonse Areola to draw Newcastle level. Then just 5 minutes later, Kieran Trippier’s sublime first-time cross landed right on the left boot of Isak for his second of the game and the lead for the Tynesiders. But then, right at the death, West Ham drew level through a fantastic finish from new signing Mohammed Kudus. The sides ended the game with a point each which leaves West Ham 7th, just a point ahead of Newcastle in 8th.
While all the late drama was taking place in London, we had drama in the Amex as Brighton hosted Liverpool, who were still reeling from their controversial defeat to Tottenham. During the week, Jurgen Klopp was the one requesting a replay. This time it was Roberto De Zerbi and the Brighton faithful who were looking for a round 2 as Liverpool were given the questionable gift of a penalty after Dominik Szoboszlai was claimed to be upended by Pascal Gross. Mohamed Salah buried the spot kick to give the Reds a 2-1 lead just before halftime after Simon Adingra had given Brighton the lead after catching Alisson out of his goal. Salah himself had equalized for Liverpool just before his spot kick following some good build-up from Darwin Nunez. Just as the Kop thought they were going home with the win, Lewis Dunk met Solly March’s whipped free kick to level the game at 2-2 and make sure the game ended even.
And finally, we go to Molineux, where Wolves met Aston Villa in a West Midlands derby. Aston Villa started the game brightly, coming close through John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, and John McGinn again. Yet it was Wolves who drew first blood in the second half as Pedro Neto took off down the right wing and played a ball to Hwang Hee-Chan, who played it over Emi Martinez for the lead. But the lead didn’t last long as just minutes later, Watkins chipped the ball to the back post, where Pau Torres struck a leveler for Villa. Mario Lemina was then sent off late on for a second yellow card offence. The draw keeps Villa 5th and a point behind Liverpool in 4th. Meanwhile, Wolves go 4 points clear of the relegation zone in 14th.
Aspiring student writer with a love for the sport.