Snap judgments: Quick reactions to Saturday’s early Premier League results

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With Aston Villa-Manchester United moments from kickoff, we take a few moments to look back on the Premier League’s first set of Saturday results. Here are the day’s Snap Judgments:

Arsenal 3-3 Fulham – Mark Schwarzer’s save on Mikel Arteta’s 94th-minute penalty perserved the result for Fulham, the Cottagers putting three goals past what used to be the league’s best defense. Defending was the one thing Arsenal could do at the beginning of the season, but having given up 12 goals in their last four games, the Gunner’s defense has assumed the attack’s former struggles.

Impact – Right next to each other. That’s where they started the day, and there’s where they’ll end it. Arsenal and Fulham are seventh and eighth in England, both on 19 points. For Fulham, it’s what they’d homed for when the season began. For Arsenal, it’s reason to improve.

Everton 2-1 Sunderland – What a mixed bag for Sunderland fans. They played much better than why had in recent weeks, but with a goal and an assist from Marouane Fellani in a three-minute span of the second half, the Black Cats were unable to make Adam Johnson’s opener hold up. Sunderland fans can take solace in the fact that, although it seems like we’re well into the season, they have 28 matches in front of them. There’s still time.

Impact – Everton temporarily sit fourth, a lofty perch for the habitual slow starters. David Moyes says this is his best Everton team, and it shows. Sunderland, however, will likely finish the round in 16th place.

Reading 0-0 Norwich City – Perhaps the least surprising result of the day. Reading has been scrappy but ineffective all season. Norwich has been bad with two tinges of good. Their meeting produced only three shots on goal, the Royals left waiting for their first win upon return to the Premier League.

Impact – The Royals have yet to show they belong in the Premier League. They sit 18th, while Norwich, despite a worse goal difference, remains 15th.

Southampton 1-1 Swansea City – Saints manager Nigel Adkins placed a lot of importance on this match, so he’ll likely be disappointed with defender Maya Yoshida, who had the ball taken from him by Nigel Dyer ahead of Swansea’s second half equalizer. It was another decent performance with no victory for Southampton, who may have no choice but to persist and hope.

Impact – Southampton climb out of the basement and into 19th while Swansea, having lost only one in five, stay mid-table.

Stoke City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers – The only other team besides Reading who have failed to win is Mark Hughes’ well-funded Rangers, who fell to 20th place with Saturday’s loss. Time has to be running out for the QPR boss, whereas Stoke appear to have re-group after last season’s struggles.

Impact – Despite scoring only nine times in 11 games, Stoke sits 12th. After today’s result, Hughes may not make it to Saturday’s match at Loftus Road. If he does, the match versus Southampton becomes a must-win.

Wigan Athletic 1-2 West Bromwich Albion – We’re too early in the season to call this more than a hot start, but with three strong points from the DW, West Brom is even with Everton in fourth place. Where did this come from?

Whether you think West Brom can maintain that stature likely influences how you feel about Wigan’s result. If you see West Brom falling back at some point, today was a missed opportunity for Wigan.

Impact – West Brom gave another indication they intend to compete for Europe, while Wigan, regardless of the result, remains ahead of their usual pace (currently sitting 14th).

MLS Snapshot: Sounders cruise, 3-0, as Galaxy struggles continue

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy’s midfield remains… nonexistent, to put it very nicely. It was a problem in 2015; it was a major problem in 2016; and it remains a problem early in 2017. On Sunday, Curt Onalfo’s side (as a quick aside, no, his seat isn’t yet getting hot) sat by and watched — almost literally — as the Seattle Sounders found the back of the net three times in the first half at StubHub Center.

Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris scored the goals for Seattle, to go with an own goal from Ashley Cole. It’s LA’s fifth loss in seven games, while Seattle have their second win of the season and put to bed a three-game winless skid.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundup — FCD win battle of unbeatens ]

Three moments that mattered

29′ — Dempsey heads into an open net for 1-0 — Nicolas Lodeiro floated the cross toward the back post, and Dempsey made extremely easy work of it with Brian Rowe scrambling through no man’s land.

35′ — Cole applies the finish into his own net — If it happened at the other end of the field, we’d have said it was a cool, calm, composed finish. Alas…

44′ — Morris fires past Rowe for 3-0 — The counter-attack was quick, what with no one stepping to the ball as Seattle covered two-thirds of the field. The finish wasn’t so simple for Morris.

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Man of the match: Clint Dempsey

Goalscorers: Dempsey (29′), Cole (OG – 35′), Morris (44′)

Chelsea’s Kante claims PFA Player of the Year award

Photo credit: PFA / Twitter: @PFA
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Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who many felt was hard done by in not winning the award during Leicester City’s miraculous title-winning season of 2015-16, was named the 2016-17 PFA Player of the Year on Sunday.

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With Chelsea six games from claiming this season’s Premier League title (they currently possess a four-point advantage on Tottenham Hotspur), it’s impossible to ignore Kante’s presence and impact on each of the last two (presumed) title-winning sides.

While his goal and assist numbers (1 and 1 this season) don’t come anywhere close to those of past winners (Riyad Mahrez tallied 17 and 11 en route to last season’s award), Kante’s industry, energy and rugged, ball-winning ways have integrated so seamlessly into Antonio Conte‘s debut Chelsea side.

[ MORE: Chelsea advance to FA Cup final | They’ll face Arsenal ]

The Blues splashed the cash — $40 million was the fee — to sign Kante last summer, and they’ve reaped unbelievable, immediate return on investment from the 26-year-old.

Spurs’ Alli wins PFA Young Player award for 2nd straight season

Photo credit: Tottenham Hotspur / Twitter: @SpursOfficial
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Dele Alli joined Wayne Rooney (2004-05 and 2005-06) on Sunday as the only repeat or back-to-back winners of the PFA Young Player of the Year award winners since the turn of the century.

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Alli showed in 2016-17 — much like his Tottenham Hotspur teammate and 2014-15 Young Player of the year winner Harry Kane — that he’s much more than a one-season wonder, improving upon 2015-16’s goal and assist numbers (10 and 9) with a 16-goal, 5-assist season this time around.

Alli was signed by Tottenham (out of League One and relative obscurity) for a fee just north of $6 million in 2015. Recent rumors have linked the 21-year-old with a move to join the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, for a transfer fee well over 10 times what Spurs paid to MK Dons.

[ MORE: Chelsea advance to FA Cup final | They’ll face Arsenal ]

Between Alli and Kane, Spurs players have won the last three Young Player of the Year awards, and five of the last six (Gareth Bale in 2012-13; Kyle Walker in 2011-12). Only Eden Harzard could break up Spurs’ stranglehold on the award, in 2013-14.

Ryan Giggs (1991-92 and 1992-93) and Robbie Fowler (1994-95 and 1995-96) are the only other players to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

El Clasico: Messi scores 499, 500; Barca, Madrid level on points

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After 31 (and 32, respectively) games played, three points were all that separated Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table in La Liga.

[ MORE: Chelsea advance to FA Cup final | They’ll face Arsenal ]

After another 90 scintillating, pulsating, thrilling, plot-twisting minutes of El Clasico on Sunday, there’s not a single thing to separate the two sides (other than Barca’s current tiebreaker on head-to-head meetings, and Madrid’s game in hand). This time, it was Lionel Messi who outshone Cristiano Ronaldo in the meeting of the world’s brightest stars, the former scoring twice and reaching the 500-goal mark in his Barcelona career (all competitions).

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 33 23 6 4 94 32 62 12-3-1 11-3-3 75
 Real Madrid 32 23 6 3 84 36 48 12-4-1 11-2-2 75
 Atlético Madrid 33 20 8 5 60 24 36 12-2-2 8-6-3 68

Casemiro opened the scoring with a tap-in into an empty net in the 28th minute. Marcelo floated a ball to the back post, where Sergio Ramos made clean contact but came up with nothing but hit nothing but woodwork. Fortunately for Los Blancos, the ball ricocheted off the post, bounced across the face of goal and found the Brazilian midfielder all by his lonesome.

The lead was short-lived, though, as a bloodied Messi scored yet another of his patented Messi goals just five minutes later. With two touches atop Madrid’s penalty area, he slalomed past and beat three defenders before applying the cool finish past Keylor Navas with that magical left foot of his.

Following the halftime break, the balance of play tipped in Barca’s favor. Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez went oh so close to putting the visitors ahead either side of the hour mark, but Navas produced a pair of stunning saves that’ll (perhaps) go a long way toward silencing his increasingly vocal critics.

[ MORE: Griezmann scores no. 25 as Atleti win to hold onto 3rd ]

There was absolutely nothing the Costa Rican no. 1 could do about Rakitic’s 73rd-minute strike, though. Cutting inside onto his left foot, the Croatian caressed and curled the ball toward the far post, where it made a hard right turn at the last possible second and nestled itself into the

Already up a goal, the game appeared to swing totally in Barca’s favor just four minutes later. Sergio Ramos, the most Sergio Ramos player to ever Sergio Ramos, went lunging in, with two sets of studs exposed, on Messi. He was rightly shown a straight red card.

Another pair of plot twists were still to come, though, as James Rodriguez got on the end of Marcelo’s cross and slammed the first-time finish past Marc Andre ter Stegen with four minutes of regular time remaining.

Then, with all of 13 seconds remaining in stoppage time, that man — the undisputed best player in the world and the greatest of all time — broke Madridista hearts once again. Sergi Roberto started the sequence all the way back in midfield, and Jordi Alba supplied the cross to the top of the box, and Messi drove that same left foot through the ball to beat Navas for the last-kick winner. The shirt-off-held-aloft celebration was simply salt in the wound.