Three things we learned from Chelsea v. Arsenal

Leave a comment

LONDON — Chelsea and Arsenal played out a tight, tense 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Gunners hit the post in the first half through Aaron Ramsey but couldn’t break through.

[ MORE: Wenger, Arsenal win battle ]

Arsenal nullified the threat of Chelsea’s counter attacks for large periods of the game with the reigning champions left frustrated as David Luiz was sent off late on for a lunging tackle on Sead Kolasinac.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s a look at what we learned from an even, eventful London derby.


SANCHEZ, HAZARD RUSTY

0-0 with 25 minutes to go, Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger both reached to the bench to unleash their best players.

Alexis Sanchez came on for Arsenal and moments later Eden Hazard arrived.

Both were on the bench as they continued their recovery to full fitness with Hazard coming off a long-term ankle injury and Sanchez perhaps recovering from a broken heart after his deadline day move to Manchester City collapsed.

Apart from a run and shot straight at Petr Cech, Hazard didn’t get involved in the final third for Chelsea as a few runs from deep barely threatened Arsenal.

Sanchez was equally non-existent as the Chilean sauntered around the left wing role and apart from one majestic back heel he gave the ball away cheaply and looked like a man who was without a preseason to his name.

Two of the biggest stars in the Premier League are yet to get up and running.


MORATA LOSES BATTLE WITH MUSTAFI

With three goals and two assists, all with his head, in the Premier League so far this season, Alvaro Morata is Chelsea’s new main man up top.

He could’ve done with emulating the Spanish international striker he has replaced at Chelsea with Diego Costa often relishing his battles against Arsenal center backs and often coming out on top.

Morata did not with Shkodran Mustafi having an exceptional game at center back (he also had a header chalked out, correctly, for offside) to deny him chances and service. Morata looked isolated up top and with Cesc Fabregas moved closer to him for the second half to try and supply him with some chances, it didn’t work.

After a very good start to life at Chelsea and his aerial ability admirable, Morata proved he still has to adjust to the rigors of the Premier League.


SOLID, SOLID ARSENAL

Much has been made of Arsenal’s defensive solidity since switching to a 3-4-3 formation and this game proved that away from home against a title contender it works.

After switching to a 3-4-3 last season, Arsenal’s expected goals conceded actually rose from 1.2 per game to 1.7 and after conceding eight goals in their opening three Premier League games this season it seemed like the 3-4-3 could be ditched.

Even though Arsenal still haven’t won a Premier League match away from home against a side that finished in the top six the previous season since January 2015 (a 2-0 victory at Man City) — with an 0-8-6 record — the 3-4-3 formation allowed them to recover well at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea launched counters.

The pace of Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac helped Arsenal recover quickly when Willian and Pedro launched counters which usually pull opposition defenses apart.

Arsenal’s attacking unit wasn’t firing on all cylinders but defensively they were solid and after losing their last five games on the spin at Chelsea in the PL, a draw in a game which they controlled for large spells will do just fine.


Manchester United to seek out those who continue offensive Lukaku chant

Andrew Matthews/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Some Manchester United supporters persisting in singing a chant glorifying Romelu Lukaku which has been deemed racist by many for its depiction of the player’s penis size.

Lukaku was among those to ask that fans stop singing the song, as did the club, but it was heard from the away end at St. Mary’s during Manchester United’s 1-0 win on Saturday (where Lukaku scored the winner).

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s gorgeous free kick ]

United responded with vigor after the match, releasing a statement claiming it would request closed circuit footage of the fans in attempts to ban those singing the song based on The Stone Roses’ “Made of Stone.”

WATCH: Coutinho spins gorgeous free kick past Schmeichel

Leave a comment

Minutes after setting up Mohamed Salah for a back door header for a 1-0 lead at Leicestwer City, Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho tacked on a goal of his own.

WATCH LEICESTER-LIVERPOOL ONLINE, HERE

Coutinho scored a beauty in the 23rd minute, as the Brazilian lorded over a free kick before spinning a goal just off the top of the wall and past a flying Kasper Schmeichel.

It looked like it was headed for the upper 90 even had it not taking its tiny deviation. The kick was a masterful effort from Coutinho.

Everton’s comeback win puts Koeman “in a totally different world”

Leave a comment

A quiz for you. Oumar Niasse‘s two goals:

  • A) Saved Ronald Koeman‘s job
  • B) Led Everton’s come back win
  • C) All of the above

Koeman admitted “there were a lot of emotions” in Everton’s 2-1 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday, as the Toffees got off the mat to post their first Premier League win since Aug. 12.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Bournemouth ]

After a summer of spending, the Toffees were expected to compete for another berth in a European competition. Instead, a murderer’s row of early fixtures had Everton very low on the PL table.

Was Koeman able to stay calm as his team struggled at home against Bottom Three side Bournemouth?

“Calm after the game, yes. There were a lot of emotions. It was a difficult game, we did not create many chances and we took the right decision after 1-0 down to try something different – play two strikers and go more direct.

“It is a totally different world after winning. You have key moments during the season and this was a big win that will give everyone a boost.”

Apollon Limassol is next for the Toffees, followed by matches against Burnley and Brighton.

Jose Mourinho responds to sending off, Man United win

Leave a comment

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho saw his side battle to a 1-0 win away at Southampton on Saturday as they kept their unbeaten start to the Premier League season going.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game after 20 minutes and although Saints had the better of the play in the second half, United’s defense held firm.

Towards the end of the game Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Craig Pawson for encroachment as he stepped onto the pitch during the action.

What happened?

“I don’t know, you have to ask the referee,” Mourinho said.

He then wasted more time by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he briefly went into the stands before the final whistle was blown.

It remains to be seen if he will face a touchline ban or fine for his actions but speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho focused on the performance of his team.

“It is not always possible to operate at high quality but fought hard. We did what many teams in the Premier League do for 90 minutes, which was play with five defenders at the back. Credit to Southampton, they tried to play. Pellegrino changed the team and sent on another striker to play more direct.

“It was a hard game but I am really happy. Romelu Lukaku’s work is so important for us. He scored his goal and worked hard like everybody else. Nobody feels the pressure to play always attacking football because so many teams play always defensively. I felt some of the boys were not sharp. I didn’t feel like we could score three or four goals like we sometimes do so the option was to make sure we got the points.”