What did we learn from Premier League Week 2?

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Six games took place on the second Saturday of the 2018-19 Premier League season, as the dust began to settle after opening weekend.

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What did we learn as Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton won? Is it too early to write off the PL new boys, West Ham and Arsenal?

Here’s a look at the key takeaways from Week 2.


Chelsea, Arsenal will be fun to watch this season

Based on the style of play it is clear that both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery are getting their messages across at Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, but the pulsating London derby proved there is still plenty of work to be done for both.

Both managers admitted as much after the game as Chelsea raced into a 2-0 lead then coughed that up by half time as Arsenal also squandered several glorious chances. Chelsea look more balanced and set to dominate possession with high-pressing tactics this season. Arsenal look more likely to create problems by being direct. That’s a big difference from last season, but both showcased obvious defensive deficiencies.

It’s tough to see either team being title contenders this season even though Sarri’s Chelsea are top of the league with two wins from two, while Arsenal have suffered two defeats (albeit against Man City and Chelsea) early on. Having to balance the Europa League and Premier League will be tough for Sarri and Emery but at least it will give them plenty of games to embed their philosophies, and much-needed balance, further.


Richarlison the real deal

Three goals in his first two games for Everton has seen the boy from Brazil become a hero at the Gwladys Street end already. Richarlison’s $56 million transfer from Watford led many to laugh at the Toffees for splashing out that cash but the 21-year-old tormented Southampton’s attack and was well-placed to head home to make it 2-0. He started off the season on fire under Marco Silva at Watford in 2017-18 (his first season in England) and he’s doing exactly the same at Everton. Some players and managers just click when they work together and this duo seem to have a strong bond on and off the pitch. Everton have four points from their first two games and all of the talk will be about Richarlison leading them towards a top six finish at least and maybe even a push to finish in the top four.


Harry Kane tired, but off and running in August

The Spurs star scored for the first time in August in his career and he’s off and running for the new season. He’s had to wait 15 games for his first Premier League goal in August and heading into this season he seems less fresh than previous years. Given his exploits at the World Cup for England this summer it’s easy to understand why Kane looks a little sluggish. Mauricio Pochettino will have to monitor him closely if he wants another 30-goal plus season from Kane.

Like Kane, Spurs labored to victory against Fulham at Wembley as the new boys controlled plenty of the play and missed some great chances. You just felt that Tottenham had another few gears they could click into and they did that late on after Mitrovic’s equalizer. Pochettino’s players will be jaded from a long summer at the World Cup and he must manage them correctly, minutes wise, if they’re going to not only secure another top four finish but make a serious title charge this season.


Despite optimism, new boys could struggle

It could well be a long, hard season for Fulham, Wolves and Cardiff City. The new boys made plenty of noise (especially Wolves and Fulham) with their purchases over the summer as they spent big and brought in plenty of big names. In the case of Wolves and Fulham, did they bring in too many? Fulham created plenty of chances at Tottenham in their 3-1 defeat and Slavisa Jokanovic lambasted silly mistakes costing them dear.

The Cottagers will play some of the most attractive soccer in the division this season but they must be more ruthless. Wolves’ 2-0 defeat at 10-man Leicester didn’t tell the whole story as they hit the woodwork three times and threatened throughout, but Nuno Espirito Santos’ men were also guilty of silly mistakes costing them dear. Cardiff knew what they were in for this season. They will be okay this season, you would think. Neil Warnock’s men battled to a point at home against 10-man Newcastle but when they tot up the points they should have won at the end of the season they will count a failure to beat the Magpies as two points dropped, despite Neil Etheridge saving a last-gasp penalty kick.

Messi finishes season leading La Liga in goals, assists, and more

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Lionel Messi turns 32 this summer, and after more than a dozen years of first team soccer, playing more than 50 games a season, the old man’s still got it.

The Argentine star, playing his first season in almost a decade without direct competition from Cristiano Ronaldo, scored twice as Barcelona tied Eibar, 2-2. The two goals gave him 34 for the season, by far the most by any player in the league, and his 50th in all competitions.

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Messi also led La Liga this season with 13 assists, 136 shots, 85 shots on target and 70 through balls. In terms of successful dribbles, Messi’s 132 fell seven short of Celta Vigo’s Sofiane Boufal.

Messi’s 34 goals gave him his sixth Pichichi, the trophy given to the league’s leading scorer. Messi is now tied with legendary Telmo Zarra for the all-time record of most Pichichi’s, and Messi is now three ahead of Ronaldo.

As if Messi wasn’t already a legendary player, the man seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. It may have helped that he skipped matches with Argentina after the 2018 World Cup this past fall, keeping him fresh for Barcelona. Even so, the man looks as good, if not better, with age.

Messi already holds the record for most goals in league history, and at this rate, he’ll set it to a level that will be almost impossible to reach. While he’s going to be remembered for his incredible control on the ball, it doesn’t hurt that he’s been incredibly productive during his career, including in 2018-2019. Barcelona won the league title with ease and the club made the UEFA Champions League semifinal. If for some better defending, Messi could be contesting for another Champions League title.

Nani scores twice as Orlando City thrashes FC Cincinnati

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Nani may not be the star he once was while he played for Manchester United, but he’s still making a powerful impact in MLS.

The Portuguese international scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season as Orlando City ran circles expansion side FC Cincinnati, winning 5-1. Along with Nani, Tesho Akindele scored a brace and Dom Dwyer came off the bench and scored a header in the win.

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Aside from having a chance to record a big win over a struggling side, Orlando City may have been ultra motivated on Sunday. Orlando City manager James O’Connor has history with FC Cincinnati from his time at Louisville City, with intense rivalry matches taking place as well as arguments between O’Connor and former FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch on the sidelines.

FC Cincinnati actually went up early with a Darren Mattocks finish past Brian Rowe, but it didn’t take long for Orlando City to respond. Akindele fired home from 20-yards out in the 37th minute to make it 1-1. Early in the second half, Nani scored on a penalty kick rebound to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and then he added a second off a cross from the right to blast the game wide open.

With the win, Orlando City moved just one point outside of a playoff place, while Cincinnati remains in the basement of the Eastern Conference. However, Orlando City has a difficult road ahead, with matches against the LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact and D.C. United to come.

Serie A: Napoli rout Inter, leaving UCL race wide open heading into final week

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The race for the third and four places in Serie A, and with it, a berth in the UEFA Champions League next season, remain open heading into the final week of the season, thanks to a stellar performance from Napoli.

Playing at home in the Stadio San Paolo, Napoli thrashed Inter Milan, 4-1, to keep Inter in fourth place in the table on 66 points. That’s just one point ahead of AC Milan in fifth place, which jumped up after a 2-0 win over Frosinone, and three points ahead of AS Roma, which succumbed to a scoreless draw with Sassuolo this weekend. Atalanta meanwhile came ten minutes from beating Juventus in Turin, and even with a point in a 1-1 draw, Atalanta is still only in third place by 66 points.

[READ: Bayern Munich still too good for the rest this season]

Piotr Zielinski made a statement with a 30-yard blast past Samir Handanovic in the 16th minute to put Napoli up 1-0 and then Dries Mertens and a pair of goals from Fabian Ruiz gave the Neapolitans a massive lead, while leaving Inter in a precarious position. Mauro Icardi scored late to give Inter a small reprieve, but the defeat was set and it leaves Inter essentially needing to win in the final week of the season to secure a place in the Champions League next year.

Elsewhere, Josip Ilicic scored his 12th league goal of the season as Atalanta took Juventus down to the wire in Juve’s final home match of the season. Juventus fans serenaded Andrea Barzagli, playing his final game for the Bianconeri, and even had a message of support for Daniele De Rossi.

Gianluigi Buffon was even in attendance.

Also in action in Serie A, Parma beat Fiorentina, 1-0 and Empoli defeated Torino, 4-1.

Report: Former Chelsea great Clarke set to be new Scotland manager

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The Scotland FA is set to appoint a former Chelsea star as its new men’s national team manager.

Former Chelsea midfielder, and West Bromwich Albion and Reading manager Steve Clarke is reportedly in talks with the Scotland FA to take over the national team. Clarke has a difficult job ahead, with Scotland already having lost, 3-0, at Kazakhstan in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.

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Although Scotland finished top of their group in Level C of the UEFA Nations League and earned promotion to League B, the team’s play was very up and down under Alex McLeish, back in the job after a one-year spell in 2017. McLeish eventually lost the federation’s support after the 3-0 defeat at Kazakhstan, ranked then 117th in the world, made Scotland look like Europe’s whipping boy. Though Scotland saved some face with a 2-0 win over San Marino, the damage was done.

Clarke, after disappointing tenures at West Bromwich and Reading in his first full managerial roles, has since found success in Scotland. He’s led Kilmarnock this season to third place in the table and a spot in the Europa League, an impressive feat considering the club’s budget is dwarfed by Celtic and Rangers. Aberdeen have impressed, while both Hibernian and Hearts of Midlothain have also recently spent big on new signings, yet Kilmarnock finished above them this season.

Clarke, who only played a half dozen times for Scotland during his playing career, will now have to galvanize the squad ahead of two crucial qualifications in June and quickly imprint his tactical ideas and plan in a short amount of time. During his time at Chelsea, Clarke won the FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup Winners Cup between 1987 and 1998. He was also assistant coach under Jose Mourinho and played a key role in some of their most successful seasons.