What did we learn in the Premier League?

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It was a wild Saturday in the Premier League, as we had blowout wins, red cards, stunning goals and some huge shocks all rolled into six games.

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Below we focus on the key stories to come out of Saturday’s PL action, and there’s only one place to start…


Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are still a mess

My word, what a comeback. Manchester United beat Newcastle 3-2 on Saturday just when it seemed like Mourinho was on the brink of being fired. Newcastle crumbled in the second half after racing into a 2-0 lead but they still had plenty of chances to score against United’s shaky defensive unit. However, with their backs against the wall, United’s players dug deep and fought for Mourinho. That was a huge question mark heading into this game with the likes of Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and others said to have fallen out with their manager. This could be the turning point and heading into the international break there will be some kind of positivity around United.

But they are still in a mess. And how much is Mourinho to blame? Reports had circulated that Mourinho would be fired regardless of the result. United had called that report as “nonsense” but the situation is still far from being sorted. Surely the only way is up from here? The subs he made and the way his senior players stood tall told us that they still want to play for Mourinho. That’s huge.

“In the second half the players gave absolutely everything. There was nothing left to give. I am 55, I am mature, I can cope with it and I can live with it. I think clearly, some of the boys, they are not coping well with it,” Mourinho said. “The way they started the game was absolutely panicking. Every ball that was in our box, I thought in some moments we could even score in our own goal. For me, it is not easy, but life is made of experiences and some are new and some are deja vu. This is new but makes me not just a better manager but a better person. I now understand things better in the industry. There is a lot of wickedness in something that should be beautiful.”

So far this season, Mourinho has created a cloud of negativity at Old Trafford with his players looking scared to play and they made a very poor Newcastle side look like world beaters early on. He called out Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford for criticism after the game which may not help him in the long run, but he continues to clash with his players. With Pogba and Nemanja Matic playing at center back in the second half, Mourinho also seemed to be sending a thinly-veiled message to Ed Woodward and the board at United: you didn’t get me the players I wanted this summer and this is your fault. Of course, the fault for United’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season lies at the door of Mourinho, his players and the hierarchy, and you get the sense that this situation can be turned around with everyone pulling in the right direction. But so much has to change. United’s players need time away from the club over the international break to take a breather. So does Mourinho. He looks like a man who needs a break from the criticism amid all of the pressure.

They still have the squad to at least finish in the top four, even if a serious title push looks far away this season. After all of their struggles so far, United are in eighth place and just four points off the top four. That’s not that bad, right? This seems like a turning point but there’s still a huge mess to sort out.


Bournemouth’s attacking quartet key to European bid

Callum Wilson, Josh King, David Brooks and Ryan Fraser ripped Watford apart on Saturday and they are the main reason Bournemouth sit in fifth place in the Premier League and dream of qualifying for Europe. After their fifth win in eight games this season, Eddie Howe said he believes his team are “capable of beating anyone” and David Brooks hailed the “on fire” attacking unit for the Cherries. With games against Southampton, Fulham, Manchester United and Newcastle coming up, you can expect to see Bournemouth hanging around the top six between now and December. The longer they stay there, the more belief they will gain and Howe’s youngsters are playing with so much confidence right now. Bournemouth can be the Burnley of this season and finishing seventh certainly isn’t out of the question. In a week where the South Coast club halted a bid to move to a new stadium and away from their 11,000 capacity home, their ambition on the pitch remains. Bournemouth are the perfect model of how to run a club, how to develop young players and how to keep faith in a young manager with a clear philosophy. The Cherries have now been in the Premier League for four seasons and this is the first time it feels like they can turn their fluid attacking play into a genuine push for a top seven finish.


Sigurdsson and two Brazilians spark Everton’s revival

Everton went to Leicester and won on Saturday and Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s late stunner was worthy of winning any game. The Icelandic playmaker has now scored four goals in his last two PL games (as well as missing a penalty kick) and his play, alongside Bernard and Richarlison, is key if Marco Silva‘s time at Goodison Park is going to be a success. Now that their defensive issues are sorting themselves out with injuries clearing up, the focus should be on their misfiring attack. With Theo Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Richarlison all starting on Saturday, Silva has a similar problem to his predecessor Ronald Koeman: without a top central striker, Everton must focus on spreading around the goals and assists between their wingers and attacking midfielders. That is harsh on Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but with the trickery of Bernard and Sigurdsson, plus the pace of Walcott and Richarlison, there’s actually a really good balance in Everton’s attacking positions. Those four should be given a run of games together for the Toffees. Silva is known for his his direct attacking play and so far Everton have meandered along under the much vaunted Portuguese coach. With back-to-back wins against Fulham and Leicester, they’ve dragged themselves into the top 10 and there is plenty of room for improvement. Silva knows that and after crashing out of the League Cup in midweek he needed this win today.

Everton’s Silva: ‘It is concerning about the goals we didn’t score’

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Like in the two games leading into Friday night, Everton have done their part in creating clear-cut chances.

They haven’t done their part in finishing, however. A major point of concern for manager Marco Silva following his side’s 2-0 loss against Aston Villa. From the BBC:

“It is really difficult to see how we can lose this game when we create so many chances to score. It is a tough place to play football.”

The Toffees have now outshot all three opponents they’ve faced this season (34-21), but have only a goal to speak for their attacking dominance. Against Villa, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Theo Walcott squandered ideal chances in the first and second halves, respectively. In the minutes following his Everton debut, Alex Iwobi was the closest to converting for the visitors, hitting the post in the closing minutes of the match.

Silva, as critical as ever before, acknowledges that despite his team succeeding when it comes to creating chances, they desperately need to move the ball past the white line.

“The most difficult thing is to create and when you do you have to put the ball in the net,” the 42-year-old added. “It is concerning about the goals we didn’t score and of course we should score more. Against Palace we created lots of chances to score and didn’t and again today.”

With a challenging bout against Wolves at Goodison Park next on the schedule, the Portuguese will certainly look to tinker his attack to improve the team’s poor conversion rate. Despite falling to score 10 yards in, Iwobi contributed positively for Everton at Villa Park. Moise Kean, still adjusting to the rigors of the league, can be another prudent option to consider.

Luckily, Everton have time – and a match against Lincoln City midweek – to weigh their options. Silva, as he clearly explained at Villa Park, would want the goals to come in sooner rather than later.

Villa’s Wesley hopes to ‘continue like this’ after scoring first goal

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Anwar El Ghazi was the x-factor Friday night, giving every Aston Villa supporter in attendance at Villa Park the excuse to roar at the top of their lungs following his composed finish in the dying seconds of stoppage time.

But about an hour earlier, Villa’s $28-million striker, Wesley, gave the same supporters a reason to believe that they had a chance against Everton, and, most importantly, that Villa made the right decision in securing his signature just months ago.

[ MORE: Recap | Highlights ]

With a timely run and a well-paced strike, the Brazilian opened his Premier League and Aston Villa account. Something manager Dean Smith knew was bound to happen. From the BBC:

“Wesley is not rewarding me but this performance was very good tonight. I believe in him, I have watched him for a while at Club Bruges, playing in the Champions League so I know the calibre of player we were bringing in. You can’t judge someone after two games.”

Prior to Friday, Wesley was less effective than expected in the claret and blue, recording only two shots on target in his first 164 minutes in the league. Smith was swarmed with questions about the striker’s ineffectiveness as the pressure continued to pile on.

Against Everton, however, with the Villa struggling to keep possession and most playing through frenetic counter attacks, the 22-year-old made the most out of the small number of chances he saw. 21 minutes in, he scored. A couple of minutes later – if it wasn’t for a superb last-second tackle from Everton’s Yerry Mina – the Brazilian would have had a brace.

When he wasn’t aiming for goal, the striker was effectively displacing Everton’s back four with his clever runs and brawny hold-up play. One could tell that the Brazilian was playing the game to his strengths, in peace.

“I am very happy tonight, what a performance from the team,” Wesley said after the match. “We worked hard, played very well and we hope to continue like this week by week then we will see what happens.

“The manager knows me, he sees me everyday working hard and the supporters know me too. I keep calm, I know my qualities and today you saw that I can do.

“I hope to continue like this, the last two games were very difficult but now I have to help my team with goals.”

Time will tell if Wesley will continue on the same path, but after a slow start, its quite crystal clear that everyone at Aston Villa is behind the Brazilian striker.

Late El Ghazi goal seals Aston Villa victory over Everton

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With three points under their belt and Villa Park rocking like never before, it now feels like Aston Villa are finally back in the Premier League.

Pinned back the majority of the second half, trying to conserve a 1-0 lead, Anwar El Ghazi‘s last-gasp goal sealed the deal for Villa, edging Everton 2-0 on Friday.

Wesley‘s cathartic welcome to the Premier League 21 minutes in gave Dean Smith‘s side the room to breathe, despite being behind the ball the majority of the match.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Four things we learned

1. Certainly not the case last time they featured in the Premier League, Villa now have the luxury of boasting game-changing choices off the bench like El Ghazi, who can come in and finish things off.

2. Three matches in, and the Toffees’ glaring void is a clinical finisher up top. They’ll need to find a solution, sooner rather than later.

3.  In the 30-minute cameo, Alex Iwobi displayed that he can turn out to be a difference-maker for Everton this season, if utilized properly.

4. On a good night, there aren’t many stadiums that roar louder than Villa Park.

Man of the Match


Jota, positive for 77 minutes on the right side of the midfield, combined time and time again with Villa right back Frederic Guilbert for the greater good of creating energetic counters. The Spaniard’s first assist of the season came in similar fashion, when Wesley finished off his precise through ball.

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Everton, like in the first half, imposed themselves on the home side, dominating control of the ball. A lack of fishing and creativity in the final third, however, complicated things for Marco Silva‘s side. As the clocked ticked, the ingenuity was nowhere to be found.

Shortly after coming on, Iwobi put forward the clearest chance Everton had experienced all night. The substitute’s shot, though, struck post, denying any chances of a brilliant debut by the former Arsenal man.

Villa continued to sit back with its four-man backline and Douglas Luiz right above as the No. 6, while remaining attentive on when to spring forward and take advantage of an unbalanced Everton.

El Ghazi surprised many, riffling a shot from 25 yards out. Pickford, vigilant as ever before, calmly blocked it out of danger.

Right before stoppage time, the Toffees were a couple of feet from walking away from Villa Park with a vital point. Theo Wolcott, however, failed to keep his strike leveled, skying the ball well over the bar.

Just minutes later, substitute El-Ghazi showed those watching how to finish, leading Villa to their first Premier League win since 2016.

AT HALF: Wesley scores first goal for Aston Villa

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With pressure certainly on, Wesley scored his first Premier League goal, which has Aston Villa 45 minutes out of their first points since their return to the big stage.

Following a sublime through ball from Jota, the Brazilian didn’t shy away from slotting the ball past Jordan Pickford and into the back of the net.

[ STREAM: Aston Villa – Everton ]

Such timely run and clinical finish showcased by the 22-year-old put into perspective why Villa were willing to shell out $28 million for the striker this summer.

Welcome to the Premier League, Wesley.