What did we learn during matchweek 5 of the 2021-22 Premier League?
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Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.
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Let’s get to it.
1. Patience pays off for Liverpool (Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace): Through 25 minutes of the first half, Liverpool were out-shot 5-3 by Crystal Palace. It was at that point that Liverpool began to press higher up the field to win the ball back in more advantageous areas. As a result, the Reds out-shot Crystal Palace by a margin of 20-7 the rest of the game. Mane’s goal came as a result of the increased possession and goal threat as Crystal Palace drifted deeper and deeper into their own half. (AE)
2. Guardiola puts pressure on himself (Manchester City 0-0 Southampton): After his midweek comments asking for Manchester City’s fans to turn up for the game against Southampton, Pep Guardiola put himself under a lot of pressure. His team played like they were feeling the pressure. City never got going and although Saints defended well, this was more about City lacking urgency. Perhaps the expectation levels of the crowd piled a little extra pressure on them? Whatever you think about their attendance figures, it was just such a bizarre thing for Guardiola to say, and then not back down on. It is all so unnecessary with a four-horse Premier League title race already heating up. (JPW)
3. Moyes’ gamble hands Man United the win (West Ham 1-2 Manchester United): Lukasz Fabianski was spectacular in holding Manchester United down, making eight saves including six from shots inside the box and one spectacular stop on Cristiano Ronaldo (two really, but Ronaldo deposited the rebound). But right when you were ready to salute one keeper, David De Gea stopped cold Mark Noble’s stoppage-time penalty. When has asking a sub to make his first strike of the ball a match-leveling penalty kick been a good idea (even for a veteran and living club legend like Noble)? Wow.
David Moyes answer to that question is worth monitoring after this one. Here’s what he said. (NM)
DE GEA SAVES THE PENALTY TO WIN IT FOR UNITED. pic.twitter.com/HTPmhqaARF
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 19, 2021
4. Unflappable, decisive Tuchel gets it right (Tottenham 0-3 Chelsea): Is it possible Chelsea would’ve turned its first-half performance on its ear had Tuchel not yanked Mason Mount at halftime? Of course, but Tuchel’s willingness to remove a reliable starter at the break sure looked like an inspired switch after the Blues struck twice in quick succession early in the second frame. The tactical adjustment worked and the substitute, N’Golo Kante, scored to boot. (NM)
5. Odegaard (and Partey) are special (Burnley 0-1 Arsenal): Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Nuno Tavares all deserve praise for their roles at the back (we’ve saluted Kieran Tierney plenty in the past), but with Martin Odegaard pulling the strings and a healthy-for-now Thomas Partey disrupting the midfield, this can be a team that pulls itself into the top-six mix in the Premier League, if Partey’s health is steady, Nicolas Pepe gets help from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mikel Arteta lets Alexandre Lacazette play more often. A lot of ifs, to be sure. (NM)
6. Seagulls finding clinical edge (Brighton 2-1 Leicester): They have found a way to win tight games early in the season, and that was the only thing missing from Brighton last season. Graham Potter’s side look more streetwise this campaign and they have now won three games by a one-goal margin so far this season. They do have tougher fixtures coming up, but this is a superb start to the season for the 2020-21 expected goals kings… (JPW)
7. Bailey is a treat, but can he stay healthy? (Aston Villa 3-0 Everton) Leon Bailey has been mostly limited to sub minutes, but that’ll soon change for the ex-Bayer Leverkusen star and Jamaican international if he can stay healthy. His electric skill set means he’s going to get free often and he buried a chance past Asmir Begovic at the end of Villa’s three-goal second-half outburst. Alas, he was soon on the turf and being tended to by trainers. (NM)
8. Second half even better from Newcastle (Newcastle 1-1 Leeds): Leeds were far more hesitant to risk leaving themselves exposed defensively in the second half, and that paid dividends for Newcastle once they started winning the ball back 10-15 yards higher up the field. Allan Saint-Maximin was must-see every time he touched the ball and reminded everyone just how special he is on his day. It’s a good point for Newcastle because it is a point, but anytime they can realistically say they were the better side (even narrowly so) they really need to be winning instead. (AE)
9. Toney, Mbeumo a great partnership (Wolves 0-2 Brentford): They caused havoc in the first half and their telepathic understanding was the difference. Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo are relentless and the way they run off each other and work in tandem caused Wolves so many problems. Toney had two goals disallowed (one set up by Mbeumo) in the first half, and Mbeumo should have had two others in the second. Toney set up Mbeumo for his goal and they are the reason why a hard-working Brentford side will be clear of relegation trouble this season. (JPW)
10. Sarr, Dennis a dangerous duo on the wings (Norwich 1-3 Watford): Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis took each player’s goal tally to three and two on the season, respectively. The 23-year-olds have now scored five of Watford’s six goals this season. Watford should have better luck battling against relegation than a side — oh, let’s just use Norwich as an example — that relies so heavily upon one player, typically a poaching center forward, to keep them up. Sarr and Dennis affect the game in front of goal, as well as the 30 and 40 yards of the field which immediately precedes scoring chances. (AE)