What did we learn during matchweek 6 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. 3-5-2 stifles Chelsea’s creativity (Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City): Even though they were missing Mason Mount to knit midfield and attack together, it should not have looked this clunky for Chelsea. After switching from their favored 3-4-2-1 to a 3-5-2 to play N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in midfield, it just didn’t work. They sat too deep and couldn’t keep the ball high enough up the pitch. The entire balance of the team was just a bit off. (JPW)
2. Arsenal keeps moving up, Spurs down (Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham): The Gunners’ determined performance was bright, and Arsenal is the only team in the Premier League boasting an active three-match win streak. On the flip side, only Norwich City joins Tottenham in having lost three in a row, all while allowing three goals. Harry Kane looks a shell of himself and Eric Dier doesn’t resemble a starting-caliber Premier League center back, while Emile Smith-Rowe, Martin Odegaard, and Bukayo Saka oozed class at times in this decisive win. (NM)
3. Bees afraid of no one (Brentford 3-3 Liverpool): At no point over 90 minutes did Brentford look intimidated or forlorn despite trailing twice after holding an early lead. This was a committed performance from Thomas Frank’s men, who had answers at every turn. (NM)
4. Defensive injuries a concern for United (Manchester United 1-1 Aston Villa): Aside from the shocking defeat, the loss of Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire to injury will be more concerning for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In a week which will see United play in the Champions League against Villarreal and then against Everton, Solskjaer really needs his two best defenders to be fit. It is the one area where United look a little short of options and their quality really drops if Maguire and Shaw are out long-term. (JPW)
5. Michail Antonio does it again (Leeds 1-2 West Ham): He needed seven shots to do it, but Antonio bagged his fifth goal of the season (to go with three assists) and looked like a young Michael Owen while doing so. Declan Rice played a speculative ball into space, and Antonio was quickest to it by a half-step, as he touched it one side of the defender and ran around the other side before coolly sliding it past Illan Meslier. (AE)
6. Raul Jimenez is back (Southampton 0-1 Wolves): He’s played pretty well this season after his return from the horrendous head injury he suffered last November, but this was the moment he craved. This was Raul Jimenez’s first Premier League goal since last October and it was a moment he will savor. It was vintage Jimenez, too, as he ran through, turned Jan Bednarek inside out and had the composure to finish. Wolves are a very solid side and if Jimenez has returned to his best, they will be pushing for a top-10 finish. He’s back. (JPW)
7. Palace press, putting Seagulls under siege (Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton): Typically, Brighton look to press their opponents high up the field, but on Monday it was Crystal Palace who took the onus upon themselves — perhaps emboldened by Selhurst Park’s unwavering support throughout this heated M23 derby — to dictate the game’s tempo and tenor. It was cagey and not the most attractive to the eye, which doesn’t exactly suit Potter’s Brighton. It was 30 seconds from working to perfection. (AE)
8. Burnley undone by rare Pope errors (Leicester 2-2 Burnley): The Clarets’ defense blocked double-digit shots as Leicester pumped attempt after attempt toward goal, but only got one save out of goalkeeper Nick Pope. The England star was simply too slow to react to both of Jamie Vardy’s attempts, and the second was especially puzzling work from Pope. He’s bailed Burnley out a number of times but failed to give his backs what they deserved on Saturday. Burnley’s been better than its record this season, but a win in place of a draw would have them in a reasonable position outside the bottom three. (NM)
9. Everton cruise without a worry in the world (Everton 2-0 Norwich): Facing Norwich was exactly what Everton needed to bounce back from their first defeat of the season a week ago, just as the Canaries will likely be for many sides this season. It’s hard to emphasize enough just how similar Norwich are to the side that was relegated from the Premier League two seasons ago. The same defensive naivety, the same unimaginative attacking ideas to supply the same goal poacher, and almost certainly the same outcome at season’s end. (AE)
10. The Saint-Max effect (Watford 1-1 Newcastle): How was Sean Longstaff able to load up four shots from distance, scoring one and flushing another over the net? Easy, Watford’s defenders were basically only worried about Allan Saint-Maximin. Miguel Almiron has been putting in good shifts along with “St. Max,” but it’s the Frenchman who is the driver of any sort of interest in Newcastle’s performances. (NM)