What did we learn during matchweek 9 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. Incredible Liverpool (Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool): Take nothing, or very little, away from Liverpool. The Reds did allow a huge early chance to Bruno Fernandes but they were otherwise solid as a rock. Mohamed Salah’s near-perfect form allowed him to complete a hat trick when he made a rare and minor error on a heavy touch toward David De Gea. The Reds didn’t even look like they were showing off, just executing a system against a team that doesn’t have one. Liverpool coasted up a man at 5-0, showing just how little they feared the Red Devils. Moreover, they didn’t even mind their rivals with anything other than pity. (NM)
1a. Ole Gunnar Solsk-fired? (Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool): The Manchester United boss has been deemed safe by nearly every report prior to this game, but it’s difficult to believe that 95 percent of managers in the world wouldn’t be in serious trouble after going down 4-0 at home to their rivals after 45 minutes in such a big game. Now throw in Solskjaer using the same Starting XI as a midweek 3-2 comeback win over Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League, especially when the lineup excludes Paul Pogba, and, well, wow. Pogba has started for a World Cup winner and a scudetto winner, so not starting consecutive matches while Fred, Scott McTominay, and Mason Greenwood keep their place? Insane. Then again, Pogba lasted all over 16 minutes when he entered the game with the Reds down 4-0, a straight red ending his day. (NM)
2. Chelsea’s depth flex (Chelsea 7-0 Norwich): It might be glib and overdone to write something like, “No Lukaku, no Werner, no Pulisic, no problem for Chelsea,” but it sure looked that way against Norwich City. Hudson-Odoi scored and forced an own goal and then joined Kai Havertz and Jorginho in getting the final half-hour off to prepare for their newly-congested personal schedules. This turned out to be a training exercise, nothing more. The last 20 minutes appeared to be little more than Hakim Ziyech trying out ridiculous and near-successful passes and shots. (NM)
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3. Ruthless Manchester City in midseason form (Brighton 1-4 Manchester City): They just have a ruthless streak about them right now and have properly warmed up. After a slow start to the season, City are beating teams with ease and Foden, Grealish and Jesus were rampant in the first half. All of the talk of them not having a number nine makes no difference, as City have now scored 13 goals in their last four games in all competitions. (JPW)
4. How good Arsenal can actually be (Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa): It’s undeniable that Arsenal have sorely lacked a ruthless mindset and any semblance of the requisite confidence to perform up to their considerable collective talent in the Premier League. Friday’s thrashing of Aston Villa revealed a different version of the Gunners, one in which they forcefully marched around the all over the field and dictated the game’s terms to Aston Villa on an every-touch basis. They were dominant out of the starting gate and they never took their foot of the gas for roughly 80 minutes. (AE)
5. Michail Antonio building on his legend (West Ham 1-0 Tottenham): A bit of a Matrix celebration from Antonio after his goal, which is fitting because the Irons have bought forward after forward when “The One” has just gone about his business under their purview. Antonio now has six goals and three assists in eight appearances this season. He missed one of West Ham’s only losses this season, a 2-1 setback at home to Manchester United. Keep him healthy, Moyesy. (NM)
6. All it takes is a couple of moments… (Brentford 1-2 Leicester): … and Youri Tielemans is often the man for those moment. The Belgian’s ridiculous first-half laser was one of the few moments of promise for Leicester City, and he hit an incisive pass to spring Patson Daka’s assist on Leicester’s counterattacking second goal.
Brentford wasn’t just superior on the day, but rather dominant. Still, Tielemans taking advantage of the first moment (with aplomb, nonetheless) set the Bees behind the 8-ball regardless of how good they looked and — with Leicester having played at midweek — could not have been more invaluable. Even after the Bees equalized, solid hold-up play from Iheanacho saw Tielemans race in to support, his clever pass springing Daka for a square ball to match-winning Maddison. (NM)
7. Both teams go for it in must-win game (Southampton 2-2 Burnley): After slow starts to the new season both Saints and Burnley earmarked this game for a victory. They were adventurous from the off, created chances galore and it was like a basketball game at times. What an unexpected thriller at St Mary’s. (JPW)
8. Wolves score early, sit back (Leeds 1-1 Wolves): It was a really strange display from Wolves, as Bruno Lage’s men took an early lead but then totally sat back and allowed Leeds to have the ball. They threatened a few times on the break but this was a really disjointed display. (JPW)
9. Benteke breaks through (Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle): Palace found opening after opening in the Newcastle defense, and it was Benteke who fittingly put the Eagles ahead when he powered over the top of Ciaran Clark to thump a header home. It was appropriate not just because Benteke had been very good, but because he had been denied more fanciful goals earlier in the match. That his winner was taken off the board was a shame but the right judgment. (NM)
10. Job (un)done (Everton 2-5 Watford): Everton didn’t assert its superiority in the first half and Watford looks better organized under Claudio Ranieri, but Rafa Benitez’s men looked they had enough to show their steel when push came to shove without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and others. That came undone quickly, and Benitez will be furious as the hallmark of his team is supposed to be steadiness at the back and they were cooked by a header off a corner kick and a Ranieri-approved counterattack. Then it fell apart, and Benitez will be very concerned at how soft the Toffees from that point forward. (NM)