Week 4 of the 2022-23 Premier League season was less about surprises against the big boys than reminders that when the star teams act stubborn, they’re capable of defying the odds.
Chelsea overcame a red card to outscore Leicester City 2-1 while 10v11. Man United stood firm while clearly still wobbly and new under Erik ten Hag. Arsenal didn’t give up after giving up a goal. Man City showed that two goals down two weeks in-a-row isn’t beneath them, just as finding a result from that deficit isn’t either.
[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]
Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
[ VIDEO: PL highlights ]
Let’s get to it.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 4
1. Surging Arsenal was missing players, doesn’t miss points:(Arsenal 2-1 Fulham): Arsenal needs to win home games against newly-promoted teams — yes, we know we’re supposed to mention something about derbies being difficult — if it’s going to take the next step. GIven the absences of Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko, the moral victory of coming back for a draw would’ve been a nice note and a point would’ve been okay. It also would’ve been more acceptable for a “just get into fourth and back to the Champions League” campaign than it is a true “Arsenal is back” campaign. Those margins matter, and so the scrappy winner provided two big points. Arsenal just may be back, as there wasn’t a hint of softness. (NM)
[ RELATED: Mikel Arteta says ‘We’ve grown up’ mentality-wise ]
2. It wasn’t pretty but Manchester United gets the basics right again (Southampton 0-1 Man Utd): This was far from pretty but United did the basics well, just like they did against Liverpool, and that one bit of quality in the final third from Bruno Fernandes won them the game. They secured their first away win in over six months in the Premier League and after they went 1-0 up they simply sat back and soaked up pressure. Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Raphael Varane were all solid and David de Gea came up with a big save when he was needed. As the old saying goes: ‘Winning ugly is better than drawing pretty.’ Or something like that (JPW),
3. Roberto Firmino begs a question (Liverpool 9-0 AFC Bournemouth): Jurgen Klopp has preferred to go in several other directions at center forward over the past season-plus, but Firmino was all over the pitch as the focal point of this dismantling of Bournemouth. Darwin Nunez is a stud and several Reds can serve as a false nine, but unless the Reds need Firmino as a piece in a swap deal, might Klopp be better served keeping the Brazilian at Anfield. (NM)
4. Peak Haaland drags Man City to win (Man City 4-2 Crystal Palace): A header, tap-in and a powerful turn and finish. This was peak Erling Haaland and this is exactly why Manchester City signed him this summer. Just when City needed their new star striker to stand tall he answered that bat call with minimum fuss. He bullied Palace like the honey monster and made the Etihad Stadium seem like his backyard. Haaland did all of this with the help of his slick City teammates but in the past they may have only drawn this game. Haaland’s clinical edge is something they haven’t had since Sergio Aguero left and now it gives them an even bigger boost in their push to win it all. (JPW)
5. Sterling Sterling special in victory (Chelsea 2-1 Leicester): Yes, his first goal took a deflection to help beat Danny Ward and his second marker was great service from Reece James, but the ex-Liverpool and Man City star is looking very much like the star of the show for a Chelsea team that was missing N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic and would’ve had every excuse to come away with a point or less following Gallagher’s red card. (NM)
6. Harry Kane makes most of sloppy day (Nottingham Forest 0-2 Spurs): Harry Kane score five minutes into the game and with eight minutes to go, but the in-between was just a step off, wasn’t it? Kane put himself in two terrific positions to score but took an extra step or refused the foot available to him (maybe both) in failing to trouble the keeper). Even Kane’s first goal was a bit of a mishit in terms of pace but Dean Henderson had trouble tracking the ball through traffic. Still, it’s saying something that the star striker once chided for his early season performances found his finish on a day where he (and Heung-min Son) were nowhere near their best. (NM)
7. Anthony Gordon adds value to transfer fee (Brentford 1-1 Everton): He may not be at Everton for much longer but Gordon added a few more millions to his price tag with this display. He underlined just how important he is to the Toffees and was the only player who looked like he believed he could score a goal and make something happen. Everton have to keep Gordon but if he wants to leave, then Lampard has a busy few days to line up replacements. (JPW)
8. Villa has to start asking bigger questions (Aston Villa 0-1 West Ham): Yes, there was a goal taken off the board. Yes, Tyrone Mings was hurt and Coutinho joined him. And it took a deflected shot to beat Emiliano Martinez. But Villa is supposed to be past the possibility of a 1-3 start that includes losses to Bournemouth, Palace, and West Ham. Their lone win came over a very poor Everton side and there have to be questions about how Steven Gerrard is using his players or how they are responding to the former Rangers boss. Nothing changed for his team at halftime. A more experience manager got it right in the other dugout. Losing to West Ham isn’t the end of the world but Villa was very poor at the end of last season, too, winning just twice over the final few months. This is unacceptable, and Arsenal’s next with Man City to follow the Gunners. (NM)
9. Magpies are already a force (Wolves 1-1 Newcastle): You keep waiting for the Magpies to slip up a bit following the red-hot finish to last season but good recruitment even before the takeover continues to pay off for Eddie Howe and Company. Allan Saint-Maximin, Joe Willock, and Callum Wilson (absent Sunday) have combined with takeover transfer buys to really up the level. Newcastle also didn’t have its most important player (Bruno Guimares) and did not yet have a visa for record signing Alexander Isak. They still outshot host Wolves 21-10 and only conceded an incredible Ruben Neves goal. It would’ve been fair for them to score a(nother) stoppage-time goal. (NM)
10. Brighton fans, feel free to argue with us but…(Brighton 1-0 Leeds): ..Again, this team is going to be stopped short of its season goals by a lack of higher-end (not even top end) finishing play from its strikers. Danny Welbeck, not unlike the transferred Neal Maupay, is going to do a lot of good things for you but is not going to deliver that “goal-every-other-game” required from a team that works its way into the top six. Anyone who’s read Brighton recaps or watched ProSoccerTalk knows I’m a big Brighton admirer and borderline supporter at times but there’s no one on this roster who’s going to give you that 20-goal contribution season that Wolves got out of Raul Jimenez and West Ham nearly received from Michail Antonio in recent seasons. (NM)