Heung-Min Son

Three things we learned: Chelsea v. Liverpool

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LONDON — Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men stay top of the Premier League table with a perfect record after six wins from six. 

First half goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino set them on their way, with a disallowed goal for Chelsea, via VAR, causing plenty of debate. N’Golo Kante’s sublime strike in the second half set up a tense finish and Chelsea should have at least grabbed a point.

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic encounter at Stamford Bridge.


VAR DELIVERS ALMIGHTY MOMENTUM SWING

In the space of about 60 first-half seconds Chelsea went from scoring a deserved equalizer to trailing 2-0. An almighty momentum swing was delivered, courtesy of VAR, and Chelsea never quite recovered. The fact Mason Mount‘s toe was offside made the pill even tougher to swallow, as just like the incident involving Heung-Min Son for Spurs at Leicester on Saturday, it knocked the stuffing out of Chelsea.

They had recovered after going 1-0 down to a piece of magic from Alexander-Arnold, but after prolonged celebrations following Cesar Apzilicueta’s ‘equalizer’ the moans and groans around the Bridge reflected how the home players felts as their shoulders slumped in unison. Premier League teams are still dealing with the momentum swings VAR decisions bring, and Chelsea’s youngster didn’t cope well with it at all. Initially.

In fairness, they roared back in the second half and should have grabbed a point from this game. But VAR is delivering the correct decisions, no matter how close the calls are, and players aren’t quite able to cope with the loss of momentum.


LIVERPOOL GRIND OUT YET ANOTHER WIN

Liverpool have now lost just once in their last 45 PL games, and are unbeaten in 23, their longest run in PL history. The last time they were unbeaten in 23 league games was back in 1990.

1990 was the last time they won the title.

It is now six wins from six this season and 15 victories Premier League victories in a row for Jurgen Klopp’s side. And just like the rest of this season, so far, Liverpool barely had to get out of second gear. That is the scary thing about this team.

The fact Jordan Henderson was barking at Alexander-Arnold for a slightly misplaced pass when Liverpool were 2-0 up tells you about the desire of this team. They aren’t happy with simply winning. They are becoming perfectionists and their five point lead atop the table feeds into that narrative. They are perfect six games in, and bigger tests than beating an inexperienced Chelsea side await. But the ease with which Liverpool are brushing aside their opponents is becoming all too familiar.

We are only six games into the season but Klopp’s side are a well-oiled machine who will push Manchester City all the way for the title once again. They were far from their best at Chelsea but they have a very handy habit of winning regardless of their performance.


DEFENSIVE ISSUES HOLDING CHELSEA BACK

Sure, Emerson Palmeri and Andreas Christensen went off injured in the first half and Antonio Rudiger is out, but the basic errors Chelsea are making continue to cost them. Lampard’s men could do nothing about TAA’s moments of magic from a free kick but to allow Firmino a free header six yards out is just not on. Chelsea have now conceded the second-highest number of goals (13) in the Premier League this season and unless they can somehow shore up their leaky defense a top four finish seems unlikely.

N’Golo Kante’s stunning strike gave the scoreline the look it deserved and his return from injury solidified midfield, as Liverpool’s famed speed on the counter barely surfaced. Chelsea are a work in progress under Lampard and the biggest area he has to work on is at the back. After creating numerous chances going forward, they won’t be worried about scoring goals this season. Keeping them out is their Achilles heel.

Lampard’s side were applauded off the field at the final whistle and the home fans are encouraged by the progress this young side is making. It wasn’t enough to get the past Liverpool, but if Chelsea can cut out silly defensive errors, the rest of their game is looking good.

Rodgers not too bothered by VAR as Leicester City back in Top Four

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.

The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]

Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).

Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.

“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”

As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.

Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.

“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”

Pochettino says VAR call inspired Leicester; Twitter has knives out

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Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]

Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.

Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.

“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”

He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.

“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.

Leicester stun Tottenham, seal dramatic comeback win

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Leicester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, as Harry Kane‘s moment of magic was cancelled out by Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison amid plenty of VAR drama.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams had goals disallowed by video technology and Spurs’ Heung-Min Son was called off by a millimeter after Serge Aurier thought he had put them 2-0 up. Moments later the equalizer arrived as Leicester battled back well and Maddison delivered a fine late winner to hand Brendan Rodgers‘ men a magnificent win.

As for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are without an away win in the Premier League since January as they once again coughed up a lead.

With the win Leicester momentarily move up to second place in the table on 11 points from their opening six games of the Premier League season, while Spurs have eight points.


3 things we learned

1. Kane’s wizardy overshadowed: It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but it didn’t. And that’s a real shame. Harry Kane somehow scored from lying on the floor to put Tottenham 1-0 up. It was a thing of beauty, and Kane’s composure was supreme. He meant to do it. The way he knocked the ball into the ground was deliberate and although it may not be the most beautiful goal he has scored, it was surely the most impressive.

2. VAR momentum swings: Spurs had the stuffing knocked out of them when Aurier’s goal was ruled out by an extremely marginal offside decision. The momentum swings that VAR provides are brutal, and Leicester suffered from it in the first half. Spurs suffered from it badly in the second half, and maybe because Son was so close to being level it hit them harder. That second Spurs goal being disallowed gave Leicester a huge boost and my word did they make the most of it.

3. Tottenham fade, once again: Spurs haven’t won away in the PL since a last-gasp victory at Fulham in January. Let that sink in. Pochettino’s men have problems away from home, but they have issues wherever they play right now as they continue to cough up leads (see the NLD at Arsenal and the UCL draw at Olympiakos) and put in sloppy second half displays. They should have wrapped up the three points fairly easily in this one, but a sloppy defensive display let Leicester back in the game and they were beaten by a moment of magic. As Kane said in midweek, right now Spurs are making the same mistakes they did when Pochettino first took charge. They aren’t learning, and that is a real worry.

Man of the Match: James Maddison – The difference maker in attack for Leicester, as he created several chances and scored a stunning winning goal. The Englishman is coming of age this season and his decision making in the final third is improving all the time.


Spurs took control of the game early on but failed to carve out clear-cut chances, as Leicester were dangerous on the break as Vardy led the way.

Maddison then got going and curled one effort just wide after a wonderful run and moments later he again danced into the box but was denied. From the resulting corner Leicester thought they had taken the lead, as a shot from distance was spilled by Gazzaniga and Wilfried Ndidi eventually bundled the ball home.

However, VAR was used correctly as Ayoze Perez was in an offside position. A huge let-off for Spurs.

Moussa Sissoko was then booked after a lunging tackle on Maddison, while Spurs wanted a penalty kick as Danny Rose went down in the box but nothing was given.

Soon after Spurs went ahead in incredible fashion, as Heung-min Son played in Kane with a wonderful flick but then the Spurs captain somehow scored after being pushed in the box and falling flat on his face, as he improvized to chop the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

An amazing moment of genius from Kane gave Tottenham the lead.

Gazzaniga beat away a deflected shot from Perez as Leicester pushed hard to try and go in level at the break, but Spurs had the advantage thanks to Kane’s wizardry.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Spurs sat back and were happy to possess the ball, while Leicester looked for Vardy as early and often as possible on the break.

Gazzaniga denied Vardy after the Leicester star raced free of Jan Vertonghen but the Spurs defender did enough to get a nick on the ball which allowed his goalkeeper to keep Vardy out. Son was then played in but dragged his shot wide of the target as the game opened up in the closing stages.

But just as Tottenham thought they had sealed the win as Aurier’s low drive hit the back of the net, VAR decided Son was offside by the finest of margins. Moments later Leicester were level as Vardy played the ball to the back post and Pereira arrived to slot home the equalizer.

Buoyed by that leveller, Leicester looked more likely to grab a winner as Vardy smashed just wide and then Maddison struck from outside the box to seal all three points for the Foxes to send them second in the table.

Premier League most underrated XI

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On Twitter, we asked Premier League fans to submit their choice for most underrated player in the English top flight right now. There were a host of fascinating answers, with plenty of different teams represented.

Tottenham and Liverpool players appeared a lot, not surprising given they reached the Champions League final but have just a handful of true superstars on the roster, with Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino preferring to put together a squad that plays as a greater whole than the sum of its parts.

So, with that in mind, we thought we should take it one step further and put together a full-blown starting XI of underrated Premier League players.

While putting these together, obviously being just five matches, prior seasons are of course taken into account, but this season’s early performances are also heavily weighed. Behold, our most underrated players all together in one squad. How well would these lineups perform in the league?

Our Premier League Underrated XI’s

Kyle Bonn: [ ]

Kasper Schmeichel

Ricardo PereiraJoel MatipWilly BolyLucas Digne

Declan Rice — Ruben Neves —

— Emiliano Buendia — James MaddisonHeung-Min Son

Roberto Firmino —

Nicholas Mendola: [ ]

Bernd Leno

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — Willy Boly — Tyrone Mings — Ricardo Pereira —

Harry WinksFabinho

— Heung-Min Son — James Maddison — Felipe Anderson

Callum Wilson

Daniel Karell: [ ]

Angus Gunn

Matt DohertyMaya YoshidaYerry MinaPatrick Van Aanholt

Todd CantwellManuel LanziniJack GrealishRyan Fraser

— Callum Wilson — Raul Jimenez —

The highlights

Heung-Min Son was probably the most often mentioned name in our Twitter question, and so he earns a spot on two of the lineups. A number of Liverpool players also cropped up, and Bonn responded with the inclusion of do-it-all striker Roberto Firmino and defender Joel Matip, who often finds himself in Virgil Van Dijk‘s shadow but has risen from injury substitute to regular starter.

Also appearing twice are Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, Wolves center-back Willy Boly, Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, and Foxes full-back Ricardo Peirera. Otherwise, the writers all went in their own directions!

Jack Grealish is mentioned on Karrell’s list, and he has already proven a divisive topic amongst our writers. Mendola included Reds midfielder Fabinho while also singing the praises of West Ham attacker Felipe Anderson who is doing his best to make up for the departure of Marko Arnautovic. The Hammers also appear on Karrell’s lineup with Manuel Lanzini, who owns two assists on the young season. Many folks may still be learning Emiliano Buendia’s name, but the young Argentine has been the brains behind Teemu Pukki‘s breakout season at the head of the Norwich attack.

Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is mentioned, although is he really underrated after moving for $60 million this summer? Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves could lay claim to the label as the best player outside the Premier League top six clubs, although Declan Rice might claim he’s not even the best midfielder. Who is a bang-on starter for your most underrated Premier League squad?