Issa Diop

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League Cup: Man Utd survives scare; 3 PL sides lose to lower-tier foes

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Chelsea and Liverpool cruised, but only one other Premier League side one… and it was the one playing another top-flight rival.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 7-1 Grimsby Town ]

A day after Tottenham fell to Colchester United, League One sides Oxford United, Burton Albion, and Sunderland all took down PL foes in the League Cup to book fourth round berths.

Manchester United 1-1 (5-3 penalties) Rochdale

Sergio Romero made a save in the second round of kicks and that’s all Manchester United needed to avoid an embarrassing upset at home to League One’s Rochdale.

The combined age of goal scorers at Old Trafford before penalties was 33, as Paul Pogba returned to the United XI but couldn’t spare his men blushes despite a dominant performance.

Mason Greenwood, 17, scored off a Jesse Lingard assist in the 68th minute, seemingly capping a dominant performance that lacked finish.

But 16-year-old defender Luke Matheson scored eight minutes later to ratchet up the pressure at Old Trafford, and Daniel James and Juan Mata came off the bench for the Red Devils (who also handed a debut to 19-year-old left back Brandon Williams).

Oxford United 4-0 West Ham United

Elliott Moore‘s second half goal gave the League One side a 55th minute lead over Manuel Pellegrini‘s in-form Irons, and well-traveled striker Matt Taylor turned the hopes of a “cupset” up to 11.

By the time Tariqe Fosu made it 3-0 against a very decent West Ham side including Issa Diop, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals, and Pablo Zabaleta, it was academic.

Shandon Baptiste added to the Kassam Stadium jubilation with a stoppage time finish.

Burton Albion 2-0 Bournemouth

Oliver Sarkic delivered the goods for the underdogs, who took an early lead against Eddie Howe‘s in-form Cherries. Nathan Broadhead later scored in a match which was thrice (!!!) stopped by floodlight failure, as the Brewers stunned the Cherries.

MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool

Playing at the back for a very young Liverpool, James Milner gave the Reds a lead they would not toss aside at Stadium MK.

Milner assisted on Ki-Jana Hoever‘s second half goal, as the second-choice Reds XI was given a decent challenge by Paul Tisdale’s side.

 

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Aston Villa

Conor Hourihane and Jota scored in the first 33 minutes, as Villa continued to heap misery on Brighton’s poor run of form in the only all-Premier League match of the day. Hayden Roberts pulled one back in the second half, but that’s all the Seagulls could muster and Jack Grealish restored a two-goal lead for Villa before the match was finished at the Amex Stadium.

Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland

Max Power — yes, that’s really his name — gave the Black Cats a ninth minute lead over the Premier League’s Blades.

Wolves 1-1 (4-2 pens.) Reading

Bruno Jordao scored his first Wolves goal, as American center back Matt Miazga returned to the Reading lineup after an injury spell cost him four matches and an international break with the USMNT.

But Reading kept pushing for an equalizer and got a deserved one when Lucas Boye scored in the ninth (!!) minute of stoppage time to force penalties.

Miazga was one of only two Reading players to score in the session, as Wolves escaped with their League Cup lives.

Aston Villa, West Ham finish scoreless after Masuaku red

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Arthur Masuaku was sent off in the 67th minute, but that couldn’t save a scoreless dud at Villa Park as Aston Villa and West Ham shared the points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The two sides combined for just five shots on target as the two played a spotty match with few real chances. According to Opta statistics, there was just one “big chance” created between the two sides through the 90 minutes.

Masuaku was sent off with 23 minutes to go for a second yellow card, a somewhat contentious decision by referee Mike Dean for a somewhat innocuous foul in the attacking half that featured little more than slight contact and a small drag. A frantic three minutes of stoppage time still left the scoreline begging and that was about deserved for the match.

[ JPW’s analysis of the match ]

The result feels double-edged for both sides. West Ham will be happy with its performance after falling a man down but will want more against a newly promoted side, while Aston Villa will pull out of the relegation zone with the point but may be disappointed with how they failed to grab the win after earning the man advantage.


3 things we learned

1. Jack Grealish is fearless: Ok, fine, we didn’t “learn” this – we knew it already – but we sure had it reinforced. While his teammates were headbutting each other, Grealish was out there balling, delivering excellent crosses, one of the only bright spots in an otherwise drab first half. He had two chances created from open play, three completed dribbles, and a bright passing map before the halftime break. After halftime he marauded into the penalty area along the end line to create a chance, and while he had a bad miss late, he was the only one to even attempt to reach the ball as the rest of his team relaxed and let it fly by. He’s a Dustin Pedroia-like player who gives 1000%, and while he may rub some the wrong way, it’s all a necessary sacrifice for the 24-year-old captain.

2.  West Ham absolutely misses Marko ArnautovicFelipe Anderson is a good player and Andriy Yarmolenko can be dangerous in moments, but neither can make up for the consistent spark Marko Arnautovic provided West Ham. Without his presence, this Hammers side had little to offer an Aston Villa defense that keyed on Felipe. Yarmolenko was poor and couldn’t relieve the pressure put on his Brazilian teammate. The Hammers have enjoyed a somewhat positive start to the season, but they will struggle to produce consistent winning spells without some kind of change in the creativity department.

3. Mike Dean is a good referee: At one point after the Masuaku red card, the away fans audibly changed “it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Mike Dean it’s all about you.” It’s understandable given the soft sending off, but overall Mike Dean did a solid job. The Premier League has somewhat lacked consistent referees after the retirement of Mark Clattenburg, and nobody has stepped up as the top English referee in his place. While Mike Dean makes plenty of mistakes and isn’t on the level Clattenburg was, he’s still a good referee, and it showed today. He had firm control of a somewhat chippy match and while the sending off was easy to disagree with, his overall performance was fair.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish


Early on, John McGinn saw the ball in the back of the net with a tidy finish from a tight angle, but the goal was ruled out for an earlier foul on Jack Grealish, who was otherwise bright for Villa throughout the match. Three players were booked in the first half-hour, with referee Mike Dean looking to keep the lid on a chippy match.

The most intense moment of the first half came between teammates as two Aston Villa players got into a heated exchange. Anwar El-Ghazi and Tyrone Mings had a coming together that featured a slight headbutt from the former, but the referee was on hand to break things up before it got any worse, with no punishment dished out.

West Ham held nearly 60% possession through the first half, but could only manage one shot on target in a relatively dull first 45 minutes as the home side defended well. Felipe Anderson was tidy in possession but created little with Arthur Masuaku also popping up in spots going forward.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half, Aston Villa came out with an attacking intent and nearly found a way in on 53 minutes as Grealish got through down the right and delivered a cross parried by Fabianski, which resulted in a shot from distance by McGinn who just missed wide right.

The moment of change came in the 67th minute when Masuaku brought down Ahmed El Mohamady needlessly in the attacking half. It was a relatively innocuous challenge but one Masuaku didn’t need to make. It produced a second yellow for Masuaku and left West Ham down to 10 men for the final 23 minutes.

The game opened up in the final five minutes but nothing came of it. Issa Diop had the defensive moment of the match as he produced a pinpoint tackle on El Ghazi who was in on the break until Diop blocked off the player but also accurately won the ball as the attacker went head-over-heels. Grealish had a bad miss at the death on an excellent delivery from deep, but on replay he was likely just offside anyways and any potential goal would have possibly been pulled out.

Report: Man City looks to January window after Laporte injury

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Hindsight is 20/20, and Manchester City’s decision not to bring in center back depth this summer is looking really poor.

That’ll happen when perhaps the most irreplaceable part of a hopeful quadruple contender goes out for the rest of 2019. Aymeric Laporte’s surgery means that John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, and (probably) Fernandinho are an injury away from Manchester City using kids or Kyle Walker at center back.

The Daily Mail says that Pep Guardiola will buy a center back in January, five months after pulling out of the bidding for Harry Maguire when the price got too steep.

City almost has to go the transfer route, as the majority of high-ish end free agents on the market on attack-minded.

Laporte is not expected back until at least January, but what would a transfer be? The eventual successor to Otamendi, or something a bit less revolutionary than dropping $75 million on an absolute stud?

Either could work, but both will include inflated fees due to the clear desperation in the case of the buyers.

Also, quality center backs didn’t exactly move this summer. Aside from Maguire, most targets stayed home. Toby Alderweireld, Issa Diop, and James Tarkowski were linked with moves but went nowhere. David Luiz moved, perhaps only because Laurent Koscielny demanded out of Arsenal. Veterans Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, and Ashley Williams opted for playing time, not that Guardiola would’ve been looking to “buy old,” either.

What we’re trying to say is… City’s going to have to spend a lot of dough if they want to buy someone.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 1

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We here at ProSoccerTalk are trying to put a new spin on our weekly Premier League power rankings this season, and we’ve got a few weeks to figure out the best way to track the most powerful teams in the world’s top league.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]


20. Watford — Many were tipping Watford for bigger things after a very decent 2018-19, and those opinions were rewarded by conceding three goals at home to a club that scored 16 away goals last season. Shoulder shrug emoji?
Last season’s final power ranking: 11
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

19. Southampton — Maybe Burnley’s Erik Pieters and Ashley Barnes traded bodies with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, but Saints need to be better than a 3-0 opening day loss to Burnley.
Last season’s final power ranking: 15
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 at Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

18. West Ham United — Not many teams can make Issa Diop look like an episode of “my very first time as a professional.” Ain’t too many teams like Man City.
Last season’s final power ranking: 10
Opening Day: Lost 5-0 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion

17. Norwich City — Let’s be real: The 4-1 loss to Liverpool could’ve been 6-4. The Canaries created plenty of chances.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 4-1 at Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

16. Newcastle United — Arsenal did the St. James’ Park faithful a solid by keeping Lacazette, Pepe, and David Luiz on the bench.
Last season’s final power ranking: 13
Opening Day: Lost 1-0 v. Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

15. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe‘s teams are usually a bit more savvy against the lower lights of the league.
Last season’s final power ranking: 14
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa

14. Crystal Palace — Could’ve use Wilfried Zaha in the Starting XI, and how Roy Hodgson settles the Ivorian will go a long way towards its season fate.
Last season’s final power ranking: 12
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Sheffield United

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

13. Sheffield United — 33-year-old Billy “Mr. Sheffield United” Sharp getting his first Premier League goal to draw the Blades’ first PL match in years was my favorite moment of the weekend.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Crystal Palace

12. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is right in that the Blues were better than a 4-0, but he’s also wrong in ignoring Jose Mourinho’s overall point; The young lineup to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Opening Day was as naive as the players in it, even if Mason Mount was a nice surprise.
Last season’s final power ranking: 4
Opening Day: Lost 4-0 at Man Utd
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester

11. Everton — A second-successive season opening red card at Palace. The 0-0 result is respectable, but not great if you want to be a Top Six side.
Last season’s final power ranking: 5
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

10. Leicester City — Controlled play but really should’ve been able to get it over the line against a Wolves team who was in Armenia a few days earlier.
Last season’s final power ranking: 8
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Wolves
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

9. Wolves — To get a point at Leicester despite playing Thursday in Armenia is solid.
Last season’s final power ranking: 6
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Man Utd

8. Aston Villa — Showed discipline under siege.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 3-1 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

7. Arsenal — The problems Arsenal had winning the ball versus Joelinton, a promising player and big signing, makes you wonder what will happen against Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane.
Last season’s final power ranking: 7
Opening Day: Won 1-0 at Newcastle
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

6. Burnley — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We have too often bet against Sean Dyche, who like his Clarets is tactically smart and physically terrifying.
Last season’s final power ranking: 16
Opening Day: Won 3-0 v. Southampton
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

5. Brighton and Hove Albion — Raise your hand if you saw the Seagulls going on the road and professionally out-maneuvering Watford at nearly every turn. Put your hand down. Dishonesty isn’t cool.
Last season’s final power ranking: 17
Opening Day: Won 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham

4. Liverpool — Mohamed Salah was wonderful and Fabinho a treat, but you’d be naive to gloss over another shaky defensive performance after a summer of rough ones.
Last season’s final power ranking: 2
Opening Day: Won 4-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Thoroughly dominated Aston Villa and, most important, found its way through the packed in back.
Last season’s final power ranking: 3
Opening Day: Won 3-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Man City

2. Manchester United — Spare a thought for David De Gea, whose first half allowed for the Red Devils’ standout final half hour.
Last season’s final power ranking: 9
Opening Day: Won 4-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Wolves

  1. Manchester City — Raheem Sterling is unfair, and City hasn’t even really worked Joao Cancelo into the mix. And Bernardo Silva was injured.
    Last season’s final power ranking: 1
    Opening Day: Won 5-0 at West Ham
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

Premier League Numbers Nerd: Week 1

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Small sample sizes can make for terrible science, but they’re delightful for stat hounds and simple amusements.

For example, the Premier League’s opening weekend saw a hat trick for Raheem Sterling and braces for Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Ashley Barnes.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]

Who was the top dog of the week in terms of match rating, though? Man City’s Riyad Mahrez, who was nearly perfect with two assists, 83.3 percent passing despite his placement in low success areas of the pitch, four tackles, two interceptions, and four key passes.

Here are our favorite numbers, notes, and names from Week 1 (Stats via WhoScored):

Two (2) assists is the current top total in the league. It won’t surprise you to see Mahrez and Paul Pogba on that figure, but the third player to do it is… Burnley’s Erik Pieters!

Four (4) players won eight or more aerial duels: League-leader Christian Benteke (9) of Crystal Palace, as well as Newcastle’s Joelinton, Burnley’s Ben Mee, and Brighton’s Shane Duffy.

Under five: Three players in the Premier League played 90 minutes and couldn’t register higher than a 5.0 on WhoScored’s rating system. Kurt Zouma of Chelsea (4.86) could not come close to replicating his stalwart play with Everton last season and conceded a penalty and four goals. West Ham star Issa Diop (4.93) had the sort of statistical day a lot of players do against Man City, and two of his back line teammates joined him in the Bottom Six. And Grant Hanley of Norwich City posted a 4.99, dinged largely by an own goal despite completing 92.3 percent of his passes against Liverpool.

Five (5) –> Villa fans will want this to be six, as Tyrone Mings couldn’t stop Tanguy Ndombele‘s equalizer, but no player in the Premier League blocked as many shots as the former Bournemouth man. And we’re not done with him yet.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Five is also the league-best number of key passes recorded, by Chelsea’s Pedro. Perhaps Frank Lampard‘s feeling about his team’s play in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United will make sense over time.

And five is also the most fouls drawn by anyone in Week 1, with Villa’s Jack Grealish and Palace’s Jordan Ayew needing some time in an ice bath.

Finally, five is the number of players who completed more than 80 passes on Opening Day. Leicester’s Ben Chilwell led the way with 85, followed by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Toby Alderweireld (Spurs), Harry Winks (Spurs), and Jonny Evans (Leicester).

Seven (7) interceptions were made by Newcastle’s Fabian Schar, the most in the league. Seven is also the amount of fouls committed by Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic against Everton, three more than anyone else (Yes, he saw yellow).

Eight (8): The amount of shots taken by Harry Kane, double the amount of anyone else in the Premier League.

Eight is also the most successful tackles won by a single player this weekend, done by Liverpool’s Fabinho and Aston Villa’s John McGinn?

Seventeen (17): This would also be more appropriately read as “Seven-(expletive)-teen!” Aston Villa’s Mings cleared danger 17 times against Spurs, almost double the No. 2 man, Palace’s Martin Kelly.

100%: Only one field player in the league played more than a half-hour and completed all of his passes, and that was… Christian Pulisic of Chelsea and these United States of America. He was 12-for-12, but here’s the bad news: That came as part of a statistically miserable 6.09 showing.