Jannik Vestergaard

Bournemouth picks up first-ever win away to Southampton

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Bournemouth picked up its first-ever victory (16 visits – all competitions) away to Southampton in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson got goals for Eddie Howe‘s side during a wonderfully dominant first-half performance before the roles were reversed in the second half. James Ward-Prowse pulled Southampton back to 2-1 not long after halftime and Saints pressed and pressed for an equalizer but ultimately came up empty. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson put the game away on a late Saints howler.


3 things we learned

  1. Slow starts for Saints — Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. For a team that’s built around the idea of defensive solidity and limiting chances, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side appears especially limited once forced to change its plan of attack and… well, attack. In the two games they didn’t concede first, two clean sheets and two wins.
  2. Halftime adjustments — Hasenhuttl certainly got his tactics wrong from the start, but whatever was said at halftime made a noticeable difference in the second half. Given loads more freedom to push forward in attack and to win back possession, Southampton made it a game from 45:01 onward.
  3. Making few chances count a lot — Bournemouth needed just six shots to get their two goals. On the other hand, they managed just six shots in 90 minutes. Highly efficient, or lacking in overall production? Both, perhaps?

Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu


Ake put the Cherries ahead in the 10th minute, rising high above the crowd to get his head to Diego Rico‘s corner kick. It was Bournemouth’s fifth goal (of nine scored) from a set piece this season.

It didn’t take long for Bournemouth to easily cut through Saints’ four-man backline — a tactical change from the three-man operation which secured a victory away to Sheffield United last weekend — and put the ball in the back of the net again. Joshua King finished a devastating counter-attack with a sublime finish, only to have the goal taken off the board for being narrowly offside, via video review.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Once again, Bournemouth met little resistance en route to doubling their lead, only this time the goal stood. Philip Billing got to the endline down the left side of Saints’ penalty area and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Wilson was waiting to sweep it past a helpless Angus Gunn.

Saints were gifted their way back into the game in the 52nd minute, when Steve Cook went straight through Che Adams as Southampton broke down the left side of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to cut the deficit in half.

Saints’ best chance at drawing level came in the 82nd minute, but Ward-Prowse was denied Ramsdale from close range, and though he spilled the rebound in front of goal, Bournemouth were able to clear the ball away in just the nick of time.

Gunn and center back Jannik Vestergaard ran into one another outside the Saints penalty area in the 95th minute, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up and walk it over the end line for the late exclamation point on Bournemouth’s historic night.

Bournemouth’s defensive desperation was such that they attempted just the six shots in the game, including zero between the 38th and 85th minutes. Alas, Saints couldn’t find the equalizer and Bournemouth catapulted all the way up to third in the PL, for the time being.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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The Premier League is back, and Matchweek 5 didn’t disappoint.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

There are plenty of new entries in our first rankings after the international break, with the likes of Norwich, Chelsea and Liverpool well represented throughout our top 20.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – Up 4
2.  Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 2
3. Teemu Pukki (Norwich) – New entry
4. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – New entry
6. Emiliano Buendia (Norwich) – New entry
7. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 6
8. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – New entry
9. Harry Maguire (Man United) – New entry
10. Ibrahim Amadou (Norwich) – New entry
11. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Down 4
12. Sergio Aguero (Man City) – Down 10
13. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Even
14. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
15. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) – New entry
16. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
17. Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton) – Even
18. Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) – New entry
19. Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth) – New entry
20. James Maddison (Leicester) – New entry

Who’s the most irreplaceable player on ‘Big Six’ Premier League sides?

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When Aymeric Laporte was lost for months with a knee injury, there was a fairly standard reaction to the news.

This was the player Manchester City could least afford to lose for a long period of time.

[ MORE: Juve wants De Gea ]

There’s a debate to be had there, and it’s been had plenty, but it has us thinking: Which player is the most indispensable for each of the “Big Six” in their quest for a successful PL season?

It’s going to be a defender heavy list.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tough one, here, and we may be just a few months of consistent performances from changing the answer to Tanguy Ndombele (Yes, he looks that good).

But this one’s down to two players. It’s not a defender, as Spurs have three dynamite center backs and the drop-offs between full backs don’t hold wide-enough margins.

It’s between the Harrys (Harries? Anyway, “Between the Harries” sounds like we just started a new reality show).

Don’t be misled by Spurs’ remarkable job making up for the loss of Harry Kane to injury late last season; the big striker is still on history-making pace for his young-enough career. Since becoming a full-time starter, Kane has 162 goals in 241 matches. Would you believe he’s not 27 until next summer?

Harry Winks is the ball-possessing, clean-passing motor that so many teams crave for their midfield. He’s been a 90-plus percentage passer in every season, and has completed 94 percent this early season. Again, small sample size, but his 75 passes per game trails Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, Granit Xhaka, Paul Pogba, and teammate Toby Alderweireld.

It’s almost a coin flip here. We’re taking Kane, but we’re basing it on a tiebreaker of advanced statistics. Anyone making an argument for the 23-year-old Winks deserves to be heard.

Manchester United

This is perhaps the trickiest call of the bunch.

Anthony Martial has been far and away the most important player to the Red Devils’ early season, sputtering as it may be, but it’s far too soon to say he’s irreplaceable.

Four players have played every minute of the early season: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof, and David De Gea. Both Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have nearly played the full 360.

The fact of the matter, and this belies United’s plight, is that United is too thin to have a single player who would hurt the most to lose; Forced to choose one, we’ll say Maguire as he’s the most proven consistent entity of the bunch.

Chelsea

Another tough one, though it seems like it should be an easy one: N’Golo Kante. But he’s still finding his footing under Frank Lampard and last season wasn’t a great one as Maurizio Sarri messed with a great recipe by moving Kante from his role of pure opposition destruction.

Again, Chelsea’s has a good answer in replacement players for any of their stars getting injured; Marcos Alonso is barely playing, same with Michy Batshuayi. Olivier Giroud, Willian, even Pedro.

So while we’d like to make the case for Cesar Azpilicueta, the answer is probably still Kante.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Arsenal

The easy answer is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it is not necessarily the correct answer because of replaceability. If the Gabonese superstar goes down, Unai Emery can still roll out a strike force with Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners are very thin at center back, but the problem is that the starters aren’t stars.

So we’ll proffer one that’s a bit out of the box: Bernd Leno. The goalkeeper has been pretty darn good considering his team has offered very little resistance to attacks. His back-ups are Emiliano Martinez and Matt Macey. There’s no rule stating one of those two wouldn’t be a good starter, but they have six PL appearances between them (all Martinez).

Liverpool

It’s Virgil Van Dijk.

Mohamed Salah is the straw that stirs the drink, but the Reds have a very good attackers behind him (both young and experienced) and made a run to the Champions League and a record league point total while he was not exactly thriving in form (Salah had a lone goal in an eight-match league run over February and March, and missed the incredible Barcelona comeback with a concussion).

The idea of it being Alisson Becker is interesting, but for Liverpool supporters that is probably fueled more by watching substandard keepers derail their dreams for a couple of years. For a neutral and especially for stat hounds, it’s not as big of a drop to Adrian as it seems (but it’s big).

We may want to revisit this discussion in January regarding Fabinho, but Liverpool is very deep in the midfield, too. It’s Van Dijk, and it’s not close.

Man City

It was a combination of a few things, the first obviously being the players’ quality. The PFA Team of the Year winner helped City lower its goals conceded total in his first full season at the Etihad, as City won almost every competition it entered in 2018-19.

But it was also City’s depth behind Laporte, with Vincent Kompany gone to Anderlecht and the next injury seemingly cueing up Fernandinho or Kyle Walker for center back duty.

An argument could be made for Ederson simply based on the keeper’s quality in possession and shot-stopping alone but no other position, really; City may have had to work harder for the title last season with Kevin De Bruyne injured, but it found an answer largely through Bernardo Silva. Leroy Sane looked like City’s MVP two seasons ago, but Raheem Sterling emerged as the club’s best wide man and there’s some guy named Mahrez behind him.

Laporte, it is (And if you want to really get into the nexus of this article, and why the stats say there is a big drop-off from Laporte to even John Stones, let alone a third wheel, check here. Also, I’ve learned that City fans vastly under-appreciate Otamendi).

Best of the Rest

Less explanation, similar amounts of confidence.

Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Bournemouth:
Nathan Ake
Brighton and Hove Albion:
Shane Duffy
Burnley:
James Tarkowski
Crystal Palace: Luka Milivojevic
Everton:
Michael Keane
Leicester City:
Wilfred Ndidi
Newcastle United:
Fabian Schar
Norwich City:
Teemu Pukki
Sheffield United:
Dean Henderson
Southampton:
Jannik Vestergaard
Watford:
Abdoulaye Doucoure
West Ham: 
Sebastien Haller
Wolves: Willy Boly

10-man Saints frustrate Man United

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Southampton held on to draw 1-1 against Manchester United at St Mary’s, as they dug deep after going down to 10 men.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Daniel James gave United the lead but Jannik Vestergaard equalized and United have now failed to win any of their last eight away games in all competitions.

Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men had Kevin Danso sent off with 20 minutes to go but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s United couldn’t break them down and had to settle for a point.

Saints have four points for the season, while United have five points as they head into the international break.


3 things we learned

1. United’s lack of control alarming: The way United failed to grab this game by the scruff of the neck sums up where they are at right now. After scoring early to take the lead, they sat back and Paul Pogba‘s sloppy passing epitomized their disjointed approach. Defensively they were solid enough, but Marcus Rashford didn’t get into the game at all and there is still no real identity to this young United side.

2. Saints’ high press tough to handle: Early on in both halves Southampton forced United back and their intense high-pressing couldn’t be matched. Hasenhuttl’s side look fit after a full preseason under his tutelage and even though they didn’t keep the ball well when they won it back, they got in the faces of United and it worked a treat.

3. Daniel James a menace: Three goals in his first four Premier League games is a great return for the Welsh 21-year-old. Aside from his goals, James’ pace causes so many issues and had he been a little more composed in the second half he could have scored a winner. What a bargain buy he is.

Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Superb one-on-one defending against Boufal, and a threat going forward. Another superb display from United’s new right back, who looked confident after his first-ever England call up.


Saints started well as Sofiane Boufal flashed a shot inches wide, but Man United took the lead against the run of play.

James was found on the edge of the box by Scott McTominay and then cut inside and smashed a shot into the far top corner to make it 1-0.

United were rampant for the rest of the first half as James forced Angus Gunn into a smart save, Wan-Bissaka flashed an effort over and Rashford was growing into the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Saints improved and Boufal set up Che Adams but he smashed over from a great position.

Saints did level as Danny Ings‘ header was saved by David De Gea but Kevin Danso then whipped in a superb cross that Vestergaard nodded home to send the home fans wild.

United were then handed a lifeline as Danso was shown a second yellow card for a cynical challenge on McTominay and Saints played the final 15 minutes with 10 men.

James shanked two efforts off target as United pushed for a winner, with Jesse Lingard, Mason Greenwood and Ashley Young going close.

Saints held on to frustrate United as Solskjaer’s side continue to look disjointed.

Burnley hammer sorry Southampton

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Burnley smashed Southampton 3-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday as a wonderful 12-minute spell from the Clarets in the second half destroyed Saints.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ashley Barnes scored twice and Johann Berg Gudmundsson scored another as Burnley caught Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side cold on the opening day of the season.

Sean Dyche will be a very, very happy man.


Three things we learned

1. Saints’ need new signing Danso to shine at CB, with Vestergaard and Stephens having a rough outing. Defensive solidity has been Saints’ problem for a long time now.

2. Ashley Barnes led the line superbly and he is the kind of player who never gets the credit he deserves. In the driving rain he pushed Burnley on and he looked hungry for the start of the season.

3. Burnley back to being solid at the back, clinical in attack, and after their wobble last season (many will say due to Europa League action) the duo of Mee and Tarkowski at center back epitomize their steady

Man of the Match: Ashley Barnes – Clinical to finish his two chances in the second half and bullied the Southampton defense.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Saints started the better of the two teams but Burnley looked dangerous on the break, as a real moment of controversy arrived.

With the rain pouring down at Turf Moor, a slip in Saints’ defense from Jack Stephens saw Burnley go on to score, but the flag was raised, correctly, for offside and VAR confirmed the goal was disallowed.

Burnley were a nuisance as the game wore on as Johann Berg Gudmundsson went close

VAR was then used as Che Adams clattered into Ben Mee but no red card was awarded as Saints’ new striker remained on the pitch.

At the end of the first half Nathan Redmond cut inside and smashed a superb effort on goal which Nick Pope tipped just over. Barnes then made a hash of a glorious chance with the Clarets in the ascendancy.

In the second half Saints worked their way back into the game and were inches away from taking the lead, as Ryan Bertrand whipped a free kick just over from the edge of the box.

One long ball then led to the opening goal, as Jannik Vestergaard horribly misjudged the flight of the ball and Barnes latched onto it and slammed home to make it 1-0.

Barnes then sealed all three points as Erik Pieters‘ cross from the left found him in the center of the box and he volleyed home calmly for his and Burnley’s second.

And soon after it got even better as Gudmundsson cut in from the left and curled home a delicious strike for Burnley’s third goal in 12 minutes.