What we learned from Saturday’s Premier League games

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Eight games took place in the Premier League on Saturday as Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool secured wins, while a dramatic draw between Chelsea and Manchester United took center stage.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

All of that means that Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea remain unbeaten and this is just the third time in history that three teams are without a defeat throughout the opening nine weeks of a season.

Below is a look at the key takeaways from another frantic day across the PL.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights


Mourinho should loosen Man United’s shackles

Manchester United have been at their best this season when they’re in desperation mode. That was the case at Chelsea on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho’s men fought their way back into the game in the second half and Anthony Martial finished superbly twice to put them 2-1 up. Of course, United conceded twice from set piece situations as Paul Pogba lost his man Antonio Rudiger for the first and a lofted second ball into the box in the 96th minute eventually saw Ross Barkley equalize. That will annoy Mourinho but what will please him is that he was rewarded for starting with an attacking lineup with Pogba, Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford all in the starting XI. United pinned Chelsea back in the second half and the hard-working displays of Rashford and Martial out wide stopped Chelsea’s full backs from joining the attack.

[ MORE: 4 things we learned | Mourinho reacts to draw ]

The main takeaway from this draw at Chelsea is that perhaps things aren’t as bad as they seem at United. Mourinho was set to be sacked two weeks ago and we will never know if that dramatic 3-2 comeback win against Newcastle saved his job. What we do know is that the fact United were disappointed to not grab all three points at Chelsea shows they’re moving in the right direction. Will Mourinho now set up his team in a more attacking system from here on out? Let’s not push it now, but the signs are promising that they can get back on track.


Tottenham win ugly once again

Spurs have been far from scintillating this season but after their 1-0 win at West Ham, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have ground out four wins on the spin and have now won seven of their opening nine games of the campaign. For a team missing Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose from their starting lineup at West Ham, that’s not bad. Hugo Lloris denied Marko Arnautovic on three occasions in the second half in a feisty London derby as two squad players delivered on the key moment. Moussa Sissoko did well on the right and crossed for Erik Lamela to nod home what turned out to be the game-winner. Harry Kane wasn’t at his best but he didn’t need to be as Spurs dug deep to grab another ugly win. It hasn’t been pretty from Tottenham so far but they’re two points behind leaders Man City and given the issues surrounding their stadium delay and not strengthening the squad this summer, this is probably the best start to the season Spurs could have put together. With Eriksen back fit and Dele Alli close behind him, Tottenham need two big wins in the UEFA Champions League against PSV Eindhoven to keep their season on track.


Man City’s embarrassment of riches runs riot

Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho were all on target on Saturday as Pep Guardiola‘s Man City smashed Burnley 5-0. Yes, Burnley were poor. But this was like watching vintage City from last season, as shellackings of minnows happened time and time again. Mahrez and Fernandinho scored sublime goals, while Sane and Silva finished off flowing City moves. With Kevin De Bruyne making his long-awaited return from injury as a second half sub, plus Raheem Sterling was left on the bench and Guardiola had the luxury of giving David Silva and Aguero rests in the second half.

Atop the Premier League table with 23 points from their opening nine games of the season there’s a sense that the best is still to come from City. That is a scary thought for not only the rest of the Premier League but also for Europe.


Delight for Cardiff; misery for Fulham, Newcastle

Cardiff City are off and running back in the Premier League as Neil Warnock‘s men beat Fulham 4-2 in the Welsh Capital. A six-goal thriller explains the defensive issues both teams have but Cardiff scored as many goals on Saturday as they had in their previous eight games back in the top-flight. As for Fulham, they have the leakiest defense in the PL with 25 conceded and Slavia Jokanovic’s seat just got a little hotter with the Cottagers having just one win on the board so far this season.

Newcastle would love to have a win on the board so far but that’s not the case for Rafael Benitez’s team who have become just the fourth team in English top-flight history to lose their first five home league games of the season. Newcastle sit bottom of the PL and were booed off by their fans after losing 1-0 against Brighton at St James’ Park. With owner Mike Ashley watching on, tensions are high on Tyneside with the home fans enraged that more money wasn’t spent in the summer after Benitez guided the Magpies to a tenth place finish last season. Right now, Newcastle and Fulham look likely to battle it out with Cardiff and Huddersfield to stay out of the three relegation places. That is a desperate situation for a massive club in Newcastle and a newly-promoted club in Fulham who spent a record amount on new players over the summer.


Trouble is never too far away from Mourinho

To be fair to Mourinho he wasn’t the instigator here at all. Seriously.

Marco Ianni, Chelsea’s second assistant coach, will be lucky to not escape a touchline ban as he celebrated in front of Mourinho and Man United’s bench, punched the air in delight and let Barkley’s last-gasp equalizer get the better of him.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho revealed that Maurizio Sarri and Ianni had apologized and he accepted it.

“Bad education,” Mourinho said of Ianni’s actions. “But I also made mistakes in football matches and I will make more. So when after the game he came to me to apologize, I accepted his apology and nothing more to say.”

For once, Mourinho was in the right as Sarri admitted his assistant had made “a big mistake” and the matter would be dealt with internally. Of course, the emotion of a late equalizer has got to us all but the melee around the tunnel at Stamford Bridge could have been even uglier than it already was.

Lloris the star as Tottenham beat rivals West Ham

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  • Tottenham grab fourth-straight win
  • Erik Lamela‘s header seals the win
  • Two-straight defeats for West Ham

Tottenham Hotspur beat West Ham United 1-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday, as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men battled hard to victory against their bitter rivals.

Erik Lamela’s first half header grabbed the three points for Spurs, as West Ham fought hard but found Hugo Lloris in superb form as he kept Marko Arnautovic out on more than one occasion.

With the win Spurs move on to 21 points for the season, while West Ham remain on seven points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

In the early stages it was a tale of two tight defenses, as Toby Alderweireld blocked an effort from Robert Snodgrass.

Andriy Yarmolenko then suffered a nasty looking injury as the Ukrainian forward was forced off clutching his Achilles.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Just before half time Spurs broke the deadlock as Mousa Sissoko crossed for Lamela who glanced a header home. 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half West Ham came flying out of the traps as Aaron Cresswell‘s cross found  Arnautovic but his effort was brilliantly pushed award by Hugo Lloris.

Lloris pushed Arnautovic’s shot wide from the edge of the box and then Fabian Balbuena’s header from the resulting corner went wide.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Spurs shut up shop late on and held on for the win as Lloris rushed off his line to deny Arnautovic once again.

UEFA Nations League: Belgium tops Switzerland on Lukaku brace

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A roundup of all of Friday’s action in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: PSG want Arsene Wenger for front-office role ]

Belgium 2-1 Switzerland

Romelu Lukaku scored the 44th and 45th goals of his Belgium career (he’s already the all-time leading scorer in his country’s history, at the age of 25, 15 goals ahead of second place) on Friday, which were all the Red Devils needed to top Switzerland in League A Group 2 play.

Manchester United’s star striker opened the scoring in the 58th minute before Mario Gavranovic drew the visitors level in the 76th. The 1-1 scoreline was short-lived, though, as Lukaku bagged the eventual winner in the 84th minute. The victory makes Belgium a perfect two-for-two in group play and sends them three points clear of the second-place Swiss.

Croatia 0-0 England

A rematch of the 2018 World Cup semifinals, this should have been a worthwhile clash in League A Group 4. Instead, it saw the two sides combine for just 14 shots (5 on target) and failed to produce a memorable moment in a game played behind closed doors. Spain sit top of the group, five points clear of both England and Croatia.

Austria 1-0 Northern Ireland

Marko Arnautovic broke a scoreless deadlock in the 71st minute to hand Austria its first victory and points in League B Group 3 play. With Bosnia & Herzegovina perfect after two games and sitting on six points, a draw would have done neither side much good on Friday.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League action

League C Group 2

Greece 1-0 Hungary
Estonia 0-1 Finland

League D Group 2

Moldova 2-0 San Marino
Belarus 1-0 Luxembourg

Saturday’s UEFA Nations League schedule (all games start at 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

League A Group 1

Netherlands vs. Germany

League B Group 1

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic — 9 p.m. ET

League B Group 4

Ireland vs. Denmark

League C Group 3

Norway vs. Slovakia — 12 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Cyprus

League D Group 1

Latvia vs. Kazakhstan — 12 p.m. ET
Georgia vs. Andorra — 12 p.m. ET

League D Group 4

Armenia vs. Gibraltar — 12 p.m. ET
Macedonia vs. Lichtenstein

Brighton 1-0 West Ham: Hammers thorn Murray does it again

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  • Glenn Murray scored his 5th goal of the PL season
  • Brighton moved to 10th in the PL table
  • West Ham loses for first time since September 1

Glenn Murray continued his personal assault on the Hammers, scoring the opener 25 minutes as Brighton & Hove Albion topped West Ham 1-0 at Falmer Stadium on Friday. Murray’s goal marked his sixth score on West Ham in his last five Premier League matches against the club.

West Ham had lost all three previous visits to Falmer Stadium in top-flight play, and Friday was more of the same as they were frustrated by the hosts’ solid defensive organization and put under pressure by the counter-attack.

As both teams began to feel the opponent out and build their way into the match, West Ham looked the more dangerous side early on. However, there was little action on goal through the opening 20 minutes, with just one shot on target combined between the two sides. That would change 25 minutes in, as Brighton struck first. A fabulous run down the left by Beram Kayal saw his cross land perfectly at the foot of Murray, who had snuck in between the central defenders and was virtually unmarked.

That was the only real moment through the rest of the first half, and into the second half West Ham began to push for an equalizer. Felipe Anderson delivered a dangerous cross into the area on 55 minutes, but it was deflected out for a corner. Three minutes later, the Hammers came close on another corner as Fabian Balbuena just couldn’t get his head to the in-swinger.

With the visitors unable to make their mark on the scoresheet, Brighton slowly regained the ascendency. With two minutes left in regulation, Brighton appeared to have a second as a shot from Jose Izquierdo was parried by Lukasz Fabianski right into the path of Jurgen Locadia, but the flag went up. Replays showed the decision was extremely tight, and could have been given in Brighton’s favor had VAR been in play.

The ending was chaotic. In the first minute of stoppage time, Marko Arnautovic blasted one over the Brighton bar on a cut-back from Lucas Perez. West Ham pressured the Brighton back line as the game wound down, but the home defensive unit held strong to keep the Hammers from troubling Matthew Ryan.

The victory pushed Brighton up to 12th in the Premier League table with eight points, while West Ham drops to 15th as Brighton leaps them with all three points.

Everyone’s praising West Ham, even Jose Mourinho

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Marko Arnautovic is feeling very good right now, full fitness or not.

West Ham’s Austrian striker was a menace in the Irons’ 3-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday, and doesn’t need to hear about tactics or Jose Mourinho.

[ RECAP: West Ham 3-1 Man Utd ]

“It doesn’t matter how they set up, our game was to try to win,” Arnautovic said. “We have to do our job and we did it excellently, and that is why we deserved to win.”

Mark Noble, who set-up two goals in one of his finer performances of the past few seasons, felt a similar way, and credited Manuel Pellegrini. From the BBC:

“To be honest the way it’s going at the minute, Man United could have lined up a number of ways with all their talent. … Days like the Chelsea game where we could’ve had a couple of goals, today, the 8-0 win over Macclesfield in midweek. We’ll lose games and play bad at times, but the way manager has us playing, you see the confidence.”

Noble also had praise for Arnautovic after the 29-year-old returned from injury to post his fourth goal in six Premier League matches.

“He hasn’t trained much, only one or two days, so to run like that shows he is working hard for the team. The performance was great especially for the fans who have come here seen some bad ones.”

West Ham looks very good right now. Their 0-4 start appears to half-unlucky and half a victim of bringing many new pieces together.

As for those new pieces, Mourinho was impressed.

“Congratulations to the scout that found these 21-year-old kids,” Mourinho said. “Issa Diop is a monster.”