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.

Sarri sorry after Chelsea assistant taunts Mourinho

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Maurizio Sarri hadn’t seen what set off the skirmish between Jose Mourinho and his staff, but he knew enough to say it was wrong.

[ VIDEO: Mourinho reacts to taunting, skirmish ]

Sarri assistant Marco Ianni took the opportunity of Ross Barkley‘s late equalizer to celebrate directly in Jose Mourinho’s face and then taunt him on the way back.

Fortunately for us all, Mourinho didn’t notice Ianni’s first swipe, or you can be sure it wouldn’t have gotten to the second (for better or worse for Mou).

Chelsea kept its unbeaten season alive with the 2-2 draw at home, but many questions for Sarri were about his assistant. From the BBC:

“Sincerely I have not seen {what happened] but I have spoken with Jose then I have spoken with a member of staff because I think we were on the wrong side so I have dealt with it immediately. … If I speak to a member of staff and am very hard [with him] I cannot come here and tell everything because then I am not credible with the staff.”

Fair enough. I wonder what punishments Sarri deals out: Does he ask offenders to take up his in-game habit of chewing on cigarettes? Do they have to run errands for him? Something tells me it’s amusing.

Also, I’m neither sorry nor Sarri for the headline. Take victories where you find them. Carpe headline.

Mourinho, Man United silence doubters

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho and Manchester United were up for the fight in more ways than one at Chelsea on Saturday.

[ MORE: 4 things we learned ]

The beleaguered Red Devils let in a 96th minute equalizer to leave Stamford Bridge disappointed but with a renewed sense of belief as they made top of the table Chelsea sweat, especially in the second half.

The way Mourinho’s men fought back from 1-0 down to go 2-1 up (thanks to Anthony Martial‘s two goals) proved they can still go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Premier League. And the way Mourinho acted on the sidelines after being antagonized by Chelsea coach Marco Ianni underlined the fighting spirt which still burns bright, despite reports that United’s manager was set to be fired two weeks ago.

Ross Barkley‘s late, late equalizer meant that Chelsea remain unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri but the Blues knew they had got away with one after a powerful display from United who looked so much better with the shackles off compared to their usually defensive tactics away from home against a fellow top six club.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho and United felt like they deserved more ahead of a huge few weeks which sees them face Juventus twice in the UEFA Champions League, Everton and Manchester City.

“I think it was a fantastic game with a fantastic result for Chelsea and an awful result for us,” Mourinho said. “When you are the best team you want to win. If somebody tells me before the game you go to Stamford Bridge and you get a point, you say, ‘that is okay, it is good.’ It is so difficult to win at Stamford Bridge that I think every team feels that one point is a positive result. We were so much in control, so much the best team in the second half that I think we clearly deserved to win the match. Bad result.”

On the situation with Ianni, Mourinho said he has spoken to Sarri about it and Chelsea’s assistant coach had apologized to him and that was the end of the matter.

“Bad education,” Mourinho said. “But I also made mistakes in football match 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.”

The way Mourinho reacted sparked a melee and his message to Chelsea’s fans at the final whistle was classic behavior from a born fighter backed into a corner in recent weeks.

Mourinho held three fingers up to Chelsea’s fans to remind them how many Premier League titles he had won for them in the past.

And that fighting spirit was shown by his players as this draw at Chelsea was more impressive than their stirring 3-2 comeback win against Newcastle before the international break. A more offensive lineup choice from Mourinho saw Paul Pogba, Martial, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford cause Chelsea plenty of problems in the second half and slack defensive marking from Pogba on the first goal and overall on the second cost them all three points.

What impressed Mourinho the most about the spirited display from his side?

“Everything. I think what I call the Chelsea triggers, we controlled them,” Mourinho said. “The reality is that we concede two goals in set pieces, not goals in organized play. We controlled that very, very well and we put lots of feet in the last third in the first half. In the second half we managed to transform that in occasions to goals and ambition with good intensity, good passing, good quality. We deserved much more than this result, but it is what it is.”

This draw proved that United’s season is far from over and Mourinho’s men are capable of fighting along with their manager to finish in the top four this season.

VIDEO: Here’s what Chelsea’s assistant did to set off Jose Mourinho

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
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Jose Mourinho tried to play off the skirmish between Chelsea and Manchester United staff after the Blues leveled late at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Ross Barkley‘s late equalizer led Chelsea assistant Marco Ianni to celebrate wildly in front of Mourinho before taunting him on the way back to the Chelsea dugout.

[ MORE: Recap | 4 things ]

Mourinho darted out of his chair and tried to get at Ianni, later earning apologies from Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri and Ianni himself.

“What happened with Sarri’s assistant, Sarri was the first one to come to me and say he will resolve the problem internally,” Mourinho said after the game. “After that his assistant came to me in Sarri’s office and apologized to me. I immediately told him if you really feel that way, then I accept it. And forget it because I’ve made lots of mistakes in my career.”

Sounds like Ianni’s apology wasn’t so convincing.

Here’s the video of the incident. Pretty classless, and Ianni is likely get a suspension or minor discipline for his efforts.

Four things learned: Chelsea v. Man United

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LONDON — Chelsea secured a dramatic late 2-2 draw against Manchester United, as Ross Barkley scored a 96th minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Maurizio Sarri‘s unbeaten record in charge of the Blues remains intact, while Jose Mourinho’s United side performed well but will be disappointed to let in a late goal which cost them their first win at Chelsea since 2012.

Sarri’s men took the lead through Antonio Rudiger‘s header but United struck twice through Anthony Martial‘s in a much-improved second half display from the Red Devils. Barkley then equalized as wild scenes on the touch saw one of Chelsea’s assistants, Marco Ianni

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic encounter in the sun in west London.


MARTIAL ISSUES TIMELY REMINDER

Anthony Martial scored twice to remind everyone of what he’s truly capable of. With his contract set to expire this summer (although United have an option to extend it for a further year) and talks not progressing, his agent will be waiting by the phone intently over the next few days. Martial’s clinical finishes reminded us of the teenager who burst onto the scenes in 2015 after United signed him from AS Monaco. That season he scored 17 times and he now has four in his first nine games of this campaign in all competitions. Martial is still just 22 years old and just as impressive as his cool finishes was his tracking back. That earned him a pat on the back and a warm embrace from Mourinho when he worked back on the left flank in the second half.


DEFENSIVE ERRORS CONTINUE TO HAMPER CHELSEA

It is something Maurizio Sarri has stressed time and time again since he took charge in July, but Chelsea do not seem to be improving defensively. With limited time to work with his squad on defensive shape they have instead focused of possessing the ball and getting the best out of Eden Hazard. That has worked well all season but without Olivier Giroud as the targetman they seemed to lose a cutting edge to their attacking play on Saturday with Alvaro Morata shackled and bullied by Chris Smalling. But it was a sense of panic in the box which saw Chelsea come unstuck, as they failed to clear on numerous occasions for United’s first goal and were then completely caught on the counter for the second.

As much as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger are comfortable on the ball, they need to stop being turned around so easily as United’s powerful midfield ran at them time and time again in the second half. If Sarri’s Chelsea are to be serious title contenders this season in the Premier League, they need to shore things up defensively.


MOURINHO FIGHTS BACK WITH MORE BANS LIKELY

As Barkley equalized in the 96th minute to keep Chelsea’s unbeaten run intact, a member of Chelsea’s coaching staff, Marco Ianni, celebrated in Mourinho’s face and that of the United bench.

What came next was an huge melee as Mourinho stood up for himself and his team. It would be a shock of Ianni isn’t banned for this.

As Mourinho came off the pitch he then responded to jeers from Chelsea’s fans by reminding them how many titles he had won in charge of the Blues. Classic Jose.


POGBA REMAINS INFURIATING

The way Pogba threw his arms in the air and stamped his feet after Antonio Rudiger scored the opener for Chelsea told the whole story. Pogba lost Rudiger from the corner and he looked to be blaming Victor Lindelof as David Luiz blocked his run slightly. Instead of putting his hand up and taking responsibility for a lapse in concentration Pogba launched a tantrum a toddler would be proud of. In the second half Pogba was again at his infuriating best as he hurdled clear of two Chelsea challenges and was running at the heart of their defense. He then tried a clever flick which went straight to a Chelsea defender when an easy through ball to Marcus Rashford was on. It is a moments like this when you realize why Pogba must enrage Mourinho so much. Yet as the game opened up late on he got on the ball more and did cause problems with his slaloming runs but his passes were off. This was a display full of flaws from Pogba as he proved how infuriating he can be.