Premier League Game of the Week: Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool

Isn’t it always the case that the league champions find a moment and a game to just remind all of the pretenders that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Forget Liverpool’s recent win over Tottenham, that was crucial and could well set the club on their way for back to back titles. This win at the weekend was a statement, and your rivals do not like statements.

There was a feeling that Crystal Palace were in store for a hammering when Liverpool took a very early lead through Takumi Minamino. It was only his 2nd start of the season for the Reds and he scored after just 3 minutes after being set up by Sadio Mane.

It should have come as no surprise then when Mane doubled the Reds lead just after the half hour mark. Mane has a knack of scoring goals past the Eagles and has done so on the past six occasions. A third goal was imminent and came just before half time, this time by Roberto Firmino, the hero in the Tottenham victory and the champions were well on their way to three points, the score at half time was 3-0.

Whilst Liverpool had bossed possession it was interesting to see that at half time both clubs had had 3 shots on target each and Alisson had been made to work and made some fine saves, it’s just that Liverpool were more clinical.

If the first half had been closer than the score had suggested then the 2nd half would be all Liverpool with another four goals to come and Palace did not even have 1 shot on target.

The goals started to reign in seven minutes after the whistle went and Jordan Henderson scored a rare one for the club. Firmino then added his 2nd of the game after 68 minutes, and it was 5-0. The game was over but someone seemed to be missing from the score sheet.

That someone was Mohamed Salah arguably the best goal scorer the Premier League has had in the past 18 months. But the Egyptian would not be denied and he scored not one but two goals within the last 10 minutes to seal a fantastic victory. He also went to the top of the goal scorer’s chart and now has 13 goals so far this season.

It was a fantastic win for Liverpool and they seem to be able to pull out these type of scores a few times a season. This match felt like the champions had awoken from a slow start by their standards and that will be the worry for their rivals.

It got even better for Liverpool when Tottenham went on to lose against Leicester and Liverpool have now pulled a 4 point gap at the top. The Reds will face West Bromwich Albion at home on Boxing Day and they will be expected to win that. Leicester face a tough game against Manchester United and Tottenham will be in a tricky match away to Wolves. if all goes right Liverpool could pull seven points clear going into the new year games.

Top 3 Performers for Liverpool so far in the fantasy rankings

1. Mohamed Salah 66pts

2. Roberto Firmino 33pts

3. Sadio Mane 30pts

Top 3 Performers for Crystal Palace so far in the fantasy rankings

1. Wilfried Zaha 32pts

2. Christian Benteke 10pts

3. Andros Townsend 10pts

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Premier League Game of the Week: Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City

These are the games that Tottenham must win if they are to achieve something great this season. A 2-0 win over a quality side such as Manchester City is huge for the London club. There was also the added spice of the great rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, and Mourinho yet again goes away from this weekend with the bragging rights.

After Heung-Min Son put Tottenham 1-0 win up as early as the 5th minute, one could tell how the game would play out. We’ve seen it before when Mourinho was manager of Inter Milan when they had to face Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Champions League. An early goal is great but from then on in its back to the walls.

While City dominated in possession that doesn’t mean that Tottenham didn’t have their chances to punish Guardiola’s team even more, but City could ill afford to lose this game and created most of the chances throughout the game.

In the first half alone City had 11 attempts on goal, Tottenham’s sole opportunity ended in a goal, which just underlined how the club seem transformed this season with more of a killer instinct. The second half was much like the first in that City controlled the ball and Tottenham defended well and looked for the counter attack.

Though he didn’t score at the weekend special mention should be given to Harry Kane who was all over the field, sprinting down the wings, looking to distribute the ball and even getting back, what a display the England international put in. But this was collective hard work from every player, Tottenham were that good and despite the riches on show from City the truth is that the club just ran out of ideas.

The game was effectively over just past the hour mark when Kane set up Giovani Lo Celso for Tottenham’s second. What was incredible is that Lo Celso had only been on the pitch for just over 30 seconds as a second half substitute.

City remained a threat but as the time went by it was clear that Tottenham had done their home work and the 2019 champions had become quite predictable in the process.

Tottenham are top of the league and unlike the last time they reached the summit, this counts more as the full weekend’s games have been completed.

It seems fitting that Tottenham reached 1st place by beating a great team in Manchester City, and it was a game that the home side bossed for the majority of the match. It also felt like a turning point. For Tottenham a new beginning filled with dreams under Jose Mourinho and for Manchester City perhaps the beginning of the end under Pep Guardiola.

Despite the many problems that Mourinho has faced in the last four years- failing at Chelsea in his 2nd season comeback with the club, then his nightmarish ending to his Manchester United managerial position, he seems to have come out the other end, and Tottenham could well be his last big hurrah before taking over on the international stage. Something special seems to be brewing at the club and one is reminded of Mourinho’s time a decade ago at Inter Milan. In Italy he took a well known club and turned them into serial winners.

At Tottenham the dream remains to be competitive and under former manager Mauricio Pochettino the club were heading in that direction, nobody can fault reaching the Champions League final. But something was just missing, a winning dynamic that for some reason couldn’t be achieved under Pochettino who left the club filling the hearts of many but not filling the trophy department.

This is why Mourinho was brought in to install that winning mentality. Forget Liverpool having to wait 30 years for a league title that ended last season and spare a thought for Tottenham who have had to wait since 1961. True it is early days and the Premier League is so hard to win, but there is hope at least, and Tottenham do have an uncanny ability to win trophies when the year ends in a 1. We will have to wait and see.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 3-4 Southampton

Aston Villa do love being involved in high scoring games and following their 7-2 win over Liverpool and a 3-0 defeat at home to Leeds United they followed that up with a 4-3 loss at home against Southampton.

It was an incredible match given that by the hour mark Southampton were 4-0 up at Villa Park and effectively the game was over. Though the Saints would go on to win the encounter they would have to endure a fright first- so has been this very unpredictable Premier League season.

Southampton believed that they had taken the lead as early as the 3rd minute through an Ezri Konsa own goal but in the build up VAR had found the play to be offside. Konsa’s blushes were saved but Villa would soon pay the price anyway.

Jannick Vestergaard and James Ward-Prowse are proving to be a superb partnership, they ruined Everton’s unbeaten start to the season a few weekends ago and this one gone they paired up to beat Aston Villa. Vestergaard latched onto Ward-Prowse’s free kick with his head to give the Saints the lead just after 20 minutes.

The second goal came 15 minutes later when Ward-Prowse was rewarded another free kick this time he scored directly from it and it was a stunning strike. And it would be a game of free kicks as just before half time it was Ward-Prowse again, and again it was  superb goal. Villa had been outdone by creating too many fouls on the edge of the box and Ward-Prowse is proving to be one of the deadliest free kick takers in the Premier League. The first half ended 3-0.

Though Villa had shown some promise in the first 45 minutes it was telling that Dean Smith’s side had conjured up no shots on target in that time. At 3-0 by half time the game looked dead and buried and one could only believe that a total collapse was going to let Villa back into the game but in the 58th minute it was 4-0. This time it was Danny Ings with a beautiful shot from the edge of the area.

Ten minutes later Jack Grealish set up Tyrone Mings and he headed in from close range to give Villa a consolation goal. Ings with fire in his belly thought he had scored a 2nd goal just six minutes later but it was flagged for offside. As the game went on Southampton  were happy to defend deep as Villa tried to create a miracle comeback. But as the 90th minute rolled on this game was surely over. Not quite.

In the 92nd minute the Saints Ibrahima Diallo gave away a penalty. Ollie Watkins the hero against Liverpool at this very stadium converted it for 2-4. And still there would be drama as the game went into an extended injury time. In the 97th minute Jack Grealish latched onto a loose ball and smashed the ball home for 3-4. Could there be an incredible comeback? Well the answer was no when the referee blew the whistle 60 seconds later.

Though Villa had lost their 2nd game in a row after starting the season so well they could end up taking something from the way they fought back and they had clearly unnerved Southampton. At the same time being 4 goals down at home isn’t acceptable and Villa have now conceded seven goals in their last two games something manager Smith will have to work at. Aston Villa drop down to 8th place and are now 4 points behind current league leaders Liverpool.

Southampton are the form team of the moment in the Premier League and the Saints have picked up 13 points from their past 15 available. They have climbed up to 5th place after a slow start and now have 13 points the same as Everton. Southampton will be at home to Newcastle next weekend and Aston Villa will play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Jack Grealish was the best performing player in the fantasy points for Aston Villa where he earned 6 points from this game.

For Southampton the best performing player was James Ward-Prowse who earned 9 points.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds United

Aston Villa came into this encounter with Leeds United as the only team in the Premier League that held a 100% record. This was an incredible fact given that Dean Smith’s side had only just escaped the clutches of relegation last season.

Villa also came into this game with wins over Liverpool by an incredible 7-2 that will never be forgotten in the clubs history and then beating Leicester 1-0 at King Power Stadium. Shades of their 1980s greatness were being talked about and so this game at home to newly promoted Leeds United looked like another three points. But then again Villa were not counting on Patrick Bamford.

Bamford was brilliant in the Championship for Leeds and the worry was always going to be if the player could carry that over to such a higher level as the Premier League? But after scoring 6 goals and assisting in another those doubts should be laid to rest. He was by far the man of the match in this game as he scored a hat trick in a brilliant 3-0 victory for Leeds United.

Bamford pounced on a goal keeping error to open the scoring, and if that was seen as scrappy then his 2nd goal was a beauty. On the edge of the area he seemed to lift and simply place the ball into the top corner which left everyone stunned even his team mates. That could well be contender for goal of the season.

For his 3rd goal he danced around the Villa defence as if they weren’t there and slotted home a neat goal. Had this been Lionel Messi the plaudits would be out and the headlines would be all about those 2 goals. Bamford looks like a real talent and Leeds are lucky to have him.

Leeds dominated the game and had an incredible 27 attempts on goal with 9 on those o target. Villa were not quiet themselves as they had 4 shots on target in an enjoyable game. But this was an off day for the club who later on saw the impressive Jack Grealish booked which summed up his and Villa’s day- they simply were not at the races.

The defeat leaves Aston Villa in 3rd place with 12 points but Leicester and Tottenham are right behind them. Villa next play Southampton at home. As for Leeds they have risen up to sixth position and have 10 points and that was the clubs 3rd win of the season and Marcelo Bielsa’s team will play Leicester at home next.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

When final scores used to come through on television years before the internet and phones and apps, this was our only source of knowing the results and quick. When big scores came through that fact had to be reminded by spelling out the actual score. If a game was 6-0 next to the 6 would be spelt out SIX just so you knew. Doubly great if you supported the team, rubbing salt into wounds if you didn’t. This past weekend that would have been used again, only this time with a sentence of exclamation marks.

To be sure and just to remind us that we are indeed on planet Earth, Aston Villa beat Liverpool 7-2, SEVEN goals past the reigning champions, seven goals past the team who have reached the Champions League final twice in the last 3 years and won one of them, seven goals past the reigning World Club Cup holders, seven goals past a team who had gone up until the end of February last season without defeat. It was an astounding result, in an incredible game of which wrapped around it is an incredible season so far.

Liverpool were the odds on favourites to beat Aston Villa and make it four wins out of four. The script Gods had it that Liverpool would ease to victory, that the two rival Merseyside teams would be 1st and 2nd in the league, both unbeaten and would play each other next on October 17th for what would have been billed as the most important Everton-Liverpool derby in a generation. Whilst that match still remains of high interest a shine was taken off who would lose their 100% record when Villa put Liverpool to the sword at the weekend.

Had Villa beaten Liverpool in a struggling all out defending 1-0 game, that would have been seen as a surprise, after all Villa just escaped relegation last season and Liverpool finished 60 plus points in front of them. But this was an all out slaughter which to be fair was over by half time.

New signing Ollie Watkins from Brentford emerged as the hero as did Villa veteran Jack Grealish so ever criticised as being good but not as good as he thinks he is, well at the weekend both were Lionel Messi level good.

Watkins scored a hat trick in 39 minutes all in the first half and opened up the scoring for the hosts in the 4th minute. By the 22nd minute it was 2-0. In fact in 17 first half minutes Villa had put 3 goals past what should have been an impregnable Liverpool defence. Whilst it’s true that Liverpool were dearly unlucky to have lost first choice goal keeper Allison in the warm up for the game, one could well argue his absence may wouldn’t have made much difference even if Liverpool may have kept the score down with him. Adrian, his replacement was absolutely at fault for the 1st goal but he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat Liverpool all round were just very very poor.

Grealish had already provided two goals in the first half and in the 2nd half he would become goalscorer as he netted twice and even new signing Ross Barkley a former Evertonian of course scored. For Liverpool the ever dangerous Mohamed Salah tried his best and personally one couldn’t fault him here, he actually scored 2 goals himself, but these will certainly be two goals that Salah would rather forget in a hurry.

It was interesting to note that possession wise Liverpool dominated and yet conceded so many goals. What does this all mean? Was it simply a one off blip much like their 3-0 defeat at Watford last season? Was it because a couple of regulars were missing, especially captain Jordan Henderson? Was it simply a little complacency and fatigue?

As for Villa they have started the season in brilliant form and have 3 wins from three and have kept intact their own 100% start to the season even after their Liverpool test.

This season just feels unique and very much unlike any other, Villa may slump as the weeks and months take hold, but they have already looked like a team who won’t be involved in a relegation dog fight for that manager Dean Smith must be commended for his summer buys. For Klopp the international break has arrived and he will have 10 days to try and understand what just happened.

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Premier League’s Game of the Week: Southampton 2-5 Tottenham

Our memories of the beginning of the 2020/21 Premier League season will be about goals, there has been over 60 of them already with a goal average of 3.6 per game. You want lots of goals, come to the Premier League and the match between Southampton and Tottenham would be no different.

On Saturday we witnessed Everton come from behind to beat West Bromwich Albion 5-2 and the same scenario was repeated on Sunday when Tottenham travelled to Southampton. This was an edgy game of sorts even before a whistle was blown given that both clubs had lost their opening games. Southampton went 1-0 down to Crystal Palace and Tottenham were beaten by the same scoreline at their ground against Everton. A win was needed by both clubs, though you sensed Jose Mourinho at Tottenham was under more pressure to get it.

This was a game that felt like it had everything. Three goals, one for the home side and two for Tottenham were disallowed early on, Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs in front as early as the 3rd minute but VAR stepped in and it also denied Danny Ings for a handball. At the half hour stage the game was end to end but still 0-0 and nobody could have foreseen that there would be 7 goals to come on this Sunday afternoon. When Kane had another goal ruled out for offside it did seem like it was going to be one of those days.

But the Saints opened the scoring, their first goal of the campaign through Ings who got it right this time. Ings was one of the revelations of last season and he will hope to have a 2nd season just as good. Tottenham were able to equalise on the stroke of half time through Heung-Min Son and you have to wonder just how important that goal was for the Tottenham dressing room atmosphere.

In fairness Southampton seemed good to go in at half time in the lead because Tottenham on reflection had been the second best team in the first half, they managed just 1 shot on target. Still at 1-1 it felt that the psychology of the game had shifted, and with that goal which was Tottenham’s first of the season it seemed to be the switch that they were looking for. Within 2 minutes of the restart Son had pounced again to make it 2-1, Kane had assisted again. This was vintage Spurs or at least what fans had been expecting from the deadly duo in the first game.

If Tottenham were toothless in the first game then in this one they had teeth like a great white shark and they started to take the game to the home side. But Son completed his hat trick just after the hour mark. A fourth goal came ten minutes later for Son, by far the man of the match and yet again it was Kane who supplied the final ball. When Kane scored himself to make it 5-1 it felt that the team had come full circle and the defeat against Everton could be truly forgotten.

A small blip near the end of the game let in Southampton for a penalty in which Ings converted, but it was just a consolation goal, and there would be no miraculous comeback even in a season so far filled with goals.

It’s incredible in how just over a week Tottenham’s fortunes have changed, a win in the Europa League qualifiers and a league win is icing on the cake. But also the return of the prodigal son, one of Tottenham’s genuinely great modern stars, Gareth Bale is complete. Bale has joined the club on loan from Real Madrid. Injured at the moment, you get the feeling that the players have just welcomed him in the most perfect way possible.

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