Rolling Stone India Pitch: Man City Net 8, Liverpool Keep Marching, Arsenal Come Back With 10 Men
The Reds make it six wins out of six in the league this season
This past weekend’s matchday six action of the Premier League witnessed goals galore at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester; dropped points for Tottenham Hotspur against 2016 champions Leicester City and a thrilling comeback victory for Arsenal.
We begin at the King Power Stadium where both Leicester and Spurs had goals denied for them due to VAR. The North London club took the lead half an hour into the game with an unorthodox strike from talisman Harry Kane. The forward was able to slot the ball into the net, even after he appeared to be losing his balance and falling to the floor. Leicester came out for the second half quite pumped and was able to level things after a swift attack through full-back Ricardo Pereira. Five minutes before time, Leicester midfielder James Maddison put his team in the lead with a goal from outside the box that caught Spurs’ stand-in goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga off guard.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told BBC Sport after the match, “We dominated the game and we deserved more but that’s football. It can change quickly. We need to keep working. We have a lot of games coming and we need to be ready.” He added, “I’m always saying that sometimes it [VAR] benefits you and sometimes it goes against you. You can’t complain afterwards. You have to accept it.”
After facing criticism last week for losing against Norwich City, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City responded in the most emphatic fashion this past weekend: the champions put on a display of total football against Watford and were 5-0 up inside the first 20 minutes. The Sky Blues added three more goals in the second half rounding off an 8-0 win for themselves including a hattrick from midfielder Bernado Silva. City fell one goal shy of the biggest win in the Premier League era, which is Manchester United’s 9-0 victory against Ipswich in 1995.
Guardiola told Sky Sports after the game, “The quality of players we had up front made the difference. We shot on target five times for five goals. In the first minutes we gave them two chances to score two goals and they didn’t.” He also responded to his team’s recent criticism saying, “People still don’t understand – journalists, pundits and former players–losing games is part of life. I have the same feeling now that I had after Norwich, so that was not a bad performance. We can lose the games, the important thing is the approach and how we react.”
City’s neighbors Manchester United, however, seem to be struggling for form and are way off the pace after losing to West Ham United 2-0 at the London Stadium. Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still hasn’t figured out his best 11 with his team in sixes and sevens. Although goalkeeper David de Gea signed a new contract last week, the defense in front of him still looks fragile.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said, “I don’t think they are a team capable of fighting for the top two. However, a good achievement for them would be to finish in the top four and get back into the Champions League. What are the objectives of the club? It’s very important for everybody to share and agree with the objectives.”
When Arsenal gave away a two-goal lead last week against Watford, their home game against newly-promoted Aston Villa yesterday had to be a must-win if they wanted to keep their top-four hopes alive. In typical Gunners fashion, they conceded from a John McGinn goal in the first half and also had full-back Ainsley Maintland-Niles sent off after he picked up two yellow cards.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s clever substitutions and the inspiring performance put in by 20-year-old midfielder Matteo Guendouzi galvanized Arsenal and they were able to level things from a Nicolas Pepe penalty. Villa took the lead once more but two late goals from defender Calum Chambers and a sublime free-kick by star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was enough for 10 men Arsenal to pick up a crucial victory.
The big game this past weekend was league leaders Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge to face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. Two well-worked set pieces, a screamer of a free-kick from full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and a header on 30 minutes by striker Roberto Firmino put Liverpool in control of the game. Although Chelsea got one back from a superb solo goal from N’Golo Kante, Liverpool were able to hold on to their lead and maintain their 100 percent record in the league this season.
Matchday seven will see Arsenal travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United, Sheffield United host Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur welcome Southampton, Chelsea meet Brighton at home, Manchester City travels to Everton and more.