Premier League hits and misses: Ibrahima Konate bow, plucky Arsenal and ‘guilty’ Pep Guardiola

Konate highlights elevated depth of table-topping Reds

Mohamed Salah celebrates with Ibrahima Konate after scoring Liverpool's second aim

What a distinction a season makes. Hard up on the again and barely in a position to identify the identical defensive partnership twice final season, Liverpool may afford to go away a match Joel Matip and Joe Gomez out of their 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, and hand a debut to Ibrahima Konate on the coronary heart of their backline.

Without knocking January signings Ozan Kobak and Ben Davies, Konate is in a distinct dialog – as his £36m price ticket confirmed. He loved some brilliant moments on his Anfield bow, and some others the place he might want to enhance, however most significantly seemed snug with the tempo and physicality required in his first style of the Premier League.

  • Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace – Match report and free highlights
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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win over Crystal Palace

Aside from his efficiency on debut, his inclusion highlighted how issues have modified for Jurgen Klopp since final season. Konate is his solely main summer time signing however, with out the horrific harm issues which dogged 2020/21, he was in a position to omit three of his first-choice again 4, primarily utilizing the sport as a welcome likelihood to rotate, and nonetheless oversee a victory that took the Reds three factors clear on the high.

“Some games you remember as being fun, some you remember as being important. This is an important one,” he mused after full-time, understandably relieved Liverpool had lastly shaken off Palace’s risk with two targets within the last 12 minutes.

It was not a glittering efficiency, however to make use of the supervisor’s apt selection of phrases, definitely “hard-fought”. You do not get the sensation Liverpool may have made sweeping defensive adjustments final season and come away with this scoreline, deserved or not. And that’s the reason shifting high of the desk this early within the season feels extra sustainable than it proved this time final season.
Ron Walker

Plucky Gunners flip a nook

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win over Burnley

It was all arrange completely for one more Arsenal stumble. Physical Burnley, hungry for a primary victory of the season at Turf Moor, may have licked their lips as Mikel Arteta named an XI which solely had Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes as real bodily presences.

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The stage was there for Burnley to devour Arsenal’s mushy underbelly, to take them to locations they seldom go, to take advantage of their all-too-familiar defensive flaws, however the Gunners had different concepts.

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After outplaying Burnley on the ball within the first half and coming in a aim to the great due to Martin Odegaard’s good free-kick, we noticed a brand new aspect to Arteta’s Arsenal, one which has the starvation and focus wanted to beat the duty positioned in entrance of them.

White and Gabriel stifled the specter of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, and their replacements Maxwel Cornet and Jay Rodriguez, in an assured and gritty defensive show.

When the again 4 had been bypassed, Aaron Ramsdale proved an impressed final line of defence within the Arsenal aim, as he stretched his run with out conceding to 5 video games with an imperious efficiency.

And, crucially, fortune favoured them as referee Anthony Taylor reversed his determination to award Burnley a second-half penalty.

Arsenal made issues exhausting for themselves by dropping their first three video games, however the nook has effectively and really been turned. Back-to-back victories have lifted the temper and, with Tottenham on the horizon, issues may get even higher.
Jack Wilkinson

Martin Odegaard places Arsenal forward with a free-kick at Turf Moor

  • Burnley 0-1 Arsenal – Match report and highlights
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Bailey publicizes himself to the Premier League

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s win over Everton

Aston Villa’s emphatic ending of Everton’s unbeaten begin to the Premier League season didn’t look probably till Dean Smith summoned Leon Bailey from the substitutes’ bench.

The sport was meandering in direction of a stalemate by the hour mark, however Smith was in a position to name upon superior reinforcements that had been spearheaded by the membership’s £25m summer time recruit from Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Aston Villa 3-0 Everton – Match report and highlights
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He could not have performed a task in Matty Cash’s opener, however, as Everton buckled, it was Bailey who took the sport away from them.

Having seen his devilish nook flicked into his personal internet by Lucas Digne, the Jamaica ahead pilfered a aim of his personal, and a primary in entrance of the jubilant Holte End.

Leon Bailey was solely on the pitch for Villa for 21 minutes

Bailey instructed Sky Sports: “To have my family there watching it, to have the fans chanting my name when I was going on, it’s such a great feeling. I feel I’ve welcomed myself here as a Villa player.”

His cameo efficiency was curtailed by a thigh harm quickly after, however it’s a signal of his significance that Smith was so keen to stop additional aggravation.

Following a blended set of outcomes that had not been reflective of Villa’s performances within the opening month of the season, they’re now within the high half. You sense it’s the place they may keep.

The early indications are that Villa have re-invested effectively on the £100m acquired for Jack Grealish. In Bailey, there’s a new darling of Villa Park.
Ben Grounds

Defensive collapse gives Benitez with actuality verify

Lucas Digne cuts a dejected determine at Villa Park

Rafa Benitez’s sport plan was clear: sit deep and play on the break.

With Richarlison becoming a member of Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the sidelines, Everton sought to comprise Aston Villa whereas utilizing the tempo of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray on the counter-attack.

But he watched on helplessly, scribbling away frantically in his notepad, as his aspect had been steamrollered by three Villa targets in 9 second-half minutes.

This was a task reversal for each groups following final weekend’s outcomes; Villa in some way discovered themselves on the fallacious finish of a 3-0 loss at Chelsea whereas Everton’s personal second-half blitz overcame Burnley.

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Everton supervisor Rafael Benitez believes their 3-0 loss towards Aston Villa may have been a distinct end result after he feels they squandered a number of probabilities with the rating at 0-0

Here, their defensive errors weren’t one thing often related to a Benitez aspect, however the Everton again line seemed unsettled with out the presence of Jordan Pickford and captain Seamus Coleman.

Benitez rued missed alternatives and revealed it will be “at least one or two weeks minimum” earlier than the pair are again accessible.

“What we cannot forget about us is that we are a team who finished 10th last season with a new manager,” he rightly identified.

With 10 factors from 5 video games and in fifth spot, there is no such thing as a must panic, however Benitez will probably be involved with the way his aspect crumbled within the absence of key first-team members.

It is essential those that are match be taught from this impolite awakening if Everton’s fantastic begin is not going to go to waste.
Ben Grounds

No must panic with Dyche on the helm

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Burnley supervisor Sean Dyche claims the Clarets’ poor report of being awarded penalty kicks meant he anticipated the one they acquired towards Arsenal defeat to be overturned

If my reminiscence serves me effectively, there was a interval in every of Burnley’s Premier League campaigns the place their top-flight standing has not solely been questioned however has been given a stern evaluation. Five video games into the present season, that second seems to be right here already.

Defeat to Arsenal confirmed a fourth Premier League loss for Sean Dyche’s winless Clarets, who sit second-bottom within the desk, only one level above pointless Norwich.

It took Burnley eight video games to get their first victory on the board final season and a equally gradual begin is with out query a trigger for concern at Turf Moor. And but, whereas different golf equipment in an analogous place can be getting into disaster mode and doubtlessly making rash selections, Burnley calmly go about their enterprise secure nearly within the information that they may get out.

Contrast that sense of safety and religion to ideas circling round Carrow Road for the time being, and you get a reminder – if you happen to wanted it – of simply how essential Dyche is to this Burnley mission.

Yes, Burnley are winless and haven’t scored a aim from open play in 5 video games this season, however with Dyche on the helm, now just isn’t the time for concern.
Jack Wilkinson

‘Guilty’ Pep laments City’s lacklustre show

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s draw towards Southampton

A complete of 52,698 had been in attendance on the Etihad Stadium however the majority of them finally left disenchanted on Saturday as Manchester City recorded simply the one shot on the right track of their goalless draw with Southampton.

“I feel a bit guilty because we didn’t play good,” Pep Guardiola admitted in a match the place VAR drama denied Southampton a penalty and then City a late winner.

It was an emphatic halt to a run of three 5-0 wins at residence for City within the Premier League, whereas the flash factors took the eye away from Guardiola’s pre-match feedback when he referred to as for a better attendance following the Champions League turnout in midweek.

  • Lacklustre Man City held as penalty drama denies Southampton
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City followers current on the Etihad on Saturday chanted Guardiola’s identify simply earlier than and after kick-off, and with the attendance greater than it was towards Norwich (51,437) and Arsenal (52,276), Guardiola will hope this matter is now put to mattress.

It was an undesirable distraction for City within the build-up, and Guardiola will probably be reluctant to debate it additional given City’s upcoming run of video games.

After a Carabao Cup match at residence to Wycombe, City face journeys to Chelsea, PSG and then Liverpool – three video games which may have a significant say in how their season finally performs out.
Michael Hincks

Toney is Premier League high quality

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brentford’s win at Wolves

Ivan Toney’s confidence was by no means in query going into his first correct Premier League season. “I can’t wait to shut people up,” he mentioned after Brentford’s play-off last win in May. Asked about Brentford’s targets this yr he instructed Sky Sports in August: “Winning the league.”

The latter could also be a attain, however he’s attaining the previous already. A aim and an help in Brentford’s 2-0 win at Wolves means he has scored 33 because the begin of final season, greater than some other participant within the high 4 tiers of English soccer.

And these doubters who questioned whether or not he may reduce it within the Premier League are awfully quiet – Toney is a Premier League striker with layers to his sport.

He has picked up Sky Sports’ man-of-the-match award thrice in Brentford’s 5 Premier League video games and his participant scores learn 8/10, 7/10, 7/10, 7/10 and 8/10, although Thomas Frank described his Molineux efficiency as 10/10. Even when Brentford haven’t gained, he has been efficient.

  • Wolves 0-2 Brentford – Match report and free highlights
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Toney just isn’t the kind of striker who touches the ball a handful of occasions and has to take his likelihood; he touched the ball 45 occasions towards Wolves, the fourth-highest in Brentford’s workforce, a rarity for a striker, helped by profitable most of his 25 duels.

He comes brief as Bryan Mbeumo runs off him, prompting Frank to match the duo to Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. High reward certainly.

But Toney’s work just isn’t restricted to the ultimate third; profitable a match-high 4 fouls towards Wolves, he contributed to Brentford’s administration of the sport – his numbers had been the identical towards Arsenal on opening evening – slowing it down, even with Wolves’ numerical benefit.

Brentford have each likelihood of surviving comfortably with Toney and Mbeumo on the town.
Gerard Brand

Farke’s inflexibility is damaging Norwich’s survival probabilities

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Watford’s win over Norwich

Against Watford, Norwich boss Daniel Farke opted for a extra attacking line-up than the one he put out towards Arsenal the earlier weekend with Josh Sargent and Milot Rashica lining up alongside Teemu Pukki in a entrance three. It didn’t work.

Norwich’s lacklustre efficiency towards Watford was typical of how the Canaries have performed this season. Very completely satisfied to push ahead in numbers, however seemingly equally completely satisfied to go away gaps in behind, which performed straight into Watford’s fingers. Pacey wingers Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr unsurprisingly thrived within the open area they had been afforded.

  • Norwich 1-3 Watford – Match report and free highlights
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Farke mentioned post-match he’s totally conscious his aspect want to enhance defensively, however maybe throwing Ozan Kabak straight into the beginning XI for his Norwich debut was not the very best concept when there’s a League Cup fixture towards Liverpool on Tuesday which seemed a extra appropriate time to ease him in.

There isn’t any doubting Norwich have gifted attacking gamers and have good depth alongside the ahead line, however Farke have to be way more pragmatic if his aspect are to face any likelihood of survival this season.
James Kilpatrick

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