By Neil Leverett
- Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur both suffer surprise losses in Premier League Gameweek 3
- Liverpool beat Arsenal at Anfield, to remain only top flight side with 100% record
- Watford remain pointless and bottom, as Burnley continue impressive start to campaign
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – As Liverpool made it three from three in the new season, what else did we learn this weekend from Premier League Gameweek 3?
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Premier League remains the unpredictable
Only three weeks into the season, the new campaign has already thrown up more than the odd surprise, and Gameweek 3 was no different as both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur suffered home defeats to teams who prior to kick-off, were housed in the league’s basement.
As the sound of betting slips were again ripped up across the land, Crystal Palace pulled off the big shock of the weekend at Old Trafford, as Roy Hogdson‘s men scored their first goals of the campaign and Patrick van Aanholt claiming a late, late winner, with the Eagles also notching their first ever Premier League win at Old Trafford.
If Saturday was the big upset of the weekend, Spurs’ defeat to Newcastle on home turf was equally unexpected, as the Lilywhites failed to break down the visitors’ resistance, with Joelinton‘s first goal for the club enough to take three points back to Tyneside.
Burnley’s point at Molineux could also be regarded as something of a surprise result – whilst not the seismic in nature – as the Gameweek rounded off, with any notion that English top flight being formulaic and boring, being firmly ejected out the league’s fast-moving vehicle’s window.
Pogba is a problem
Whilst Palace returned to South London in buoyant mood, the feeling in Manchester was left in a rather more sour note, as the Red Devils’ early-season form had been flipped on its’ head in defeat.
Denied a late winner against Wolves last time out following Paul Pogba‘s missed penalty, the enigmatic Frenchman was again at the centre of fan criticism, with the United midfielder inadvertently responsible for conceding the stoppage time winner, as the hosts sought a winner.
Problems had arisen at Molineux a week ago, after appearing to take the ball off Marcus Rashford for the chance to take the full spoils, and even after Rashford himself missed a spot-kick this weekend, the fractures within the side are there to see, with many pointing the finger at Pogba.
It is all too easy to cast doom and gloom over the Manchester club, but with any element of disharmony threatening to spoil the club party, further problems could arise and with a trip to the South coast this weekend, they may become magnified.
Spurs have issues…
As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer digested his side’s malaises, Mauricio Pochettino was left to ponder his own problems in North London, as the Magpies caught a rather out-of-sorts Lilywhites off guard.
Whilst United’s issues are seemingly centred around one individual, Tottenham’s ones are wider spread, with bad feeling and uncertainty beginning to seep into N17, after a summer of difficulty.
Christian Eriksen‘s future remains in doubt with the European transfer window still open until the end of the month, and after the Dane was again left out of the starting XI, Eriksen could still make a late exit from the club.
Jan Vertonghen – one of Spurs’ most loyal and consistent servants in recent seasons – has suddenly found himself out in the cold, with Pochettino citing fitness issues, but for a player thought of in such high regard, Sunday’s loss with the Belgian on the bench, would have irked many home fans watching on.
Tanguy Ndombele will be success for his new club, but his absence was felt keenly against Newcastle, and as Giovani Lo Celso looks well short of sharpness having signed on loan from Real Betis also, Spurs have a number of problems to address with the North London derby looming next weekend.
…Arsenal remain work in progress
With said derby approaching in Gameweek 4, Arsenal also registered their first loss of the season but in far more predictable circumstances, with another defeat at Anfield to the again vibrant Liverpool.
In defeat however, the Gunners put on a far bolder showing and after a first-half of high intensity work-rate as the visitors attempted to smother the Reds’ cavalier midfield, Unai Emery‘s men were undone only from a corner, penalty and further moment of genius from the irrepressible Mohamed Salah.
Indeed, the result could have been very different as Nicolas Pepe fluffed his lines on Merseyside one-on-one with Adrian, and had the flying Ivorian forward converted, Arsenal’s gameplan could have drastically changed in not blindly chasing the game.
Many had expected another wildly open meeting in the game that has given us more Premier League combined in the fixture’s history, but as the Gunners showed their canny side in sacrificing some of their attacking verve, Emery showed us all he is beginning to mold his new creation, but that there remains more work to be done.
Europa-less Clarets solid again
After enduring a difficult season in the 2018/19 campaign largely due to their early participation in last term’s Europa League – being eliminated in the play-off stages – Burnley, now European club competition-less, look back to something like their solid best – maybe even an improved incarnation.
Denied a superb three points against top-six chasing Wolves, Raul Jimenez‘s 95th-minute penalty denied the Clarets making it two wins from three to begin the new season, but showing resilience at home as well a customary full-back driven attacking flavour, Sean Dyche‘s men now look set for the season ahead.
Completing the shrewd addition of Erik Pieters at left-back during the summer, the Lancashire outfit have added bite but width also to their game, whilst Ashley Barnes has started the new term in prolific fashion, scoring in all three games thus far.
The Clarets have often been dismissed as a gritty North-Western side with little flair to shout about. Whilst the flair argument is perhaps accurate, Burnley fans will be delighted with their efforts and can cause problems for the bigger sides – as Arsenal will attest. Liverpool beware the visit to Turf Moor next weekend.
Premier League Gameweek 4 begins on Saturday, as Southampton host Manchester United at St. Marys’ Stadium, kick-off 12:30pm UK time.
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