By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week eight of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
Match-week eight of the Premier League season was full of goals, drama and surprising results. Here are five things we learned from the weekend’s games.
Chelsea played much better with three at the back
Antonio Conte is known for setting his sides up to have three centre backs with two wing backs pushing forward and coming back to help out the defence. Though it can often lead to less options up top, when done properly this system is very hard to break down as shown by the Italian’s Juventus and Italy tenure. Against Leicester City on Saturday, Conte decided to use this tactic and it worked a treat.
Leicester hardly threatened as Chelsea brushed the Champions aside with a 3-0 victory thanks to goals by Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses. The result was convincing enough, but it was clear that Chelsea looked more comfortable with this system and quite frankly it could have been more than three.
The adding the extra centre back allowed David Luiz to use his risky style of play to good effect, as there were two other defenders there to pick up the pieces if anything goes wrong. The Brazilian had the freedom and put in one of his best performances in a Chelsea shirt. The wing backs gave Chelsea good width and allowed Hazard to operate in a more central ‘roaming’ role which he is best suited to.
Leicester were poor on the day and looked toothless once again, and the defence had a nightmare especially for the first two goals. The Foxes looked like a shadow of the side that won the league last season.
Liverpool vs Manchester United was a let down
If Jurgen Klopp looks disinterested, then you know that you have a dull match on your hands. Liverpool vs Manchester United promised so much prior to kick off, but it turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the weekend.
Chances were at a premium at Anfield with Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming arguably the closest to breaking the deadlock. It was a cagey affair with neither side willing to risk going behind, and what we ended up with was an unexpected stalemate.
Jose Mourinho will be the happier of the two managers as he knows how difficult this fixture is for any side. Liverpool away is a banana skin for title challengers, and United came away with a point that could be valuable come May.
Spurs missed Harry Kane for the first time
English striker Harry Kane has missed most of the campaign with a ligament injury suffered in last months win over Sunderland. Kane scored 25 goals to win the golden boot last season and his attacking prowess was missed this weekend.
To say Tottenham have coped without him would be an understatement. Prior to this weekend they sat second and unbeaten in the league. They are still unbeaten, but a 1-1 draw at West Brom will be seen as a missed opportunity after Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at home to Everton.
West Brom and Tony Pulis stifled Spurs well this weekend, and it begs the question as to whether Kane would have made that extra bit of difference that Spurs needed to get a win. They are still unbeaten, they are still in the title picture, but they could have been top with a little bit extra up front.
Goalkeepers can rescue points
As if this was not already known, but the game between Manchester City and Everton was a good reminder of the importance of a good number one.
The Citizens dominated large portions of the game and would have won if not for the excellence of Maarten Stekelenburg. The Everton keeper saved two penalties in a fantastic performance that earned his side an unlikely point at the Etihad stadium. He first saved Kevin De Bruyne’s effort, then Sergio Aguero’s later in the game.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal almost handed Pep Guardiola a second straight defeat, but Nolito save their blushes by scoring with his first touch as a substitute. It will go down as two points dropped for City, and they have Stekelenburg to thank for that.
What happened elsewhere?
Arsenal moved level on points with a nervy 3-2 victory over Swansea. Bob Bradley was in charge of his first Premier League game, and what an introduction it was. Five goals, a red card and end to end football showcasing what the Premier League is all about.
At the bottom end of the table there were big results for West Ham and Stoke City. The Hammers defeated Crystal Palace 1-0, whilst Joe Allen starred in a 2-0 victory for Stoke over fellow strugglers Sunderland.
Mike Phelan signed a contract to become Hull City’s permanent manager, but this celebrations were cut short after a 6-1 defeat away at Bournemouth. Fellow promoted side Middlesbrough did not fare much better as they also lost at home to Watford.
Charlie Austin may be heading for an England call up if he keeps his goal scoring form up. The Southampton striker scored twice in a 3-1 home victory against Burnley on Sunday.
Full Premier League results
Chelsea 3-0 Leicester
Arsenal 3-2 Swansea
Bournemouth 6-1 Hull
Manchester City 1-1 Everton
Stoke 2-0 Sunderland
West Brom 1-1 Tottenham
Crystal Palace 0-1 West Ham
Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford
Southampton 3-1 Burnley
Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United
The Premier League returns for match-week nine on the weekend of the 22nd-23rd October
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