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Premier League Matchday 10: The good, bad and bizarre

Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad, and the bizarre.

The Premier League has finished up its 10th week of play. Manchester City finally snapped their winless streak by beating West Brom 4-0. Liverpool and Arsenal also picked up wins to stay tied up at the top with City, while Manchester United’s struggles continued with a scoreless draw at home to Burnley. Here’s a full rundown of what happened over the weekend.

Sanchez, Giroud Leading The Way For Arsenal

What Happened: Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud both found the back of the net on two occasions as Arsenal took a 4-1 win on the road against bottom of the table Sunderland on Saturday.

Sanchez opened up the scoring in the 19th minute with a header after connecting with a great cross by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sanchez, who’s not the tallest guy, snuck in front of his defender and got his head on the ball to steer it past Jordan Pickford. Sunderland stood up well despite being pushed back by the visitors. They found the equalizer in the 65th minute when Jermain Defoe scored from the penalty spot after Petr Cech had brought down Duncan Watmore inside the penalty area.

Giroud came off the bench for the Gunners, and it turned out to be a stellar move by manager Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman scored with his two first touches of the ball. First in the 71st minute, and then in the 76th minute. Sanchez got his second of the game two minutes later.

Seb’s Take: The Stadium of Light is more like the “Stadium of Gloom” so far this season for Sunderland, who are still to pick up a win in league play. Sunderland are already looking like this season’s Aston Villa as they only have a mere two points after 10 games. Arsenal bounced back after getting held to a draw against Middlesbrough the previous week, and they stay level on points with leader Manchester City.

Man United Held To Scoreless Draw By Burnley

What Happened: Despite having 37 attempts, 11 on target, Manchester United had to settle for a scoreless draw at home at Old Trafford against newcomers Burnley on Saturday.

United created chance after chance as they dominated possession and pushed forward in an attempt to get on the scoresheet. They had several great scoring opportunities throughout the game, but Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal played the game of his life against his former club. Heaton, 30, spent eight years at United but failed to break into the first team.

Jose Mourinho got sent to the stands by referee Mark Clattenburg during halftime after getting upset after a penalty shout for United in the first half. Ander Herrera got sent off in the 68th minute after picking up two yellow cards, but United kept pushing forward despite being a man down.

Seb’s Take: United were unlucky not to get all three points in this one, and a lot of it came down to Heaton having a phenomenal game. Herrera’s second yellow card was a joke, as he slipped into an opponent, and Clattenburg once again showed that he loves to put himself in the spotlight.

Honors Even Between Tottenham and Leicester

What Happened: Tottenham’s struggles continue as they played their third straight draw in the league, as the game at White Hart Lane against champions Leicester ended in a 1-1 draw.

Without Harry Kane, who on his way back from injury, Spurs have had some struggles finding the back of the net. Vincent Janssen, who was brought in over the summer from AZ Alkmaar to relieve some of the pressure from Kane, opened up the scoring from the penalty spot in the 44th minute. It was the first league goal for the Dutchman, who has made 10 appearances in league play.

Leicester also brought in some players during the transfer window to bolster their scoring, as they relied heavily on Jamie Vardy last season. One of those signings was Ahmed Musa, and the Nigerian international found the back of the net early in the second half to earn a point for the Foxes.

Seb’s Take: With Leicester in a really good shape in the Champions League, they could field their strongest team possible against Tottenham. A point away to Spurs will have to be seen as something positive as they try to build some consistency in league play and start climbing up the standings.

Middlesbrough Takes First Home Win

What Happened: Newcomers Middlesbrough recorded their first home win as they defeated Bournemouth 2-0 after goals by Gaston Ramirez and Stewart Downing.

Middlesbrough are doing what they can to scrounge up enough points to stay above the relegation zone. It was a happy moment for the team and the fans as they got to celebrate the first league victory at Riverside this season. Ramirez opened up the scoring in the 39th minute after a swift counterattack by the home side. Downing made it 2-0 in the second half to secure the win for Boro. For Bournemouth it was their second straight game without a goal after putting six on Hull two weeks ago.

Seb’s Take: Middlesbrough has pretty solid at the back, and if they can find a way to get some goals they should be able get enough points to stave off relegation.

Watford Edge Out Hull

What Happened: Watford managed to grab a 1-0 win at home against Hull City after a late own goal by Hull defender Michael Dawson.

Dawson made his second league appearance of the season, and was unfortunate enough to put the ball into his own net in the 83rd minute to hand Watford the victory and the three points. Daryl Janmaat sent a low cross into the Hull penalty area and it took a deflection off of Dawson and changed direction and went into the back of the net.

Watford became the first team since Sunderland back in 2006 to get a win without having a single shot on target in a game.

Seb’s Take: Hull is on a bad run, and they are in the relegation zone after picking up seven points in 10 matches. Watford are doing quite well, having picked up 15 points.

Manchester City Snaps winless streak

What Happened: Manchester City put an end to their six-game winless streak in all competitions by beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0 at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan each grabbed a brace in the win that saw City hang onto the top spot in the standings. Aguero opened up the scoring in the 19th minute on an assist by Gundogan. The Argentine international then added a second in the 28th minute to put City up by 2-0 at the half. Gundogan, who is not known for his goalscoring, then found the back of the net in the 79th minute before making it 4-0 in the 90th minute.

It was a much-needed win for City and manager Pep Guardiola, who admitted that he needs time to adjust to the toughness of the Premier League. The win ensured that City stay at the top of the table, level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool.

Seb’s Take: City did a great job breaking down West Bromwich, who is known as a very tough team to beat at the Hawthorns. Aguero is back to scoring, and it seemed like a matter of time before they would get out of their funk.

Liverpool Keeping Pace At The Top

What Happened: Liverpool picked up a 4-2 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday to stay level on points at the top of the table with leaders Manchester City and second-placed Arsenal.

It was a thrilling game in south London, as we were treated to five goals in the opening half. Liverpool struck first, as Emre Can scored the opening goal in the 16th minute. Palace came back just two minutes later when James McArthur tied things up for the home side with a header after exploiting a poor clearance by Dejan Lovren. Liverpool retook the lead in the 21st minute and it was Dejan Lovren getting some redemption as he netted the goal.

McArthur scored his second of the game to tie things up once more in the 33rd minute before Joel Matip scored his first goal for Liverpool right before halftime. Roberto Firmino closed the game for the Reds with a goal in the 71st minute.

Seb’s Take: Liverpool are having some problem defending, but they are so good going forward, that they might be able to challenge for the title despite not having an elite defense.

Everton Snaps Four-Game Winless Streak

What Happened: Everton are back in the win column after picking up a 2-0 victory over West Ham United at Goodison Park on Sunday after goals by Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.

With two losses and two draws in the last four league matches, Everton were in desperate need of a win in order to solidify their place in the Top 6. They got just that as West Ham came to visit. After a scoreless first half, Lukaku broke the deadlock in the 50th minute with his seventh goal of the campaign. Ross Barkley made it 2-0 in the 76th minute with his second league goal of the season. The midfielder has been a bit inconsistent, but when he’s on form, he has the ability to dominate games.

For West Ham the loss put an end to a three-game winning streak in all competitions. The Hammers fought well, but were unable to get anything past Joel Robles in the Everton net who was a late replacement for Maarten Stekelenburg.

Seb’s Take: Lukaku is showing once again just how important he is for this Everton side, and with the defense playing a lot better under Ronald Koeman, there’s no reason why Everton shouldn’t challenge for a Europa League spot.  

Chelsea Picks Up Fourth Straight Win

What Happened: Chelsea has been on a roll since switching to a 3-4-3 formation. The Blues picked up their fourth straight league win on Sunday be beating Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary’s Stadium.

The Blues are on a four-game winning streak in the league after the victory on Sunday, having outscored their opponents 11-0. It was the fourth straight clean sheet for the club since Antonio Conte decided to switch to a 3-4-3 formation. Hazard opened up the scoring in the 6th minute to give Chelsea the perfect start. Costa made it 2-0 in the 55th minute with his eighth league goal of the season with a beautifully curled shot from just outside the penalty area. Chelsea are in fourth place with 22 points, one point behind the leading trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea have looked like a totally different team since the switch in formation. They are solid defensively without giving up any of their effort going forward. Hazard and Costa both look reborn after the departure of Jose Mourinho halfway through last season.

Bony Leads Stoke Past Swansea

What Happened: Wilfried Bony came back to haunt his old club on Halloween as he scored twice in Stoke’s 3-1 win over Swansea City at the Bet365 Stadium.

Bony got the home side off to a perfect start with a goal in the 3rd minute. But Swansea replied quickly, as Wayne Routledge tied things up five minutes later. The game was wide open and both teams created a lot of chances. An own goal by Alfie Mawson gave Stoke the lead again in the 55th minute before Bony netted his second of the game in the 73rd minute.

Joe Allen has been in fine form for Stoke, and the Welshman picked up the assists on both of Bony’s goals. The win took Stoke from 17th place up to 12th place, whereas Swansea are stuck in the relegation zone.

Seb’s Take: Stoke are putting things together. They had a much too talented team to be hovering just above the relegation zone, and look for them to continue to play well. They could play the part of spoiler when we get to springtime.

***

The Good: Chelsea

The way that the Chelsea players have bought into Antonio Conte’s system is remarkable. He tried a more traditional approach at first, but as the defense was leaking like Swiss cheese, he opted to go to a 3-4-3. The outcome has been four straight wins in the league and four straight clean sheets. The Blues look like a different team and they will be fighting for the title if they keep this up.

The Bad: Mark Clattenburg

It wasn’t Clattenburg’s fault that Man United failed to beat Burnley as they had a slew of chances, but once again the referee found a way to put himself in the center of things. He missed to give United a penalty in the first half, and as a result he sent Jose Mourinho to the stands for protesting the horrible no-call. He then hands Ander Herrera a second yellow card for slipping and falling on a Burnley player. He shows no touch of being able to read the game, and the card to Herrera was another horrible decision. It’s not the first time Clattenburg makes questionable calls, and it won’t be the last as he seems to be seeking the attention. What’s even more worrying is that he gets to have these stinkers without any form of repercussions.  

The Bizarre: Jose Mourinho

The Manchester United boss is definitely feeling the heat as United’s poor form continues. He was sent to the stands by Clattenburg for criticizing the decision not to award his side a penalty. He then sat in the first row for a bit before being ushered up to a spot further up in the stands. He kept sending notes down to his assistants, but to no avail as United failed to score. After the match Mourinho refused to speak to the media, and as he’s already under investigation for the comments he made before the game against Liverpool, it might have been for the best.

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