Jack Hallows looks back at the fourth game week of the Premier League and analyses five of the key talking points from the competition.
Liverpool got the Premier League action underway this weekend and while there were plenty of talking points from their 2-1 victory over Leicester, the rest of the action in the Premier League just cannot be ignored!
There was heartbreak for a valiant Cardiff side, Watford pulled off a stellar comeback to continue on their unbeaten run, Newcastle made Manchester City work for it and that’s me not even scratching the surface.
Strap yourselves in and let’s get started!
Brighton bounce back!
It’s not often that you miss a penalty, end up 2-0 down and still come out of a fixture with a point.
For Brighton though, that’s exactly what happened!
The Seagulls were looking good off the back of a big win over Manchester United and a valiant effort away to Liverpool when Fulham visited on Saturday but things just didn’t go their way in the first hour or so of the match.
Pascal Groß saw his penalty saved in the 25th minute before former Dortmund and Chelsea winger Andre Schurrle grabbed his second goal of the season with a well-taken effort to send Fulham into the break 1-0 up.
The London club’s lead was doubled in the 62nd by Mitrović and it looked as if they were set for their second consecutive victory after beating Burnley 4-2 last weekend.
Chris Hutton’s men were having none of it though, pulling one back just five minutes later through the ever-reliable Glenn Murray.
They left it late to grab the eventual equaliser however, with a bit of good fortune ending up in a penalty being awarded to the south coast side and this time, Murray stepped up to bury it.
Much has been made of Brighton’s ability at home and if they can muster up even 10% of their home form on away days this season, they’ll be set to stay another year in England’s top flight.
For Fulham, however, they’ve absolutely got to use this as a learning curve. The Londoners have a really good side worthy of staying in the Premier League but it’s clear that there is a lot of inexperience in and around that squad.
If they can shore things up defensively and learn to better manage games then I have no concerns about them as they proved yet again that they’re going to score goals – especially if former Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrović is able to carry on his good form.
Watford this season’s Burnley?!
It’s safe to say that whatever Javi Gracia did at Watford over the summer, it’s absolutely bloody working!
The Hornets had won three from three prior to kicking off their fixture against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon and fought valiantly during the first half to keep the scores equal going into the break.
In the end, it was a piece of real good fortune for Tottenham that broke the deadlock as a hopeful Lucas Moura cutback was diverted into the Watford net by Frenchman Abdoulaye Doucouré as he tried to get back and cover.
Where previously, that probably would’ve been enough to sink Watford’s spirits and allow Spurs to get a stranglehold on the game, the Hornets were not about to let their unbeaten run disappear so cheaply.
A Holebas set piece was headed home 15 minutes later by club captain Troy Deeney before the Greek defender doubled up on his assist tally for the match, sending in the corner from which Craig Cathcart thundered home the winner.
The result means that Watford are one of only three teams alongside Chelsea and Liverpool to have won all four of their opening four games – scoring nine and conceding just three along the way.
It’s going to get a lot tougher after the international break though and it’ll be interesting to see how Gracia’s men go against Manchester United, a plucky Fulham side and Unai Emery’s Arsenal.
Could we be saying bye-bye to the real Burnley?
If Watford become this season’s Burnley, surprising everyone and making it into the Europa League places at the end of the campaign, the actual Burnley aren’t exactly having the time of their lives.
Sean Dyche’s men have only picked up one point so far and looked poor yet again when Manchester United visited on Sunday afternoon.
A Romelu Lukaku double was enough to see the Red Devils leave Turf Moor with all three points and realistically it was all too easy for the Belgian – especially for his second goal.
The Clarets made a real name for themselves over the last couple of seasons by being a tough to beat unit that would really make you work for your points. They weren’t exactly winning huge amounts of games but they also weren’t losing many or conceding many goals.
They’ve now conceded nine in their last three games with their only point and clean sheet coming on the opening day when they drew 0-0 with a poor Southampton side.
With West Ham not yet registering a single point and the likes of Huddersfield, Cardiff, Newcastle and Crystal Palace all suffering similar struggles for form there’s no reason for Burnley fans and players to hit panic stations just yet.
They do however need to get their act together as soon as possible and it looks as if not making it into the Europa League group stages could be a blessing in disguise, keeping distractions for a small squad to a minimum.
Cardiff vs Arsenal – the thriller of the weekend?
When I looked at the fixtures before this weekend I highlighted Liverpool/Leicester, Chelsea/Bournemouth and Watford/Spurs to be the matches I was most looking forward to.
I felt that despite there being a clear favourite in each one of those matches, they’d all be close run affairs and that if any upsets were going to come, it would be in one of these fixtures.
I was right to an extent, Leicester ran Liverpool close, Bournemouth were worth more than a 2-0 defeat and Watford provided the weekend’s biggest upset!
However, despite Arsenal still taking the win from their visit to Cardiff, this match was superb viewing for the neutral.
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff were still yet to score a goal this season – the only side in England’s top four divisions not to do so going into the match – but Arsenal’s defence had been shaky at best in their opening three games. It was a match made in heaven.
In truth, Arsenal probably could’ve scored four or five with Lacazette in particular unlucky not to end up with more than one goal to his name but the same could be said of Cardiff who missed two brilliant opportunities at 1-0 down in the first period.
In the end, the biggest take away is that despite looking very good going forward, Arsenal’s defence is still horrendous.
The Gunners are good enough to end up beating most of the teams they’re faced with in the Premier League – as they eventually showed against Cardiff – but sides are going to be looking at this fixture knowing that if they come out and attack Emery’s men, there could be something in it for them.
High balls into the box, in particular, seemed to cause big problems for the Arsenal defence, while space in between their midfielders and defenders would be a godsend for better attackers to exploit.
If things stay like this for the North Londoners, Arsenal games are going to at very least guarantee goals at both ends!
The table as it stands and the race for the golden boot
We’re only four weeks in so realistically, you can’t take huge amounts from how the Premier League table looks right now.
In fact, if you look at the table after four weeks last season, Manchester United were top, City second, Chelsea third and Watford fourth. West Ham, Bournemouth and Palace made up the relegation zone while Liverpool and Spurs who both ended up in the top four sat on seven points apiece in eighth and fifth respectively.
However, given we’re about to go into the first international break, it’ll be interesting to look back on the table as it stands now as a point of reference when the next break comes around following matchday eight.
Liverpool currently sit top of the pile with 12 points from 12 and a league-high goal difference of +8 while Chelsea and Watford are hot on their heels having also won all of their opening four fixtures. Manchester City round out the top four with 10 points from 12 while Spurs sit in fifth with nine.
Notably, Bournemouth are sitting pretty currently in seventh after not managing a single point by this stage last campaign while Arsenal and Manchester United both sit mid table on six points after indifferent starts to the season.
Newcastle United (18th), Burnley (19th) and West Ham United (20th) make up the relegation zone while Huddersfield, Cardiff and Crystal Palace sit just outside and have all failed to register a victory since the opening day of the campaign.
In terms of the earliest stages of the race for the coveted golden boot, Sadio Mané of Liverpool and Aleksandar Mitrović are leading the charge with four goals apiece, while seven players sit on three including regular high scorers Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku.
Last season’s winner Mohamed Salah and runner-up Harry Kane both have two goals to their names from the opening four fixtures.
The pair will go head to head on the field for the first time this season after the international break when Liverpool travel to Wembley to take on Spurs in the first fixture of matchday five.
As a team, Manchester City are the highest scorers overall with 11, six of those coming in one game against Huddersfield on the second match day while Chelsea have 10 and each of Spurs, Liverpool and Watford sit on nine.
Liverpool’s one goal against makes them the best team in the league defensively thus far, while at the other end of the table, West Ham are the worst having conceded 10 and have failed to keep a clean sheet.
This is a rare non-Liverpool based article from our team here at Rousing the Kop, drawing the focus onto other teams in the Premier League. For an in-depth Liverpool-only version of the weekend talking points, click here.