Home Football EPL: Match Week Two 2022-2023 Review

EPL: Match Week Two 2022-2023 Review


Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United reign is already in crisis while Leicester may have to make do with what they’ve got.

1) Ten Hag conjures memories of De Boer disaster

Credit to Thomas Frank and Brentford for a tactical plan expertly executed, improving on the template that brought Brighton victory the previous week. For one older head in the press room, it brought back bitter Manchester United memories of a 5-0 Crystal Palace ransacking that brought the end of Frank O’Farrell as manager in December 1972. For a moustachioed Don Rogers skating across a Selhurst Park bog read Josh Dasilva, Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney in the sun. A historic, celebratory day for Brentford was one of infamy for United. So poor was their display, so ineffectual has Erik ten Hag been that comparisons are being drawn with fellow Ajax alumnus Frank de Boer’s disastrous 77 days at Palace in 2017. Already, Ten Hag is in severe danger of being flushed down a talent vortex that has claimed Jadon Sancho and Harry Maguire. The pair cost £153m between them. Both were dreadful at Brentford, though were far from alone in that. John Brewin

Match report: Brentford 4-0 Manchester United

2) Conte needs to back new signing Bissouma

Persuading Daniel Levy to open his wallet is surely one of the greatest achievements of Antonio Conte’s career, but for as long as he refrains from using his new players, it barely matters. Though it does make some kind of sense to retain the men who earned a Champions League spot, emphasising the point that places are earned by performances, not purchase prices, there is an Yves Bissouma-shaped hole in Tottenham’s midfield that on another day would’ve cost them the game. It’s true that Pierre-Emile Højbjerg scored a crucial goal, but it’s equally true that they were lucky to be only one down at the time. Højbjerg is an honest toiler, but his lack of speed and vision remain a big problem for his team – especially given Conte’s preference of a 3-4-3 formation that leaves Spurs light in the middle of midfield. Bissouma, on the other hand, is quicker to the ball, stronger once he’s got it and cleverer in moving it on – dynamism his team sorely needs. Daniel Harris

Match report: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham

3) Hammers looking to find rhythm

David Moyes was in no mood to deliberate after West Ham slipped to a second successive defeat, though it was not for the want of trying at Nottingham Forest; they had a goal disallowed, twice hit the underside of the crossbar and Declan Rice saw a penalty saved. Moyes said he hopes their Europa Conference League playoff first leg at home to Viborg on Thursday will help them establish some rhythm after a disappointing start. It is a game that could also see Gianluca Scamacca and Maxwel Cornet, two of West Ham’s five summer signings, handed starts. West Ham have struggled for goals in pre-season and they are pointless and goal-less so far this campaign. “We’re a wee bit slow, a wee bit behind it,” Moyes said. “We might just take a bit of time to get up and running. We’re still finding our way at the moment.” Ben Fisher

Match report: Nottingham Forest 1-0 West Ham

4) Haaland is changing City’s style

Erling Haaland had eight touches in Saturday’s cruise against Bournemouth, a surprise to many considering how much possession City enjoyed. The Norwegian, however, did remarkable work to set up Ilkay Gündogan’s opener with two of his touches. He is not there to be part of the buildup every time – Pep Guardiola has signed him to score. “I think he did well today. If he doesn’t score they will say it but he set up the first goal, he had a couple of chances and he was there,” Kevin De Bruyne said. “He helped us make these chances, he did what he had to do and on another day he will score. It’s all good for me.” Haaland scored twice at West Ham and his career record speaks for itself. There is no doubt his arrival has changed City’s style, which will keep opponents on their toes. The focus should be on what he does, rather than what he doesn’t do. Will Unwind.

Match report: Manchester City 4-0 Bournemouth

5) Buendía makes case to start for Villa

Steven Gerrard took exception to being told that Aston Villa are a much better team with Emiliano Buendía and that the Argentinian playmaker must be a regular starter. “You don’t pick my team,” the Villa manager told his post-match inquisitor, albeit with a smile. Villa were more polished and inventive after Buendía replaced the injured Philippe Coutinho against Everton, the former Liverpool and Barcelona player again showing flashes of quality but flattering to deceive overall. It was not only Buendía’s goal that pressed his claims for inclusion at Crystal Palace next Saturday. “We’ve got good options in the final third,” said Gerrard. “Emiliano is one of them and he will start games for me. He was winning the race to start the season and got a muscle injury behind closed doors against Fulham. That forced him out for a week and his training was not at the same level when he came back. I’ve done the right thing by Emiliano in protecting his health, first and foremost, but he will get his starts.” Andy Hunter

Match report: Aston Villa 2-1 Everton

6) Caicedo bossing Brighton’s midfield

Despite losing his best players in consecutive summers, Graham Potter does not have free rein to spend. Instead, he has to turn inward. Yves Bissouma’s departure left a considerable midfield hole to plug, and the 20-year-old Moisés Caicedo is filling it nicely. Already a seasoned Ecuador international, Caicedo spent the first half of last season on loan at the Belgian side Beerschot. But in 10 starts since his debut, Brighton have lost just once – at the Etihad – conceding only nine. His work on the ball needs polishing, but off it he gleams already. On Saturday, having dominated the midfield at Old Trafford on the opening weekend, Caicedo was at it again. Bruno Guimarães was twice stopped, as was Allan Saint-Maximin in full flight. Promising signs. Sam Dalling

Match report: Brighton 0-0 Newcastle

7) Rodgers hungry for summer signings

Brendan Rodgers didn’t try to hide his frustration at Leicester’s lack of new arrivals after seeing the Arsenal new boy Gabriel Jesus orchestrate a 4-2 victory on Saturday. Having made the goalkeeper Alex Smithies their first signing of the window last week on a free transfer, financial difficulties mean the club that finished fifth in successive seasons and won the FA Cup in 2021 must sell players first before any recruitment is possible, with Chelsea expected to follow up on their interest in Wesley Fofana this week. “It’s just unfortunate because I’m an ambitious coach and I came here to challenge the established order at the top end of the league. But for that you need to constantly evolve and improve,” Rodgers said. “But I respect the club and I trust the club and if we can’t then my focus goes on to the existing players we have and trying to maximise their potential.” Ed Aarons

Match report: Arsenal 4-2 Leicester

8) New arrivals bolster Saints’ attack

Any suggestion Ralph Hasenhüttl has lost the Southampton dressing room was swiftly dispelled by the way his team rallied to deny Leeds. His use of the bench, with the team trailing 2-0 in the second half, was inspired with the summer signings Joe Aribo and Sékou Mara heavily involved in their comeback. These two attacking players could have a significant role to play if Southampton are to avoid a season of struggle. Hasenhüttl must be tempted to quickly integrate them into the team because their impact was instrumental in the turnaround at St Mary’s. Aribo’s goal and Mara’s assist for the equaliser offered a potential blueprint for Southampton to develop their attacking game. The loss of Armando Broja, after his return to Chelsea, and an over-reliance on the set-piece brilliance of James Ward-Prowse need to be addressed and perhaps Aribo and Mara can offer the dynamism needed in the final third. Simon Mail

Match report: Southampton 2-2 Leeds

9) Fulham show steel if not cutting edge

If Fulham were too lightweight for the Premier League under Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri, then too leaden under Scott Parker, early signs suggest they have struck a better balance under Marco Silva. Having opened the campaign with a battling 2-2 draw against Liverpool, they were similarly feisty at Wolves. While they showed their squishier side in the first half – the back four leaving Marek Rodak to sweep up against Pedro Neto and Hwang Hee-chan before he made a mess of his own, taking out Tosin Adarabioyo and almost allowing Daniel Podence to score – they looked much more muscular after the break. Aleksandar Mitrovic sailed close to the wind, as ever, when he clashed with Morgan Gibbs-White in injury time, avoiding a red card more by luck than judgment as the pent-up frustration of his squandered penalty spilled over. Silva can still be pleased with an assertive second-half performance and a first clean sheet of the campaign, even if José Sá denied his side a first win. Will Magee

Match report: Wolves 0-0 Fulham

10) Blues need new striker to complete squad

Chelsea were far better than Tottenham, outnumbering and outplaying them in midfield – control which meant they dominated in wide areas too. But they still lack a reliable scorer, and for as long as that remains the case, it’s hard to see them winning enough games to seriously challenge for the title. Perhaps Raheem Sterling will fill the gap, but the sense persists that he is better deployed out wide. Although he can be relied upon for a decent number of goals a season, nothing we’ve seen from him suggests that his finishing is sufficiently accomplished to regularly make the difference when it gets tight. Even before N’Golo Kanté got injured, it was easy to understand why Thomas Tuchel wanted Frenkie de Jong for his midfield – he’s of an entirely different order to Jorginho – but he would be better advised to find the best striker for his system and spend whatever it takes to bring him to the Bridge. DH

Pos Team P GD Pts

1 Man City 2 6 6

2 Arsenal 2 4 6

3 Brentford 2 4 4

4 Tottenham Hotspur 2 3 4

5 Newcastle 2 2 4

6 Leeds 2 1 4

7 Chelsea 2 1 4

8 Brighton 2 1 4

9 Aston Villa 2 -1 3

10 Nottm Forest 2 -1 3

11 AFC Bournemouth 2 -2 3

12 Fulham 2 0 2

13 Liverpool 1 0 1

14 Wolverhampton 2 -1 1

15 Leicester 2 -2 1

16 Southampton 2 -3 1

17 Everton 2 -2 0

18 Crystal Palace 1 -2 0

19 West Ham 2 -3 0

20 Man Utd 2 -5 0


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