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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Premier League August Review: Liverpool on top; Watford, Tottenham impress

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho became the talk of the town after the Portuguese walked out of the press conference following his team’s loss to Tottenham.

football Updated: Aug 31, 2018 15:10 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield on August 25, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield on August 25, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)

The Premier League season is just three weeks old and already, the fans have received a sneak peek of what this season has to offer – both on and off the field. While the on-field conversation was mainly dominated by Liverpool’s attacking brilliance, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho became the talk of the town after the Portuguese walked out of the press conference following his team’s loss to Tottenham. So, here’s a look at the main talking points in the Premier League at the end of August.

Perfect Liverpool

Most experts were confident that this season’s title fight will be between Liverpool and Manchester City with both teams looking extremely strong on paper. Although Manchester City did drop points against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool looked in tremendous form in all three matches. With 7 goals from 3 matches, the duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have found their groove pretty early in the season and the inclusion of Nabi Keita in the midfield means more creative options for Jurgen Klopp. However, the most impressive part about the Reds has been their defense which has still not conceded a single goal. With youngsters like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez getting regular starts, the defense has looked quite comfortable for most parts and this can be the difference maker this season.

Arsenal, Manchester United struggle

Jose Mourinho is well known for his media outbursts and with two defeats in the first three matches, it was no surprise that the ‘Special One’ was a bit annoyed. The signs were there after United lost to Brighton but the defeat against Tottenham was the final straw as the Portuguese demanded respect from the press before walking out. However, what must be bothering Mourinho more than the media’s questions will be his team’s leaky defense. With just 3 points from 3 games, they conceded three times against Brighton and in the next match, they were one again completely outplayed by Harry Kane & Co. Even before the season started, Mourinho made it clear that he was not happy with the club’s transfer policy and with the team struggling right now, it looks like his concerns were not completely unfounded.

Things are not much better in Arsenal but new manager Unai Emery will certainly feel hard done by the fixtures. Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger at the Emirates, is still trying to find his perfect XI but back-to-back losses against Manchester City and Chelsea was not what he needed at the start of his stint. The Gunners looked weak while defending against top-class attacks and the headlines were mainly dominated by Emery’s alleged altercation with German midfielder Mesut Ozil. Arsenal did get their first win of the season against West Ham but a lot needs to change for them to start dreaming of top-4 again.

Manchester City and the need for VAR

At a time when most leagues around the world are trying to implement the Video Assistant Referee, Manchester City’s draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers showed once again how the technology can help the sport. The defending champions gave it their all but at the end of the day, they were hard done by two decisions that went against them. First, it was the ball bundled into the net by French defender Willy Boly to give Wolves an unlikely lead. Then David Silva was denied a penalty in what the Spaniard was convinced was a foul against him in the box. VAR could have been called upon to help the match officials make the right decision on both occasions. With 8 goals from the first two games, Sergio Aguero & Co looked in sublime form and they will be looking to get past this controversy as soon as possible.

Contrasting wins for Chelsea, Tottenham

It was business as usual for Chelsea and Tottenham as they won all three of their matches but the situations could not have been more different for the London neighbours. Tottenham went into the new season with no new additions and Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked completely in control. The team, which had a number of players returning from the World Cup, looked quite comfortable and their dominant win against Manchester United was a clear indication of their title aspirations this season.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are still finding their groove under Maurizio Serri and although they ended Gameweek 3 with full points, the victorious were far from comfortable. The defense looked quite shaky against Arsenal in the second game and with Eden Hazard not starting the first two matches, the midfield was not quite at their creative best and that is one area that will be bothering the new boss.

Watford surprises all

Watford are looking to win their first four league matches of a season for only the second time in their history after the 1988-89 campaign when they were in the second tier. That is a huge achievement for a team that were considered as relegation contenders at the start of the new season. Roberto Pereya – the former Juventus midfielder – has been the main man for Warford as he has been directly involved in seven of their last 10 goals, scoring six and setting up another. Defender Jose Holebas also had a brilliant ouring against Crystal Palace and at Vicarage Road, his two assists turned him into a cult hero.

Relegation contenders

At this point, the last three positions in the table are occupied by Burnley, Huddersfield and West Ham. Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham are the surprise visitors to the danger zone as the Hammers spent a lot in the transfer market and although they had good shows against Arsenal and Bournemouth, they have leaked way too goals. On the other hand, Burnley and Huddersfield struggled in all of their matches and it is no surprise that the relegation favourities are languishing at the bottom of the league table.

Player of the Month

Roberto Pereyra (Watford) – The Argentinian has been the messiah for Watford and it is mainly because of his brilliant run of form that they have nine points from three matches. Pereyra began the season with a brace against Brighton and then, followed it up with another threatening show during his team’s 3-1 victory over Burnley. Before that game, Pereyra was involved in each of Watford’s previous six Premier League goals and with five goals in his last six games at Vicarage Road, it was his two assists and one goal that handed Watford a much-needed win over Crystal Palace in their last league encounter.