Who produced an “impressive performance” and who had an “ugly day” on the second weekend of the Premier League season?
Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Brighton were among the teams to pick up wins while Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham were beaten.
Here’s how we graded each side this weekend…
C Palace vs Liverpool
August 20, 2018, 7:00pm
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Manchester City – A+
Wow. Manchester City racked up the biggest points total the Premier League has ever seen last season and they’ve started even stronger this time around after Sunday’s 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield followed up last weekend’s win at Arsenal. Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick and David Silva sparkled on his first appearance of the season, but the frightening thing for their rivals is the range of options they have at their disposal. Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane were second-half substitutes, while Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling did not even make it onto the pitch. Kevin De Bruyne’s injury doesn’t feel like such a big problem all of a sudden… (Stephen Mills)
2:54 Highlights: Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield
Brighton – A
Brighton’s 3-2 home win over Manchester United did not just come down to energy and momentum; tactically, Chris Hughton’s side pressed and dropped back at the perfect times in the game, sniffing weaknesses in United’s backline after a visibly nervy start.
Glenn Murray, Pascal Gross and Anthony Knockaert were superb, harrying the United defence at every opportunity, forcing mistakes and winning the ball high up the pitch. Shane Duffy put in a monstrous performance for 94 minutes before giving away a late penalty, and sub Leon Balogun impressed having been thrown into the game early on through Lewis Dunk’s injury.
Brighton look good at home. The question is, can they repeat this against lesser sides, and away from home? (Gerard Brand)
Bournemouth – A-
The comeback kings lived up to their reputation at the London Stadium. Having recovered 21 points from losing positions last season, Bournemouth claimed their first three of the new campaign when beating West Ham 2-1.
A second win of the season for Bournemouth came thanks to an assured second-half display. Eddie Howe’s side did not panic when falling behind to Marko Arnautovic’s opener, and after Callum Wilson’s remarkable solo goal, Steve Cook capped off a fine game when steering in the winning header. (Michael Hincks)
3:00 Highlights: West Ham 1-2 Bournemouth
Watford – A-
Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Burnley was another impressive performance from Watford after they dispatched Brighton on the opening weekend, and they capitalised wonderfully on their hosts’ mistakes to strike at the perfect times. When they were put under pressure by the Clarets, they held firm and attack, there was some wonderful passing play on show. Moreover, Troy Deeney and Andre Gray look to have a superb understanding now after they struggled to connect last season and they could become the Premier League’s new star attacking duo if they continue in this vein. (Charlotte Marsh)
Spurs – A-
Mauricio Pochettino will have been delighted with what he saw from his side for the most part as barring a 15-minute period after half-time, they dominated their 3-1 Wembley win over Fulham. Kieran Trippier and Lucas Moura were particularly impressive, while Harry Kane finally got on the scoresheet in August. If there was one negative from the performance, it was that Spurs conceded for the second game in a row and Pochettino admitted that they had allowed Fulham to create too many opportunities. (Oliver Young-Myles)
2:57 Tottenham 3-1 Fulham highlights
Everton – B+
Marco Silva’s bright start to life at Everton continued as the new boss’ side produced the goods in relatively impressive style on Saturday, seeing off Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park. More clinical finishing would have earned them an A, but they were defensively solid for the most part and thoroughly deserved their win. (Ron Walker)
Cardiff – B
“Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve,” were the words of Cardiff manager Neil Warnock after the 0-0 draw at home to Newcastle. It could have been much worse for Cardiff if Kenedy had scored an injury-time penalty, but that would have been very harsh on the newly-promoted side, who had the better of the game and played the more positive football. (James Walker-Roberts)
Chelsea – B-
Despite the 3-2 win over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, there were some real warning signs for Maurizio Sarri, and he went as far as to admit after the game that Chelsea were not yet title contenders.
In a 20-minute period before half-time, Chelsea were all over the place defensively. They allowed an Arsenal side lacking in confidence into dangerous areas
When Chelsea press all over the pitch, they are capable of beating anyone. The second they dropped off, they looked incredibly weak. Balance is needed by Sarri’s men in the coming months. (Gerard Brand)
3:00 Highlights: Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal
Leicester – B-
While they had little say in Matt Doherty’s own-goal opener, it galvanised Leicester to be ahead and they rarely looked like conceding afterwards despite a busy opening 25 minutes in their 2-0 win over Wolves at the King Power Stadium.
Claude Puel took a break in play to reorganise his side in the first half and changed the system in the second which helped to solidify the side a bit more, as well as keeping Wolves at arm’s length after Jamie Vardy was sent off. But there are still improvements that need to be made under Puel – who will say he needs more time working with his new squad – and it was far from a memorable performance. (Charlotte Marsh)
2:59 Highlights: Leicester 2-0 Wolves
Wolves – C+
Overall, it was not a terrible performance from Wolves at the King Power, but luck did not seem to be on their side. They were denied by the crossbar three times and Kasper Schmeichel pulled off some good saves to keep them out, plus Matt Doherty’s own goal was a blow when they had been so strong in the opening 25 minutes or so. Even when Jamie Vardy was sent off, they could not find a way to penetrate Leicester’s defence during a frustrating afternoon.
After the game, manager Nuno Espirito Santo told his side they needed to believe they could score at any moment which is something they certainly lacked at the weekend. However, drawing 2-2 with Everton the previous week shows they know where the net is, and the manager will be hoping it is a rare blip. (Charlotte Marsh)
Southampton – C+
Mark Hughes has a lot of work to do if he wants Southampton to get anywhere near the levels they were at a few years ago. They lacked creativity at Everton and never really threatened again after pulling a goal back, but Danny Ings was one of their bright sparks in an otherwise largely dreary performance at Goodison Park. (Ron Walker)
West Ham – C
Two straight defeats to mark the start of the Manuel Pellegrini era, and the Hammers will be left ruing missed opportunities in the first half against Bournemouth. Arnautovic scored his opener from the spot, and could have had a second just before half-time, but West Ham were outclassed in the second half as the Cherries battled back. A “lack of trust” was to blame, according to Pellegrini, who is wary that Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all to come before the end of September. (Michael Hincks)
Burnley – C
While Sean Dyche may deny it, there was a bit of a Europa League hangover for Burnley. They performed well in the first half and should arguably have made their chances count then, but were entirely sucker punched by the early Watford goals. They struggled – and ultimately failed – to find a way around Watford’s defence and put in a rather tepid second-half showing.
There were also a few individual mistakes that crept into their play, which is unusual for a well-drilled Burnley outfit, and could be a sign of fatigue creeping in for a few players. Expect changes for the midweek trip to Olympiakos and more rotation against Fulham. (Charlotte Marsh)
2:21 Highlights: Burnley 1-3 Watford
Fulham – C
Another defeat for Fulham but there were some positives for Slavisa Jokanovic as his side showed plenty of character to get back into the game and had some promising opportunities in attack. One area where Fulham really struggled, though, was stopping deliveries from wide positions as both Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies had a major influence on proceedings. A point against a team that finished third last season would have been a bonus, but this kind of game won’t determine whether or not Fulham survive in the division. (Oliver Young-Myles)
Newcastle – C-
A point away from home should never be sniffed at, but Newcastle’s tepid performance at Cardiff left much to be desired. Disjointed and insipid are just two of the words that come to mind when describing the display, yet remarkably they still had the chance to come away with all three points. However, Kenedy’s woeful late penalty miss, and his performance, summed up their afternoon. (Jack Wilkinson)
2:59 Highlights: Cardiff 0-0 Newcastle
Arsenal – D
It was a case of déjà vu for Arsenal fans for the majority of their time at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. From the first minute, Arsenal were all over the place defensively, allowing Chelsea acres in the final third as Unai Emery set a high defensive line.
If Emery has come in to create balance and discipline, it wasn’t evident. Hector Bellerin was missing upfield for the first goal, the whole team were missing upfield for the second, and sub Alexandre Lacazette, who should have been fresh, gave Eden Hazard a free pass to waltz past him for the third.
Emery said after the game he knows his side must improve. The schedule has not been kind to them, but the question is, how long will it take to get back to an acceptable level? (Gerard Brand)
Manchester United – E
This was an ugly day for Jose Mourinho, after such a positive opening-day win over Leicester at Old Trafford. Defensively, they were a shambles, with the first two goals coming within just two minutes of each other, both courtesy of some lacklustre tracking and marking.
Eric Bailly, seen by many as United’s best defender, had his worst day at the office since signing, and Luke Shaw seems to take one step forward, one step back each week. As Paul Pogba said after the match, the attitude was off from the start.
But it wasn’t just the defence. Pogba looked off-kilter himself and anything but a leader, Anthony Martial didn’t pass his audition, and Juan Mata didn’t keep pace with the game. To name just a few.
A day to forget for United. (Gerard Brand)
Huddersfield – E
It’s hard to rate Huddersfield as they were blown away 6-1 by Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering champions and many sides might have suffered the same fate against a team of such quality. However, they were architects of their own demise at times, rarely stepping out and giving Manchester City’s defenders anything to think about while goalkeeper Ben Hamer should have done better with the crucial second goal from Gabriel Jesus and the third from Sergio Aguero. Next Saturday’s home game with Cardiff will probably tell us more about how their season is likely to go. (Stephen Mills)
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