A review of Week 4 of the English Premier League including four wins from four for Liverpool at Leicester, Watford at home to Spurs, and Chelsea at home against Newcastle.
Leicester 1 v 2 Liverpool
Pre Match Odds
The bookies got this one right, just.
The first goal was always going to dictate the flow at the King Power. Had it gone to Leicester then the fervent support of the former champions may have blown them past the tape in first, but an opener for Liverpool, who have not lost an away game for two years after taking the lead, would have been disastrous.
It turned out to be the latter.
From the outset, Liverpool swarmed over Leicester like killer bees on a stray dog in a woeful 80s B movie, and they should have taken the lead within the first five minutes. Mohamed Salah put Roberto Firmino through one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel, but the dynamic Dane blocked the shot only for it to fall to the feet of Salah who missed an open goal from eight yards.
Five minutes later, and Sadio Mané didn’t make the same mistake.
Andrew Robertson was too quick for Ricardo Perreira, and the ensuing cross was planted into the back of the net by the Senegalese international.
And then a lull.
Liverpool uncharacteristically sat back, and Leicester moved into the space to apply some hometown pressure. And then, on the stroke of half-time, against the run of play, Liverpool looked like they had put the game to bed with a dummy in its mouth.
James Milner sent a corner into the jukebox, and Firmino rose higher than James Maddison to send Liverpool into the half-time interval two goals to the good. It was Milner’s 80th Premier League assist, pulling level with David Beckham no less.
The second half belonged to the Foxes, but without Jamie Vardy spearheading the attack, they didn’t have the cutting edge needed to beat one of the best-drilled defences in the league.
And then this happened.
Alisson picked up a weak back from Virgil van Dijk towards the left-hand side of his goal. Kelechi Iheanacho pressed, the Brazilian tried a Cruyff turn, Iheanacho picked his pocket, made him look like a mug, squared for Rachid Ghezzal, and the Algerian pulled one back for Claude Puel’s team.
It was a horrendous mistake from the man who cost Liverpool £67m in the summer, but Liverpool made it to the end of the game without the net bustling again, and Jürgen Klopp was supportive of his keeper during the post-match assessment.
“It was clearly going to happen one day,” said Klopp. It’s ok.”
Liverpool won their fourth successive game for the first time in 28-years.
Liverpool sits on the top of the league.
Liverpool beat a strong side while playing well below par.
Of course, it’s ok, for now.
Watford 2 v 1 Spurs
Pre Match Odds
If you had put a tenner on Watford beating Spurs at Vicarage Road to win their fourth consecutive game, you would have seen a £52.50 return on investment.
You would have also earned a seat in a wheelchair.
Watford has had a great start to the season. Fairytale stuff. It took Javi Garcia 16 matches to win five games for Watford. He has now won the first four of the season and registered Watford’s first victory over Spurs in the league for 31 years.
Spurs had the first chance. Toby Alderweireld sent Dele Alli through on goal with a long punt from the back, and the English midfielder looped a header over Ben Foster only for it to drop the wrong side of the post.
Moments later, and Darryl Janmaat, who was excellent all game, broke free down the flank, sent a ball into the box and Troy Deeney sent his header over the bar under pressure from the Spurs defence.
It was a scrappy game, and it produced an equally scrappy opener, eight minutes into the second half.
Lucas Moura put in a dangerous low cross after some tippy-tappy work from Christian Eriksen and Alli, and the ball rebounded past Foster off the chest of Abdoulaye Doucouré to give Spurs the lead.
Watford didn’t melt.
They reacted brilliantly, Deeney, used his strength to barge past a Spurs defender, before whistling a cross into the box that hit the bar after cannoning off the head of Alderweireld.
And then the goal.
The referee penalised Moussa Dembele for a bodycheck on Will Hughes. José Holabas sent the ensuing free kick into the box, and the imperious Deeney stuck it into the back of the net.
And then, with 76 minutes gone on the big stadium clock, Holabas did it again, this time from a corner, and Craig Cathcart nutted the ball home at the near post.
Harry Kane, a ghost in this one, sent a header over the bar from six yards as time ebbed away, but in the end, it was a comfortable win, with Watford only letting 32 crosses find a Spurs’ body part.
“We made a mistake in the way we tried to play,” Pochettino told the press after the defeat.
The Spurs dressing room would have felt like a cemetery, especially after their dominant display against Man Utd last time out. Jermaine Jenas nailed it during his Match of the Day shift when he said he has never seen Spurs play poorly and win.
It’s a vital ingredient for a title-winning side.
Chelsea joins Liverpool and Watford as the third side to achieve a perfect four from four after two late goals from Pedro and Eden Hazard were enough to beat a strong Bournemouth side at Stamford Bridge. Man City remain undefeated thanks to a stunning strike from Kyle Walker, his first for the club. The former Spurs defender, scored the winner after Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring, and DeAndre Yedlin had equalised.
The pressure eased on Jose Mourinho as Man Utd beat Burnley at Turfmoor. It was a comprehensive victory, but the Special One would have wanted United to have been more clinical. Romelu Lukaku bagged a brilliant brace. Marcus Rashford, whom Mourinho later called a naive kid, was sent off for brushing his forehead against the experienced Phil Bardsley.
At the other end of the table, West Ham remains pointless after Adama Traore came off the bench to score a 93rd-minute winner for Wolves, piling even more pressure on Manuel Pellegrini, who is still seeking his first win since replacing Slaven Bilic.
Here are the fixtures in full:
Fixtures in Full
Leicester 1 v 2 Liverpool
Crystal Palace 0 v 2 Southampton
Everton 1 v 1 Huddersfield
Brighton 2 v 2 Fulham
Chelsea 2 v 0 Bournemouth
West Ham 0 v 1 Wolves
Man City 2 v 1 Newcastle
Cardiff 2 v 3 Arsenal
Watford 2 v 1 Spurs
Burnley 0 v 2 Man Utd
Premier League Table
1. Liverpool – 12
2. Chelsea – 12
3. Watford – 12
4. Man City – 10
5. Spurs – 9
6. Bournemouth – 7
7. Everton – 6
8. Leicester – 6
9. Arsenal – 6
10. Man Utd – 6
11. Wolves – 5
12. Southampton – 4
13. Fulham – 4
14. Brighton – 4
15. Crystal Palace – 3
16. Cardiff – 2
17. Huddersfield – 2
18. Newcastle – 1
19. Burnley – 1
20. West Ham – 0
Premier League Winner Odds
Man City 4/6
Man Utd 40/1
Premier League Relegation Odds
West Ham 9/4