The Premier League has been picking up pace over the last three weeks but just when we were getting started we’ve hit an international break, after the misery which was Euro 2016 I’m not too sure if all that many people are excited about the prospect of a week of international football but it does give time to reflect the top 6 stories from week 3 of this seasons Premier League action. So without further ado here is what made the headlines over the course of the weekend.
Hazard sends out a warning
Chelsea may have won their first two matches of the season but in both early encounters they had left it late and had Diego Costa to thank for snatching all three points against both West Ham and Watford. Saturday was a completely different story as Antonio Conte’s side recorded their third win a row and it seems as if Eden Hazard has recaptured the form that led Chelsea to the title back in 2015. It was the Belgian’s early opener which set the tide for the day as Burnley were simply outclassed in West London. Sean Dyche’s came to Stamford Bridge off the back of upsetting Liverpool at Turf Moor the week before but any hopes of lightning striking twice were easily extinguished by Hazard’s wonderful curling strike from outside the area. Willian doubled the advantage before the break while Victor Moses looks like he’ll finally be able to spend a season at Stamford Bridge and spend another season on loan elsewhere as he wrapped up the scoring late on. N’Golo Kante was worth every penny of his £32m transfer fee on Saturday as he was imperious in midfield, I think it’s fair to say that Chelsea have finally found the new Makelele that they have been looking for. It was always going to be a clash of styles in this game and unfortunately Burnley’s grit and determination was no match for Chelsea’s flair and easy on the eye football. That win puts Chelsea 2nd behind early pacesetters Manchester City, they look like a sure fire bet for finishing in the Top 3 the question now is exactly what place will they finish come the end of the season.
Raheem gives a Sterling performance
Another player who seems to be going through somewhat of a renaissance as of late is Raheem Sterling. The former Liverpool man which much maligned for his performances for England over the Summer and truth be told his form had been patchy in the final few weeks of Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City reign but after a brace against West Ham on Sunday it seems as if the transformation is now very much complete. He started and finished the scoring against Slaven Bilic’s side to give City a maxium points haul from the first three games and Pep Guardiola’s side sit top going into the international break. The win over West Ham may come at a price though with summer signing John Stones picking up an injury while Sergio Aguero he himself now out of Argentina’s World Cup Qualifiers due to a knock is now walking a potential disciplinary tightrope after elbowing Winston Reid. He may have got away with a Red Card on Sunday but he may not be so lucky when the F.A. give their verdict as to whether or not he will face retrospective action. The upshot of that is he could very well miss the Manchester Derby on September 10th when not only will Guardiola and Jose Mourinho go head to head but someone’s 100% record will have to go.
United go to Hull and back with all three points
They may have left it late but Manchester United are third side to take in a maximum points haul into the international break. For all the hype that has surrounded both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba as of late it was the wonderkid from last season Marcus Rashford who not only grabbed the headlines but also grabbed all three points with a last minute winner against Hull. It was an incredibly unfair result for Mike Phelan’s side as they looked like they had done enough to not only gain a point but continue their impressive unbeaten start. Curtis Davies defensive heroics were unfortunately not to be rewarded as Rashford was on hand to break Hull hearts and tap home from close range in the driving rain. Hull fans left dejected while United fans were jubilant as they managed to snatch what at one point seemed an unlikely three points. It was harsh on Hull but they will take some solace from the start of their season as not many people gave them hope of picking up a single point let alone six. If they can add a couple of new faces before the end of the window then they may have half a chance of staying up, that said the sooner they can make Mike Phelan’s appointment permanent the better, as for United and Mourinho the hope is that none of his stars pick up a knock on international duty with the all important Manchester derby just around the corner.
Tottenham and Liverpool look devoid of Top 4 quality
A result that neither team would have really wanted and arguably one that Tottenham didn’t really deserve. That said the fact that Liverpool not only failed to keep another clean sheet but kill the game off when they were in charge for the opening 60 minutes will cause concern for Jurgen Klopp as on the evidence of Saturday Lunchtime’s game both Tottenham and Liverpool look like they may struggle to reach the Top 4 and subsequently earn a spot in the Champions League. Mauricio Pochettino will have goalkeeping understudy Michel Vorm to thank for keeping his side in the game when it could very well have been a foregone conclusion by half time. Spurs left themselves exposed throughout the game as both sides looked to counter they other, it set an almost frenetic tempo but one that also created somewhat of a stop start game as both teams pressing game was often disjointed by countless misplaced passes. Another cause for concern for Pochettino will be that Harry Kane and Dele Alli are still in what seems to a post Euro 2016 slump, the hope was that once the pair were back in the White Hart Lane fold then they would bounce back to the form that led the North London side to 3rd place last season but that unfortunately hasn’t been the case. The balance of the team looks to be unsettled at the moment and it’s amazing the difference not having Mousa Dembele in the side seems to make, he can’t return soon enough. As for Liverpool their inconsistency and failure to kill off teams will once again be their undoing this season. If they are to have any chance of a successful campaign then Klopp has to rid his side of those two key traits.
The Gunners finally firing
It took them until Week 3 of the season but Arsenal have finally chalked up their first win of the season thanks to a 3-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road, The Gunners surged into a comfortable 3-0 lead before the break but they were tested after the restart by a resurgent Watford who made life difficult for Arsene Wenger’s side and managed to get at least 1 goal back, had they managed to get another one then it could have set up a nervy end. It showed an Arsenal who were resolute at the back and didn’t crumble when wave after wave of Watford pressure was heaped open them in the second half and that will no doubt please the Arsenal Manager, also his striking experiment of Alexis Sanchez finally bore fruit as he got Arsenal’s 2nd goal of the afternoon and his 1st goal of the season. If you add that win to the fact that Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi are due to sign before the end of the window and it seems as if they murmurs of discontent from Arsenal fans would have been somewhat pacified. For Watford and Walter Mazzari they are still looking for their first win of this campaign, the problem for Mazzari is that he doesn’t quite know his best 11 just yet but if he doesn’t find it out quickly that it could be a difficult season for The Hornets.
Leicester outfox Swansea
Champions Leicester are also celebrating their first win of the season thanks to a 2-1 win over Swansea at The King Power Stadium on Saturday Afternoon. The game was played in a deluge of rain in at times somewhat farcical conditions but you have to give credit to modern day pitches that are able to withstand a downfall of rain of almost biblical propotions to allow the game to be completed. Claudio Ranieri isn’t talking about a defence of the title he just wants to get to the first target of 40 points and at the international break they are 10% there thanks to the 4 points they have picked up from their opening games. The 2-1 scoreline suggests a close game but Leicester made it harder than it needed to be after going ahead through Jamie Vardy, captain Wes Morgan then doubled the lead soon after the break with close range volley. They then had the perfect opportunity to seal all three points but Riyad Mahrez missed his 3rd penalty from his last 4 efforts. That gave Swansea a glimmer of hope and even more so when Leroy Fer got his second of the season to set up a grandstand finish. Leicester held out but it came at a price as Kasper Schmeichel had to come off injured he’ll be hoping he isn’t out for too long especially with Leicester’s Champions League adventure about to start. For Swansea their forward line is yet to score a goal this season with Fer the only man to find the net for The Swans a lack of goals from the forwards could be a big issue for Francesco Guidolin’s side this season.