Matchweek 7 of the Premier League produced some thrilling displays as the league table is starting to take shape after the early hitters are slowly starting to fade away. Champions Liverpool continued their winning form to once again come from behind to win at Anfield, while neighbours Everton faltered again under Carlo Ancelotti.
Manchester City dug deep to beat a well-drilled Sheffield United side 1-0, while Chelsea and Arsenal kept cleansheets and picked up wins to climb up the table. Arsenal’s win came at the expense of Manchester United, who looked insipid after the European high of beating Leipzig last Wednesday.
With that, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of Matchweek 7
Premier League Matchweek 7: Winners and Losers
Winner – Nat Phillips
The 23-year old centre-back was thrust into the limelight after Liverpool’s injury crisis at the back, and boy did he impress. It was clear from the past few games that opposition teams were going to play direct football to put Joe Gomez and co. under pressure, and Liverpool needed someone with good aerial presence to counteract that.
While Fabinho did well in the brief period after Virgil van Dijk’s injury, his own hamstring injury meant the Reds were a bit shorthanded. Rhys Williams was an option, but Nat Phillips, who impressed on loan for VfB Stuttgart in the second division of German football, was handed his full debut owing to his big physical presence at the back.
The towering centre-back dealt with all the aerial balls launched at the Liverpool defence, and was calm and assured with the ball at his feet. He won more aerial duels than any other player on the pitch and had a stellar debut.
Of course, he’s no van Dijk, but if he can this one aspect of the defending right, the Liverpool midfield can step in and mop up the second balls and make them a more solid outfit regardless of the injuries.
Losers – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United
The Red Devils were pretty much outplayed by Arsenal on Sunday, and it was a strange game as they never turned up. You would think that the manager and the players would go for the jugular having just beaten one of the best teams in Germany in convincing fashion, but they did not have that mentality, and that’s what has got so many Manchester United fans upset.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went with the diamond formation again as it was clear he just wanted to fit in as many midfielders as he could. There is growing pressure on the manager to make use of the players the club signed in the summer, so one could see this coming. The diamond never worked against Arsenal as it didn’t have the balance.
Arsenal’s full-backs were rarely troubled on the night, as the duo of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw aren’t good attacking full-backs, and they didn’t have service from Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, who played in the wide midfield roles.
Solskjaer will learn from this, but he is running out of time.
Winners – Southampton
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were full of gusto and energy against Aston Villa, and now find themselves third in the Premier League table. The Saints have started the season on a real high and look a different unit compared to the first few matchweeks of last season where the pressing was disjointed, and confidence was low.
It was a masterful display by James Ward-Prowse in particular whose free-kicks and set-pieces were inch-perfect and un-defendable. Usual suspect Danny Ings scored another well-take goal, but his injury late in the game will have the club worried as he has so often been their goal-getter.
Southampton let Villa scored thrice after taking a commanding 4-0 lead, but they can perhaps be forgiven as they rarely find themselves in such a position and certainly did not know how to react when Villa belatedly got their act together, but they did enough to pick up their fourth win of the season and climb up to fourth in the league table.
Losers – Everton
After a bright start to the season, the Toffees have now lost two games in a row and don’t look like the same confident, robust and free-flowing side they were in the opening few weeks. Richarlison’s absence has been felt, but Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman have also been missed as the two full-backs were so often the attacking outlets from the flanks.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominated possession against Newcastle United on Sunday, but couldn’t stop the Magpies on the transitions and were put to the sword. A late revival was on the cards, but they, unfortunately, ran out of time as Steve Bruce’s side dug deep to pick a much-needed win.
Winner – Gareth Bale
It was destined for Bale to come on and rescue Tottenham, and the clash against Brighton was almost the perfect occasion. The Seagulls played some good football after going behind to an early Harry Kane penalty, and were very much in the game until Bale came on.
It was a game that could have gone either way as Brighton were creating chances and were seeing a lot of the ball, but Bale’s introduction changed the outcome of the game and proved to be the difference.
He was at the right place, and at the right time to head home Sergio Reguilon’s cross and give Spurs the lead for the second time in the game. His overall contribution was impressive as well as he drove forward with pace, and when match-fit, he might be a real handful for teams, and an asset for Spurs.