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Aston Villa Show That They Belong, Man United Keep Faltering & More: 10 Talking Points From Matchweek 7

From Wolverhampton Wanderers upsetting Manchester City to Tottenham Hotspur’s controversial win over Liverpool, matchweek 7 of the Premier League was not short of entertainment, drama and goals.

A total of 32 goals were scored across 11 games over the week, with just a game ending in a draw—Nottingham Forest vs Brentford. Despite Man City losing their 100 per cent record, they still remain at the top of the table.

Without further delay, let’s take a look at the 10 talking points from the Premier League matchweek 7.

#VAR nightmare costs luckless Liverpool

Referees’ body PGMOL was forced into a swift apology following full-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after VAR failed to intervene and award a deserved Liverpool goal in the first half.

Down to 10 men after Curtis Jones’ dismissal following VAR intervention, Luis Diaz raced in behind the Spurs backline and smashed a low shot beyond Guglielmo Vicario’s reach. Diaz was flagged offside on the field but replays quickly showed the Liverpool winger had been played on by Cristian Romero. To compound Liverpool’s misery, Tottenham soon took the lead through Son Heung-min.

Liverpool levelled things up at the stroke of half time through Cody Gakpo, then defended very well with nine men after Diogo Jota was harshly sent off. But their bad luck was rounded off in the stoppage time when Joel Matip sliced home Pedro Porro’s cross to hand Tottenham victory in the most dramatic fashion.

Liverpool fans have every right to feel aggrieved after Diaz’s goal was wrongly chopped off as it was not a failure of the VAR technology, though, but rather a human error in an area where the decision should have been a basic one.

#Man United continue to struggle

Manchester United’s terrible start to the new Premier League season continued with a 0-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace—days after beating them 3-0 in the Carabao Cup third round. This means Erik ten Hag’s side have now lost four of their first seven league matches for the first time since the 1989/90 campaign.

It is the first time Ten Hag has come under fire in his tenure at Old Trafford with the Dutchman leading Man Utd to a top-four finish and Carabao Cup trophy last term. The team has been hamstrung with a glut of injuries and there’s no fit left-back at the moment, but having spent millions again in the transfer window, Ten Hag needs to help United come out of this rut quickly. A rut which only deepened after Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to Galatasaray in the Champions League at home.

#Watkins-inspired Aston Villa smash Brighton

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins kicked into top gear against Brighton on Saturday. The Englishman had already scored a hat-trick in the Europa Conference League, but had just one league goal to his name before the weekend.

With England manager Gareth Southgate in attendance, Watkins turned up and produced a masterclass. He scored an eye-catching hat-trick as Aston Villa smashed Brighton 6-1 at Villa Park. With that, Watkins became the first Villa player to score two hat-tricks in one season in 47 years.

# Rodri’s absence felt as Man City shocked by Wolves

For six games, Manchester City were mechanically going about their business to the point that some of their closest challengers might have been tempted to give up already. Defeat at Newcastle in the Carabao Cup third round proved they could be stopped, though, and defeat at Wolves in the Premier League further reinforced it.

In both games, Rodri’s absence was clearly felt as Man City failed to take control of the game from midfield. Mateo Kovacic is a good player but his impact is nowhere close to Rodri’s, who would have been sitting at home on Saturday and regretting his actions in City’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

City travel to the Emirates Stadium without Rodri to face an in-form Arsenal before the international break. While the campaign is still in its early stages, if Arsenal can get a result against a team they lost heavily to last season—a result that practically halted their title challenge—it would boost their hopes of quelling City’s dominance this term.

#Arsenal rock sold on their travels

For all the talk about Arsenal failing to keep a clean sheet at home so far this season, there are no such concerns about their defensive form on the road in the Premier League.

The north London giants are yet to concede in an away league game this season and have seldom looked like doing so. At Bournemouth, though, they were in danger of conceding early on when Dominic Solanke was about to pull the trigger in front of goal. But thanks to William Saliba’s immaculate tackle on Solanke Arsenal’s clean sheet stayed intact.

From there on, Arsenal looked disciplined and composed at the back, barely allowing another chance, and instead, put four past the hapless Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto.

#Luton Town get their first Premier League win

A win and an all-round solid defensive performance at Everton means that Luton Town are officially up and running in the Premier League. The Hatters, who were written off by all and sundry before a ball was kicked this season, had one point before kick-off and had not experienced a top-flight victory in 31 years

Now with four points on the board, out of the relegation zone, and the first of the promoted trio to win a game in the top flight this season, this is a significantly high moment for Luton and their fans. Although it is still early days, the win against Everton will not stop Rob Edward’s men from dreaming of survival and defying all the odds.

The momentum though was brought to a halt on Tuesday with Burnley edging past them 1-2 to notch up their first win of the Premier League campaign of their own.

#Brentford all possession but no cutting edge

Brentford’s struggles to turn promise into points continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest on Sunday despite scoring first and playing against 10 men for most of the second half after Moussa Niakhate was sent off. This extended the Bees’ winless run in the league to five games.

Brentford have now dropped eight points from winning positions this term and rank second behind Everton for most big chances missed. The absence of last season’s third top-scorer in the league, Ivan Toney, who is serving a suspension for breaching FA betting rules, is starting to be felt at the west London club.

#Newcastle getting back their defensive solidity

When Newcastle United smashed Aston Villa 5-1 on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, it looked like Eddie Howe’s men were ready to kick on. After a few rough results, a lot of questions were raised about Newcastle that left Howe in a spot of bother. One of those was the Magpies’ poor defensive organisation and inability to stop conceding goals.

Newcastle’s successful last season was built on a strong, formidable defence. They had the joint-best defensive record in the division, conceding only 33 goals in 38 games. Howe’s side have now kept five shut-outs in a row, including the one which helped them dump Man City out of the Carabao Cup last week. And they followed it up with a clean 2-0 victory over Burnley at home in the league.

#The table looks ominous for Sheffield United

Sheffield United are clearly finding it difficult to compete in the Premier League following their promotion in May. The Blades will feel they should have more points but lost to late decisive goals against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, and were ahead after 97 minutes at Tottenham only to suffer a heartbreaking 2-1 loss.

Following the 8-0 hammering at the hands of Newcastle, Paul Heckingbottom’s position at the club has come under great scrutiny and the 2-0 loss to West Ham at the weekend hasn’t done any favours to him. Rooted at the bottom of the table and with games to come against Arsenal, Brighton and Liverpool after the upcoming international break, things are looking ominous for Heckingbottom and the Blades.

#Soucek looks reborn

Tomas Soucek was among the key performers in West Ham’s sixth-place finish in the 2020-21 campaign. The towering Czech Republic international offered physicality, steel, athleticism, and most importantly goals from midfield, with the 28-year-old finishing as the club’s joint-top scorer with 10 league goals.

Last season turned out to be poor for Soucek. His form looked to have dropped off massively from his impressive first 18 months at the London Stadium, and with the club signing Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse in the summer, he was no longer a guaranteed pick. However, the exit of Rice seems to have pumped new life into the Czech midfielder and this has been on show in recent games.

With Alvarez and Ward-Prowse holding the fort in midfield, and Lucas Paqueta shifting to an inside-left role, Soucek has been given the license to bomb forward and do what he does best, I.e. arrive late in the box and score goals. This was on show against Sheffield United at the weekend when he arrived late in the box between two defenders and stroked the ball easily past Wes Foderingham.

Rohan Sengupta

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