EXCITEMENT for Round 9 of fixtures in the English Premier League (EPL) was tempered by news that football icon Bobby Charlton had passed away earlier in the day at the age of 86. He was among the few remaining survivors of England’s triumphant 1966 side that won the Jules Rimet trophy on home soil.
The news came too late for games to hold a minute’s silence prior to the start of matches, though tributes are expected in the coming week.
Here are the results from last night’s games:
Liverpool 2 v Everton 0
Mo Salah brace broke Everton’s dogged resistance in a Merseyside derby that saw yet another red card flash. It is the fixture with the most sending-offs in EPL history and Ashley Young was given his marching orders early on for two bookable offences.
Everton will be fuming that Ibrahim Konate escaped similar punishment and are also questioning the validity of the penalty given for handball. Jurgen Klopp, though, will be satisfied to return to winning ways after dropping points in the last two fixtures.
Chelsea 2 v Arsenal 2
This London derby will be remembered for two significant goalkeeping errors. Arsenal’s David Raya was caught off position allowing Mykhailo Mudryk to lob him for Chelsea’s second goal. Home supporters drenched in torrential rain could be forgiven for thinking their side were home and dry two-nil up but a late rally from the Gunners saw them share the spoils.
Arsenal will also have to thank Chelsea shot-stopper Robert Sanchez for his part in giving them a lifeline when his wayward pass was intercepted and expertly dispatched by Declan Rice. A pulsating encounter that put the brakes on Chelsea’s mini-revival.
Sheffield United 1 v Manchester United 2
Surely Manchester United would not contrive to lose to bottom side Sheffield United on the sad occasion of club legend Bobby Charlton’s passing. They certainly made hard work of it as the Blades belied their lowly position to show industry and perseverance, ending the first half on level terms.
Erik Ten Haag has many issues to solve, not least a forward line that is overly dependent on Marcus Rashford. They once again needed transfer-listed Scott McTominay to open the scoring before a Diogo Dalot stunner earned them all three points.
Newcastle United 4 v Crystal Palace 0
The Magpies made short work of The Eagles in this one-sided affair at St James Park. Crystal Palace were abject as they lacked application and more worryingly for boss Roy Hodgson, seemed to have any appetite for a scrap. Losing out to nearly all 50-50 balls and having only 39% of possession underlined the gulf in both sides’ ambitions.
Newcastle are beginning to flex their muscles after a few early-season disappointments, and they will be looking to take this form into European competition when they visit Borussia Dortmund in midweek.
Nottingham Forest 2 v Luton Town 2
It was a highly entertaining match that saw both sides attack with vigour and imagination. The home side ended the first half very much in control with two well-taken goals courtesy of Chris Wood. But Luton Town supporters will be heartened by the never-say-die spirit of their side as they clawed back with two late goals to earn a draw.
Such fighting spirit will give the Hatters hope that such battling displays could see them avoid a swift return to the Championship but better rear guard displays will be needed.
Bournemouth 1 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
The spotlight was very much on the return of Wolves boss Gary O’Neil to his old stomping grounds after being unceremoniously dumped last season. This result will have been extra sweet as the Bournemouth board had decided they wanted a more attacking brand of football and had gone for the exotic in the shape of Spaniard Adoni Iraola.
O’Neil had expertly guided the Cherries to safety last season and looks very likely to repeat the trick here with the Wolves. Bournemouth took the lead via Domic Solanke but were reduced to ten after Lewis Cook’s headbutt, allowing Wolves to take advantage of their numerical superiority.
Manchester City 2 v Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Manchester City had lost the last two fixtures and faced a tricky opponent in Brighton. After taking a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes, it looked like business as usual, with striker Erling Haaland adding to his tally. However, the Seagulls came to life in the second half and pressed with vigour, exploiting spaces in City’s normally ultra-tight defensive formations.
Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma once again underlined why he is being coveted by many big clubs by giving Kyle Walker a torrid afternoon with his dribbling wizardry. Ansu Fati, on loan from Barcelona, scored in the 73 minute to provide a grandstand finish but Brighton were unable to conjure an equaliser despite City being reduced to ten for the final minutes of the contest.
Brentford 3 v Burnley 0
The Bees were looking for their home win of the season and finally got it against a Burnley side that is looking increasingly out of their depth. Although the visitors matched Brentford for possession stats and pass accuracy, they only managed a solitary shot on target. The home side managed double figures and put away three, allowing them to climb away from the drop zone.
Vincent Kompany admitted the performance was well below par and Burnley were lucky to go into halftime just one goal down. Ultimately, Thomas Frank’s side showed what it takes to stay in this league: ruthlessness and clinical finishing to put games to bed. – Oct 22, 2023
Main photo credit: AP News