Stand-out Result: Newcastle 0 Brighton 3
In an unexpected (and quite costly to my Fantasy teams) performance and result at St. James’ Park, Newcastle’s summer and opening game optimism has come crashing down following this weekend’s home defeat to fellow expected relegation battlers Brighton.
Brighton were notably unlucky to come out of their home defeat to Chelsea in their opening fixture, but there was no hangover and Brighton’s Graham Potter was keen to emphasise progress from The Gulls.
Whilst a victory away at Newcastle tells no-one how good any one team is, the turnaround in fortunes for both teams reiterated what everyone knows about the Premier League – we know nothing.
Stand-out Performance: Neal Maupay (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
Neal Maupay ended last season well, finishing his opening Premier League season with 10 goals and already off the mark this season with a quick brace. To those less informed, Brighton is not Maupay’s first English team and following his one successful season with Championship Brentford is now only one goal short of 50 in English football. His performance and goals should not be underestimated, and is definitely one to consider for the fantasy football teams at £6.5m.
[Kane, Son, Calvert-Lewin may have outscored Maupay but their performances were less of a surprise and against open defences]
Stand-out Mistakes: Southampton Defence
Following a 9-0 home battering by Leicester last season, it was firstly a surprise then a commendation for Southampton that they stuck with Coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, having shown significant improvement in the second half of the season and leaving the relegation zone to finish a credible 11th place.
Having watched Southampton capitulate this weekend 5-2 at home to Spurs, leaving their half of the field to Heung-Min Son, it’s easy to see how a 9-0 defeat could occur against a potent counter-attacking force such as Leicester. What’s more concerning is they do not appear to have resolved this longer term issue, and how no-one on field appeared remotely flustered or determined to prevent it happening with each attack.
With Spurs fielding the former Saints midfielder Hojberg, could we see this level of performance occur more regularly with Southampton this season? It will take a lot more than a midfield maestro to fix this weekend’s issues and perhaps Hasenhüttl won’t be so fortunate next time.
In Form: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Ancelotti’s presence at Goodison Park last season did nothing to overwhelm even the most optimistic of Toffee fans, however there was definite ground work laid for this season’s progress not come as a surprise. Last season’s dedicated 4-4-2 with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin upfront had its moments, but with three new star midfielders joining in Allen, Doucoraye and James Rodriquez it was unknown what to expect in shape and personnel but it would appear that Ancelotti has not just faith but expectation in Calvert-Lewin’s ability to lead his Everton attack, build a relationship with the creative force of Rodriguez and fire Everton into the Champions League.
In making comparison’s to his former no. 9 Filippo Inzaghi, he’s not exaggerating the effect that Calvert-Lewin can have for Everton, but also within the England squad.
Out of Form: All Defences
A lot was said regarding player fitness and level of performance when Premier League football was rushed back from the Covid-19 Lockdown in June, and much analysis was placed on the lack of fans and subsequent lack of home advantage given the increase in average points for the away teams both domestically and abroad. However nothing was seen then, as we have seen now, of the leap in number of goals in this new season.
The obvious guesses are in a lack of match practice for new defensive lines, attempting new tactics in the season break both for forwards and defences – that strikers can create chances and goals from nothing, but the reversal relies on organisation and structure. Whatever the abiding reason for the mammoth excitement of net busting games all weekened, I believe it’s hear to stay. Whilst the season is early, there is less to lose for chasing a game at 0-0 or having fallen behind, and whilst there’s a chance of teams such as Liverpool and Manchester United conceding three goals at home it is worth chasing the comeback.
Clean Sheets are not a thing of the past – but perhaps like the second wave of Covid-19 – Lockdowns won’t return until the end of Autumn.