Cavani, Mbappe and Neymar feature alongside Lee Cattermole and Donyell Malen in this eclectic weekly roundup.
Former Arsenal youth player Malen kicks off the Seven Points – he made a dramatic impact for current club PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against BATE Borisov, coming off the bench to clinch a 3-2 away win for the Dutch side in the 89th minute. Not only that, he did so with his first touch; the 19-year-old mostly plied his trade with PSV’s youth outfit last campaign, but this was a stylish way to announce himself in the senior side with his first goal. PAOK Athens, meanwhile, are in the driving seat in their Champions League playoff tie with Benfica: they left Portugal with a creditable 1-1 draw. Victory for the Greek side would do Liverpool a favour, as it would see them bumped up to Pot 2 for the group stage draw.
Liverpool stalwart Steven Gerrard may well have had one eye on those proceedings, but his main priority is his fledgling managerial career with Rangers. It has begun very well, and he continued the fine form with a 1-0 victory over FC Ufa in a Europa League playoff. It was one of Gerrard’s new men, Connor Goldson, who scored the goal to secure the win. The Scottish giants are now firm favourites to reach the Europa League proper, although the trip to Russia will not be easy. They may not go into it brimming with confidence, after a late Motherwell equaliser in a 3-3 classic at the weekend robbed Rangers of a win in the league.
Wigan also enjoyed themselves in midweek, hammering Stoke 3-0 in a comfortable win. A certain Will Grigg bagged himself a brace – his goalscoring form shows no signs of slowing down, and he is gradually managing to establish himself as more than merely a viral sensation. He boasts a league goal tally of 49 in the previous three seasons, and has already added three more in this campaign. His continued form has earned him a recall to the Northern Ireland squad for the upcoming international fixtures. Stoke, meanwhile, have not found the transition to Championship football a seamless one; anybody who was labouring under the notion that they would coast back to the top flight has been quickly disabused of it. It is Bielsa’s Leeds that continue to shine, and they top the table after five games.
Wolves were last season’s runaway Championship winners, and they showed at the weekend that they will not be bullied in the top flight. Espirito Santo’s men produced an admirable performance against Manchester City, going toe-to-toe with the league champions rather than meekly sitting off them. The aggressive press forced multiple errors from the City defence, and for large swathes of the match Wolves looked the more likely to score. The breakthrough eventually came in controversial circumstances, with Boly appearing to handle the ball beyond Ederson, but Wolves deserved their luck. They could not quite hold on to the lead, as City also struck from a set-piece, but a point is a hugely impressive result for the newly-promoted side.
This was the first Premier League game Wolves have been involved in which did not feature a red card, but the other games this weekend more than compensated. A vicious Saturday saw four reds, the highest total in a single match-week since five were shown in week 29 of the 15/16 season. Richarlison was dismissed for a soft but nonetheless unacceptable headbutt on Adam Smith, who was later also sent off for a last-man foul on Theo Walcott. Jonathan Hogg saw red following a scuffle with Harry Arter in the box, while Hojbjerg picked up the most comical sending-off of the day. The Southampton man received his marching orders after getting a second yellow card for simulation, having theatrically thrown himself to the ground in the box. Leicester went on to win 2-1.
Lee Cattermole has seen more than his fair share of cards over the years, but he was making headlines in Sunderland for the right reasons this week. He scored both goals in a 2-1 triumph over AFC Wimbledon in League One, inspiring the Black Cats to a second-half comeback after they had fallen behind. Remarkably, this little flurry of goalscoring activity surpassed his tally from each of the previous four seasons combined – it is fair to say that this new, lethal Cattermole has come somewhat out of the blue! Sunderland fans will not be complaining, however: they find themselves second in the table.
There were more familiar names on the scoresheet as PSG ran out 3-1 winners over Angers. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring upon his return from injury; a penalty for the away side meant that the teams went in level, but after the break it was time for the rest of the front three to come out to play. Mbappé restored the lead shortly after half-time, before Neymar got in on the act in the 66th minute. Not for no reason are they the most expensive attack ever assembled – all three of them showed their quality. The big question is whether it can translate into success in the Champions League.