The football season is just two weeks old but already there has been plenty of drama with plenty of players and teams getting off to a flying start, whereas others look in danger of sinking. Here are five things we learned from the Premier League in week two.
Palace look in big trouble
After taking 13 of a possible 18 points against the promoted sides last season as well as achieving the sixth best away record in the division, Palace fans would have fancied their chances against the relegation favourites Sheffield United on Sunday. Instead they put in a diabolical performance, crashing to a 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane.
Despite boasting 57% of the possession, Palace only managed six shots in the match against Sheffield United’s 15 and were, ultimately, deserving losers. The Eagles offered very little going forward with the talismanic Wilfried Zaha largely anonymous throughout. He looked a shadow of the player who terrorised defences across the land last season and you have to wonder how much of a mental impact his summer transfer saga has taken on him.
We deemed Roy Hodgson to be one of the managers who may not last the season and, with fixtures against Man Utd, Spurs and Wolves in their next four games, Palace need to find a big improvement quickly or they, and Hodgson, could soon find themselves in big trouble.
Zaha is playing like a man who knows his best chance of a transfer is relegation ? pic.twitter.com/Ani76XE8Ks
— Colossus Bets (@ColossusBets) August 18, 2019
The impact of Chelsea’s transfer ban is becoming clear
They say that the sign of a good team is winning when playing badly. If that’s the case, what does it say about a team who fail to win despite seemingly playing well?
Chelsea were the better side in the early stages of their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United last week and it was the same story on Sunday, with The Blues all over Leicester in the first half of Sunday’s fixture. They went into the half-time break with a single goal lead but it should have been much more. Their goalscorer, Mason Mount, could have had a hat-trick on his own.
Their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cost them dearly, with the effects of Eden Hazard’s departure and their transfer ban become evident. How Chelsea could have done with buying a new striker in the summer!
Leicester were fortunate to be given an opportunity to get back into the game but took it without hesitation, looking like a different side after the interval. Nobody will have enjoyed the equaliser more than Wilfried Ndidi, whose bizarre carelessness in possession led to Chelsea’s opener.
Frank Lampard after one season managing Chelsea ? pic.twitter.com/r47LtTw9S5
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 18, 2019
Mane is Liverpool’s greatest attacking threat
It is Mo Salah who usually takes the most plaudits of Liverpool’s lethal attacking trident, understandable considering that he has 55 Premier League goals and two golden boots to show for his 76 league games for the Reds so far. However, since the turn of the year it is Sadio Mane who been Liverpool’s greatest attacking threat.
The Senegalese star has notched 15 Premier League goals in 2019, the most in the division, and 20 in all competitions which is the same as Mo Salah (12) and Roberto Firmino (8) combined.
Following the recent big money departures of Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can, there is a suspicion that Liverpool will eventually have to flog at least one of their coveted attacking trio to balance the books and recruit another influx of young stars. However, on recent evidence it is Mane who might prove the be the one who they should be fighting to keep.
Sadio Mané has scored more Premier League goals in 2019 than any other player (15).
And not a single penalty has been taken. pic.twitter.com/ztEr1PXcFg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2019
Teemu Pukki could keep Norwich up
We may only be two games into the season but surely there won’t be many who expected to see the Flying Fin Teemu Pukki sitting alongside Raheem Sterling at the summit of the Premier League top scorers list.
Norwich took a chance when they signed Pukki who previously had an underwhelming spell in another major European league, scoring just eight goals in 37 appearances for Schalke. He followed that with an unsuccessful stint at Celtic and, when Norwich brought him back to Britain in 2018, he had spent four seasons in the Danish league with Brondby, scoring a goal every two matches.
However, Pukki has truly repaid the Canaries’ faith by firing them to promotion last season with 29 goals and scoring four in his first two matches of this one. Whilst his consolation against Liverpool in the season opener may have meant little, his hat-trick against a dreadful Newcastle side certainly did.
Norwich were among the favourites to go down this year but if Pukki keeps this form up, they won’t have too much to worry about.
As everyone expected, it looks like a straight battle between Teemu Pukki and Ashley Barnes for the Premier League golden boot. pic.twitter.com/RFb6AdNPo4
— Colossus Bets (@ColossusBets) August 17, 2019
Aston Villa may ‘do a Fulham’ after all
Meanwhile another promoted side, Aston Villa, certainly do look in trouble. The Villans bought 12 players to the tune of £133m in the summer, making the biggest net loss in the entire division. However, with much of their business done early the suspicion was that Villa had learnt from the mistakes of Fulham, whose lack of planning and scattergun approach led to a shambolic season.
On the evidence so far though, Villa may be in for a similarly tough time. A 3-1 loss to Spurs in which they led for much of the match is a forgivable result, however a 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth certainly isn’t.
Dean Smith’s side dominated the play throughout, managing 63% possession and having 22 shots to Bournemouth’s 12. However, after a dreadful start in which Bournemouth were allowed to score twice in the opening 12 minutes, there was no real incentive for the Cherries to do anything but sit back and defend their lead.
Villa have a fairly comfortable fixture list over the next seven matches and it is imperative that they start picking up points. From the 26th of October they commence a run of seven games that includes, City, Liverpool, Wolves, United, Chelsea and Leicester. If they haven’t got some points on the board by then, they may find themselves cut adrift by Christmas.
Aston villa currently doing the worst job of ‘not doing a fulham’ since fulham did a fulham.
— Tristan Poturicic (@Serbiantennis77) August 17, 2019