September 12, 2017

FREE KICKS: Premier League script gets flipped

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Just when you thought that you had everything figured out in the Premier League, fate has its way of turning everything around.

Before this weekend, Liverpool could take down top teams, City was struggling to score, Manchester United couldn’t be slowed down, Arsenal was a trainwreck, Brighton couldn’t find the net, West Brom looked bound for Europe and Harry Kane couldn’t buy a goal.

None of that is the case now.

The Sky Blues took it to Liverpool, pounding the Reds 5-0 after Sadio Mane saw red for booting Ederson in the face on a challenge. Being a man down against a powerhouse like City is a recipe for disaster and that held true.

The Red Devils, on the other hand, had their hands full with Stoke. The Potters held high-flying United to a 2-2 draw, which happen to be the first two goals that Jose Mourinho’s men have allowed this season. IT’s not like Stoke had been a powerhouse heading into this game, either, with just two goals for and against in the first three games.

The real win for Arsenal may have been holding on to Alexis Sanchez at the transfer deadline he was seemingly bound for City, but a 3-0 win against Bournemouth is pretty nice, too. After the panic that followed the loss to Liverpool, the Gunners needed both of those results.

Brighton & Hove Albion scored their first three goals ever in the Premier League – and did it against a Tony Pulis side that had allowed just one in the first three games.

And then there was Harry Kane, Golden Boot winner two years running, who was blanked for the first month of the season, scoring two against Everton. That should end any talk about the Spurs star firing blanks and the team being in crisis.

Yes, it was a bit of a bizarro week in the Premier League.

Except for Chelsea, of course. The champs just kept doing their thing.


Since we don’t know how to type that funny-looking ‘B’ with a North American keyboard, we’ll just have to say that the award this week goes to Pascal Gross.

The Seagulls midfielder scored the team’s first ever Premier League goal in the 45th minute against West Brom and then doubled the lead three minutes into the second half. He also picked up an assist on his team’s third goal.

The goals weren’t highlight-reel stuff, but they all count. If Brigton wants to stay up in the top flight, it’ll need guys like Gross to pitch in with efforts like this against some of the better teams.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his debut with Liverpool this weekend after his deadline-day transfer and it didn’t go so well. But, we should point out a 5-0 loss is actually better than an 8-2 loss, which was the result when Ox made his Arsenal debut … Mane’s high boot ruined a potentially great game. With both Liverpool and City both much better offensively than on the back end, the game could’ve been a real barn-burner … I’m sure I’m not the only one who transferred out Kevin de Bruyne (who had two assists) for Mane in fantasy either. That was a 12-points swing … Alvaro Morata is looking like a younger, better, less temperamental Diego Costa. Chelsea may have gotten away with a steal for him and he is more than an apt replacement for the in-limbo striker … I have just one question about Harry Kane’s 100th goal: Was it a shot or a cross? I don’t think he was trying to score from there and that he just got lucky that it crossed up the keeper … Burnley losing Tom Heaton for any length of time is bad news. The keeper is dealing with a shoulder injury that could sink the Clarets … Newcastle won its second in a row, getting past a very game Swansea side. Perhaps Rafa Benitez has his team finally focused … With Virgil Van Dijk playing a game with Southampton’s U23 side on Monday, it’s pretty safe to expect the Saints captain back before long … It looks like we’re going to get a lot less deadline shenanigans starting next season. The deadline will be moved up so that the window closes before the season starts. That should get everything sorted out before those pesky games start to be played … Want an idea of how the transfer window worked out for Arsenal this summer? In July, Arsenal rejected a 10-million pound bid for Kieran Gibbs and said that 52 million was too much for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar. On deadline day, the Gunners sold Gibbs for seven million and bid 92 million for Lemar – which was rejected.


It was once said that if you get sacked after one season, it was your fault. If you get sacked after one month, it was management’s fault. We’re not sure which was the case with Frank de Boer, but the Crystal Palace manager is out the door just four games into the season.

It’s not like the Palace board had good reason to let the Dutchman go. The Eagles became the first team since Preston in 1924 to lose the first four games of a top-flight season without scoring a goal.

This is a pretty abrupt change, with Roy Hodgson looking like he’ll be taking over. Crystal Palace had been in the process of moving to a back three and was even installing the new system all the way down its youth ranks. Whether it sticks with that remains to be seen, but this change could set back the Eagles quite a bit in terms of development.

With Southampton followed by Man City, United and Chelsea on the fixture list, the next month is going to remain pretty rough for Palace.

This is going to get worse before it can even start to get better.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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