By Sam Noel | The Duquesne Duke
Two marquee matches highlighted an action-packed Premier League weekend, as Arsenal hosted Manchester United and Liverpool took the quick trip to local rivals Everton. Champions Chelsea fell once again and league leaders Manchester City cruised to a massive win.
The biggest match of the weekend saw two of the most successful clubs in English history face off as Arsenal encountered Manchester United. The main story behind this matchup was the fast rise of Manchester United striker Anthony Martial. The 19 year-old Frenchman holds an interesting backstory in connection to this game. Arsenal’s greatest player, Thierry Henry, is from the same town as Martial and holds a very similar style of play. It was reported often in the summer that Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was interested in Martial due to his similarity to Henry. Ultimately Manchester United were able to pay the big bucks to land the young striker. Now, with four goals in six appearances prior to the Arsenal match, Martial was clearly the player to watch for.
It was widely assumed that this would be a close encounter between these two sides, but Arsenal came out firing on all cylinders, scoring twice in the first seven minutes and adding a third in the 20th minute. The Red Devils of Manchester United were clearly out-paced and out-managed, as Wenger saw his team finish the match with a 3-0 victory against their heated rivals. Alexis Sanchez scored two goals, and German playmaker Mesut Özil scored one of his own while registering an assist as well. Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech made two incredible saves in the game, including one on Martial where he managed to save the Frenchman’s point blank shot from inside the box.
This match was clearly dominated by Arsenal on all ends of the pitch. They came out firing, putting immense pressure on the weak Manchester United defense that was clearly missing their anchor in Morgan Schneiderlein, who was not included in the starting lineup. The absence of Schneiderlein allowed the Arsenal midfield to pass all over the Manchester United defense, en route to scoring three quick goals in the first half. This huge result for Arsenal saw them leap frog over Manchester United into second and back into the title race, while their defeated opponents dropped one spot to third.
The other marquee match of the weekend was a few hours before the previously mentioned match, as Everton hosted local rivals Liverpool. Liverpool and Everton have an interesting rivalry, nicknamed the “Friendly Derby,” due to many families in Liverpool having mixed loyalties. This is due to Everton’s stadium, Goodison Park, and Liverpool’s, Anfield, being about a mile away from each other.
Another big story behind this game was the status of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. He’s certainly been on the hot seat as results in England and Europe were just not satisfactory, yet, so this was a huge match for Rodgers to get back on track and regain the trust of the club and its supporters.
An intense match saw a 1-1 finish, as Liverpool striker Danny Ings opened the scoring off of a header from a corner, but Everton quickly equalized about five minutes later on a strike to the lower left corner. Ultimately, a draw was not enough for Rodgers to keep his job, as he was subsequently fired from his post as Liverpool manager.
Once again, the champions, Chelsea, continued their awful start to their title defense as they fell 3-1 at home against Southampton. The pressure is surely on manager José Mourinho, as his side remains in 16th place with eight points, two spots above the relegation zone. Now, you can safely assume that Chelsea will not be relegated, but questions are starting to emerge as to whether or not they will successfully defend their title or, perhaps, even finish in the top four.
League leaders Manchester City cruised to an easy 6-1 win over winless Newcastle, as star forward Sergio Agüero netted five goals in twenty minutes. It appears the Argentine has finally found his form that enabled him to finish with the most goals last season.