Everyone was eager for domestic football to return after the recent international break and there’s no doubt the Premier League came back with a bang.
It should have been no surprise to anyone that José Mourinho set out his stall to frustrate and limit the Liverpool attack, without taking the impetus to create chances of their own.
Big Game Issues for Lukaku
It felt like the big Belgian forward was trying too hard to make an impact. He was limited in the chances he had, touching the ball just 22 times. Anthony Martial played 26 fewer minutes, but saw the ball 31 times.
The biggest criticism over the 24-year-old forward has been his ability to score goals in the biggest games.
Romelu Lukaku's shot against Liverpool was the first he has had in his last three Premier League games at Anfield.
223 minutes of football. pic.twitter.com/mLirJ6vxKo
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 14, 2017
Ultimately, that’s where he will be judged when it comes down to his place as a top player in United’s history.
Yet, it’s not just a myth. Lukaku scores goals as well as anyone, but since arriving in the UK, in the 58 fixtures he was played against the understood current top six, the former Chelsea man has scored 15 goals.
In comparison, Harry Kane, often his nemesis in the goal-scoring charts, has 14. However, the Tottenham Hotspur hero has played just 29 times against the top six clubs to reach that return.
In this position, Mourinho’s tactics of parking the bus against their rivals away from home won’t help Lukaku.
Top strikers, regardless of the game, the tactics, get the job done. How he performs in the toughest tests this term will be an interesting and intriguing watch.
Eriksen is a Danish Delight
Speaking of the Spurs striker, he had a busy afternoon, six shots, three on target, but it was his team-mate Christian Eriksen that stole the show.
The Danish midfielder grabbed the only goal of the game, getting a little lucky before firing his left foot shot low into the corner, however, he had an outstanding game.
Three shots on target, three key passes, 86 per cent of his 57 passes found their mark and he delivered eight accurate crosses.
“Apparently when I’m in that situation I know where the goal is! It was a good pass from Sonny, a bit of a lucky touch, the defender went down and the ball fell for me and I had a good shot,” the 25-year-old told press after the game.
Eriksen is in great goal-scoring form at the moment, scoring three times in his last five league games. That matches his return from the previous 24 fixtures.
Hammers need to Iron out the mistakes
99 – There were just 99 seconds between Andy Carroll's first yellow card and his second. Problems. pic.twitter.com/n11KdLTmmc
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 14, 2017
Slaven Bilic might still be stood by the side of the Turf Moor pitch wondering what went wrong in West Ham United’s 1-1 draw away at Burnley.
With five minutes to go, Burnley drifted a teasing cross into the box and Chris Wood emerged unchallenged to head home the late equaliser.
A case of what could have been for the travelling Londoners.
Toothless Chelsea Fall to Palace
Wilfried Zaha's game by numbers vs. Chelsea:
2 chances created
2 tackles won
Match-winner. 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/fc6MZugLZq
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 14, 2017
Two other London teams clashed at Selhurst Park on Saturday and the result would have been a surprise to most. Crystal Palace without a Premier League goal this season stunned champions Chelsea with two and handed the Blues a shock defeat.
It was a tired looking display from Antonio Conte’s men, lacking direction and ideas without Álvaro Morata, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.
Although they had more shots than the home side, 16 to the Eagles 14, just five were on target, with three of them from way outside the box.
Wilfred Zaha was making his first appearance since the opening day defeat to Huddersfield and as well as scoring the crucial second, he was a menace throughout.
Three shots, two on target, two key passes and six completed dribbles in 47 touches was a much-welcomed return for Roy Hodgson’s men.
With Morata out, it was a chance for Michy Batshuayi to impress the Italian boss and it’s safe to say the fun-loving Belgian failed.
You would understand if the 24-year-old was trying too hard to compensate for his lack of opportunities, but it was a lifeless performance from the former Marseille forward.
In 56 minutes, he had no shots on goal, completed just 69.2 per cent of his passes and had just 19 touches. With one completed dribble and no key passes, it was a day to forget for Batshuayi.
Tammy At The Double
Over in Wales, it was a much different story for Chelsea’s on loan forward Tammy Abraham.
The 20-year-old scored twice to hand Swansea a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield, taking his tally to four league goals this campaign.
Already, with 628 minutes, the former Bristol City loanee has played around double the minutes of his Blues teammate Batshuayi has managed in the Premier League and looks all the better for it.
Amazingly, the England youth international only touched the ball four times more than Batshuayi on Saturday, but he managed three shots on target. If he continues his current form, it will be hard to keep him from earning his opportunity at Stamford Bridge next season.
Seventh Heaven for City
Kevin De Bruyne's Man City career by numbers:
100 games 🏃
38 assists 🅰️
25 goals ⚽
The master creator. pic.twitter.com/lowbUAPykr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 15, 2017
The most impressive performance of the day came at the Etihad as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City scored seven times against Stoke City.
Gabriel Jesus grabbed two, then Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sané and Bernardo Silva added their names to the scoresheet.
Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling picked up two assists each and it was the Belgian playmaker who was the star of the show.
The 26-year-old had two shots on target, two key passes, two successful dribbles and 88.5 per cent of his 52 passes found their target, his ball for Sané to score the sixth is one of the best assists you’ll see this season.
After winning the ball just over the halfway line, the vision and ability to pick out the low pass to put the German through on goal was incredible.
Man City are the first top-flight side to score 29 goals in their first eight games since Everton way back in the 1894/95 campaign. Pep’s team are a scary prospect to take on this season, proceed with caution.
Arsenal stung by Watford
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 15, 2017
Troy Deeney was handed the Man of the Match award by BT Sport on Saturday night and it was clear to see why.
Watford had to come from behind, answering back after Per Mertesacker scored his first goal in 1400 days, towering above the Hornets defence to head home.
Andre Gray had run his race and was replaced by Deeney with 28 minutes to go.
The 29-year-old had two shots on goal, two key passes, won five aerial battles and made 12 passes, all with only 18 touches of the ball.
In contrast, Gray only had 22 touches in what was a quiet day for the former Burnley forward.
Richarlison was adjudged to have been brought down in the box by Hector Bellerín and it was Deeney who stepped up to tuck away the game-winning penalty.
Not so Super Sunday for Toffees
With the Champions League returning this week, all of England’s top clubs played before Sunday’s double header, leaving us with a questionable ‘Super Sunday’.
At half-time of Brighton v Everton, we have only witnessed one shot on target as Mat Ryan saved Idrissa Gueye’s effort.
Anthony Knockaert gave the home side the lead with eight minutes to go in a game which exploded in the latter stages.
The Toffees finished with five shots on target, but left it late with Wayne Rooney equalising in the 90th minute.
His late strike make the Seagulls the 36th team he has scored against in the Premier League, only Frank Lampard (39), Andy Cole (38) and Alan Shearer (37) have managed more.
Tale of Three Droughts at St. Mary’s
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 15, 2017
It was not a good day for Shane Long against Newcastle United. The 30-year-old Irishman didn’t have a shot on target as his poor Premier League run continued.
The former West Brom man has now gone 18 Premier League games without a goal and doesn’t look like ending it any time soon.
On the opposite side, Ayoze Pérez ended 1135 minutes without a goal when he smashed his near post effort beyond Fraser Forster to make it 2-1 to Newcastle United.
Southampton fans would have expected more when Manolo Gabbiadini grabbed his first of the campaign in the 3-2 win over West Ham during the second game of the season, but the Italian hadn’t found the net since going into Sunday’s fixture.
Dispatching his left-foot shot, then the equaliser from the penalty spot means that the 25-year-old picked up more goals during one game than he had in the previous 15 league appearances.