September 22, 2021

Premier League Matchday 3 grades: Liverpool waste chance; Arsenal as bad as it gets


Premier League’s Matchday 3 concluded on Sunday as Manchester United escaped the Molineux with a 1-0 victory thanks to Mason Greenwood’s second-half strike. Meanwhile, Manchester City again look dangerous while Arsenal look like their worst version in a while, and that’s saying something. The game of the weekend saw Liverpool fail to take advantage of being a man up, settling for a draw against Chelsea at Anfield. 

Here are our grades for all 20 clubs based on their games this past weekend:

Liverpool 1, Chelsea 1 (xG: 2.84-0.58)

Liverpool
They played the entire second half a man up and will feel like they should have won. The chances were there, but Eduoard Mendy had other ideas. Liverpool hurt themselves a little with subpar finishing, their post-shot xG was only a little over 2, but still anytime you score have the amount the model expects, the keeper gets a lot of credit. Diogo Jota should have started, especially since it worked last week. Conceding that goal to Kai Havertz will be one they won’t forget, and they know they just let two points slip.
Grade: C

Chelsea
They will take that result any day, but the truth is they could have won it late. But you can’t get too greedy. Havertz’s goal was a moment of magic, but there was very little danger created by the midfield. They’ll feel like the red card to Reece James was harsh, but in the end this is a good point that they can live with.
Grade: B

Manchester City 5, Arsenal 0 (xG: 4.03-0.11)

Manchester City 
They didn’t even play a true striker at the No. 9 position and scored five. That says a ton about both teams. But a lineup that wasn’t your best XI getting you a win like this may just solidify them as the title favorites. It was a walk in the park against a team that has played worse than anybody through three matchdays.
Grade: A

Arsenal
Absolutely played off the pitch. Unprepared, Arsenal are off to their worst start in history and haven’t even scored a goal. They had more red cards in this game (one) than shots on goal (zero), and they had just as many red cards as total shots. If they don’t beat Norwich City next week and look decent doing it, then Mike Arteta has to go.
Grade: F

Newcastle 2, Southampton 2 (xG: 1.26-4.08)

Newcastle
A painful draw where they were outplayed yet had a 2-1 lead in added time and blew it. Struggled to retain the ball, the passing was atrocious and they really deserved to lose. In the end, it could have been worse, but this was far from encouraging, especially defensively. Don’t let the late goal conceded fool you, they were under huge pressure the entire match and it was only some good fortune that put them in a position to first take and then blow the lead late.
Grade: D

Southampton
A promising display where they never gave up. Scored two goals in the last quarter hour, the passing was strong and they had 22 shots to Newcastle’s 10. Although they felt like relegation contenders to begin the season, they might just be OK in the end. 
Grade: B

Brighton 0, Everton 2 (xG: 1.40-0.80)

Everton
An impressive win. Used their speed to their advantage, the pressure applied in the middle was also superb at times. Allan was a monster with some key stops and played a lovely ball in to Demari Gray for the winner. Now, they’ll just hope there is no tension between Richarlison and the rest of the crew after an ugly struggle as to who would take the penalty kick which Dominic Calvert-Lewin ended up scoring…
Grade: A

Brighton 0
A promising start to the season, it was an off day against a confident side. They’ll be fine and recover, but there is plenty to work on, especially when it comes to keeping a bit more width during defensive transition. The sloppy passing really did them in. They had 65% of the ball but it just didn’t lead to very many good chances with 14 shots amounting to only 0.80 xG.
Grade: D

West Ham 2, Crystal Palace 2 (xG: 1.38-1.67)

West Ham
A tough result. They were cruising toward a victory and let their guard down late. It will feel like a loss in the end just because of how they conceded. Still, it’s a very promising start, and Michail Antonio continues to work wonders alongside Pablo Fornals. Oddly for a David Moyes led side there are lots of positives in attack and questions about how easy they are to counterattack against.
Grade: C-

Crystal Palace
Considering it looked like they were going to be demolished, Patrick Viera has to feel good. They actually won the xG battle with a brilliant second half, and this gives them something to work with and a bit more momentum. They must get Wilfried Zaha a bit more involved. But Conor Gallager storming forward from midfield is a wonderful sign to see.
Grade: B

Norwich City 1, Leicester City 2 (xG: 1.52-1.29)

Leicester City
Lucky to not have conceded more, they were efficient in the end, to their credit. They continue to boss things in the middle, dominating possession with over 55%, but the attack at times is a bit disconnected from the midfielder and it’s concerning that all those passes only led to nine shots. The defense will need to be a bit more disciplined if they are to get anything from Manchester City on Sept. 11. Not having Wesley Fofana is such painfully obvious hole in their lineup.
Grade: B

Norwich City
Actually were the more dangerous team statistically speaking, and they’ve created some good opportunities during a tough stretch to open the season but have just a single goal on the season to show for it. Maybe it’s time to try Josh Sargent alongside Teemu Pukki for the heck of it?
Grade: D

Aston Villa 1, Brentford 1 (xG: 0.70-0.76)

Aston Villa
It was nice for them to get Emiliano Buendia his first goal for the club, and they looked decent at times, but they would have expected to win this one at home. With so many new pieces, it’s going to take time for this team to fully gel. They look far from a team destined to be relegated or anything like that, but they have to be a tad quicker in attack when it comes to decision making. It’s not a great sign, even when taking the fairly substantial changes into account, they looked roughly equal to newly promoted Brentford at home.
Grade: C

Brentford
When you come up from the second division, any point on the road is valuable. The Bees are in a fantastic position and it speaks volumes of their early season performance that they might feel frustrated after not taking advantage of opportunities to win this game. They show a cohesion and passion for the match that bigger clubs are lacking, and that is going to keep them up.
Grade: B

Burnley 1, Leeds 1 (xG: 1.50-1.53)

Burnley
How there weren’t goals in the first hour was absolutely baffling. This was an open, free and wild match that could have gone either way. A draw is fair in the end, but Burnley know they had it. The defense was able to weather the storm for 85 minutes before Patrick Bamford’s freaky equalizer. Still without a win, at least they got some points.
Grade: B

Leeds
They really should have won this. The opportunities were they, and they just needed that lucky bounce. They got it on their equalizer, but so many times before they came within inches of finding the back of the net. Still without a win as well, they are showing improvement but defensively still need a lot of work.
Grade: B

Tottenham 1, Watford 0 (xG: 1.03-0.76)

Tottenham
Top of the league and looking sharp. They’ve yet to concede and have won each match by the same score of 1-0. It’s not time to get carried away, but Nuno Espirito Santo has this team believing, fighting for one another and on the right path. And Harry Kane had only a single shot in this one, his first start of the season. Imagine how much more potent they’ll be when he gets going. They should have put the game away, but now we are just nitpicking. A win is a win.
Grade: A

Watford
Painfully close to getting something from the match, but they also could have lost by multiple goals. They need to find a bit more consistency in attack when it comes to delivering balls in quicker, and they’ll hope it comes against Wolves and Norwich in their next two. No shame in this result
Grade: C-

Wolves 0, Manchester United 1 (xG: 2.41-0.58)

Man. United
Got the win but just barely. They were outplayed at times and looked more likely to lose than get a draw. David de Gea came up big in the second half, and this gives them even more momentum ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s first action since signing. Fred was absolutely horrible defensively in the middle, so expect him to bounce back next time. As for Greenwood, he’s on fire with goals in each of their games.
Grade: B+

Wolves
The xG says it all — 2.41 expected goals yet came away with nothing. They’ve yet to score, but unlike Arsenal, they are actually putting out a quality product that is entertaining, just a tad unlucky. So far this season they’ve accumulated an xG of 5.56 with 57 shots and 15 on goal, yet haven’t scored. The goals will come, as will the results. No need to panic just yet.
Grade: C





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