Arsenal 3-2 Swansea City
The most highly anticipated managerial debut in Premier League history took place at the Emirates on Saturday. For the first time in the league’s storied history, an American would be taking the helm for a club. More than five years after being dismissed from the U.S. National Team, Bob Bradley led Swansea City against Arsenal as the first American manager in Premier League history. Could he upset Arsene Wenger?
It didn’t start well for Bradley with Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi hitting the woodwork with a header just 12 minutes into the match. 15 minutes later, Theo Walcott opened the scoring for the hosts with a scrappy close-range finish. Less than ten minutes later, Walcott scored his second from a corner kick and the Gunners took a well-deserved two-goal lead.
In the 38th minute, a defensive lapse from Granit Xhaka gifted the ball to Gylfi Sigurdsson on the edge of the area, and the Icelandic international finessed his shot past Petr Cech. The deficit was now cut to just one goal.
Ten minutes into the second half, Walcott should’ve secured his hat-trick, but his wide open shot went straight to former teammate Lukasz Fabianksi. Moments after Walcott’s miss, Mesut Özil delivered a birthday finish for the ages with a thunderous close-range volley from Alexis Sanchez’s cross. Would it be good enough to secure all three points for the Gunners?
In the 66th minute, Swansea were given another lifeline by Arsenal. Modou Barrow did well to skip past Nacho Monreal on the flanks, and his cross found Borja Bastón waiting in the middle to tap it home. Game on.
The last bit of drama came in the 70th minute. Barrow again skipped past his defender, and a reckless challenge from Xhaka earned him a straight red card to cap off a forgettable day for the summer signing. Despite their numerical advantage for the final 20 minutes, the Swans couldn’t find an equalizer as they fell 3-2 in Bradley’s managerial debut.
Manchester City 1-1 Everton
Everton have quietly been one of the most impressive teams in the league this season. Under new leadership with Ronald Koeman, the Blues had only lost once through their opening seven fixtures going into their trip to Manchester. City weren’t doing too poorly themselves, sitting atop the table and winning all but one of their matches. In this battle of the blues, who would come out ahead?
The Cityzens started the match on the front foot with Leroy Sané looking particularly lively on the right flank. A rather slow first half finally came to a head in the 41st minute. City’s ability to pass around a seemingly mesmerized Everton backline finally paid dividends with David Silva earning a penalty kick through a clumsy Phil Jagielka challenge. Kevin De Bruyne stepped up for the kick, but was denied by a diving Maarten Stekelenburg.
City’s dominance in the first half was not reflected in the scoreline and Guardiola would’ve surely been fuming as his side’s lack of killer instinct.
Just after the hour mark, Everton did what City seemingly couldn’t do to save their lives: finish. A quick counter attack sprung Romelu Lukaku through on goal. The Belgian beat Gaël Clichy before smashing a low shot past Claudio Bravo to give the Toffees a somewhat unexpected lead.
Five minutes after Lukaku’s opener, City again found themselves with a penalty kick after yet another rash challenge from Jagielka. This time around, Sergio Agüero was on the wrong side of a Stekelenburg save as the Dutchman cemented himself as a club hero.
A clean sheet just wasn’t meant to be for the former Roma keeper. In the 72nd minute, Nolito got his head on the end of Silva’s cross to finally sneak a shot past Stekelenburg. Did City have time to find a winner?
To answer that: no. Despite a late flurry of chances, including a rocket from De Bruyne that the keeper somehow managed to tip onto the woodwork, Everton managed to hold on for a surprising 1-1 draw at the Etihad.
Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United
The match that I was most excited for kicked off on Monday night as Liverpool and Manchester United renewed their historic rivalry at Anfield. Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have been on the wrong end of public opinion as of late, but all of that would’ve surely gone away if the Special One found a way past Jürgen Klopp’s squad. Sadly, this match failed to live up to the hype.
In the first half, United looked in control but faced a similar challenge to their noisy neighbors: They couldn’t finish. Other than an optimistic free kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic from 35+ yards, and a slightly dangerous cross from Marcus Rashford, the Red Devils attack looked lackluster. To be honest, both sides looked pretty boring in the first half and neither keeper was really forced into anything too taxing. Surely, the second half would provide more excitement.
United’s best chance of the match came in the 54th minute. Paul Pogba did well to work some space on the edge of the penalty area before sending in a perfect cross to find Zlatan at the backpost. The big Swede, surprisingly, failed to direct his header on target and the danger was gone just as quickly as it had arrived.
After Ibra’s missed header, Liverpool began to take control of the match. In the 59th minute, Emre Can must’ve thought he had scored with his quick shot through traffic, but David De Gea delivered a spectacular diving save to deny the German.
De Gea would prove to be United’s hero.
In the 71st minute, the Spaniard delivered the best save of the night with a fingertip effort to deny Philippe Coutinho’s 30-yard drive destined for the top corner. How glad are United fans that a broken fax machine kept De Gea at the club last summer?
The Brazilian’s shot would be the closest either side would come to scoring this match as the score remained unchanged from start to finish. The shared points isn’t what either side would’ve wanted from the match, but United have to feel like they stole the result a little bit after a disappointing second half.