Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City
The most anticipated match of the weekend kicked off bright and early Saturday morning at Old Trafford. The two Manchester clubs headed into the derby with undefeated records, and the rivalry between their new managers was well-documented. In this titanic clash, would the town end up being red or blue?
Pep Guardiola’s style of play was evident from the start. Manchester City dominated possession, and United looked content to let them keep the ball and wait for the counter. This bend-don’t-break strategy came back to bite the hosts in the 15th minute. A long ball from City’s backline was headed on by surprise starter Kelechi Iheanacho to Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian’s perfectly timed run beat Daley Blind and he easily slotted past David De Gea to give the Sky Blues an early lead.
De Bruyne would play a key part in City’s second goal 20 minutes later. After a failed clearance from United, the midfielder’s fired in a low shot that cannoned back off the post. Iheanacho was in perfect position to tap home the rebound and it was starting to look like City was on the verge of making this a disastrous start Mourinho’s derby career.
Despite City’s dominance in the first half, United managed to grab a goal just before halftime. A lack of communication between John Stones and debutant keeper Claudio Bravo saw the Chilean spill an easy cross right into the path of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Even with an open net, the shot wasn’t easy, but Ibra delivered a classy finish to cut the deficit to just a single goal.
United came out firing in the second half with Marcus Rashford making an almost immediate impact off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to find an equalizer. De Bruyne was unlucky not to find a second goal in the 75th minute when his low drive hit the inside of the near post, but even with the miss City were still able to walk away with the 2-1 victory. Guardiola now stands with the lead over Mourinho in Premier League competition, and the Special One will now have to take a look at possibly changing tactics.
Liverpool 4-1 Leicester City
Last year, Leicester City won their first Premier League title. That put them one ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League title number. Saturday, the reigning champions travelled to Anfield to take on the Reds and Jürgen Klopp’s men showed no mercy. While few expected the Foxes to repeat anything close to what they pulled off last season, things have been a little rough to start this campaign.
In the 13th minute, Roberto Firmino started the onslaught. The Reds expertly worked the wall up from their backline, and a precise pass from James Milner found the Brazilian on top of the box, and he made no mistake in sliding his shot past Kasper Schmeichel. 1-0 Liverpool.
13 minutes later, Daniel Sturridge should’ve doubled the lead, but Schmeichel delivered a key instinctive save to keep the deficit to one. Eight minutes later, Sturridge atoned for the miss with a cheeky backheel pass to find Sadio Mané open in the middle of the box. Mané’s chipped effort found the back of the net and Liverpool were now comfortably ahead.
Leicester got a sliver of hope in the 38th minute thanks to a nightmarish pass from Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian ended up finding Jamie Vardy wide open in the middle of the box and the Englishman easily tapped home to put the Foxes back in action.
This narrow margin wouldn’t last long, however, with Adam Lallana scoring an absolute thunderbolt in the 56th minute to push Liverpool back to two goals ahead. His top corner effort zapped the spirit out of Leicester and the Reds now seemed all but certain to take all three points.
In the 89th minute, the romp was completed. After Schmeichel missed a tackle on Mané outside of the penalty area, the former Southampton man found Firmino open on the right wing. Firmino was left with a wide-open net and the easiest finish of his career sealed a 4-1 victory for the Reds.
Swansea City 2-2 Chelsea
Going into the weekend, Chelsea’s trip to Swansea didn’t exactly grab headlines. The apparent gap in talent made this match seem like an easy task for Antonio Conte’s squad, but the Swans had other plans. Chelsea’s trip to Wales would end up being one of the most dramatic matches of the weekend.
The Blues started off on the front foot, and in the 18th minute everyone’s favorite player to hate gave them the lead. A poor clearance from Swansea gave the ball to Oscar inside the penalty area and the Brazilian did well to lay it off to Diego Costa at the top of the box. Costa hit a lovely first time into the side-netting to give Chelsea an early one-goal lead.
Chelsea pushed for a second goal, but just couldn’t find it before the half. Costa came within inches of doubling his tally for the day in the 43rd minute, only for his effort to sail just wide.
15 minutes into the second half, Chelsea’s inability to finish would come back to bite them. A quick counter attack from Swansea put Gylfi Sigurdsson through against Thibault Courtois. The Belgian keeper mistimed his challenge on the Icelandic striker and gifted Swansea a penalty kick. Sigurdsson stepped up and easily slotted past Courtois to level the scores.
Moments later, the Swans took a shocking lead. Leroy Fer took advantage of Gary Cahill’s indecisiveness on the ball and his scrappy finish past Courtois barely creeped over the line. 2-1 Swansea.
The upset just wasn’t meant to be. In the 81st minute another failure to clear from Swansea gifted Chelsea a chance to equalize, and Costa was there to deliver a stunning bicycle kick to save his side from embarrassment. Final score: Swansea 2, Chelsea 2.