EPL Wrap-up: Arsenal Thrash United in Statement Win

Chelsea 1-3 Southampton

José Mourinho’s second term at Chelsea could be coming to an end sooner rather than later. Through their first seven games of the season, the Blues had won just twice and sat all the way down in 15th place in the table. Few, if any, would have predicted this type of horrendous from the reigning champions. Visiting them on Saturday was a Southampton squad that has been anything but consistent on the pitch. The match at Stamford Bridge gave both teams the chance to shoot up the table, but who would take advantage of the opportunity?

Through the first ten minutes, it looked like Chelsea were finally finding their footing in the league. The Blues won a free kick ten yards outside of the penalty area from a wide angle and Willian stepped up to take it. The Brazilian winger, who has scored in his last three matches, once again curled his shot into the back of the net in what is becoming his trademark goal. Willian’s early goal, paired with Mourinho’s impressive record at Stamford Bridge, made it seem like a Chelsea victory way all but guaranteed, but Ronald Koeman’s club had other plans. Just minutes before the stroke of halftime, Graziano Pellé laid a perfect ball off to Steven Davis on the edge of the box and the 30-year-old hit a laser beam past Asmir Begovic. Davis’ strike from distance put the Saints on level terms going into the break, and thoughts of defeat began to creep into the Chelsea faithful.

The start of the second half nearly spelled disaster for Chelsea as Saudio Mané found himself alone in the box, but a brilliant save from Begovic kept things level. Mané got a similar opportunity on the hour mark, and this time the Chelsea keeper got a touch, but could only watch as the ball rolled into the back of the net. The Saints’ dagger came just 12 minutes later. This time, Mané played provider as he found Pellé rushing into the box. Despite the difficult angle, the Italian striker still found a way to power his shot past Begovic and double his side’s lead. The surprising victory pushed Southampton up to ninth in the table, but only increased the uncertainty surrounding Chelsea’s managerial situation. In a club that only accepts success, how much longer can Mourinho afford these results?

Everton 1-1 Liverpool

The first Merseyside Derby of the year would prove to be Brendan Rodgers’ last. Liverpool was sitting ninth in the table going into this match after gaining just 11 points from their first seven matches. A disappointing league finish last year already had Rodgers on thin ice, and the team’s performance at Goodison Park Sunday was apparently the last straw. On the other end of the pitch was an Everton squad that had gone undefeated in their last seven matches through all competitions. This derby lacked the scoring drama that some fans would’ve wished for, but the off pitch repercussions surely made up for it.

Shaky defending from Everton led to the first chance of the match in the 13th minute, but Danny Ings’ thunderous volley blazed just over Tim Howard’s net. The American keeper was in for a busy day between the pipes, and just before the half-hour mark, he was forced to produce a close-range kick save against James Milner. Everton finally tested Simon Mignolet on the 30-minute mark courtesy of James McCarthy. The Irishman nearly found the back of the net, but Mignolet made a magnificent diving save to keep the sides level. The long awaited breakthrough came just before halftime when Ings headed home from a corner.

The summer signing’s headed effort seemed like it would be good enough to send the Reds into the break with a lead, but Everton kept pushing for an equalizer. It was club-record signing Romelu Lukaku that put the hosts on the board in first half stoppage time. A poor clearance from Emre Can put the ball at the Belgian’s feet and he smashed his effort home, leaving Mignolet no chance. The second half came and went without anymore goals, and within the hour Brendan Rodgers was relieved of his duties. Rodgers’ dismissal puts the Reds at a pivotal crossroads early in the season while fans wait to see who will take the helm. Could we finally see the arrival of Jurgen Klopp into English football?

Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United

Arsenal beat United at Emirates

This one hurts to write. My Red Devils had finally reached the pinnacle of the table for the first time in years, and it looked like they were set for a momentous run in the league. However, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal quickly dashed any hopes of United retaining the top spot. It was a historic day at the Emirates, and the Gunners’ faithful will be hoping for more of the same in the weeks to come.

The mauling started early for the Gunners. From the jump, Arsenal looked the better of the two sides, while United couldn’t manage to string more than two passes together. On just the six-minute mark, Mesut Ozil found some space on the endline and perfectly picked out an onrushing Alexis Sanchez who flicked his effort over David De Gea. Arsenal 1, Manchester United 0. While I was still coming to terms with the early deficit, Arsenal quickly dashed my hopes once again. Not even 60 seconds later, Theo Walcott passed to Ozil on the top of the 18-yard box and the German’s curled effort left De Gea rooted to the spot. Arsenal 2, Manchester United 0. At this point in the match, I could feel the optimism leaving my mind and being quickly replaced with disappointment.

While it would’ve been amazing for Arsenal to go into the break already up 2-0, they decided they wanted to add one more goal for security. Poor defending from United on the top of the box gave Sanchez a yard of space, and the Chilean winger punished the Red Devils with a thunderous strike into the top corner of the net. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should’ve made it 4-0 in second half stoppage time, but his chipped effort flew over De Gea before hitting the crossbar. The statement victory for the Gunners moved them ahead of United in the table, and has sparked hope that it may be just the result they needed to push for the title. United, on the other hand, must now regroup and maintain their composure on the pitch.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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