EPL Wrap-Up: Martial’s Marvelous Debut

Everton 3-1 Chelsea

Chelsea’s horrid start continued Saturday afternoon as they fell to Everton. Going into the match, José Mourinho’s men had won just once in their first four fixtures, and a title defense appeared to be slipping out of reach. Everton had also won just one match, but sat a point ahead of Chelsea in the table. A major focus of the fixture was how John Stones, who had formally handed in a transfer request in the summer window, would play against the team that nearly pried him away from Goodison Park. Stones, and the rest of the Everton squad, did all they could to dispel any doubts and now the young Englishman may feel lucky to still be in Merseyside.

The moment that would end up deciding the match came after just nine minutes after Muhamed Besic was forced to exit through injury. The man to replace him, Steven Naismith, broke the deadlock five minutes later when he headed in a Brendan Galloway cross past Asmir Begovic. The former Stoke City keeper was called into the starting role after Thibault Courtois suffered a serious knee injury in training that could keep him out for several months. Begovic had to pick the ball out of the back of the net again in the 21st minute after Naismith fired in a low shot from 20 yards out to double Everton’s lead. The man to finally put Chelsea on the board was their Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic. Out of seemingly nothing, the 27-year-old gathered the ball from 35-yards out and hit an absolute thunderbolt past a helpless Tim Howard in net to give the visitors a glimmer of hope for the second half.

In the second half, Everton continued to push for the dagger, and Chelsea seemed to lack the energy and urgency necessary to find an equalizer. In the 82nd minute, who else but Steven Naismith put the third goal away for the Toffees. The Scotsman took the ball near the end line and beat Begovic at his near post to complete his hat trick and guarantee all three points for the hosts. The loss moved Chelsea down to 17th in the table with just four points through their opening five matches. For the hosts, the win saw them rise to sixth in the league just two points away from the top four.

Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool

Anthony Martial goal

The match of the weekend had to be the United vs. Liverpool derby at Old Trafford on Saturday. Both giants were coming off of their first losses of the season, and fans were starting to question if their clubs had what it takes to fight for a title. The Red Devils hopes of victory took a hit the evening before the match as their captain and star striker Wayne Rooney was ruled out with a hamstring injury leaving Marouane Fellaini as the starting forward. A returning David De Gea, and Simon Mignolet had little to do in the first half as both sides failed to force any real chances with United dominating possession and Liverpool looking for the counter attacks.

The dramatics started early in the second period of play thanks to a training ground set piece from the hosts. With the ball just yards outside the penalty area on the left wing, Juan Mata played an inch perfect pass to Daley Blind at the top of the box, and the Dutchman hit a wonderful first time effort into the back of the net. De Gea’s first test of the match came in the 57th minute from an acrobatic Danny Ings volley just outside the six-yard box, but the Spaniard matched the effort with a diving save to keep his side ahead. Liverpool nearly found the equalizer minutes later only for Martin Skrtel’s header to be cleared off the line by Blind. The Red Devils made sure to punish this missed chance, as Ander Herrera earned himself a penalty five minutes later. The Spaniard, who was brought down by Joseph Gomez inside the 18-yard box, rocketed his spot kick into the roof of the net and gave United their all-important two-goal lead.

Liverpool’s highlight of the match came in the final ten minutes of the match with an early contender for goal of the season. After seeing an initial cross headed away, the Reds’ biggest summer signings, Christian Benteke, took matters into his own hands and hit a screamer of a scissor kick past De Gea to give the visitors hope of grabbing just a point from Old Trafford. A comeback wasn’t in the cards, however, as United’s newest member, Anthony Martial, made himself an instant hero at the club with a brilliant run past the Liverpool defense before slotting home the club’s third and possibly his first of many. After the match, some reporters began to question whether or not Brendan Rodgers’ time at Anfield was coming to a close after this string of poor performances, but it was all smiles for United’s manager Louis Van Gaal as he claimed his third victory in as many tries over the club’s arch rival.

Leicester City 3-2 Aston Villa

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City have gone from relegation favorites last season, to second of the table in mid-September. The Foxes have gone unbeaten to start this campaign (3 wins, 2 draws) and have not lost a Premier League fixture since a late April fixture against Chelsea. Things for Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa haven’t been nearly as promising to start the season as the Villans have failed to win since an opening day victory over AFC Bournemouth. Villa may have put forth the best performance of the season, but the Foxes had just enough to seal another victory.

Scott Sinclair should’ve put a visiting Villa ahead after just seven minutes but he pushed Gabriel Agbonlahor’s cross inches wide. The visitors finally capped off their impressive first half, when Jack Grealish put them ahead in the 39th minute. After a skirmish in the box from a Villa corner, the ball fell to Grealish who curled home a magnificent effort past Kasper Schmeichel. The strike was Grealish’s first of the campaign after a breakout season last year, and it was good enough to give the visitors a 1-0 lead going into the halftime break.

Aston Villa continued their great start to the match, with yet another highlight reel goal in the 63rd minute. This time it was Carles Gil who found the back of the net for the Villans with another brilliantly curved effort from just outside the 18-yard box to double the visitors’ lead. Leicester City finally found a goal in the 72nd minute when Richie Da Laet redirected a Riyad Mahrez corner into the back of the net. The Foxes found an equalizer just ten minutes later after a brilliant Mahrez run led to a tap-in from Jamie Vardy from six-yards out. The comeback was completed on the 89th minute mark when Mahrez played provider once again with a lofted ball to the head of Nathan Dyer. The former Swansea City man was able to flick the ball past an onrushing Brad Guzan to steal the three points for the Foxes. The miraculous comeback pushed Leicester to second in the table just four points behind City. Can they continue this magnificent form throughout the season?

 

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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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