Jesus takes Arsenal to a new level
Brazilian conditions; Brazilian brilliance. Gabriel Jesus and his international teammate Gabriel Martinelli were exceptional against Leicester. Gabriel Magalhaes wasn’t bad at the back either. While North London swelled, the South Americans sambaed.
Two goals and two assists was a fantastic contribution from Jesus on his first Premier League start for Arsenal at the Emirates. He looks hungry and happy with his starring role on this side.
But as well as his own form, it is the transformative impact Jesus and fellow newcomer Oleksandr Zinchenko are having on the Arsenal team that is most important.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers spoke in his post-match press conference about how quality signings can galvanize a team and take them to a new level. After Leicester’s barren summer in the transfer market, how he would love for someone to influence players like these two.
Arteta was also enthusiastic about the combination play of Arsenal’s new attack and hinted at how he had to protect the fitness of Jesus, a player who is now crucial to the team’s chances this season after years of playing the part at Man City.
It was a fiery start to his Arsenal career – but Arteta and this squad must continue to feel the Jesus effect as this warm summer gives way to winter.
Ten Hag is faced with an impossible task
Criticizing Manchester United has become a weekly event. There’s no doubt they’ve been bad for a while, but just when it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, along came Brentford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was apparently the problem. Then there was Ralf Rangnick. Now Erik ten Hag is in the spotlight. The Dutchman, who is undoubtedly an excellent coach given his success with Ajax, faces an almost impossible task in Manchester. His players are simply not good enough. He needs more signings, but there is no guarantee he will get them.
Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing in west London flattered United. Brentford may have only had four shots on target in the first half – all of which went in – but it could easily have been double figures. The hosts out-worked, out-muscled and out-classed their opponents.
Nor could the statistics be more dire. The result means United have lost four league games in a row for the first time since February 1979. They have also lost seven consecutive away league games for the first time since losing 10 on the return leg between September and December 1936.
There have been embarrassing defeats before – Brighton away last season springs to mind – but this one at Brentford felt the worst.
Despite the scoreline and performances, United supporters are confident that Ten Hag is the man to turn their side’s fortunes around.
At 4-0 down, the away fans – as they always do – remained in full voice. The songs about “Erik ten Hag’s army” live on for now. But he got another reminder of the mess he has inherited since taking charge this summer.
“I’m confident I’ll make it – I did it everywhere,” he shared Sky Sports on Friday in response to a question about how long he would need to bring his glory days back to Old Trafford.
But the 52-year-old has become the first manager to lose each of his first two games in charge of United since John Chapman in November 1921.
He has the biggest job in football. And the early signs are not good.
United are at the bottom of the Premier League. It couldn’t happen, could it? Well, ask yourself this question: is there a worse team than them in the division?
A reality check for Newcastle?
A look at the betting markets at the start of the season told you all you need to know about where Newcastle are expected to finish. They were favorites in the “best of the rest” markets away from the top-six, illustrating that a top-8 finish is well within their capabilities. However, they may fall a little short of such expectations on the basis of their performance at Brighton, who deserved three points but came away with just one.
Defensively, Newcastle have a fantastic foundation, but Eddie Howe spoke openly afterwards of his disappointment at the final resolve shown by his attacking players. The stats certainly proved his point.
Newcastle made 100 passes into the final third and put in 10 crosses – mostly in the first half where their approach play was quite impressive. Yet for all that smart approach play, they only recorded an expected goals tally of 0.18 over the 90 minutes from just four shots.
The number of shots was their fewest in a Premier League away game since March 2021, when they had just three against Brighton at the Amex Stadium. Miguel Almiron is all work-rate and energy, but has little ability to make a difference in the final third, and the same is starting to be said of Allan Saint-Maximin, perhaps without the energy. He raided some great positions but couldn’t make the right decision to make a difference.
Adding someone like James Maddison to his side will go a long way to fixing what could be an area on the pitch that will hold Newcastle back. They have already had a bid of around £50m for Maddison knocked back. This notion may convince the hierarchy to dig deeper into their pockets to get a deal done.
Mitoma looks like another gem for Brighton after a lively cameo
Brighton were the better side at the Amex Stadium and Graham Potter sensed an opportunity to turn one point into three when he turned to Kaoru Mitoma for Solly March in the final quarter.
It was a big moment for the Japan international, who made his first Premier League appearance a year after signing for the Seagulls from J1 League side Kawasaki Frontale.
Mitoma was immediately loaned out to Union Saint-Gilloise, so you can understand why Kieran Trippier might have felt faced with something of an unknown quantity after being forced to work in scorching conditions for 75 minutes.
Mitoma joined Brighton for an undisclosed fee, but you can’t imagine it’s significant – and it looks like another player Brighton have plucked from relative obscurity. That’s how the club likes to operate, not throwing new signings in at the deep end, preferring them to hone their skills and learn Potter’s philosophy.
This was the ideal environment in which to introduce him and the 25-year-old winger was unlucky not to claim an assist, producing two successful dribbles – more than any other Brighton player in the entire game.
Pascal Gross should really have converted from his cut – but Mitoma’s lively cameo will surely have pleased his manager.
Mings and Watkins impress when they return
Steven Gerrard smiled afterwards when asked about the decision to restore Tyrone Mings to the starting line-up. He revealed that Mings had been injured and that was the reason for his omission. “He is not deprived of his place.” Easy to see why.
Ming was superb in Aston Villa’s 2-1 win over Everton, perhaps bettered only by Ollie Watkins, the man who set up both of the team’s goals and another named as a substitute for the disappointing opening weekend defeat to Bournemouth.
That result on the south coast led to some whispers about what is going on at Villa, but Gerrard insists the noise around his team is external rather than internal. This was a win – and an achievement – to quell the chatter and settle the early season nerves.
Lampard has problems at Everton
Gerrard’s old midfield rival Frank Lampard appears to have bigger problems. He has reworked the defense with Conor Coady joining James Tarkowski for the first time, but it is the form of the side in front of the back five that was at the root of their problems at Villa Park.
“It was a pretty even game apart from the transition goals,” Lampard said. But these details matter. Without a natural holding midfielder in their line-up, Everton looked completely unable to control the game whenever possession turned over.
Lampard has natural wingers in midfield and natural wingers in the forward line as well. “The feeling that we are going to score goals is not there,” he admitted. Dominic Calvert-Lewin returns. But Everton will be in deep trouble by then if they don’t improve.
Toney’s powerful display gets Brentford up
Brentford’s crushing win over Manchester United featured two different striker performances. One waited for chances to happen, while the other created opportunities for others.
The latter was Ivan Toney and it was no surprise that he finished the match on the winning side, with two assists to his name, while Cristiano Ronaldo could only watch as his side rarely tested David Raya.
Toney is a goalscorer and his once record-breaking season in the Championship shows it. But the way he bullied Lisandro Martinez into error after error and lost duel after lost duel was a major focal point for his team up front.
The performance was reminiscent of his display exactly a year ago when he ran riot against Arsenal’s Ben White as Brentford beat the Gunners 2-0 on the opening day of last season.
His proactive play and selfless manner – the best example being his assist for Bryan Mbuemo’s goal – shows how much he is maturing at this Premier League level – and it is helping Brentford punch above their weight with the bigger teams.