Early Leaders Emerge After 2 Rounds in English EPL

Association Football—English Premier League
August 24, 2017 Updated: August 24, 2017

ENGLAND—Manchester United used its early kickoff against Swansea at Liberty Stadium to put pressure on its main rivals, recording a first half injury time goal when Eric Bailly scored his first United goal following Paul Pogba’s header which hit the cross bar and fell to the goal line. They scored 3 second half goals in a five minute period late in the half from Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, and Anthony Martial.

In later games Bournemouth were beaten 2-nil by Watford at the Vitality Stadium through goals from Richarlison and Etienne Capoue, Burnley lost 1-nil to West Bromwich, with the goal being scored by second half substitute Hal Robson Kanu who was subsequently red carded for a flailing hand, and Leicester City won 2-nil against Brighton and Hove Albion, with the goals coming from Shinzi Okazaki and Harry Maguire. In other matches Liverpool were 1-nil victors over Crystal Palace with Sadio Mane the goalscorer, and Southampton were 3-2 winners against West Ham at St Mary’s. Southampton taking a 2-nil lead after goals from Manolo Gabbiadini and a Dusan Tadic penalty, with West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic being sent off for retaliation. West Ham responded with 2 goals from Javier Hernandez, only to concede an injury time penalty converted by Southampton’s Charlie Austin to end with a 3-2 defeat. 

In the late game, Stoke City won 1-nil over Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium with the goal being scored by Jese Rodriguez, a new loan signing from PSG after his move there from Real Madrid.

In Sunday’s matches, Huddersfield Town won 1-nil against Newcastle United, with Aaron Mooy scoring the solitary goal early in the second half. In the big London derby between last years champions and runners up, Chelsea and Spurs, at Wembley (Spurs’ temporary home), Chelsea won 2-1 continuing Spurs’ poor run of results at that stadium. Chelsea took the lead when Marcus Alonso put a free kick into the top right hand corner of the net, Spurs equalising when Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi headed into his own net, and Marcus Alonso restoring Chelsea’s lead and winner three minutes from time by driving a left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.     

On Monday night Manchester City hosted Everton at the Etihad Stadium. Everton took the lead 10 minutes before half time when (newly returned) Wayne Rooney scored, recording his 200th in the Premier League, only the third player to reach this mark. Manchester City’s task in restoring parity was made harder just before half time when debutant Kyle Walker was dismissed, for two successive yellow card offences.  Manchester City pressed hard in the 2nd half, with Everton appearing to sit back and hold on for the win, but City eventually got their reward when substitute Raheem Sterling equalised with 10 minutes remaining. With Everton having Morgan Schneiderlin red carded for a second yellow card offence with 2 minutes remaining. Neither side could score another goal and the game ended 1-all.   

Manchester United, West Bromwich, and Huddersfield Town lead the early table with 6 points from 2 wins, with United already holding a goal difference of 8, whilst title contenders Spurs, and Chelsea have 3 points, Manchester City and Everton have 4 points. Arsenal’s defeat will likely lead to some misgivings amongst fans after poor league results in recent seasons have resulted in a lack of a title challenge, falling out of the Champions League, and a deemed lack of investment by billionaire owners in new players when compared with their rivals.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth and Brighton are already looking at a potentially long season of struggle after 2 consecutive defeats each, with Bournemouth next facing Manchester City and Arsenal, and Brighton games against Watford and West Bromwich, before the pair meet of Friday Sept 15

Allan Jackson has been involved in soccer for more than 40 years as a player, referee, administrator and freelance writer.