EPL

Premier League Review: Silva hat-trick in Man City romp, Blades stun Everton

By Sports Desk September 21, 2019

Manchester City claimed their biggest-ever top-flight victory with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday to move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick.

A 3-2 defeat away to Norwich City last time out had raised questions about the hunger in Pep Guardiola's squad, but they responded with a brutal dismantling of the Hornets on home turf.

Liverpool will restore their five-point cushion at the top if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Leicester City two points behind Guardiola's side after a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

In the day's other matches, Burnley moved up to seventh with a routine 2-0 home win over Norwich, while Everton lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield United.

DEVASTATING CITY BACK TO THEIR BEST

City's defeat against Norwich at Carrow Road had been their first since January, but any concerns it was anything more than a minor blip were pointedly answered by Guardiola's men against Watford.

The swagger with which City brushed aside Watford to take a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes was a reminder of the defending Premier League champions' quality and ruthlessness.

David Silva opened the scoring in the first minute of the game and that was followed by a Sergio Aguero penalty six minutes later – his 100th league goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Watford's defenders were left in a daze by City's slick interchanges as three goals – scored by Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo and Nicolas Otamendi – blew the visitors away.

The second half could have been something of an anti-climax, but Bernardo notched his hat-trick before the sensational Kevin De Bruyne rounded off the scoring.

LEICESTER FIGHT BACK DESPITE VAR

Mauricio Pochettino's 250th Premier League game in charge of Tottenham ended in defeat as his side's away day blues continued at the King Power Stadium in a match dominated by VAR.

Spurs have been memorable beneficiaries of the VAR review system in draws against Manchester City – most famously in a dramatic climax to their Champions League quarter-final second leg last season.

However, when Serge Aurier's goal was disallowed at the King Power Stadium because of the tightest of offside decisions against Son Heung-min when they were 1-0 up thanks to Harry Kane, it took the wind out of their sails.

Leicester were re-energised and after they equalised through Ricardo Pereira they took all three points thanks to a sublime low strike from James Maddison.

The Foxes themselves had earlier been denied a goal when the score was 0-0, after Wilfred Ndidi bundled in from close range only for it to be chalked off by VAR for offside against Ayoze Perez.

BLADES SLICE THROUGH TOFFEES

It was a tetchy day at Goodison Park as Everton suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against newly promoted Sheffield United.

An own goal from Colombian defender Yerry Mina, who headed in an Oliver Norwood corner, came against the run of play, but the Toffees were unable to find a way back despite long spells of pressure.

When Lys Mousset slotted in his first goal for the Blades with 11 minutes to go it was start of grumbles from the Everton fans about whether Marco Silva is the man to take them forward as they started to stream towards the exits. They became boos when the full-time whistle was blown.

Chris Wilder's side, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Blues into the comfort of mid-table.

CLARETS ENJOY HOME COMFORTS

Burnley's ability to punch above their weight in the Premier League in recent seasons has been largely down to their impressive results at Turf Moor. 

A typically dogged and disciplined display from Sean Dyche's men secured another three points and lifted them up to seventh in the table.

Victory was secured thanks to two goals in four minutes from powerful striker Chris Wood, as Norwich failed to hit the heights of their previous win over Man City.

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    Mikel Arteta saluted Gabriel Martinelli's courage and enthusiasm following the teenager's exceptional goal in Arsenal's eventful 2-2 Premier League draw with Chelsea on Tuesday.

    Martinelli raced from well inside his own half to score on the counter just after the hour at Stamford Bridge, cancelling out Jorginho's first-half penalty for Chelsea.

    Arsenal defender David Luiz had been sent off for committing the foul on Tammy Abraham that sent Jorginho to the spot but the Gunners snatched a point even after falling behind for a second time.

    Hector Bellerin beat goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a left-footed finish moments after Cesar Azpilicueta had prodded Chelsea into a seemingly secure 83rd-minute lead.

    Arsenal boss Arteta highlighted his players' character and made special mention of Martinelli's maturity, the 18-year-old having continually impressed since arriving from his native Brazil in the close season.

    "To play in this stadium the way he has done with 10 men and against Azpilicueta, who in my opinion is one of the best defenders in the league, and he was going against him every single time, you need courage to do that," Arteta said.

    "Then his energy. I wanted to take him off a few times because he looked knackered, he was cramping and next minute he's sprinting 60 yards again.

    "Not just him. I think Laca [Alexandre Lacazette] is playing at a really good level, even though he's not scoring, and Nico [Nicolas Pepe] as well, and everybody that's coming in. They are fighting really hard in training to try to convince us to play more.

    "When they question some things I tell them [to] speak on the pitch and this is to speak on the pitch."

    Arteta was forced to deploy Granit Xhaka in defence after losing David Luiz and praised the former captain for overcoming the "varied" state of mind that led him to contemplate a transfer earlier this term.

    "I tried to convince him that this was the right place for him to stay, that I wanted to give him the opportunity to try to enjoy playing football again and everything I ask him to do, every training session he is willing to do it," the Gunners boss said.

    "Today I knew, the moment I put him there, I didn't know how good he was going to do but he was going to put everything out there, and he was great."

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    Chelsea failed to make the most of their numerical advantage as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in a thrilling London derby that included a late goal from either side.

    Much of the pre-match focus was on the two managers, with Frank Lampard beginning to come in for a bit of criticism after a difficult run, while Mikel Arteta has been accused of doing little to improve Arsenal's fortunes since coming in.

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    DAVID LUIZ SEES RED BUT ARSENAL CLING ON

    It was an unhappy return to Stamford Bridge for former Chelsea defender David Luiz, who was given a frosty reception and then sent off for a cynical foul that led to a penalty.

    From that spot-kick, Jorginho opened the scoring in the 28th minute, suggesting Chelsea were set to cruise.

    But a wonderful solo effort from Gabriel Martinelli restored parity just after the hour, leaving Lampard looking a little nervous.

    Chelsea retook the lead with what they thought was a winner from Cesar Azpilicueta, the captain turning in a left-wing cross.

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    AGUERO THE DIFFERENCE FOR CITY

    City handed Aymeric Laporte his first appearance since August at Bramall Lane, the Frenchman having recovered from a serious knee injury.

    But he was given some rough treatment by the Blades – with Muhamed Besic catching him with a heavy challenge early on.

    City did enough in the first half to take the lead, but Dean Henderson was in excellent form between the United posts, making several impressive saves and keeping out Gabriel Jesus' penalty.

    But the visitors' persistence paid off. Sergio Aguero came off the bench to get the winner 17 minutes from time, finishing clinically after a glorious pass from Kevin De Bruyne.

    That moves them six clear of Leicester City in third, though the 13-point gap behind leaders Liverpool remains daunting.

    CHERRIES STOP THE ROT

    After six matches – five of which ended in defeat – without a victory, Bournemouth finally got back to winning ways against Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

    Harry Wilson got the ball rolling with a driven effort from the edge of the box after Dominic Solanke teed him up in the 36th minute.

    Pascal Gross then put past his own goalkeeper just before the break, diverting in after a Bournemouth corner caused havoc in the visitors' box.

    Callum Wilson then wrapped up a comfortable win 16 minutes from time, rounding Mat Ryan and slotting in unchallenged, with Aaron Mooy's late effort a mere consolation in a 3-1 defeat for the Seagulls.

    It was not enough to move Bournemouth out of the bottom three, though – Aston Villa's last-gasp 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Watford decisive in that sense, as Tyrone Mings got the all-important clincher.

    NEWCASTLE STUN EVERTON WITH COMEBACK

    Everton looked to be easing to a 2-0 win over Newcastle United – but it all went wrong in stoppage time.

    Moise Kean initially put Everton in front in the 30th minute with his first Premier League goal, though he required a little luck, as he capitalised on Newcastle's inability to clear the ball and then shot under Martin Dubravka, who probably should have done better.

    The in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin got his 10th top-flight goal of the season early in the second half, but that two-goal cushion was insufficient.

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    After 95 enthralling minutes at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea and Arsenal were left to share the spoils: two goals and one point apiece, and clear problems to solve over the remainder of the season.

    For the neutrals, this was a fabulous encounter, a heady blend of slapstick errors, fine finishes and furious endeavour creating a brilliant advert for the quality of the Premier League product, if not necessarily the teams themselves.

    For all their faults, you cannot accuse Chelsea or Arsenal of being boring. But the faults are there. The worry is how Frank Lampard or Mikel Arteta go about fixing them to keep their respective seasons meaningful.

    On the evidence of Tuesday's comeback, Arteta has got Arsenal fighting in a way not seen for some years in north London, but the state of their defence means any hope of finishing in the top four remains forlorn. For Lampard, the excuses are not so clear.

    After the loss to Newcastle United, Lampard blamed a lack of goalscorers for not putting the visitors out of sight at St James' Park before Isaac Hayden's stoppage-time slap in the face.

    "We know we have problems at the top of the pitch in terms of we don't get enough goals," he said. "If you don't score, you are always liable for a sucker punch, and they got it.

    "We can't work any more in training on finishing. You need to have that killer instinct in front of goal. We need to score more goals from front-line areas if we are going to get to where we want to be."

    It's true they could have been more ruthless against the Gunners. Tammy Abraham sent two headers into Bernd Leno's hands and Michy Batshuayi made a mess of a late chance.

    Given Arsenal scored from their only two shots of the match, you could understand Lampard if he rails against his side for not killing off a team who played a man light after David Luiz forever ingrained himself in Chelsea folklore by getting sent off 26 minutes into his latest return.

    Goalscoring looked artfully simplistic for Lampard the Chelsea player, but his concerns as their coach are more complex.

    Gabriel Martinelli's equaliser came straight from a Chelsea corner and a slip by N'Golo Kante, a sequence of buffoonery only overshadowed by Shkodran Mustafi, Leno and David Luiz earlier turning an errant backpass into a circus act.

    Hector Bellerin's leveller, three minutes after Cesar Azpilicueta looked to have won the game, was the result of Chelsea failing to play a spot of keep-ball against 10 tiring opponents. These are passages of play that a top side should know how to navigate.

    Suggesting Lampard's job should be under threat would be nonsense, but the fact remains Chelsea have lost six matches and won only four in the Premier League since beating Crystal Palace in mid-November.

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    With their transfer ban over (not even that is a wholly satisfying excuse – they knew they had £58million winger Christian Pulisic to bring into the side even during the previous window), Chelsea will almost certainly be exploring the market in the next 10 days. Edinson Cavani would be a worthwhile addition to bring those killer goals Lampard craves, and alternatives will surely be pursued.

    Arsenal are also expected to make signings, with Jerome Boateng tipped to bolster the defence. Whether the Bayern Munich centre-back is still of the required calibre remains to be seen, but you can certainly imagine Arsenal's results improving quickly under Arteta once top-class defenders are in place, be that in January or at the end of the season.

    How Chelsea kick on under Lampard is harder to answer.

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