Johnnie’s Judgement: Premier League matchday 2 review
James Ward-Prowse should captain England.
The second week of the new Premier League season is through and this week didn’t throw up as many surprises (emphasis on ‘as many’).
It’s still far too early to pass strong judgements on every team; however, some sides are making it pretty clear in the position they are in.
Join me as I bring you my judgement from matchday 2.
Rightfully back at the top
After two games, only three teams are still perfect - Arsenal in third, Manchester City in second, and… Brighton at the top!
Brighton have slowly worked their way to becoming one of the biggest threats to the big money boys who usually occupy the front end of the table.
They picked up a strong 4-1 victory at Wolves, having the game wrapped up in the 55th minute. That’s their second 4-1 win in a row, and yes you can argue that it’s easy to look good against Wolves and Luton, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that De Zerbi’s men are playing like a European contender.
The other two perfect teams faced strong challenges which you could say they were lucky to come away from with the three points.
Man City faced off against Newcastle, and it is very clear that Kevin De Bruyne’s early absence is going to hinder them somewhat. He is the lifeblood of that team, and without him, their attack looks a fair bit more lost, especially Erling Haaland.
As for Arsenal, going to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace is always tricky, particularly on a Monday night. They were able to sneak away with the win, but they had to work so unbelievably hard for it.
Brentford occupy the fourth spot after a 3-0 win at Fulham. They could be very tricky customers this year, and let’s not forget they haven’t even got the goal-happy Ivan Toney back yet.
Liverpool also looked fairly back to normal with a standard 3-1 win over Bournemouth. It looked back at first, conceding in the third minute, but they eventually kicked it back into gear and looked fairly comfortable after they did.
Relegation battle already forming
Those are the five at the top, let’s now look at the five at the bottom (really three, it would be harsh to pass judgement on Luton and Burnley who didn’t play this week).
As mentioned, Wolves lost 4-1 to Brighton. It could’ve been a different game if Rayan Ait-Nouri had scored his golden opportunity in the first half, but he obviously didn’t, leading to them now sitting in 19th. They have some good players but just can’t seem to figure it out.
Everton are in the same boat, to be honest. They just cannot get it together. 4-0 at Aston Villa isn’t too embarrassing as Villa are expected to be a big player this year, but to not score again is not a good look. And let me tell you, Che Adams is not the answer. Leave him with my Saints in the Championship. Please.
Sheffield United found a goal this week and somewhat luckily find themselves above Burnley and Luton purely on goal difference despite two losses to their one.
Just do better
Only two teams really belong in this section - Manchester United and Chelsea.
United may be doing like they did last year, taking some time to get into the season before going on a good run and looking at their best. But for a team that realistically could and should be challenging at the top, taking time to get going isn’t good enough.
Marcus Rashford looks like he’s dropped back a step again which means they haven’t got their goalscorer, Antony and Alejandro Garnacho have both been tragically bad in the opening two games of the year, and Casemiro even looked a bit dodgy in their 2-0 loss to Tottenham.
Ten Hag needs to get his side sorted out, and they can’t afford another embarrassing 4-0 loss to a mid-table side this time around to get things going.
But at least they aren’t Chelsea, who can spend as much money as they want but will seemingly stay at this Sugar-Honey-Ice-Tea level.
Losing to West Ham with the side they have is unacceptable, regardless of it being at their home. The quality that Chelsea have at their disposal is far too great to be taking losses of this level.
The missed penalty changed the game for Chelsea but acts as more of an indication of where they’re at - a team that can’t get themselves out of a slump once they’re in it, which they always are in.
They simply don’t have a leader in the team that can help press on up the field. Thiago Silva is a brilliant player and commands the defence, but he’s not going to help much on the attack.
They need a new Frank Lampard, someone who will take control of the midfielder and forwards and keep them on it, never letting their heads go down.
But that’s not what Todd Boehly sees. He seems to think that more money spent = more success, regardless of team cohesion or leadership.
Saying all that, though, West Ham did well to capitalise when they did, and James Ward-Prowse showed exactly the sort of asset he is, getting two assists to help them win the game.
Game of the Week
My Game of the Week is Wolves vs Brighton. It was a tightly-fought affair with both sides sharing similar possession and taking a similar amount of shots.
The difference between the two is the brilliance behind some of Brighton’s top players, in particular Kaoru Mitoma.
His goal was just sheer excellence, something which he is making a habit of doing. Solly March was also fantastic, bagging two goals which take him level with Bryan Mbuemo as the top scorer so far this season with three goals.