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Review of the weekends Premier League action
Sports editor Tom Browne gives his review of the weekends action
Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa
Where to begin?
After what many would call a successful summer, with the additions of Diego Carlos and Bouba Kamara, along with the permanent deal for Philippe Coutinho, you’d be forgiven for thinking they would get off to a storming start this season.
One out of three really isn't good enough for Steven Gerrard’s men and this was probably the worst performance so far too.
You can make excuses about losing to newly promoted Bournemouth and having nearly pulled a ‘Classic Villa’ against Everton conceding straight after scoring themselves, but the performance against Palace was so far off the mark, it’s almost impossible to imagine that Villa actually took the lead!
Ollie Watkins opened the scoring as he met Leon Bailey’s flicked header and fired Villa into the lead in the 5th minute. That goal had come moments after Villa had given the ball away and allowed Ayew through on goal.
In typical Villa fashion defending was not a top priority straight after scoring and 2 minutes later Wilfred Zaha ran at the Villa ‘defence’ and slotted coolly into the bottom right corner.
It was much of the same for the remainder of the first half as Villa struggled to get a foothold in the game and were lucky to go in level as Jeffery Schlupp had a goal disallowed by VAR for offside.
The second half started a little brighter for Villa as Bailey came close to putting the Villans 2-1 up. Ramsey’s pass and a lovely cut inside opened up space for Bailey who saw his strike from just outside the area hit the bar.
Then disaster struck. A ball into the Villa box and weak header at Martinez is judged to have hit Lucas Digne’s hand on the way straight into the keeper's arms. VAR after a lengthy delay felt that Digne had broken the rules and a penalty was given. Up steps Zaha. Martinez saves.
Unfortunately, Zaha did put the rebound in the back of the net to make it 2-1 Palace. It would be hard not to feel aggrieved by the penalty decision but in reality, a Palace second was always more likely than a Villa goal.
Twenty minutes from the end Jean-Philippe Mateta made it 3-1 and secured the points for the London side.
It has been a rough start to the season for Villa. Often picked as a ‘dark horse’ or ‘one to watch’ by the pundits this season, they really have flattered to deceive. There doesn't seem to be any real game plan or a team identity to speak of, making many pundits look like they picked Villa because they are managed by Gerrard.
Villa sacked Dean Smith last October and no real progress has been made since then despite the money that has been spent. The new manager has had two transfer windows and a preseason. Surely 3 wins in 14 isn’t acceptable?
There is no secret around the fact that Gerrard wants the Liverpool job and people at the club want to help him achieve that goal. I know a lot of Villa fans will want to see Gerrard succeed too, but how much time (or money) should he be given?
Tottenham 1-0 Wolves
Saturday's early kick off saw Wolves travel to the capital to take on Spurs. Tottenham under Conte have been a different beast and always were going to be a tough opposition.
Harry Kane was on course to break Sergio Aguero’s record of Premier League goals scored for a single club going into this game, so it was no surprise he popped up with the winner. Hueng-Min Son’s corner was knocked on by new signing Ivan Perisic into the path of Kane at the back post.
In a game in which Wolves fielded a Portuguese front 6, they had a fair share of possession and at times threatened the Spurs goal. It appears, like has been the case for a few seasons, without an out-and-out goal scorer, they are struggling to convert opportunities into goals.
Birmingham City 0-1 Wigan Athletic
After a start to the season that saw them occupy the top spot in the Championship the blues found themselves back in familiar territory after Saturday’s game against Wigan.
Having not had a great start to the season either, Wigan found themselves down to 10 men after 10 minutes when former Villa man Joe Bennet saw red for a foul on Lukas Jutkiewicz.
It was an opportunity for Blues to pick up 3 points at home, in front of 16,013 fans against potentially a relegation rival. It could prove to be a massive win. Blues turned the screw but could find the breakthrough. Wigan held on and defended well despite the man disadvantage.
Then a lovely ball over the top was met by Nathan Broadhead in the 82 minute who slotted past Ruddy to win the game for Wigan.
Top of the league is already a distant memory for the noses as looks like it's going to be another tough campaign at the bottom of the Championship.
West Brom 5-2 Hull City
The Baggies turned on the class in the second half as they smashed the Tiger 5-2 at The Hawthorns. Quite inexplicably for a Steve Bruce side.
Having gone in 1-0 up at half time via a Hull City own goal, many Albion fans were probably expecting another Bruce ‘masterclass’ and spend the following 45 minutes biting their nails and praying to hold for the win.
Ten minutes into the second half though, and it was 3-0 to the Baggies and they were on easy street. It was 4-0 before Hull got a goal back themselves in the 77th minute, with Oscar Estupinan scoring another consolation for Hull in the 90th minute after Dara O’Shea had made it 5-1 a few minutes earlier.
It was Albion's first win of the season and it will be a welcome one too. That result leaves them 14th in the league.
Coventry City P-P Huddersfield Town
NOBODY SHOULD BE HAVING GAMES POSTPONED IN AUGUST, IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, DUE TO A POOR PLAYING SURFACE. IT’S REALLY NOT ON.
Gillingham 0-0 Walsall
After a bright start to the season Walsall have failed to win in their last 3. Recovering from the 3-1 midweek loss to Barrow, they travelled to Gillingham and managed to pick up a point in what was a fairly even contest.
At this early stage of the season, it is all about points on the board and keeping up with the pack in the top half of the table, both of which Walsall are doing.
Scunthorpe 3-4 Solihull Moors
After 36 minutes, 3-0 down away from home, you’d probably think it wasn't going to be your day at the office. Just ask Man United!
They are made of tougher stuff in Solihull though and when they found themselves 3-0 they dug deep and put a shift in. By half time it was 3-2 after getting 2 in 3 minutes just before halftime.
The Moors took that momentum into the second half but couldn't find the equaliser until the 82nd minute. All three points were wrapped up 3 minutes later when Alex Reid scored the winner for the visitors.
Last year's Play-off finalist now sit in 3rd, having not lost so far this season. Winning games like this can define a team's season. After last season's heartache they’ll be hoping to continue this vein of form and avoid the play-offs all together.
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