A lot of people dislike it when one team runs away with the league, as Manchester City seem set to do with the Premier League this season, but that does not mean that there can’t still be a lot of drama along the way.
There have been some phenomenal games so far during this campaign, perhaps owing to the influx of world class players and even more world class managers arriving in the English top flight over the past few seasons.
Whether it is a high-scoring affair or involves some late drama or controversial decisions, everyone loves a great game of football, so here are some of the best from this season so far.
Arsenal 4-3 Leicester
The opening game of this Premier League season not only brought with it all of the excitement of a new campaign, but it also turned out to be one of the most dramatic matches so far.
Arsenal’s new summer signing Alexandre Lacazette grabbed an early opener, which was almost immediately cancelled out by Shinji Okazaki. Jamie Vardy then handed the Foxes the lead, before Danny Welbeck pulled the Gunners back level at the break.
Vardy struck again just after half time, and it took two late goals from Aaron Ramsey and super sub Olivier Giroud to finally win it for Arsene Wenger late on.
It was an incredibly fast-paced, back-and-forth game with goals from new faces and old heroes, and a match that heralded a brilliant new season of Premier League excitement.
Man City 7-2 Stoke
After their relatively disappointing third place finish in the Premier League last season, most people expected Manchester City to improve slightly in Pep Guardiola’s second year in charge. Few expected them to blow the league apart however, and the Cityzens have been emphatic in their dominance.
One game in particular exemplified their utterly destructive ability, and it was their 7-2 win over Stoke in October. Six different City players got on the score sheet in a game that didn’t even see a fully fit Sergio Aguero make it off the bench.
Seven goals were what Gurdiola’s men managed, but they could have scored so many more, which was perhaps the most frightening aspect of this game, along with their remarkable total of 80% possession.
There is something quite amusing about the fact that Stoke scored two goals in this game with just one shot on target. This game was played at the Etihad, but the old cliché of ‘Can he do it on a rainy day in Stoke?’ still has some relevance. It turns out that Guardiola can do it, and he can in fact obliterate that cliché entirely.
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal and Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool
Maybe I’m cheating by including both fixtures between Liverpool and Arsenal, but they were both crackers for different reasons, and thus certainly worth mentioning.
The first meeting ended in a resounding 4-0 win for the Merseyside club, featuring goals from Jurgen Klopp’s golden trio. Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane all got on the score sheet, and even Daniel Sturridge got in on the act. It was a game that exemplified everything that is great about the Reds this season, devastating Arsenal’s defence with lighting quick attacks and driving them back so much that they didn’t even manage a shot on target.
The next time around it was a master class in Liverpool’s inadequacies at the back. Klopp’s men still managed to put three goals past the Gunners, but Arsene Wenger learned from his mistakes in an attacking sense. 3-3 was how it ended, but it could have been any score line at all, and was one of the most frantic games of the season.
Man City 5-0 Liverpool and Liverpool 4-3 Man City
Another set of fixtures between two of the top sides, the games between champions elect Manchester City and their high-scoring rivals Liverpool ended in very different fashions.
Just as Liverpool had dismantled Arsenal early in the season, so too did City tear the Reds apart upon their first meeting. This time both Aguero and Gabriel Jesus started, and both got on the score sheet as City registered 67% possession against one of England’s top teams. The game also saw a controversial red card for Sadio Mane after a high boot, and was one of Liverpool’s lowest points of the season.
When they met again it was a completely different story, and the Reds became the only team this season to defeat Guardiola’s City side. At half time in this fixture it was 1-1, and everyone expected the Cityzens to go on and win it. It was Liverpool who dominated the second half however, with the golden trio all grabbing goals after the break. At 4-1 it looked to be all over, and in truth it was, but City still sparked a remarkable attempted comeback, scoring twice in the last six minutes to make this one of the most exciting spells of injury time this season.
Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
The final game on the list was not only one filled with drama, but also one marred by controversial refereeing decisions. It also involved a battle between the two leaders in the race for the Golden Boot, some of the best players in the league, and a goal of the season contender.
Mohamed Salah handed Liverpool the lead after just three minutes, but the Reds couldn’t manage to grab another goal to kill the game. In the 80th minute their inability to score again looked to have cost Klopp’s men as Victor Wanyama fired in a wonder strike to bring Tottenham level.
With three minutes to go, Mauricio Pochettino’s side had the perfect chance to grab all three points. Loris Karius made minimal contact with Harry Kane in the penalty area, but the striker went down and the referee pointed to the spot. Kane stepped up, only to be denied by Karius, and Salah went straight up the other end to score what seemed like the winner with a deft chip over Hugo Lloris.
That was not the end of it however, and there was still time for even more controversy. Liverpool’s big money defensive signing Virgil van Dijk seemed to knee Erik Lamela gently in the back in the 95th minute, and once again that was enough to earn Spurs a penalty. This time Kane converted coolly, earning his team a valuable point with the last kick of a phenomenal game.
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