Premier League winners and losers: Anthony Martial, Liverpool and more
Premier League winners and losers: Anthony Martial makes dream Man United debut, while champions Chelsea lose again
Anthony Martial While Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler was over exuberant in his commentary of Anthony Martial’s first Manchester United goal, there was a palpable sense of relief that the striker immediately made inroads into justifying his £36m price tag on Saturday evening. Europe’s most-expensive teenager has been branded a gamble by many ex-professionals, while some have ventured as far as to call him a would-be flop. However, the 19-year-old’s cameo showed enough to justify the potential United saw in the newly-capped France forward. Aided by Martin Skrtel’s inept attempts to steer the summer signing away from danger, Martial danced past the Liverpool defence to seal a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford. Martial was likened to Thierry Henry upon the completion of his United move, and his first goal prompted one clever Vine user to combine Martial’s strike alongside footage of Henry’s slalom goal against Liverpool at Highbury in 2005. The similarities between the goals has been a tad exaggerated, but the United signing has taken significantly less time to open his Premier League account than the Arsenal legend. Martial is one to watch.
Wes Hoolahan Often overlooked by his Republic of Ireland managers and some Norwich City bosses of the recent past, Wes Hoolahan is finally geting the chance to shine on the Premier League stage on a consistent basis – aged 33. The Norwich playmaker is the top assist-maker in the English top-flight with four in five Premier League games. Hoolahan made his fourth goal for Cameron Jerome against Bournemouth before the Irish midfielder opened his account for the season with a smartly-taken strike in a 3-1 win at Carrow Road on Saturday. With big-name players like Memphis Depay, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard all struggling to get going this season, the likes of Hoolahan and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez have been providing Premier League supporters with a healthy dose of entertainment.
Jose Mourinho The Chelsea manager was characteristically bullish in his assessment of his side’s performance in a 3-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park. In the Portuguese’s mind, the defending champions’s lack of luck and not his struggling big names was to blame for a third defeat in five games. Their Premier League opponents are managing to exploits gaps between Chelsea’s midfield and defence, whilst Diego Costa and Eden Hazard are decidedly off the pace. Speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s clash against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Mourinho rubbished talk of the 52-year-old struggling in his third seasons at his current and former clubs. A quick Google proves the Blues manager has a point. While talk of a third-season collapse may be a myth, Mourinho would do well remember the fickle nature of his employer: Roman Abramovich. The Russian oligarch has never hesitated to make a change when Chelsea have showed signs of stagnating in the past 12 years.
Brendan Rodgers The Northern Irishman navigated a tricky opening three games with a respectable return of seven points. But as widely predicted in the summer, Brendan Rodgers is under pressure after an unexpected defeat by West Ham United was followed by a sluggish performance in a 3-1 loss to United on Saturday. Suddenly seven points from a possible 15 has triggered talk of a crisis and murmurings of Jurgen Klopp being an ideal successor. Rodgers has a tough assignment at Anfield but the 43-year-old hasn’t helped his cause by playing summer signings Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino out-of-position. Liverpool have lost their attacking flair and searing pace which was a feature of Rodgers’s side during their 2013/14 season. The Liverpool manager, who hasn’t been shy of lauding his own tactical brilliance in the past, needs to get to his core principles without complication.
Winners: Dimitri Payet, Claudio Ranieri.
Losers: Tim Sherwood, Steve McClaren.