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The Biggest EPL Winners and Losers from Matchday 8, 2020
The lead changed hands three times in the Premier League on Matchday 8, with Southampton, Tottenham, and Leicester all enjoying time at the top of the table.
The Foxes head into the international break at the summit following their 1-0 victory over Wolves on Sunday, while Liverpool failed to regain top spot after drawing 1-1 with Manchester City.
There were also big victories for Chelsea, Aston Villa, and Crystal Palace. However, Sheffield United, Burnley, and West Brom remain winless.
Of course, there was some customary VAR controversy to discuss, too.
Join me as I look at the biggest EPL winners and losers from Matchday 8.
Saints found themselves at the summit of the Premier League table following their 2-0 victory over Newcastle on Friday night. In fact, it was the first time the club had topped England’s top flight since 1988!
With talisman Danny Ings sidelined through injury, Che Adams stepped up and fired Southampton into the lead with just seven minutes on the clock. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side dominated the entire game, with Stuart Armstrong putting the icing on the cake late in the second half.
Due to the congestion at the top of the EPL table, Saints’ lead didn’t last long. Tottenham briefly went top after beating West Brom in Saturday’s early kick-off, before Leicester’s win over Wolves saw the Foxes snatch the lead.
Liverpool’s draw with Manchester City meant that Southampton eventually ended Matchday 8 in fourth place, but I think we can all agree that Saints have upped their game this season.
After losing their opening two games, Hasenhuttl’s men have strung together a six-game unbeaten streak, including five victories. Saints head into the international break on the back of three straight wins. Spirits are high on the south coast.
Loser: Ademola Lookman
The Panenka penalty.
When it works, you look like a genius. But when it fails, you are left looking like a complete idiot!
Unfortunately for Ademola Lookman, his attempt at recreating the famous – and extremely ballsy – spot-kick didn’t go to plan on Saturday.
When Tomas Soucek scored in the 91st minute, it looked as though West Ham had claimed a dramatic late victory over Fulham. But following a VAR review, the Cottagers were awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time.
Lookman had the chance to rescue a draw for his side, but veteran goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski predicted the youngster’s audacious chip and made an easy save.
Ademola Lookman on the Fulham team bus tonight pic.twitter.com/lCKufqnLak— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) November 7, 2020
There is a time and a place for a Panenka. But when your team is 1-0 down in the 98th minute, it’s probably best to try something different.
Winner: Crystal Palace
There were fears that Crystal Palace would struggle this season. Following seven straight defeats at end of last term, nobody was expecting Roy Hodgson’s side to hit the ground running this year.
But after eight games, the Eagles have already picked up four wins, while frontrunner Leicester is only five points ahead.
A ruthless 4-1 victory over Leeds United on Saturday means that Palace is sitting pretty in eighth place. Scott Dann headed the Eagles ahead, Eberechi Eze netted a sublime free-kick to double their lead, before Helder Costa scored an own goal just before half-time.
With 20 minutes remaining, Wilfried Zaha took his 2020/21 tally to five goals and two assists by setting up Jordan Ayew for Palace’s fourth.
Remarkably, the Eagles only saw 35% of the ball. But while Leeds dominated the possession, Hodgson’s men bided their time and took their opportunities.
Palace supporters won’t be allowing themselves to get too excited, but after a dismal end to the previous campaign, they could barely have wished for a better start this season.
Loser: Sheffield United
The longer the Blades’ winless run goes on, the more worried I get about them.
Sheffield United took the Premier League by storm last term, securing a hugely respectable top-half finish in their comeback campaign. But for whatever reason, it’s just not happening for Chris Wilder’s side this season.
Despite taking the lead against Chelsea on Saturday, Sheff Utd was torn apart by the Blues. An early David McGoldrick goal gave the team some hope, but Wilder’s men were ultimately outclassed and ended up losing 4-1.
1 – Sheff Utd have just 1 point after their opening 8 Premier League games, the joint lowest tally at this stage of a campaign, alongside Man City in 1995-96 (relegated), Southampton in 1998-99 (avoided), Sheff Wed in 1999-00 (relegated) & Sunderland in 2013-14 (avoided). Blunt. pic.twitter.com/wjnW5qZmrW— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 7, 2020
The Blades now find themselves rock bottom of the EPL table with just a single point to show for their efforts. A record of one draw and seven losses speaks for itself.
I don’t think the Sheff Utd hierarchy will be panicking just yet. After all, Wilder has done a remarkable job at Bramall Lane. But if a win eludes the club for much longer, the manager’s job could be in jeopardy.
Winner: Bruno Fernandes
I think it’s fair to say that Manchester United would be pretty screwed without Bruno Fernandes.
It is no secret that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has made a poor start to the season. Indeed, the Red Devils failed to win their opening three home league games for the first time since 1972/73 and currently sit fourteenth in the table.
But once again, Fernandes came to the rescue and bailed his team out on Matchday 8.
Man Utd went behind to a Bernard strike midway through the first half at Goodison Park, but Fernandes quickly equalized with a top-class header. He then grabbed his second goal of the game before half-time, albeit via a fortunate cross.
The Portuguese star capped off a superb individual performance in second-half stoppage time, assisting Edinson Cavani for his first goal in English soccer.
United has only scored 12 EPL goals this season, yet the attacking midfielder has been involved in eight (five goals, three assists). The fact that Fernandes has had a hand in three quarters of the Red Devils’ league goals this term speaks volumes about his importance to the team.
Loser: VAR (Again)
It would be nice if we didn’t have to talk about VAR on a Monday, wouldn’t it?
At the moment, it feels like every weekend is marred by VAR controversy. And unfortunately, Matchday 8 was no exception.
Firstly, Patrick Bamford was adjudged to be offside at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The Leeds striker thought he’d equalized for his side, only for replays to show that part of his arm was beyond the last defender.
You can’t score with your arm, so how is that offside?
There were also two extremely harsh penalties awarded on Sunday for seemingly unavoidable handballs. Max Kilman (Wolves) and Joe Gomez (Liverpool) were both punished when crosses struck their hand from point-blank range.
On both occasions, the on-field referee was advised by the video assistant to consult the pitch-side monitor. But somehow, neither decision was overturned.
It seems as though the majority of EPL players, managers, and even referees are confused about the current rules and regulations. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the uncertainty is ruining the game.
Winner: Aston Villa
Aston Villa began the season in eye-catching form, winning each of their opening four Premier League games, including that 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool. However, back-to-back defeats against Leeds and Southampton quickly brought an end to the team’s flying start.
Admittedly, I didn’t have high hopes for the Villains when they visited the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. But Dean Smith’s men rediscovered their early-season form and crushed Arsenal 3-0.
Jack Grealish now has four goals and five assists in just seven league appearances after setting up Villa’s opener, while Ollie Watkins took his tally to six EPL goals for the season with a quickfire second-half brace.
Only league-leader Leicester has picked up more wins than Aston Villa this term, and Smith’s men have a game in hand over all five teams above them in the table.
The Gunners were poor on Sunday, but Villa was immense.
The general consensus is that Arsenal is moving in the right direction under Mikel Arteta. There is absolutely no denying that the team has improved since the Spaniard took charge almost a year ago.
But the Gunners clearly still have a long way to go before they can be viewed among the top teams in the country again.
Having seen off Dundalk and Molde in the Europa League, as well as beating Man Utd last weekend, Arsenal headed into Matchday 8 on the back of three straight wins in all competitions. Arteta’s men were expected to beat Aston Villa, yet they suffered a humiliating collapse.
9 – Arsenal have scored just nine goals in eight Premier League games this season; their fewest at this stage of a league campaign since 1998-99 (also nine). Impotent. pic.twitter.com/G4BZYqajgV— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2020
With star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang misfiring, the Gunners have now suffered consecutive home defeats in the Premier League. Aubameyang failed to register a single shot on target on Sunday and has not scored from open play since Matchday 1.
Still, Arsenal’s backline must take a lot of the blame for Sunday’s loss. Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, and Gabriel looked shaky in defense, leaving goalkeeper Bernd Leno exposed.
The Premier League resumes on Saturday, November 21, following a two-week lay-off. International soccer takes center stage over the next fortnight, but in all honesty, I’m already looking forward to the EPL returning!
In the meantime, make sure you keep up to date with all the latest predictions and betting tips in our soccer picks section.