5 Things We Learned from Match Day Six in the EPL

| September 28, 2021 11:14 am PDT

The top of the Premier League is beginning to look a little more familiar after six enthralling match days in the 2021/22 season.

It might have been a little different if Brighton had managed to beat Crystal Palace on Monday to go top of the table – but the EPL has now hit a more recognizable stride.

But one thing you can count on when it comes to the EPL is big stories. There were more than a few again this weekend as match day six entered the books.

I’ve picked out five of the most interesting, as this season progresses.

Bruno Fernandes is Feeling the Pressure

There was a time last season when it seemed as though Manchester United was being awarded a penalty nearly every week – and Bruno Fernandes was scoring them nearly every week.

Jurgen Klopp even complained about the number of spot kicks awarded, something Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought up in the run up to United’s game against Aston Villa during the weekend.

So it was somewhat ironic that, after being outplayed for 90 minutes, Bruno Fernandes had the chance to salvage a point with a stoppage time penalty – but then blazed it over the bar.

The back and forth about the frequency of United penalties aside, it had been a chance for Fernandes to kickstart a season that has been unusually quiet after the star turn he displayed last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival at Old Trafford seems to have had a huge effect on his fellow Portugal international though. Where Fernandes ran the show last season, Ronaldo is now the main man.

When United brought in Ronaldo it did seem that the main problem would be fitting in all its attacking players into a starting eleven and now Fernandes looks like he is finding it difficult to provide a meaningful contribution.

It will be a massive waste of his talent if he doesn’t rectify the problem in the coming weeks.

Villa Could Do Well This Season

Most of the media attention following that game during the weekend was on Manchester United and Bruno Fernandes in particular.

Aston Villa was more than happy to let the press do its thing while it celebrated a first victory at Old Trafford since 2009.

Kortney Hause had only scored the winner just minutes before the penalty miss – but Villa fans won’t care about that.

This season was supposed to be difficult for the West Midlands club. After steadily improving last year from its first season back in the EPL, Villa was dealt a huge blow in the summer when Jack Grealish departed for Manchester City.

Grealish was more of a talisman than a captain and player at Villa Park and it was unsure how the team would push on after such a heavy loss. But, after a shaky start to the campaign where Villa lost and conceded three to both Watford and Chelsea, Dean Smith’s side has now won two in a row – against Everton and Manchester United.

Villa sits in eighth place before the weekend’s games, just four points off the top. A more balanced side now, after the departure of Grealish, an outside chance of a European slot at the end of the season should not be discounted.

Arsenal is the King of North London

The way this season is going, the winner of the north London derby is not going to be the EPL champion at the end of the season. It is very debatable whether it would guarantee a place in the Europa – let alone the Champions – League.

But for the locals of Highbury and Tottenham it was the biggest game of the season. One that Arsenal arguably won by a bigger margin than the 3-1 scoreline.

It is fair to say that Arsenal played the best it had all season on Sunday. It is also fair to say that’s not saying too much really.

But the Gunners completely overran Spurs in the first half, with Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odergaard providing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with through balls seemingly at will. Arsenal raced to a 3-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

The Arsenal fans were even able to enjoy a mistake from Harry Kane leading to the third goal after just 34 minutes.

There has been little to celebrate this season for the Emirates crowd. So, comprehensively beating its most bitter of rivals will have been lapped up by the home supporters. Whether or not the performance means that Mikel Arteta’s ideas are finally getting through to his players is another question entirely.

Brentford is Enjoying the Premier League

Brentford last played in the English top flight in 1947, and had been in the third tier as recently as 2014. The last few seasons had been far more impressive, but the Bees always seemed to be pipped at the post by some of the bigger clubs that call the Championship home these days.

After winning last season’s playoff final, Brentford is finally back in the big time – and loving every second.

The most recent encounter was a thrilling 3-3 draw with top of the table Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp did say, rather uncharitably, that Brentford played a lot of long balls but even he was impressed by the way the home side kept on coming back at the multiple Champions League winners to snatch a well-deserved draw eight minutes from time.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank hit the nail on the head when he stated that his players “had gone toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Premier League and more than held their own”.

Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo have been two of the real standout players this season but it is the whole squad that has performed brilliantly so far.

There is a long way to go but, at the minute, it is difficult to see how Brentford will get relegated this season.

Rafa Benitez Has Everton Performing Well

Everton flirted with the top of the table last season when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge and had persuaded the likes of James Rodriguez to turn out for the blue team in Liverpool, rather than its more successful neighbors.

But the Toffees ended up mid table again and this new season looked to be a tough one when Ancelotti decided he couldn’t turn down Real Madrid’s calling.

Even more controversial was the return of Rafa Benitez to Merseyside. Adored by Liverpool, there were some Everton fans that refused to support someone who had enjoyed winning trophies on the other side of Stanley Park.

How foolish must those fans feel now though?

Everton is in fifth place in the table after beating Norwich at the weekend and having only lost one game all season.

Benitez has to be credited for the position the club finds itself in now – and for the rejuvenation of players like Andros Townsend, who has scored four goals already. Manchester United lie in wait this Saturday but an away win at Old Trafford does not seem like such a ridiculous notion right now.

Everton Results 2021/22
Team Score
Everton 3
Southhampton 1
Leeds United 2
Everton 2
Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Everton 2
Aston Villa 3
Everton 0
Everton 2
Norwich City 0

EPL Match Day Seven

That Manchester United vs. Everton game at Old Trafford kicks off the EPL action on Saturday, on a match day weekend that finishes with the mouthwatering prospect of Liverpool entertaining Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

It should be yet another scintillating weekend of soccer in the English top flight.

It is the last round of fixtures before another mini break for World Cup qualifiers. So, it is a good time for some clubs to take a rest.

Others will be disappointed they cannot keep on playing. Whatever happens, I’ll be back at the start of next week with a round up of all the biggest stories in the Premier League, so keep an eye on our news section.

Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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