October 21, 2021, 0:02

Premier League hits and misses: Harvey Elliott fits right in at Liverpool, Danny Ings shows worth for Aston Villa

Premier League hits and misses: Harvey Elliott fits right in at Liverpool, Danny Ings shows worth for Aston Villa

Elliott right at home on first Premier League start

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Burnley in the Premier League.

Harvey Elliott became Liverpool’s 10th youngest Premier League starter in Saturday’s win over Burnley – but he didn’t look out of place at all as Jurgen Klopp’s side made it two wins from two.

The 18-year-old has repeatedly impressed on every step up in level he’s made since he burst onto the scene three years ago at Fulham. And after starring for Blackburn in the Championship last season, where he recorded seven goals and 11 assists in 41 appearances, he looks set to make his mark in the Premier League this term.

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Harvey Elliott of Liverpool is challenged by Burnley's Josh Brownhill

Starting on the right of Liverpool’s midfield three at Anfield, the left-footed youngster looked confident, composed and classy on the ball, drifting wide or tucking inside to make room to link up with Alexander-Arnold and repeatedly tried to set Salah free down that side.

  • Liverpool 2-0 Burnley – Match report and free highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats
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Indeed, he thought he had an assist for Salah when he threaded a fine pass through Burnley’s defensive line for the Egyptian to finish midway through the first half but an offside flag ruled the strike out. Elliott was involved in Liverpool’s second, though, bringing down Virgil van Dijk’s crossfield pass perfectly before feeding Alexander-Arnold to tee up Sadio Mane.

Jurgen Klopp on Elliott's performance…

“Harvey was part of this performance. Everybody wants to talk to me about Harvey and I understand absolutely – when an 18-year-old boy plays such a mature game I can understand why everyone was asking, but I was not surprised he played like this. That is exactly how he has trained now for six or seven weeks since we are back, since he is back from loan. Yes, it was a good.”

He was fouled twice inside the first 10 minutes, which illustrated how hard it was for Burnley to get to grips with him, and by the final whistle he’d won more free-kicks than any other player on the pitch. All that was missing from the performance was a finishing touch, with a couple of glimpses at goal evading him.

But he has shown his shooting quality in the past and Saturday’s display confirmed he will be getting plenty more chances to impress in a Liverpool shirt this season…
Peter Smith

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Ings shows why Villa splashed cash

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s win against Newcastle United in the Premier League.

Much like Villa’s signing of Danny Ings, the striker’s stunning acrobatic volley on Saturday came from nowhere. In fact, so many of Ings’ goals come out of the blue, and that is exactly why Villa splashed the cash on the striker

Up until the third minute of first-half stoppage time against Newcastle, Villa created next to nothing, but Ings’ clinical edge makes up for inactivity elsewhere – Ings had just 18 touches and made nine passes in the game – and crucially turns dull potential draws into victories.

Of players to have scored at least 15 goals since the start of the 2019/20 season, Ings also tops the charts for shot conversion (32 per cent) and is joint-top with Bruno Fernandes for big chance conversion (61 per cent).

  • Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle – Match report and free highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats
  • Premier League fixtures | Table

There are slight concerns for what Ings’ signing means for Ollie Watkins, who scored 14 goals in his debut Premier League season.

Watkins has played wide left for large chunks in his career, notably at Brentford, but that may have a knock-on impact on the position of summer signing Leon Bailey. Not for the first time, manager Dean Smith was adamant both can and will play together.

“I know what Ollie [Watkins] can do, he stretches defences, Danny is a different type of player. I thought he played as a lone striker today in a different way that Ollie does, but I’m excited to see them together.

“I believe, and that’s why I brought Danny in, is that they can really complement each other.”
Gerard Brand

The Elland Road of old

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds United’s draw against Everton in the Premier League.

After 17 months of waiting, Elland Road finally played host to a day 17 years in the making.

May 8, 2004 was the last time Leeds hosted a Premier League game at home in front of a capacity crowd, when they played out a 3-3 draw with Charlton before their painful and protracted relegation to the second tier of English football.

Leeds’ rollercoaster ride through the tiers of English football over the following 16 years starved their iconic stadium of top-flight football for a generation, and to add insult to injury, the agonising wait cruelly coincided and was extended by the coronavirus pandemic.

But, almost two decades on, a moment many Leeds fans would have been forgiven for thinking would never come actually did, and what a glorious moment it was.

  • Leeds 2-2 Everton – Match report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

The stands and terraces were a hive of activity hours before kick-off, awash with a sea of yellow flags, and reached an almost overwhelming crescendo as the players made their way out of the tunnel to a deafening chorus of ‘Marching On Together’.

Much like Leeds’ long, arduous journey back to their Premier League reunion with supporters, there was adversity throughout Saturday’s entertaining contest with Everton, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Demarai Gray twice put Everton into the lead.

After their opening-day trouncing at Manchester United, Leeds could well have caved under the pressure, but equalising goals from Mateusz Klich and Raphinha earned a well-deserved and gutsy first point of the season for Marcelo Bielsa’s men.

It was a contest and performance worthy of the occasion, and one that will live long in the memory. Elland Road is back.
Jack Wilkinson

Bissouma is the boss of Brighton

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FT Brighton 2 – 0 Watford

Graham Potter will be counting down the days until the transfer window shuts. If any club in the top six are looking for a central midfielder who can do it all then Yves Bissouma will be high on their lists.

Tottenham and Liverpool are among the clubs rumoured to be interested in the 24-year-old, while a possible switch to join former Seagulls team-mate Ben White at Arsenal has also been reported.

  • Brighton 2-0 Watford – Match report and free highlights

Bissouma was a driving force in the midfield, pushing Watford back at every opportunity with a display full of class that packed a punch. Everything he does, he does with great speed which makes him a very tricky customer to deal with as Tom Cleverley found out when he was pressed out of possession for Brighton’s second goal. No player made more tackles (5) or interceptions (5) over the 90 minutes.

His performance will be remembered for that great assist but an equally important intervention came just before half-time when his goalkeeper Robert Sanchez played a terrible ball out straight to a Watford player – but who was there to win the ball back at a crucial time? Yes, Bissouma.

The game’s outstanding player was dancing to the tune of his song to the beat of “Tequilla” by The Champs at full-time with his adoring public. They have a star in their ranks and are enjoying watching him up close.
Lewis Jones

Watford given Premier League lesson

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Watford's Josh King shows his frustration against Brighton

Watford marked their return to the Premier League with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa at a buoyant Vicarage Road last weekend but Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Brighton showed the true size of the task they face to stay in the top-flight this season.

The Hornets were outplayed on the south-coast, the damage done in a one-sided first half in which they had just 31 per cent of the possession and failed to muster a single shot on target.

Brighton were well organised, with Graham Potter using his wing-backs to exploit the space behind Watford’s wide players, but they were helped by just how easy the visitors made it for them. There was a lack of intensity and an absence of pressure on the ball.

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Brighton capitalised on Watford’s passive first-half showing and punished their naivety. Shane Duffy’s headed opener was brilliantly taken but he was given a free run at it. The second goal, when Yves Bissouma robbed Tom Cleverley, underlined the speed of thought required at Premier League level.

Watford did rally in the second period, producing an improved performance, but having been carved open too easily at one end, they struggled to create clear openings at the other.

“We need to learn quickly about the Premier League,” said manager Xisco afterwards. It can be an unforgiving place.
Nick Wright

A first point for Vieira but tough run looms for Palace

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the goalless draw between Crystal Palace and Brentford in the Premier League.

Patrick Vieira is up and running as a Premier League manager, with his first point on the board as Palace boss coming in the goalless draw with Brentford on Saturday. However, the Frenchman will be well aware he and his team will need to step up their levels over the coming weeks, with a daunting run of fixtures ahead.

Chelsea away on the opening day was a brutal start but newly-promoted Brentford at Selhurst Park was an opportunity for Palace to kick start their season. They didn’t take it. The fans were back with flags and banners, creating a special atmosphere, but on the pitch their side were missing a spark in the final third.

  • Crystal Palace 0-0 Brentford – Match report and free highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

Debutant Conor Gallagher combined well with Wilfried Zaha, especially in the first half when he rifled a shot against both the post and bar, and had that effort gone in the game could have been different. But Palace finished the match with just two shots on target to their name and seven shots overall, compared to Brentford’s 14.

Throughout the contest, they struggled to open up their visitors and they will have to be sharper in the tough run of games they have coming up.

Next in the Premier League Palace have West Ham (away), Tottenham (home), Liverpool (away), rivals Brighton (home), Leicester (home), Arsenal (away). By mid-October, Vieira may be ruing this first point as an opportunity missed.
Peter Smith

Jesus to stay even if Kane arrives?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Norwich in the Premier League.

Could Gabriel Jesus still have a future at Manchester City even if Harry Kane, possibly the world’s best number nine, ousts his hopes of becoming the club’s first-choice striker after August 31?

That’s because against Norwich on Saturday the Brazilian, making his first start of the season after the Copa America, was the champions’ best player from a wide position, registering a hat-trick of assists and tearing the Premier League new boys apart down the right flank.

  • Man City 5-0 Norwich – Match report and free highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

Jesus managed only one shot in his more withdrawn role but with that kind of output, neither the player nor Pep Guardiola will be bothered. In fact, the City boss claimed he prefers playing out wide than in a central role – and may get his chance if he keeps up this return.

“He has so much importance for me,” said Guardiola. “It’s not just when he makes an exceptional performance like today, it’s every day. He deserves to continue playing, when a guy plays in this way he deserves to play again.”

The one question over Jesus’ place in the team remains the same on the wing as through the middle, though. City are already overloaded with players who can play out wide in Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden.

Although only Foden, Torres and Mahrez are likely to see significant game time on the right, it is still stiff competition for the 24-year-old who is no youngster any more, and needs game time at this stage of his career.

It’s very early days, but a performance like this does lay down a seed for Jesus to press his claim to feature more heavily down that right flank. And should Kane arrive at the Etihad, that versatility may afford him much more of the gametime he craves than by trying to unseat the England captain.
Ron Walker

Brentford consistency should worry others

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Pontus Jansson and Christian Benteke compete for a header

The one question asked of every promoted team is: can you make the jump up to the rigours of the Premier League?

In recent seasons, we have seen Leeds do so successfully, and Sheffield United for a time. And the next to follow could be Brentford, who have exploded onto the Premier League scene.

Opening the season at home always had magic in the air, but they faced a real test on their short trip to Selhurst Park. It is well known for a passionate home crowd – with the stadium at full capacity for the first time since March 2020 – and a team with plenty of top-flight experience.

But once again, Thomas Frank’s side held their own. Crystal Palace rode the wave of a sensational pre-match welcome from the home support, but after 25 minutes, Brentford pegged them back into their own half.

  • Crystal Palace 0-0 Brentford – Match report and free highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

The second half was also dictated by Brentford and they held their own in a tough-tackling London derby. They had more shots (14), half of which came inside the box (seven) and made more tackles (24).

“Standing here, I’m slightly disappointed that we didn’t get more out of the game. I thought that we slightly edged it,” Frank told Sky Sports after the game.

“I think it shows there is a belief in the group that can go to a very difficult away ground against a very experienced Premier League side and we needed to defend in spells, but the way we ended in the first half shows everything about this group.”

As it stands, Brentford sit in the top four with only Brighton and Liverpool having better starts. It should worry those teams that always seem to out-run relegation – Newcastle, Southampton, Brighton and even Crystal Palace themselves – because the Bees look ready to fight for their Premier League place this season.
Charlotte Marsh

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