The English Premier League returned on Saturday following a two-week hiatus for the international break. Upon its return, we got a Manchester City beatdown of Liverpool, the first dent in Manchester United's armor, Arsenal's bounce back and the 100th league goal of Harry Kane's career.
Manchester City dismantles Liverpool
It came as no surprise that Manchester City defeated Liverpool on Saturday. The Sky Blues are considered one of the favorites to win the English Premier League title, and they held the distinct advantage of playing on home soil at the Etihad Stadium. But the way City won, 5-0, was a bit of a shocker.
The result told us a lot as we try to sort out what's happening early in this EPL season. First, it told us Manchester City is even sharper in attack than most originally assumed, and that Pep Guardiola's revamped defense is working great. Second, it told us Liverpool's defense is perhaps even duller than we once supposed, and the team shrinks to a shadow of itself without the edge winger Sadio Mane provides.
Although Manchester City took the lead via Sergio Aguero in the 24th minute, Liverpool hardly looked out of the match in the first half-hour. The turning point came in the 37th minute when Mane was shown a straight red card for a reckless, brutal challenge on City goalkeeper Ederson. Lunging for a ball, Mane sent a boot into Ederson's face, forcing medics to stretcher the keeper off the pitch.
Not only did Liverpool lose a man, they lost the most important man on the team. The quick attacks Mane springs from the wing are Liverpool's bread and butter. Manager Jurgen Klopp tried to reorganize his side to compensate for the loss, but the shift didn't take and Liverpool players were off their lines for the rest of the match. It was another hit to an already weak defense. From there, City was able to slowly, methodically pick Liverpool apart.
In first half stoppage, Gabriel Jesus brought the score to 2-0 after he connected on a Kevin De Bruyne cross. That goal wrapped up the three points, but City kept working. Ten minutes into the second half, Gabriel finished his brace when Aguero unselfishly passed up a shot to give him an easy goal. Leroy Sane played a brilliant one-two with Benjamin Mendy on the left in the 77th to give City their fourth. Finally, in second half stoppage, Sane completed his brace, squaring up a curler from outside the box.
Manchester United isn't perfect
The Red Devils won each of their first three outings in the Premier League, and did it by a combined 10-0 margin. But the club suffered their first blow of the season Saturday at the Stadium of Light, giving up the final goal in a 2-2 draw with Stoke City.
The match didn't come to life until moments before the half, when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the opener for the Potters, putting his foot on a cross right at the mouth of goal. That lead was short-lived, though. Marucs Rashford responded just minutes later in first half stoppage, putting a header on the end of a cross to level the score at 1-1.
About 10 minutes into the second half, it appeared United was preparing to break away as Stoke folded under some pressure. Romelu Lukaku snuck through a confused Stoke defense in the 57th minute. Jack Butland parried the first shot, but Lukaku grabbed the rebound and buried it.
But instead of holding or adding to the goal advantage, United surrendered the equalizer on some shoddy defending off a set piece. And once again, it was Choupo-Moting who did the honors. The Cameroonian international rose above the United defense to apply a powerful header at the far post and level the score at 2-2.
WHAT A GAME! Choupo-Moting gets his second of the game as the Potters level it! pic.twitter.com/thiUxc4eKe- NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 9, 2017
Arsenal bounces back
This weekend there was perhaps no team in soccer more in need of a win than Arsenal. The sense of defeat surrounding the club following consecutive losses to Stoke City and Liverpool and a dysfunctional transfer deadline day was staggering. The environment surrounding the club threatened to turn toxic if the Gunners got their third straight Premier League loss on Saturday.
But instead of sinking further, Arsenal rose to the occasion and halted the bleeding, for now at least. The Gunners put in their most complete performance so far this season, beating Bournemouth 3-0 at the Emirates.
Arsenal's players certainly knew they needed a positive result, as the Gunners played with a sense of urgency unseen from them so far this season. They poured pressure forward, and Saed Kolasinac assited on an awkward Danny Welbeck header to give them a 1-0 lead in the sixth, one of two goals on the day for the England international. The goal of the match, however, went to Alexandre Lacazette, who made a superb second goal in front of the Emirates crowd look easy.
One difference that was evident in the team over the last time it saw the pitch was the form of Mesut Ozil. While international breaks can leave players tired and injured, they always seem to leave Ozil refereshed. Getting a break to play with the best group of players in the world can instill confidence. He and the rest of his teammates will need that as Arsenal enters the meaty part of their schedule this week. They play Koln in the Europa League on Thursday and face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.
Harry Kane keeps it 100
It was a day to remember for Kane. The Tottenham striker scored a brace in a 3-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park, the first of which gave him 100 Premier League goals in his young career.
Kane opened the scoring and his Premier League account for the season off an audacious attempt in the 27th minute. He mis-hit a cross from the right flank. Instead of the ball flying to a group of Spurs' attackers waiting in the box, it zoomed over the outstretched arm of Jordan Pickford and into the back of the net to give Kane a century of goals in the Premier League.
Spurs asserted themselves from there and didn't look back. Christian Erikson pounced on a loose ball in the box to give Tottenham a 2-0 lead at the end of the first half, and Kane found the end of a Ben Davies cross at the beginning of the second to polish off the 3-0 scoreline.
One surprise from the match was that Wayne Rooney got the start. The Everton star was arrested for drunk driving over the international break, leading many to believe he would sit the first game back. He was the subject of mocking chants from Spurs fans and never managed to have a significant affect on the match.
Other Premier League results
Leicester City 1-2 Chelsea
Southampton 0-2 Watford
Brighton 3-1 West Brom
Cy Brown writes about football, golf, soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.