Arsenal on the rise and Liverpool struggling in EPL
By STEVE DOUGLAS
It increasingly looks like Arsenal are the real deal in the English Premier League.
It also looks like Liverpool don’t have what it takes to mount another title challenge.
Arsenal picked up seven wins from eight games to open the season beat Tottenham 3-1 in the North London Derby on Saturday, ensuring Mikel Arteta’s side will stay on top for at least a week.
Arsenal’s only defeat came at Manchester United, but that was only after an encouraging and dominant performance for large spells at Old Trafford.
In their current form, it looks well within reach for Arsenal to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2017.
Breaking into the top four could be the extent of Liverpool’s ambitions after a Draw 3-3 at home against an entertaining Brighton side already molded in the bold style of their new Italian manager, Roberto De Zerbi.
Leandro Trossard scored twice in the opening 17 minutes and scored his hat-trick in the 83rd at Anfield after Roberto Firmino’s brace sparked Liverpool’s fight back.
Liverpool, the 2020 champions and biggest league rival to dominating Manchester City in recent years, are already 11 points behind Arsenal and have won just two of their first seven games.
Conor Gallagher scored a 90th-minute winner for Chelsea in his 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, the team where the midfielder spent last season on loan.
Newcastle won 4-1 at 10-man Fulham, Everton rallied to beat Southampton 2-1 away, West Ham beat Wolverhampton 2-0, while Bournemouth and Brentford drew 0-0.
Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka scored for Arsenal, who claimed victory at the Emirates Stadium as Tottenham played with 10 men from the 62nd minute. Emerson Royal’s red card was for an unnecessary challenge against Gabriel Martinelli as the score was 2-1.
Harry Kane equalized via a penalty for Tottenham, who would have passed Arsenal first with a win, but instead saw their 13-game league unbeaten streak – dating back to last season – come to an end.
City can move up to a point behind Arsenal with a win over Crosstown rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
“It’s a really hungry and humble team, believe me,” Arteta said. “It’s nothing we’ve done yet and there’s still a lot of things to improve. That’s the direction we’re going.”
THE QUICK START OF DE ZERBI
De Zerbi immediately put his stamp on Brighton after arriving as a substitute for Graham Potter, sometimes putting the side in a 3-2-4-1 formation at Anfield and taking risks in possession against one of the top sides pressures of the world.
It was a bold ploy and it took Liverpool by surprise, getting instant results thanks to fourth and 17th minute goals from Trossard.
Liverpool familiarized themselves with Brighton’s style of play and staged a fight back. Firmino scored either side of the half before goalkeeper Robert Sanchez missed his punch from a corner which hit his own defender, Adam Webster. The ball dribbled into the net in the 63rd.
Brighton claimed a point – even Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it was deserved due to the visitors’ adventurous play – when Virgil van Dijk missed a clearance on substitute Kaoru Mitoma’s cross and Trossard brought it back home a finish at the far post.
“We have to learn how to improve possession of the ball and increase our ball speed and that’s up to us,” said De Zerbi. “It’s really hard to control the game in the Premier League – only Manchester City do that.”
Klopp compared Liverpool’s confidence to a ‘little flower’.
“And when someone hits it, it’s really difficult,” he said.
THE RETURN OF GALLAGHER
Conor Gallagher’s late winner was his first goal for Chelsea, but it was bittersweet for the England midfielder.
“It was written in the stars,” said Gallagher, who was one of Palace’s best performers last season. “Unfortunately it came against Palace, but I’m just in a rush to score my first goal.
“Everyone knows how much I loved it here and I thank the whole club and the supporters – even today with the welcome they gave me.”
Indeed, Gallagher was warmly received when he entered the pitch at Selhurst Park in the 76th minute for the first time since his loan spell, but any friendly feeling was quickly forgotten when he curled a brilliant shot from the edge of The area. Gallagher responded to the goal with a muted celebration.
Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring for Palace after seven minutes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized with a neat finish late in the first half.
Chelsea are eight points behind Arsenal but have played one less game.
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