Who handed in their homework and are top of the class, and who will be doing lines after school? It’s this week’s Premier League grades…
Manchester City went back to the top of the table courtesy of a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton at the Etihad, but there was also joy at the other end of the table – as Newcastle finally got their first win of the season by beating Watford 1-0.
Elsewhere, Liverpool lost ground in the title race with a 1-1 draw at Arsenal, while Manchester United came from behind – again – to beat Bournemouth.
So do the results tell the full story? Read on for each team’s grade for the weekend…
Manchester City – A
Manchester City tore Southampton apart on Sunday afternoon, scoring six goals to move two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a goal difference of +29 after only 11 games. And yet you get the feeling there’s more to come from this team.
They are an irresistible force going forward, but still allowed their opponents opportunities at the other end. Southampton had 12 shots in the match and ended a run of 505 minutes without a goal when Danny Ings caught John Stones out and won a penalty when he was tripped by goalkeeper Ederson.
Perhaps it wasn’t a supreme performance by their own high standards, but it would be churlish to give them anything other than an ‘A’ grade. (Stephen Mills)
Leicester City – A
Leicester handled a difficult afternoon with professionalism. There were emotions on show before the match as tributes were paid to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four other people who were killed in a helicopter crash last weekend. With that in mind it was not a surprise that it took Leicester time to settle into the contest, but once in their stride they looked the better team.
Demarai Gray provided the decisive moment and the defence held firm against Cardiff’s set-piece threats to secure a victory that was dedicated to Srivaddhanaprabha. (James Walker-Roberts)
West Ham – A-
There were very few negatives for Manuel Pellegrini to take away after witnessing his side dominate Burnley and pick up a well-earned three points.
Felipe Anderson has struggled to justify his £42m fee but he scored twice and could have had another couple. Twenty-year-old Grady Diangana was sensational on the right wing, Declan Rice imperious in midfield and Marko Arnautovic a constant threat in attack.
Much has been made of West Ham’s mounting injury list, yet substitutes Michail Antonio and Javier Hernandez combined for the fourth goal in stoppage time. West Ham struggled to deal with Burnley’s set-pieces but otherwise, it was a near faultless performance at the London Stadium. (Oliver Young-Myles)
Manchester United – B+
United obviously get brownie points for the way they responded to falling behind to Callum Wilson’s 11th-minute opener on the south coast.
In fact, no team has recovered to win more points in the Premier League this season than the seven United have collected from losing positions.
At the same time, though, Jose Mourinho’s team were desperately poor – or “awful” in the United boss’ own words – in the opening half an hour at the Vitality, when they could have been more than one goal behind.
And that will surely worry the Portuguese, with United having kept just one clean sheet and conceded 18 goals in only 11 league games so far this season. (Richard Morgan)
Tottenham – B+
Plenty of teams will drop points at Molineux this season – Manchester City already have – but Spurs navigated a tricky away fixture by the skin of their teeth despite fielding a rotated squad, with no Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier or even Davinson Sanchez in the starting line-up.
They rarely hit top gear in the Black Country but showed the clinical touch of a quality team to emerge into a 3-0 lead, only to nearly throw it away after conceding a pair of needless penalties. Three points are all that matters at the end of the 90 minutes, but Spurs’ defensive naivety was in stark contrast to their attacking ruthlessness and must improve. (Ron Walker)
Chelsea – B+
Chelsea took their time to get going against a Palace side which utilised the pace of Wilfried Zaha on the counter in a worrying opening 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge. With Eden Hazard not deemed fit enough to feature for the whole game, the Belgian looked on as Alvaro Morata and Pedro led the line.
The partnership burst into life on 35 minutes as Pedro’s low cross was instinctively tucked away by Morata, and the pair were crucial to Chelsea responding to the setback of Andros Townsend’s equaliser, both scoring in quick succession to secure the win. Chelsea were by no means at their best, but the sight of Morata regaining his confidence in front of goal will have been welcomed by Maurizio Sarri.
The win was the 11th game unbeaten in the Premier League for the Italian – a joint-record for the amount of games without defeat by a new manager in the division. If Sarri is to surpass that record next week, Morata could well hold the key. (Jack Wilkinson)
Everton – B+
After a lacklustre performance against Manchester United, Everton were back to winning ways at Goodison Park. It was a solid showing from them too, so much so that manager Marco Silva called it their “best home performance this season”.
However, while they did look impressive for much of the game, they were not overly tested by Brighton bar the one corner they scored from. The Seagulls rarely went forward after that and Jordan Pickford only had one save to make the entire 90 minutes, with a more competitive game needed to really test their credentials this season. (Charlotte Marsh)
Bournemouth – B
Having started so well at the Vitality on Saturday, Bournemouth will feel more than a little aggrieved not to have taken at least a point against United.
However, in the end, the visitors’ second-half pressure told as Eddie Howe’s side lost at home for the first time in the Premier League this campaign.
Having said that, despite the setback, Bournemouth are still above United in the table on goal difference after an excellent start to the season. (Richard Morgan)
Liverpool – B-
This wasn’t the vintage galloping Liverpool we have become used to this season, but another result away at a top six side must go down as a positive.
Jurgen Klopp’s side once again showed their defensive qualities – Virgil van Dijk was brilliant – but it is clear the three-pronged attack is missing some bite in comparison to last season and the first few weeks of this term.
Nonetheless, they nearly came away from a much-improved Arsenal with three points, and you’re always guaranteed entertainment. (Gerard Brand)
Cardiff – B-
While most of the focus ahead of the match was on Leicester, it should not be overlooked how the events in the week affected Cardiff. Neil Warnock said the build-up had been “surreal” and suggested earlier in the week he initially didn’t think the game should go ahead.
But Cardiff were perfect hosts for Leicester as they showed their support and helped to honour those killed in the helicopter crash last weekend. Once the game started, Cardiff spurned a couple of chances in the first half but then struggled to create much else once Leicester settled. (James Walker-Roberts)
Wolves – B-
Wolves’ performance deserved more than this grade but they are no Premier League minnows, and should not have to score four goals to win any home game. A couple of the goals they gave away against Spurs were schoolboy, especially allowing Lucas Moura a free header to put them 2-0 up three minutes after they had gone behind.
If there was any doubt creeping in about this Wolves team after three defeats in a row, their persistence and belief until the end will stand them in good stead, but only if they are better in both boxes – and do not require two lifeline penalties to get them back in a game. (Ron Walker)
Newcastle – B-
This was a big step in the right direction for Rafa Benitez’s men, who picked up their first win of the season which potentially could be a springboard.
It wasn’t the prettiest of performances as they rode their luck at times against a wasteful Watford attack but there was plenty of determination on show. (Lewis Jones)
Arsenal – B-
Results have improved under Unai Emery, but what was most striking from Saturday’s game was just how much the Emirates crowd are onside with this new Arsenal.
The old traits were there; blistering attacks and slightly sketchy defending, but there seems to be a new-found solidity in midfield thanks to Lucas Torreira.
What’s more, the Emirates atmosphere has drastically improved and division has gone. Top four is a realistic aim, and that new unity will help. (Gerard Brand)
Brighton – C
The Seagulls could not replicate the form they had during their three-game unbeaten run prior to Saturday’s game. Their defence was found lacking too often at Goodison Park, with Lewis Dunk going from hero to zero after his poor pass allowed Richarlison to score Everton’s third.
But it was not just Dunk who gets the blame, as Brighton’s back line did not stand up when really tested. Glenn Murray was very quiet up front and bar their goal from a set-piece, they did not offer much going forward. Chris Hughton admitted it was a hard afternoon for his side, and they will go back to the drawing board this week to get back to winning ways. (Charlotte Marsh)
Crystal Palace – C
Palace showed some encouraging signs in the early stages against Chelsea and also in the second half when they got back into the game through Andros Townsend’s equaliser. However, they spent most of the match inside their own half and didn’t really look like getting back into it when Chelsea scored twice quickly to move 3-1 ahead.
They continue to lack a real cutting edge in the final third and respite doesn’t look to be on the immediate horizon as they face Tottenham and Manchester United in their next two matches. (James Walker-Roberts)
Burnley – C
Burnley demonstrated some of the characteristics you would expect from a Sean Dyche team, showing the character and spirit to come from behind twice and almost a third time when Chris Wood hit the bar late on.
Yet another feature of Burnley’s success under Dyche has been their defensive resolve and organisation which has appeared to completely desert them this season. In 2017-18, they conceded 1.02 goals per game. This season, they are letting in 2.27 per game.
Burnley have gone from having the sixth-best defence in the Premier League to the second-worst despite making just one change to their regular back five; the impressive Joe Hart replacing the injured Nick Pope in goal. They have to tighten up.
Watford – C-
Having gone into their game full of confidence after two wins, Javi Gracia will have been disappointed with Watford’s quality against Newcastle.
They mustered 16 shots in the match, but just one of these was on target while 13 of their attempts came in the opening 45 minutes. Gerard Deulofeu was the main culprit, spurning a hatful of openings. (Lewis Jones)
Southampton – E
Here’s the good news. Southampton had not scored in five Premier League games before Sunday and Danny Ings’ 30th-minute penalty – won himself from a foul by Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson – ensured they would not go six top-flight games without a goal for the first time in their history.
But that’s about as much consolation as Mark Hughes will take from a trip to the Etihad which showed how far behind the elite teams they are. They conceded six goals, three of which came in the first 18 minutes as the Saints defence looked shaky and nervous. They carved out opportunities in the second period, but remain powerless to score from open play, no matter which combination of forwards Hughes deploys. Another season of struggle awaits unless they can muster more in an attacking sense. (Stephen Mills)