Premier League takeaways: Chelsea choke, Dyche disbelief, O'Neil revenge

The main talking points from the weekend's English top-flight action

Chelsea's Mykhailo Mudryk, left, and teammate Levi Colwill after drawing with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. PA
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Dyche sees red at Konate let-off

Another week, another manager complaining about a decision that went against his team during a match, although at least this time it is not VAR feeling the force of the coach's ire.

During the first half of Saturday's Merseyside derby, two challenges from Ashley Young on Liverpool's Luis Diaz saw the veteran defender sent off by referee Craig Pawson.

Slightly harsh, but certainly clumsy from the 38-year-old. The real controversy, though, came after the break when Ibrahima Konate pulled back Everton substitute Beto with the game still goalless.

The Liverpool defender had already been booked in the first half and another red card looked inevitable, only for Pawson to let Konate off.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp's reaction was to immediately substitute his centre-half and ensure his team kept their one-man advantage. Sure enough, Liverpool went on to win the game courtesy of two Mohamed Salah strikes.

“My take is it is the bizarre nature of the modern game – how they have got 11 on the pitch at 0-0. No one in the stadium knows why,” said Everton manager Sean Dyche, who was, ironically, booked for his protests.

“Their manager certainly didn't know because he took off the player straight away. It changed the game quite obviously.”

Pochettino proud despite Chelsea choke

For more than 75 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, it looked like Arsenal's unbeaten Premier League record this season was coming to an end.

Chelsea were two goals up and looked set for the most impressive win of Mauricio Pochettino's short reign as manager.

But the Gunners were gifted a lifeline when Robert Sanchez's woeful clearance landed at the feet of a delighted Declan Rice who fired past the stranded Chelsea goalkeeper and into the net.

Seven minutes later, Leandro Trossard arrived unmarked at the back post to poke home the leveller, which means Arsenal have still not lost after nine games and Chelsea fell just short of three wins on the spin after a 2-2 draw.

“We were very competitive against a very good team fighting for the Premier League last season,” said Pochettino.

“We are a young team and I think the way we competed is a lot to be proud of but we're disappointed because … the game was under control and we were playing well and dominating the game.

“We can only criticise a little bit reading the game better, better tempo, the timing. We can take risks because it's our philosophy but make better decisions."

O'Neil tastes sweet revenge on Cherries

Wolves' victory at Bournemouth on Saturday must have tasted even sweeter than usual for manager Gary O'Neil, despite his claims to the contrary.

His thanks for saving the Cherries from relegation last season was a brutal summer sacking but O'Neil did not have to spend much time waiting at the jobcentre before Wolves came calling.

And, after beating champions Manchester City and drawing with Aston Villa, O'Neil guided his team to a comeback win at his old stamping ground.

“Honestly, I feel no different to when we beat Manchester City, when we beat Everton,” he insisted after the game. “It feels exactly the same.”

For Andoni Iraola, O'Neil's replacement at the Vitality Stadium, the table makes grim reading: second bottom after nine games, no wins, six defeats – with four of those coming in their last four games.

And the Spaniard insisted he is not concerned that his position might already be under threat. “I'm not. Nobody should be concerned about Andoni Iraola, I'm concerned about Bournemouth winning games.”

Blunt Blades look doomed already

If the table looks bad for Bournemouth, it must make positively horrific viewing for Sheffield United.

The hapless Blades sit bottom of the pile having taken just a paltry point so far, with Saturday's home defeat against Manchester United making it five losses in a row – including an eight-goal humiliation at home to Newcastle United.

There have been signs of fight from Paul Heckingbottom's side – they were drawing Manchester City until five minutes from time and were beating Tottenham Hotspur into injury-time.

For 76 minutes against Man United, the teams were level only for Diogo Dalot to smack home a stunning winner, which was the defender's second-ever Premier League goal.

“That is probably the story of our season. We have been in a lot of games,” said Sheffield United goalscorer Oli McBurnie.

“The performance was good,” insisted Heckingbottom. “Individually and collectively there were some real good moments in there.”

Both may have a point, but only three other teams in Premier League history have managed just one point or fewer from their opening nine games – Manchester City in 1995/96, Sheffield Wednesday in 1999/00 and Sheffield United in 2020/21. All were relegated.

Toon stick by Tonali

Any fears that Sandro Tonali might have lost the faith of Newcastle fans ahead of his probable ban for breaching betting rules while playing in Italy, were firmly dispelled on Saturday.

The former AC Milan player was only on the bench for the Magpies' 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace but his name was sung clearly and loudly by the 50,000-plus fans even before his second-half introduction.

“It's great for him to know he's got the support, not just of the senior management at the football club and the manager, but also the support of the supporters and they're the most important people,” said manager Eddie Howe after the match.

Howe also warned his player that “the hardest part is ahead” with Tonali's punishment still to be decided. But until then, the 23-year-old will certainly have the backing of fans and teammates alike.

“It shows what a family club we are,” said Jacob Murphy, who opened the scoring against Palace.

“We've been supporting him all through the week and the fans showed great love for him today.”

Updated: October 23, 2023, 3:45 AM