EPL: Utd and City ‘luleee’ as Havertz scores in Arsenal win
Fans can debate until the cows come home over whether a win in the middle rounds of a cup competition, in the glorious pursuit of gleaming silverware, is worth more than three juicy, tangible Premier League points.
Supporters of Manchester United and Crystal Palace could not be blamed for disagreeing after the Eagles earned instant revenge for their Carabao Cup defeat four days earlier courtesy of a sensational Joachim Andersen volley in the first half of their league clash at Old Trafford on Saturday.
In keeping with their comfortable victory in midweek, United started on the front foot and dominated possession early on. However, they conceded the first big chance as Marc Guehi flashed a fine Andersen cross wide on 11 minutes.
Moments later, Guehi was caught out by a looping ball towards the Palace box which Rasmus Hojlund poked goalwards, only for Tyrick Mitchell to hack off the goalline.
The superb technique shown off by center-back Andersen’s role in that earlier chance was proved to be no fluke when he fired the visitors in front after 26 minutes.
Eberechi Eze’s free-kick from the right evaded everybody, including a limp attempt to head clear by Hojlund, until it was met by a scorching volley into the top corner by the Danish defender.
The goal grew Palace’s confidence after a quick flurry of United activity saw Casemiro fire a long-ranger narrowly wide. Erik ten Hag’s continued move to play Sofyan Amrabat as an inverted left-back improved their width but United’s play was too disjointed and attacks too often fell down when the ball reached a lost Casemiro high up the pitch.
The pressure on the Eagles' box continued after the break with crosses constantly swung in from deep and dealt with every time. One such ball flicked off Joel Ward’s hand, provoking vociferous penalty appeals, but neither referee Chris Kavanagh nor VAR were moved given his arm was down by his side in a far from deliberate action.
Elsewhere, a magnificent Wolves performance handed them their second league win of the season as they beat Premier League and Champions League holders Manchester City at Molineux.
Wolves were up for it from the first whistle and although they allowed City to have possession, they looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
That proved fruitful when Pedro Neto – who is in scintillating form – went on a solo run to force Ruben Dias to turn into his own net and give Wolves the lead.
Julian Alvarez’s superb free-kick levelled the scoreline in the second half, but just eight minutes later Wolves regained their lead when Hwang Hee-chan scored his fifth goal in just eight games.
And Kia Havertz ended his goal drought as Arsenal beat 4-0 Bournemouth.
When Arsenal last played Bournemouth in March, it was a nip-and-tuck affair separated by a last-gasp winner from Reiss Nelson to keep the Gunners' Premier League title hopes alive. Fast forward six months and you have an entirely different story.
Havertz converted from the penalty spot to open his account with the Gunners after 28 games without a goal. Arsenal's £65million signing appears to be low on confidence but was given a welcome boost at the Vitality Stadium Saturday afternoon.
While Martin Odegaard or Bukayo Saka usually take Arsenal's penalties, Havertz was pushed forward to take the north Londoners second of the game. After a long run-up and a stuttering
step, the German midfielder sent Neto the wrong way as he placed the ball into the corner of the Bournemouth goal mouth.
There was relief etched on his face as he celebrated in front of the thousands of travelling fans, who serenaded him for five minutes straight and later gave him a standing ovation as he was replaced by Jorginho in the 80th minute.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for Arsenal though. Star winger Bukayo Saka hobbled off the field late in the game. He was initially ruled out of Mikel Arteta's squad for their trip to the south coast after being forced off against Tottenham last weekend.
Saka started the game at right wing and opened up the scoring at the quarter-way mark with a brace from close range but was once again sidelined early.