EPL

Premier League Review: Liverpool and Arsenal set early pace, Pukki hits hat-trick

By Sports Desk August 17, 2019

Liverpool maintained their strong start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 win at Southampton ahead of champions Manchester City hosting Tottenham in Saturday's late kick-off.

Sadio Mane scored the opening goal on his return to St. Mary's, smashing into the top-right corner shortly before half-time, with Roberto Firmino adding what proved to be a vital second before Adrian's error handed Danny Ings a late consolation.

Arsenal are the only other side to have maximum points after two games as they edged to a 2-1 win at home to Burnley, with Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos recording a brace of assists from midfield.

There were also victories for Everton and a Teemu Pukki-inspired Norwich City at home to Watford and Newcastle United respectively, while Bournemouth collected three points at Aston Villa.

SADIO THE MAIN MANE AGAIN

Having eased to a 4-1 win at home to Norwich to kick the Premier League season off, Liverpool followed their midweek UEFA Super Cup triumph over Chelsea by downing Southampton.

Mane hit both goals for Liverpool in Istanbul and the Senegal star followed that brace with his first league goal of the campaign, Firmino then seemingly wrapping up the Reds' win with an unerring finish.

But there was no first clean sheet in four competitive fixtures this season for Jurgen Klopp's men, who are at home to Arsenal next weekend, as Super Cup shoot-out hero Adrian's awful clearance bounced in off Ings with seven minutes left.

And Southampton should have snatched a late point when Yan Valery's low right-wing cross found Ings in the box, with the former Reds striker unable to punish his old club as he failed to get a clean contact on the ball.

ARSENAL STAY PERFECT THANKS TO STRIKE DUO

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both scored as Arsenal took maximum points again after last week's victory at Newcastle United by winning 2-1 at home to Burnley.

Lacazette fired through Nick Pope's legs to open the scoring in the early kick-off at the Emirates Stadium but Ashley Barnes hit his third Premier League goal of the season to level before the break.

Aubameyang won it, though, firing past Pope after Ceballos robbed Johann Gudmundsson in midfield - the Gabon striker now has seven goals in four league games against the Clarets.

PROLIFIC PUKKI FIRES NORWICH TO VICTORY

Finland forward Pukki, who netted in Norwich City's loss at Liverpool, scored all three goals as the Canaries downed Newcastle 3-1 at home to get up and running on their return to the Premier League.

Leandro Trossard had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR, but he later opened his Brighton and Hove Albion account with the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham, who had led through Javier Hernandez.

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    Cesar Azpilicueta said Chelsea lost their grip and control in the FA Cup win at Hull City, claiming players were too eager to put themselves before the team's best interests.

    The Spaniard played the full 90 minutes against the Championship side, as Chelsea battled out a 2-1 victory on their travels.

    Chelsea were dominant for the first 70 minutes and should have added to goals from Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori, but they allowed Hull too much of the ball after that point and almost paid the price.

    A fortunate reply from Kamil Grosicki, whose free-kick took a big deflection off Mateo Kovacic to wrong-foot Willy Caballero, saw the Tigers claw their way back into the match with 12 minutes remaining.

    Hull had chances to force a replay too, with Chelsea forced into some desperate and often untidy defending to remain ahead.

    "With the chances we had, we cannot concede in these kind of circumstances and we have to control better," Chelsea captain Azpilicueta said.

    "We know we have to improve our game if we want to improve as a team and go far, because tonight was a night we could have handled much better.

    "It's not the first game where we didn't manage the game well, and at the end there we were on our box suffering. Sometimes we can be punished but tonight not, but we know we have to improve."

    Speaking on BT Sport, Azpilicueta added: "For moments we stopped playing as a team and we started doing individual actions that is not our game and we got punished.

    "And if we want to play against the best teams and to fight for trophies, we have to improve."

    The absence of top scorer Tammy Abraham, who has an ankle injury, meant Chelsea were reliant on the likes of Batshuayi and Pedro – the latter could have scored at least twice but failed to convert chances.

    Goalscorer Tomori, who headed in a free-kick from Ross Barkley to put Chelsea 2-0 up after 64 minutes, said Frank Lampard's men would have been able to cruise home if they were able to finish the openings they carved out when on top.

    "In the first half we probably could have killed the game, but we didn't take our chances," Tomori said.

    "We said at half-time that because we hadn't taken our chances we had to be solid at the back, try to score another one, but we need to be more clinical.

    "I think my goal came at a good time, but it got a bit difficult towards the end when they scored the free-kick.

    "It's a one-off game and teams want to go for it. They were never going to stop and we knew that.

    "If we'd got a third goal it would have been a lot easier for us but we didn't manage to get that so we had to ride it out."

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    Athletic Bilbao striker Williams said he was racially abused by Espanyol supporters during their top-flight match on Saturday.

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    "The violent incidents of Barcelona and Valencia, the racist insults to Inaki Williams, they do a lot of damage to all of Spanish football.

    "LaLiga takes responsibility. We will look with the clubs where the error is."

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    Madrid captain Ramos has been out of action since injuring his ankle in the penalty shoot-out victory over Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final two weeks ago.

    The 33-year-old was back in training on Thursday and completed a full session on Friday to earn a spot in Zinedine Zidane's 19-man group for Sunday's LaLiga outing.

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    Following Barcelona's 2-0 loss at Valencia on Saturday, Madrid will go top of LaLiga if they get a point at Estadio Jose Zorilla.

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