Takeaways from the Premier League, Week Five

Liverpool, Chelsea Stay Perfect

With wins over Spurs and Cardiff City, respectively, Liverpool and Chelsea stand atop the Premier League table as the only two sides with a perfect 15 points through five matches.

Liverpool’s first real test of the early season came on Saturday against Spurs at Wembley. Liverpool finished the match with only 39 percent possession, but its front three were able to stretch the Tottenham defense on the counter. midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum opened the tally for Liverpool with a header off a corner after Spurs failed to clear the ball twice, and forward Roberto Firmino added a second in the 59th minute on a tap-in. Mid- fielder Érik Lamela pulled a goal back for Tottenham in stoppage time, but it proved too little too late for Spurs, whose sloppy defense and poor finishing ultimately allowed Liverpool to take all three points.

Chelsea also earned its fifth win in five games, beating newly-promoted Cardiff City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Cardiff jumped off to an early lead, but a hat-trick by forward Eden Hazard led Maurizio Sarri’s side to a comfortable victory. Chelsea sits atop the Premier League table, level on points with Liverpool but just ahead on goal differential, which acts as the tie-breaker.

Looking ahead, both teams play mid-to- bottom table opposition next week. If both Chelsea and Liverpool stay perfect next week, their match in two weeks time will likely determine the early frontrunner for the title.

Watford Falls Back to Earth (For Now)

After doing its best 2015-2016 Leicester City impersonation through the first four games, Watford dropped its first points of the season on Saturday in a 2-1 loss against Manchester United.

Watford started the season off red-hot, winning its first four games and shooting up the Premier League standings to the top of the table. Given Watford’s general mediocrity over the last two years, it came as a bit of surprise to see Watford level on points with Chelsea and Liverpool through four full weeks of the Premier League season. Watford finished last season in the bottom half of the table, and, the season prior, the Hornets narrowly avoided relegation. Watford’s unusually hot start has drawn knee-jerk comparisons between its early season and the title-winning campaign of Leicester City in 2015-2016, in which the Foxes hoisted the Premier League trophy in one of the most historic Premier League seasons ever – and even that might be an understatement.

Watford’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United dampened some of the early excitement around the team, but even in a loss the Hornets showed the league that they can compete against the best. While it’s unlikely Watford will make a run for the title, or even finish in the top four for that matter, there is good reason to be optimistic about this season.

Burnley in Real Trouble

With just a single point and three goals scored through the first five games of the season, Burnley sits in last place in the league.

Burnley turned heads last season, finishing seventh and qualifying for the Europa league in the process, a European competition similar to the Champions League. But after bowing out in the Europa League after its first match, the winless Clarets have disappointed many who expected the team to continue its strong play from last season. It is, of course, too early to discuss relegation, but after four successive defeats against mid- table opposition, Manager Sean Dyche and the rest of the team have their work cut out for them.

Contact Andy Fite at [email protected].