Slow starts trip up Chelsea, Arsenal

LONDON • Maurizio Sarri admitted that Chelsea paid the price for a sluggish start and a lack of killer instinct, as Jordan Pickford's heroics earned Everton a goal-less Premier League draw on Sunday.

Sarri's men recovered from a poor first-half performance and laid siege to Everton's goal after the break, but found the England goalkeeper in inspired form with a series of top saves.

The stalemate at Stamford Bridge left the Italian manager frustrated despite his side extending their unbeaten start to the season to 18 games in all competitions.

"I didn't like the first 25 minutes. We moved the ball very slow, so it was impossible for us to be dangerous," said the Italian, who pointed to a "mental problem" with his side.

"I'm not happy of course. I don't know why we start slowly. It's a good question."

He set a new record to become the first newly appointed manager to avoid defeat in his first 12 league games, but the milestone was bittersweet. "I'm very proud of it. I have to say thank you to my players and staff. Of course, I prefer three points than the record," he said.

  • Premier League talking points

  • 1 HUDDERSFIELD LACK EDGE

    After the poor start Huddersfield have made to the English Premier League season, Saturday's 1-1 draw with West Ham was an opportunity passed up.

    David Wagner was right to say his side were unlucky, but the Terriers cannot afford to be as wasteful in front of goal.

    Opportunities are being created but their strikers, Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre, have a wretched conversion rate, which does not bode well 12 games in.

    2 RONDON CALMS TURMOIL

    Two straight league wins and St James' Park seems a different place, with the security of mid-table now within touching distance. Salomon Rondon's brace did not just undo Bournemouth's backline but pacified the protests against Newcastle owner Mike Ashley on Saturday.

    If Rafael Benitez proved precisely why he was so keen to sign the striker on loan from West Brom, Federico Fernandez's defensive excellence showed his £6 million (S$10.6 million) transfer from Swansea was well spent.

    3 AUBAMEYANG WASTED OUT WIDE

    Although Arsenal manager Unai Emery made a tactical change at half-time against Wolves on Sunday to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to partner Alexandre Lacazette up front, he appears not to know where best to use the Gabon striker.

    In the first half, Aubameyang had routinely drifted inside from the left and did not look comfortable in that role. Despite the 1-1 draw, questions must be asked whether it is the best use of his talents to play him off the wing.

    THE GUARDIAN

At the Emirates, Arsenal manager Unai Emery told his side that football was a game of two halves after their slow start nearly resulted in a shock win for Wolves.

Although the Gunners, who have gone 16 games unbeaten in all competitions under Emery, recovered late to draw 1-1, they conceded the opener for a fourth successive league game and the Spaniard admitted his side had shortcomings.

"When you are playing over 90 minutes, the teams start with more intensity. Maybe it's one thing we can improve, but that comes naturally in our work," he said.

Arsenal fell behind to a 13th-minute goal from Ivan Cavaleiro and had to be grateful for a fine display from goalkeeper Bernd Leno, before they equalised through Henrikh Mkhitaryan's cross-cum-shot four minutes from time.

In Liverpool, manager Jurgen Klopp accepted that the Reds got "a bit lucky" after a controversial offside flag denied Fulham the lead in their 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

Just 14 seconds separated the decision on Aleksandar Mitrovic's header and Liverpool's opener by Mohamed Salah and Klopp praised his players for capitalising, with Fulham still protesting the call.

"The most important thing is reacting in a situation like that and that was brilliant," the German said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2018, with the headline 'Slow starts trip up Chelsea, Arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe