EPL

Premier League Review: Sterling hat-trick gives Man City stunning start, Burnley & Brighton impress

By Sports Desk August 10, 2019

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City made a stunning start to the defence of their Premier League title by hammering West Ham 5-0.

City watched last season's runners-up Liverpool romp to a 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday and answered with an emphatic triumph of their own.

Saturday's top-flight action also saw Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion cruise to victories over Southampton and Watford respectively.

Crystal Palace and 10-man Everton played out a goalless draw, while Sheffield United grabbed a late equaliser to claim a point at Bournemouth.

Tottenham will host Aston Villa in the last game of the day.

STERLING GIVES CITY IDEAL START

Sterling's treble inspired a five-goal away win as City commenced their quest for a third straight league crown. The England star's goals all came in the second half after Gabriel Jesus prodded the champions ahead in the 25th minute of a one-sided affair.

Sterling's well-worked first goal came six minutes after the interval and though a VAR review found he was offside before Jesus tapped in, City did get their third when he struck 15 minutes from time.

The former Liverpool player could have added the third from the spot after Issa Diop fouled the excellent Riyad Mahrez but he gifted the penalty to Sergio Aguero. The substitute's initial attempt was saved before he converted a re-take due to VAR showing Declan Rice encroached before clearing the rebound.

Sterling was not to be denied the match ball, though, as he raced clean through to convert a pass from Mahrez in added time.

MISERABLE STARTS FOR SAINTS AND WATFORD

Ashley Barnes' double was key as Burnley scored three times in the space of 12 second-half minutes to stun Southampton in a 3-0 win at Turf Moor, Johann Gudmundsson's impressive solo goal putting the icing on the cake.

New signing Neal Maupay, who arrived for a reported £20million, scored on his debut to help Brighton defeat Watford by the same scoreline at Vicarage Road.

The former Brentford striker followed fellow substitute Florin Andone by netting in the second half, Abdoulaye Doucoure's dreadful own goal after 28 minutes having set Graham Potter's new side on their way.


SHARP GRABS LATE POINT FOR BLADES

Substitute Billy Sharp finished off a goalmouth scramble with two minutes remaining to earn newly promoted Sheffield United a 1-1 draw away to Bournemouth.

Chris Mepham had earlier put the hosts in front when he converted a close-range rebound, but Sharp ensured the Blades got something from their first Premier League game since 2007.

There was also a draw as Crystal Palace held Everton at Selhurst Park, with the visitors having Morgan Schneiderlin sent off with 14 minutes remaining.

The midfielder picked up a second yellow card for a high foot Luka Milivojevic, while Wilfried Zaha - who reluctantly had to stay at Palace having been heavily pursued by Everton in the transfer window - played the last 25 minutes after coming off the bench.

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  • Raheem's on fire! Stones lauds Man City star Sterling's mentality Raheem's on fire! Stones lauds Man City star Sterling's mentality

    Raheem Sterling's mentality is behind his prolific run of form for club and country, according to John Stones.

    Manchester City winger Sterling netted a quickfire 11-minuite hat-trick after half-time on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola's side demolished Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.

    Sterling also supplied the cross for Sergio Aguero's 34th-minute equaliser and won the penalty from which the Argentina striker put City in front.

    Of his five career hat-tricks, Sterling has now claimed four match balls in 2019, including a brilliant treble in England's 5-0 Euro 2020 qualification win over the Czech Republic at Wembley in March.

    "He's been on fire. He's got that mentality, he wants more," Stones said, before noting the one-on-one opportunity Sterling missed after completing his Atalanta hat-trick would probably disappoint the 24-year-old Ballon d'Or nominee. 

    "He showed it [against Atalanta]. He kept trying, he might be disappointed because he could have scored four, but I think he should be very proud for scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League.

    "I'm very happy for him and he helped us to take a step closer to the next round."

    Sterling has 16 goals in 17 appearances for City and England this term – a flying start to the campaign that contrasts sharply with a 2019-20 yet to get off the ground for Stones.

    The former Everton centre-back has been laid low for a month at a time following a pair of thigh injuries and only featured as a substitute against Atalanta and Crystal Palace last weekend despite midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri forming a makeshift centre-back pairing.

    "Obviously, it's always frustrating going through injuries," he said.

    "To me, it was a bit of a setback. Now I'm back, I feel strong and healthy again. Hopefully I can stay fit and help to fight for every competition."

    Stones was introduced on Tuesday after Rodri pulled up with a hamstring injury, while his fellow centre-back Aymeric Laporte is recuperating from knee surgery alongside winger Leroy Sane.

    City are waiting to find out the severity of another knee problem sustained by left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, although Stones was at least able to line up alongside Nicolas Otamendi during the closing stages in midweek – the Argentina defender having shaken off a minor back complaint.

    "It's been frustrating for all of us, for the manager, for the team, all the injuries we have got," said the 25-year-old.

    "It's been a difficult time for us, but the guys have made a step up. They have done jobs for the team that they are not used to, so I give all the credit to them.

    "Now, we [Stones and Otamendi] are back, we need to try to stay fit and healthy to help the team to fight for all the competitions."

  • Solskjaer dismisses Kane links as Van der Sar distances himself from Man United role Solskjaer dismisses Kane links as Van der Sar distances himself from Man United role

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Manchester United's striking options following Roy Keane's suggestion the club should sign Harry Kane, while former team-mate Edwin van der Sar has distanced himself from the vacant director of football role.

    Following United's 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday, ex-captain Keane – working as a pundit for Sky Sports – stated United should purchase England forward Kane from Tottenham to solve their issues up front.

    Marcus Rashford scored in the stalemate at Old Trafford, taking his tally of league goals for the season to four, but Solskjaer's options up front have been diminished by Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leaving for Inter, while Anthony Martial is only just returning from injury.

    Solskjaer insists he is satisfied with his current pool of strikers, although acknowledged having a player of Kane's quality would always be a bonus.

    "Roy's quite straightforward, isn't he," Solskjaer told a news conference when asked about his former team-mate's comments ahead of United's Europa League meeting with Partizan Belgrade.

    "For us it's [about] working hard. Getting Anthony back is going to be a massive boost for us and I'm sure, when he comes back, that'll help Marcus as well. 

    "With the forwards we've got and the pace, I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.

    "There aren't many [Robert] Lewandowskis and Harry Kanes - they're like [Alan] Shearer, [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, fantastic players.

    "Ours are different types of players but I like someone who can finish half a chance and Harry does that, but Harry's a Tottenham player."

    With United's transfer dealings having come under scrutiny in previous seasons, the club are reportedly still in search of a director of football.

    One name consistently linked with taking up the position has been former United goalkeeper Van der Sar, who has enjoyed success as Ajax's chief executive officer. 

    However, Van der Sar says he is not considering leaving the Eredivisie champions at the moment, telling BT Sport: "I've said before, I want to make this a success at Ajax.

    "As a player, you always needed to build up qualities and your strengths. Now I'm trying it out and experiencing a lot of different things here, I've still some unfinished business here.

    "If we could have taken it one step further last year [getting to the Champions League final], it could have been a step already, but at the moment I'm concentrating on Ajax."

  • Pogba to miss Man United's trip to Norwich City, Solskjaer confirms Pogba to miss Man United's trip to Norwich City, Solskjaer confirms

    Paul Pogba will not be fit to face Norwich City on Sunday but David de Gea should be able to make the trip to Carrow Road, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    United are in Serbia ahead of a Europa League clash with Partizan Belgrade, though neither Pogba nor De Gea are in the travelling party.

    Pogba last featured at the end of September having sustained a foot injury, while De Gea has recently struggled with a groin strain.

    De Gea was able to take his place in United's starting XI on Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite appearing to be a doubt after hurting himself on international duty.

    Solskjaer is unwilling to risk the Spaniard in Belgrade, with youngster Matej Kovar joining Sergio Romero and Lee Grant as the three goalkeepers, while Pogba remains sidelined even for the weekend journey to Norfolk.

    "De Gea will be ready for Sunday but we didn’t take a risk with him travelling here," Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday.

    "Paul? No," Solskjaer later added when asked if Pogba could feature against Norwich.

    United head into Thursday's game at Partizan second to them in Group L by virtue of scoring fewer goals.

    They have not won away from home in any competition since beating Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in March.

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