Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham side should have beaten Watford if they are to be considered contenders for the Premier League title and says their 2-1 loss was a “wake-up call”.
Spurs made a real early-season statement with a 3-0 demolition of Manchester United on Monday night to make it three wins from three, but they could not follow it up as the Hornets deservedly beat them at Vicarage Road.
The visitors went in front early in the second half when Abdoulaye Doucoure scored an own goal, but headers from Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart in the space of seven minutes turned it around for the hosts, who have won their first four league games of a season for the first time since 1988.
Pochettino had warned his side there was a bump in the road coming if they believed their own hype and his words came true as they defended poorly from set-pieces and barely caused any threat of their own.
“It is so painful to concede two goals like this, it is so painful because the first half looked like a friendly game,” Pochettino said.
“I am very disappointed, very disappointed because if you want to be a contender…it is so difficult to understand because I thought we controlled the game in the first 45 minutes.
“We conceded two goals that if you want to be a contender you cannot concede.
“It is the beginning and it is a very good wake-up call for everyone and to listen more because people talk about the perception and not the reality.
“This is good to compare, some people talk about perceptions but the reality was on the pitch.
“The reality is if you want to be a contender today we should win and win easy because everything was ready to win the game. That is very painful, but I am not upset.
“We need to show more respect to this competition, we need to compete much, much better.
“It is difficult for me to understand because for four years we were a contender.
“You need to show respect because to compete to win it is not easy, the Premier League is so, so tough.
“That is why after the third game because we beat Manchester United and the circumstances that we beat them, we need to be more cautious.
“And I think that is good today to feel the pain it will help us for the future to be better.
“I was very, very disappointed and my message is you need to go there like a lion and try to score in every single action.”
Manchester United brought a timely end to their poor run as Romelu Lukaku’s brace at Burnley helped alleviate the pressure on Jose Mourinho and kick-start their campaign.
Old Trafford has found itself in the eye of a storm after a shock defeat at Brighton was compounded by the heaviest home defeat of the Portuguese’s managerial career against Tottenham on Monday.
But there was no sign of a hangover on Sunday as United rallied impressively, with Lukaku netting twice in the first half to set Mourinho’s men on course for a deserved 2-0 win at Turf Moor.
Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba’s penalty to prevent matters getting worse for Sean Dyche’s men on an afternoon when substitute Marcus Rashford’s red card was the only real negative for the visitors.
Neither event could take the edge off a positive afternoon for United, whose travelling fans chanted Mourinho’s name from the outset and celebrated a much-needed win before the international break.
The fan-funded plane that flew overhead calling executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward “a specialist in failure” was a nod to the fact all is not well at United, but this was a much-needed show of strength and unity on the field.
An eventful afternoon at Turf Moor ends in a deserved win for Mourinho's men 😃— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 2 September 2018
Match report 👇
Burnley, looking lethargic after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos, were second best in a first half that was 27 minutes old when Lukaku headed home a clipped Alexis Sanchez cross.
The Belgium international fired home from close range just before the break, with Hart preventing United from extending their lead by denying Pogba from the spot.
Rashford’s sending-off for reacting to Phil Bardsley’s kick out by pushing his head into that of the Burnley defender led to an open ending, but United held firm to secure the three points.
Mourinho’s men started brightly and Jesse Lingard had three chances inside the opening 10 minutes, while Hart was called into action to keep out a low Luke Shaw drive.
United soon tapered off but they were remaining resolute at the back and patient in possession, with intelligent play bringing a 27th-minute opener.
Sanchez collected a pass from Shaw after good build-up and clipped a lovely cross to the far post, where Lukaku capitalised on poor defending to power a header past Hart.
United looked to press home their advantage on the counter and would have doubled their advantage had Hart not spread himself well to prevent Lukaku turning home a Sanchez through-ball.
But the 25-year-old would find the net again before the break.
Shaw burst through and squared for Lukaku, who played back to Lingard to get away a shot that took two deflections. The ball fell kindly and the striker buried the loose ball from close range.
Burnley were struggling to lay a glove on the visitors and had work to do at the back.
Bardsley denied Sanchez at the other end and Shaw stung the palms of Hart, who prevented the visitors going three ahead in the 69th minute.
Aaron Lennon brought down substitute Rashford in the box and Pogba stepped up for the resulting spot-kick, only for Hart to save low to his right after a delayed run-up.
The stop took the noise up several notches inside Turf Moor, as did Rashford’s red card.
Bardsley appeared to kick out at Rashford after a challenge and the United forward reacted by putting his head into the Burnley defender’s.
The red card brought a frantic conclusion, with Sam Vokes going close before Lukaku wasted a glorious chance after rounding Hart only to fail under Ben Mee’s pressure – who then escaped sanction after handling the ball when Lukaku outmuscled the Manchester City graduate.
Vokes was denied by David De Gea and Matej Vydra missed the target as Burnley continued to push for the goal that would not materialise.
Mourinho went to thank the raucous travelling fans at full-time as they chanted his name.
Unai Emery hailed Alexandre Lacazette‘s “big capacity” to score after he netted a brilliant winner for Arsenal against Cardiff.
Lacazette struck a rasping shot high into Cardiff’s net nine minutes from time at the Cardiff City Stadium as Arsenal edged a Premier League thriller 3-2.
Shkodran Mustafi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – with his 150th goal in the top five leagues of European football – twice gave the Gunners the lead before Lacazette struck.
Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward grabbed equalisers as Cardiff scored their first goals since returning to the Premier League, but Arsenal held on for only their second away league win in 2018.
“I know him (Lacazette) from Lyon,” Emery said. “He has a big capacity to score when he is in the box.
“We gave him good options to score, and today he showed us what he could do, and it is good for his confidence.
“What happened on the pitch is good for the confidence of the team.
“The character is very important and that we show it each match. It was the same when we needed to win after the first two games, to be calm, which is the most important thing.
“We had chances to score, good attacking moments, but Cardiff had some good strong moments as well. I think we controlled the match 70 per cent on the 90 minutes.
Arsenal were lucky not to fall behind when goalkeeper Petr Cech presented Harry Arter with a clear scoring opportunity after seven minutes.
But Emery defended his policy of Cech playing out from the back.
“He (Cech) has experience,” Emery added. “He is doing like we want him to do. It is very important to me to continue doing this and improving.
“If you are playing long balls all the time, you are not showing your personality.
“It is clear you can do one mistake in one action, but we need to continue doing this to help us create attacking space.
“When we had more control in the second half, I think he feels better on the pitch.”
Cardiff have claimed just two points from their first four league games, but manager Neil Warnock was heartened by the performance.
“I was very proud of them,” Warnock said. “We aren’t good enough to park the bus, we would have lost 1, 2 or 3-0, so we decided to have a go.
“It was old fashioned stuff today, we attacked when we could. We had a lot of plans that came off today.
“I would take 0-0 every time, but I would rather enjoy watching my team. That’s how football should be – it can be too negative at times.
“We had some great chances today. I can’t remember how many times I had my head in my hands. I can’t fault the effort from our players, we have a great bunch really.”