Man United’s strikeforce is STILL not in tune, it’s jeepers keepers at both Arsenal and Chelsea, Liverpool have VAR to thank this time… and free midweeks are happy days for Ange Postecoglou! 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League weekend
- It was another exciting Premier League weekend with several derby games
- Tottenham continue to set the pace after Arsenal were held to a draw at Chelsea
- Man City returned to winning ways, while United won for Sir Bobby Charlton
It was the weekend that saw Liverpool claim the bragging rights on Merseyside and Chelsea chuck away a commanding position to draw with London rivals Arsenal.
Man City returned to winning ways after back-to-back league losses and Manchester United won in Sir Bobby Charlton’s memory at Sheffield United just hours after his death was announced.
Newcastle climbed up to fifth place with a four-goal thumping of Crystal Palace, only for Aston Villa to overtake them with a four-star display of their own against West Ham.
Gary O’Neil led Wolves to victory at his former club Bournemouth, while fellow strugglers Burnley were comfortably beaten at Brentford and Luton mounted an improbable comeback to draw at Nottingham Forest.
Yet it was Tottenham who ended matchday nine top of the table with a routine 2-0 win over Fulham to continue the good vibes under Ange Postecoglou.
Here’s what we learned from the latest weekend of Premier League action…
James Maddison and Son Heung-min celebrate as Tottenham returned back top of the table
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Jeepers keepers for both Chelsea and Arsenal
Chelsea really do find it difficult to win at Stamford Bridge.
Comfortably two to the good when Mykhailo Mudryk smartly lobbed home their second, they allowed Arsenal to fight back for an unlikely point.
It means the Blues have won just one of their last dozen home Premier League games – with home strength being the foundation stone of any side. Even that solitary success came against Luton.
Jittery goalkeepers were the main post-match talking point. Arsenal’s David Raya was horribly caught out by Mudryk’s presumably intentional moment of genius and he subsequently gifted the ball straight to Cole Palmer trying to play out before redeeming himself.
Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t on the bench on Saturday night after his girlfriend Georgina gave birth to a boy.
But Mikel Arteta’s decision to ditch him for Raya earlier in the season is now coming under scrutiny after a number of shaky moments. Even Arsenal’s fans were singing Ramsdale’s name.
Chelsea’s Mykhailo Mudryk watches as his cross/shot drops over the head of David Raya
Raya is under pressure after ousting first choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from the team
Chelsea’s Robert Sanchez is now also under pressure after his error sparked Arsenal’s revival
To ensure equity within the goalkeepers’ union, Chelsea’s Robert Sanchez gave the ball straight to Declan Rice to fire into an empty net and ignite Arsenal’s comeback at 2-1.
The advantage for Sanchez is that there isn’t a ready-to-go replacement but that horror moment won’t have done anything for his confidence.
Luckily for him, Mauricio Pochettino was sympathetic in his post-match remarks despite the blunder ultimately leading to two lost points.
Does Konate’s lucky escape prove it’s time to widen VAR remit?
Liverpool aren’t exactly the most vocal advocates of giving more power to the Video Assistant Referee after Darren England’s cock-up against Tottenham a few weeks back.
But while that VAR decision went very much against them, they profited from a dubious decision in their 2-0 Merseyside derby win over Everton.
Most inside Anfield expected Ibrahima Konate to be shown a second yellow card by Craig Pawson after he fouled Beto just after the hour mark with the scores goalless.
It didn’t come, leaving Sean Dyche and many others absolutely gobsmacked.
Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate was fortunate to escape a second booking in Saturday’s derby
Everton boss Sean Dyche was left fuming having been booked for his protestations
If VAR was able to review yellow card incidents, then surely Konate walks, the game evens up at 10 versus 10 after Ashley Young’s first-half dismissal and Everton may have snatched something.
But it’s beyond VAR’s remit, which includes red card offences, penalties, goals and cases of mistaken identity.
‘I think that’s where VAR should step in and say “yellow, yellow, yellow”,’ said Dyche, who ironically was booked for his protestations.
Not least because two yellows clearly add up to a red card offence, surely validating VAR’s involvement.
‘Entertainers’ Newcastle are the league’s deadliest
The last time Newcastle scored this many goals after nine games in a top-flight campaign was in 1994-95 when Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ were hitting their stride.
That side hit 26 in their opening nine, smashing five past Southampton and four past both Coventry and Chelsea.
Eddie Howe’s current crop have scored a league-best 24 so far, another four racked up in Saturday’s trouncing of Crystal Palace.
Newcastle simply bristle with menace and their prolific attackers lead the way in the Premier League for shots on target inside the box (46), shot conversion (19 per cent), big chances scored (20) and big chance conversion (53 per cent).
As Jacob Murphy, Anthony Gordon, Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson tore Palace apart to tee up another tasty European assignment against Borussia Dortmund, the entertainment levels were off the chart.
As it happens, Keegan and Howe met on stage this week too.
Newcastle icons Eddie Howe (right) and Kevin Keegan (left) linked-up during a recent event
Guardiola is right to rotate
Despite the two-week gap between games, Pep Guardiola made five changes for what was an early season must-win for Manchester City against Brighton after back-to-back league losses.
Rodri was back from suspension, while John Stones, Manuel Akanji, Jeremy Doku and Stefan Ortega came in for Nathan Ake, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Dias, Rico Lewis and Ederson.
Naming goalkeeper Ederson among the substitutes and playing Carabao Cup keeper Ortega raised eyebrows but Guardiola explained it was down to Brazil’s defeat to Uruguay in World Cup qualifying and the long journey back.
Guardiola openly admitted Ederson was tired when he returned, so why risk him suffering a lapse of concentration with the ball at his feet?
It may only be late October but City have a lot of games ahead this season as they compete in the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Ederson will need a few more breaks yet, as will every outfielder. Rotation will sustain City.
Ederson was dropped to the bench but Manchester City still defeated Brighton on Saturday
Man United’s forwards still on different wavelength
Erik ten Hag will want to see more from his Manchester United strikeforce – especially in the Premier League.
After midfielder Scott McTominay and defender Diogo Dalot supplied the goals in Saturday night’s win over Sheffield United, it was further evidence the forward line just isn’t clicking yet.
In 1,801 minutes of Premier League action so far this season, Marcus Rashford, Rasmus Hojlund, Antony and Anthony Martial have contributed just one goal and one assist – both of those came from Rashford.
McTominay, with three goals in his last two outings, is United’s top scorer in the league so far.
The lack of chemistry was apparent at Bramall Lane. Hojlund opted to shoot and let Blades keeper Wes Foderingham off the hook after a sloppy pass when Rashford was in a better position.
Rashford was almost trying too hard to score the spectacular goal all evening, Antony looked rusty following his absence to answer domestic abuse allegations and Hojlund barely had a sniff all night.
Alejandro Garnacho improved United’s potency when he was introduced but Martial certainly did not.
It’s an eye-wateringly expensive front line not to be firing on all cylinders.
Marcus Rashford rues a missed chance at Sheffield United on Saturday evening
Spurs’ Euro absence has aided brilliant start
‘Honestly, it helps a lot. Physically, I remember last season was very hard playing three games a week. Mentally, not having to travel to Spain or Italy to play games helps. You are at home with your family.’
That was Tottenham’s Dejan Kulusevski extolling the virtues of the blank midweek after they beat Fulham on Monday night to return top of the table.
Spurs could move five points clear of Manchester City if they beat Crystal Palace on Friday, another fixture made possible by their lack of European football.
Any residual disappointment when Spurs finished eighth, a point behind Aston Villa, last season and missing out on European football for the first time since 2009-10, has been long forgotten.
Playing in the Europa Conference League would frankly be a pain in the a*** right now as Ange Postecoglou tries to get across his methods on the training ground.
Postecoglou most definitely wouldn’t now have the Premier League record for most points picked up in his first nine games if they were playing Thursday-Sunday every week and jetting to Ryanair destinations.
Spurs’ tally of 23 points from nine matches so far is their second-best at this stage in their history. The only one better? 1960-61… when they won the double.
Ange Postecoglou’s excellent start to life at Tottenham continued on Monday night
What a remarkable first year for Emery
Unai Emery marked one year in charge of Aston Villa on Tuesday and what a year it’s been.
When he came in to replace Steven Gerrard, they’d won just three of their opening 12 Premier League games and sat 14th, just three points above the relegation zone.
Having made Europe last season, Villa moved back to fifth with a 4-1 thumping of West Ham on Sunday, their 11th consecutive home league win.
Instead of glancing nervously over their shoulder at relegation, Villa can look upwards and forwards with confidence. Can they challenge for the top four? You wouldn’t rule it out.
For context, only Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool have won more games in the period since Emery arrived in Birmingham. This season, only Newcastle have netted more than Villa’s 23 goals.
Villa fans must savour the moment.
Aston Villa were superb as they thrashed West Ham to mark one year of Unai Emery in charge
Injuries holding Forest up
Not a Saturday to remember for Nottingham Forest as they saw a two-goal lead evaporate in the final 10 minutes against Luton to extend their winless run to five.
To compound matters, Steve Cooper confirmed the influential Callum Hudson-Odoi is going to miss five weeks with a pulled hamstring, joining Divock Origi and Taiwo Awoniyi on the sidelines.
That will blunt Forest’s attack for sure, even if Chris Wood, who scored twice, will do his best to compensate.
Ex-Man United winger Anthony Elanga, who set up both of Wood’s goals, showed he is ready to step up as well.
Callum Hudson-Odoi will miss five weeks with a hamstring injury in a blow for Forest
Sweet revenge for O’Neil
Kudos to Gary O’Neil. Not only did his Wolves side beat Bournemouth, the side that got rid of him over the summer, he then went on Monday Night Football and gave a full breakdown of how they achieved it.
A bit of insider knowledge about the Cherries’ strengths and weaknesses certainly came in handy and O’Neil explained using the big screens in Sky’s studios how his tactical masterplan came to fruition.
In doing so, he provided some handy hints to every other opposition manager due to face Bournemouth in the coming weeks.
While O’Neil revelled in that win, the man who replaced him Andoni Iraola, still awaits his first league win and unsurprisingly heads the Premier League sack race.
Gary O’Neil was a guest on Monday Night Football and he expertly showed off his tactics
O’Neil explains how he managed to create space to get a four versus three in Wolves’ favour
Looking bleak for Burnley
Vincent Kompany was optimistic his Burnley side that dominated the Championship last season could level up and cope in the Premier League.
It hasn’t worked out that way. Saturday’s heavy 3-0 loss at Brentford was their seventh defeat in their first nine games – the first time the Clarets have been so poor in the top-flight since 1888-89.
Their struggles provide yet more evidence of the gulf between first and second tiers in English football.
The three sides that came up – Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United – are currently 17th, 18th and 20th respectively with two wins between them. Burnley’s win came against Luton.
It’s so tough to compete.
It never rains but it pours for Burnley and Vincent Kompany after another damaging defeat
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