Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Arsenal’s defence requires urgent attention; Bournemouth cannot keep relying on their powers of recovery; Wolves’ Rui Patricio has produced an early contender for save of the season

1) There’s no defending Arsenal

Arsenal’s defending against West Ham was a shambles. Their back four were constantly disconnected while the midfield in front of them offered as much protection as a piece of tissue in a storm gun fight. West Ham scored once but should have racked up more. These are, of course, early days in Unai Emery’s time at Arsenal and with a new manager comes a period of adjustment. But having conceded six goals in their opening three games of the season, there needs to be notable improvement soon – what is encouraging is the players appear aware of that, too. “When we do not have the ball we have to make fouls. Then we don’t take the counterattack,” the centre‑back Sokratis Papastathopoulos said. It may be cynical tactic but it is one that has served Manchester City well under Pep Guardiola and reflects a level of canniness that has been lacking at Arsenal for some time. Sachin Nakrani

2) Anderson a ray of light

After spending the best part of £100m on new players in the summer, three defeats from their first three matches was not what David Gold and David Sullivan had envisaged for West Ham. But despite a promising performance at the Emirates, Manuel Pellegrini’s side find themselves bottom of the pile and still looking for a first point under their new manager. There should still be grounds for optimism, however, given the impressive display of Felipe Anderson at the Emirates in his No 10 role behind Marko Arnautovic that saw him create several chances to retake the lead before Arsenal took advantage late on. Like his fellow new arrivals Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Pérez, the Brazilian is capable of being a match‑winnner on his dayand Pellegrini will be hopeful his forwards can make the most of his creativity sooner rather than later. Ed Aarons

3) Bournemouth need to get on front foot

Bournemouth have collected 20 points from losing positions in 2018 and they were at their spirited best against Everton, earning a draw from 2-0 down in the second half. But while their games are rarely dull there is a sense that Bournemouth could eventually hit a wall if they continue to concede the first goal. What happens if the comebacks are unsustainable? “It’s not something we are looking to do,” Eddie Howe said. “We are looking to take the initiative and win the game when it kicks off. That’s the type of team we are. At our best we are very front foot and very aggressive. It’s not like we are sitting back waiting to concede and then we attack. These things have happened. From my perspective, I hope they keep happening when we go behind. But I would like us to be a little bit more ruthless when it’s 0-0.” Jacob Steinberg

4) Burnley suffer travel sickness

Qualifying for European football was a huge achievement for club and manager but it now threatens to endanger Burnley’s Premier League status. The time for Clarets fans to put their passports back in the drawer has arrived before the school holidays have finished. Losing 4-2 at Fulham on Sunday made it a single point from three Premier League fixtures that Sean Dyche’s team might have expected to win last season, when they spent most of the season consolidating seventh place. A small squad has been overstretched by five Europa League matches so far. At 3-1 down after Thursday’s first leg at Olympiakos, there was already a slim hope of reaching the group stage. With his club now in the bottom three, the pragmatic move would be for Dyche to rest players for Thursday’s return before Sunday’s visit from Manchester United. John Brewin

5) Cardiff need net contributions

Vincent Tan, the Malaysian owner, can pat himself on the back after a summer of fairly frugal spending by Premier League standards, but after three matches of failing to put the ball in the back of the net, Cardiff would be foolish to think that a defensive stubbornness and an undoubted team spirit alone can keep them up. Bobby Reid and Josh Murphy have added bundles of energy but they remain toothless in attack and while Kenneth Zohore is a handful, he’s hardly a prolific goalscorer. Danny Ward and Gary Madine, too, are able but neither have scored, at any level, since January. “We believe we have enough good players to stay in the league,” Tan said, with matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon. In Neil Warnock, they do at least have a manager capable of performing miracles. Ben Fisher

6) Alisson shows flair with feet

Some Anfield patrons gave Alisson two standing ovations during the victory against Brighton that took Liverpool to the top of the Premier League. The second followed a crucial 88th-minute save from Pascal Gross that ensured Jürgen Klopp’s team took maximum points. This was only what a £65m goalkeeper is paid to do. The first was for something extra: a delicate chip over Anthony Knockaert as the Brighton winger closed down a Virgil van Dijk back-pass followed by a volleyed pass back to the Liverpool central defender. “I try my best to help the team in the buildup,” the Brazilian later said. “If sometimes there is a situation with dribbling then I do it carefully. It could be too risky, but it’s part of the game. We are a team that plays from the back with the ball on the ground. Mistakes may happen but we work hard during the week to do everything correctly during the matches.” Andy Hunter

7) Rondon offers encouragement

That Aleksandar Mitrovic scored as many goals in three minutes on Sunday as Newcastle have in three matches so far this season might seem like an indictment of Rafael Benítez’s judgment, yet a quietly impressive display from Salomón Rondón, cast in a thankless role against Chelsea, suggested the situation is not quite that simple. The Venezuelan said he was encouraged to join the club by Faustino Asprilla, with whom he “has things in common”. It’s fair to say Rondón, the archetypal workmanlike striker, does not share Asprilla’s penchant for the magical but his bustling aggression could prove invaluable in what could be a long season for Benítez’s side. It will be interesting to see how he is complemented by Kenedy, unavailable against his parent club and who despite his ordeal against Cardiff is one of the few match‑winners at Benítez’s disposal. A potent partnership may await – though the fact that Newcastle’s attacking hopes lie with two loanees is a grim sign of the times as the Mike Ashley era lumbers on. Alex Hess

8) Little change at Southampton

Things were supposed to be different but a return of one point from a possible nine feels eerily reminiscent of Southampton’s struggles last season. Despite strengthening the squad this summer, Saints still appear a little fragile in both boxes; Danny Ings has added a spark but Shane Long has scored just once since January. Mark Hughes is yet to establish a winning formula nor his strongest XI, with a number of players, such as Jack Stephens, James Ward-Prowse and the club captain, Steven Davis, pushed towards the periphery. Some have already headed for the door, while Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher could yet depart. Tuesday’s trip to Brighton in the Carabao Cup presents a chance for fringe players to seize their chance. “It’s up to those guys out of the team to push and get back in,” Hughes said. “We need to freshen it up.” Ben Fisher

9) Benteke’s wayward ways continue

Christian Benteke offered a puff of the cheeks when his number went up five minutes from the end to conclude another fruitless afternoon’s work. The Belgian had impressed in flashes, offering some of that power that used to be his trademark. But yet again he left with nothing to show for his efforts. Ben Foster had thwarted his header and a smart turn-and-shot fizzed wide of an upright as Palace chased parity against early-season pace-setters. The 27-year-old’s return now stands at three goals in 35 Premier League matches and clinging to the familiar hope – that a fluke flying in off his backside prompts an avalanche – is starting to feel tiresome. His confidence is brittle and how he fares against Southampton next weekend may be key to his season. This team need to be more ruthless. Benteke has been wanting on that front for a while. Dominic Fifield

10) Patrício signing coup for Wolves

August feels a bit too soon to talk about a potential save of the season but Rui Patrício filed an early contender with a superb piece of goalkeeping when he spectacularly tipped Raheem Sterling’s terrific half-volley on to the bar. Patrício, who has won 73 caps for Portugal and helped them to win Euro 2016, terminated his deal with Sporting Lisbon in the summer and moved to Wolves on a free transfer. Sporting were furious. They say Patrício broke his contract and have demanded £50m in compensation for the 30-year-old, which seems about the going rate for top international goalkeepers these days. Whatever the outcome of that dispute, there was much to admire about the brilliant one-handed save that prevented City from taking the lead on Saturday. Well, unless you are Nuno Espírito Santo, the Wolves manager. “Rui did well,” the former goalkeeper said. “That’s his job.” Stuart James


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Online Games

Banking online