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

1) Foxes must uncover Vardy deputy to alleviate risk

Jamie Vardy proved his importance to Leicester City just as much when he was in the stands as he was on the pitch. The Foxes were flat from the off, without a functioning plan B to put into operation in Vardy’s absence. The team is so used to utilising the striker’s clever running in behind a defence, they seem to lack other creative ideas when he is not spearheading the team. Considering they ripped Manchester City apart just weeks ago, it will concern Brendan Rodgers that he cannot get his side to repeat that perfect performance, suffering home defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa in the two games that followed. Vardy’s arrival on the pitch enlivened Leicester, with his teammates looking more confident in the company of their talisman who duly scored a late winner. Rodgers might be best finding a striker in the mould of Vardy to ensure they can maintain the status quo whenever he is absent; otherwise they are just one tweaked muscle away from mediocrity. Will Unwin

Match report: Arsenal 0-1 Leicester

2) Could Bamford be key to Leeds kicking on?

It’s been a fine start to the season for Leeds, whose quick pressing, quick passing style is better suited to the Premier League than to the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday slog of a 46-game Championship season. Newly promoted clubs often start well, confident and settled following a successful campaign, more familiar with their opponents than their opponents are with them. As winter settles in and teams work them out, things often get hairy, but Leeds have better players and a better manager than most teams in their position, so if they can find a regular source of goals, they are set. Not many expected that from Patrick Bamford, who now has six goals in six league games, but might it be that after various clubs and managers, the penny has finally dropped? Daniel Harris

Match report: Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds

3) Roy raves over Riedewald’s rising star

Jaïro Riedewald’s first goal for Crystal Palace in the victory against Fulham capped another impressive performance from the Dutchman, who was signed from Ajax by Frank de Boer in 2017. While his compatriot infamously only lasted four league matches as Palace manager before being replaced by Roy Hodgson, Riedewald is finally establishing himself in central midfield having originally arrived as a defender. “I’ve always been impressed with his ability on the ball,” said Hodgson of the player who, like him, has experienced defeat in a Europa League final. “He’s a very good character who has been a joy to work with for the past three years. I’m just delighted that he has introduced some other elements into his game that means we are reaping the rewards.” Ed Aarons

Match report: Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace



Diogo Jota celebrates with Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring Liverpool’s winner. Photograph: Peter Byrne/Reuters

4) Klopp’s front-loaded Liverpool pounce on lapses

After a week of intensive focus on what Liverpool have lost, Jürgen Klopp’s tactical switch here was a reminder of what the champions do have in abundance – a formidable array of striking options swelled by the £41m signing of Diogo Jota. Putting all of them on the pitch against Chris Wilder’s dangerous team was one way of compensating for absences in defence and midfield, and worth revisiting when the situation allows despite the impact on Liverpool’s overall fluidity at Anfield. Sheffield United defended well on Saturday – with John Egan, Enda Stevens and George Baldock impressive – but two lapses were all it took for Liverpool to extend their unbeaten home league record to 62 matches. “It is a ruthless league,” Wilder said. No team are better equipped to inflict punishment than the champions. Andy Hunter

Match report: Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United

5) Time for Solskjær to let Van de Beek unpick defences?

How do you stop Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United? By keeping men back and denying them the space to run in behind on the quick transitions. It is a truism but until Solskjær can disprove it, he will fall short as the club’s manager. United cannot simply be a counterattacking team, however good they look when it all comes together. Yet again, they struggled to unpick disciplined opponents in the 0-0 home draw with Chelsea and it shone a harsh light on Solskjær’s reluctance to use Donny van de Beek, the £35m signing from Ajax who is yet to start in the Premier League. He was an unused substitute against Chelsea. Van de Beek’s game is all about breaking the lines, getting on the end of passes and being in the right place when the ball breaks – qualities that Solskjær could have used on Saturday. David Hytner

Match report: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

6) Adams adds finishing touches to Ings partnership

These days few teams operate with two bona fide strikers but Che Adams and Danny Ings have formed a useful coalition at Southampton. Last season it was a lopsided partnership but after failing to score in any of his first 24 Premier League appearances, Adams now has six goals in his past 12 top-flight matches. He scored 22 goals for a poor Birmingham team in 2018-19 and, while it is unlikely he will be contending for the golden boot like Ings any time soon, it is fair to say he is thriving. “I was always convinced that Che’s time would come,” said the Southampton manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl. “Sometimes it takes a long time to adapt to this level but he was always learning and working hard. He gets what he deserves now.” Ben Fisher

Match report: Southampton 2-0 Everton


Everton still top of the table and not too disappointed after defeat, says Ancelotti – video

7) Cultured Cancelo thrives at left-back for City

On another frustrating afternoon for Manchester City, one fragment of encouragement was João Cancelo, who looks the right man to fill the left-back spot. Part of the reason Cancelo has struggled for consistency since arriving for £60m last summer was because he has so rarely been used consistently: in and out of the side, shuffled between right-back and left-back and occasionally even midfield. But against West Ham he was City’s best player: tireless, creative, resilient in defence and the architect of Phil Foden’s equalising goal. Cancelo will improve further with regular games; given City’s fixture list, he can be sure of getting them. Jonathan Liew

Match report: West Ham 1-1 Manchester City

8) Saint-Maximin experiment fails to deliver

Allan Saint-Maximin has given Newcastle fans hope thanks to his dazzling skills, ability to scare defenders and frequently providing an end product. The Frenchman has become the key man at St James’ Park this season, earning him a free role at Wolves. Sadly, offering the winger carte blanche behind the striker did not bring the results desired by Steve Bruce as Saint-Maximin struggled to have any sort of impact. The freedom did not suit him, as he failed to ascertain how he could be effective more centrally, having been used to terrorising full-backs all season, pinpointing their weakness and using it to his advantage. Each role on the pitch needs to have a purpose and Saint-Maximin’s did not, as Newcastle looked toothless despite the number of supposed attacking players in action. It is interesting to see Bruce experiment but he might need to bring strategy with them in future. Will Unwin

Match report: Wolves 1-1 Newcastle

Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin under challenge from Rúben Neves.



Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin under challenge from Rúben Neves. Photograph: Newcastle United/Getty Images

9) Antonio’s audacity shows up Hammers’ scattergun signings

West Ham have lavished hefty sums on glitzy names in recent years, with Sébastien Haller, Felipe Anderson and Javier Hernández all demonstrating that a big reputation is no barrier to desperate mediocrity. Yet David Moyes’s suspiciously high-flying West Ham are a team devoid of star names and one that amounts to a lot more than the sum of its parts. In a fine collective display, three of the standout performers were signed from Ipswich, Nottingham Forest and Hull, while the man of the match came from the youth academy. None of which is to say that big-name buys can’t work, simply that they often promise more than they deliver, especially when signed in a scattergun panic. Antonio’s goal on Saturday was proof that a lack of glamour needn’t mean a lack of vision, audacity or majestic skill. If Saïd Benrahma can add more of those qualities then West Ham could get a taste of real glamour: the top end of the table. Alex Hess

10) Lampard still scratching head to find best formula

Though Chelsea’s approach to Saturday’s game made more sense than Manchester United’s it still left Frank Lampard with more questions than answers. Playing three centre-backs gives a dodgy defence safety in numbers, but even in that formation, Chelsea had to rely on profligate finishing from an opponent playing badly and whose manager picked the wrong team in the wrong formation, in order to preserve their clean sheet. On top of that, with just three attacking players on the pitch they struggled to create serious chances. Though formation and personnel will change with different opponents, there is not the remotest sense that Lampard is close to finding his best formula. Daniel Harris


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