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

1) Jota leaves front three looking over their shoulders

Anyone suggesting a member of Liverpool’s established attacking trio would find their place under threat at the start of the season would have been accused of heresy, and rightly so, but that is the position Roberto Firmino finds himself in with Diogo Jota making an immediate impact at Anfield. The Portugal international has improved the competition and the options in the final third for Jürgen Klopp, and opposition defences require even greater levels of concentration and energy against the champions in the process. Against West Ham, when Jota replaced the Brazilian and scored for the third successive game at Anfield, Klopp offered a glimpse of an alternative front three with the £41m signing on the left, Mohamed Salah moving into the middle and Sadio Mané switching to the right. “Mo and Sadio were making exceptional runs and we needed connected movements, that’s why we made the change,” explained Klopp. “It’s not nice for defenders.”
Andy Hunter

Match report: Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

2) Sacrificing Aubameyang is for greater good

The growing criticism of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side, as much as one exists, is that his emphasis on the system leaves too little room for individual flair, a neurotic micromanager breathing down the necks of his straitjacketed staff. Here we saw the flip-side of the argument. Throughout the first half especially, the visitors hunted the ball like a pack of well-drilled wolves in a high-pressing structure that forged various promising openings and restricted their opponents to hopeful breakaways. The set-up suits them: Arsenal’s attackers have the diligence for it, their midfielders have the drive and the full-backs have the sinewy stamina. Thomas Partey, at the heart of it all, was particularly impressive. This was no smash-and-grab job. It is true that moments of exuberance are rare and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cast as cog in the system rather than the focal point, but perhaps that is a fair price to pay for a team that, in time, will exceed the sum of its parts. Alex Hess

Match report: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal


’14 years is a long time’: Arteta and Solskjær on Arsenal’s 1-0 victory at Man United – video

3) Lampard finds ideal midfield blend

This is Frank Lampard’s Chelsea now and the way all his summer recruits performed together for the first time augured well for the future and left Burnley chasing shadows. Chelsea’s slick passing and movement was all the more impressive considering Lampard was forced into a late reshuffle when Christian Pulisic felt a hamstring in the warm-up. “I liked the balance of our midfield today, and from a manager’s point of view it’s a real plus when people come in and tell you they are happy to play in different positions,” Lampard said. “Kai Havertz and Mason Mount operated really well together, both picking up the ball in deeper positions. We are still developing, some of these players are still finding out about each other, but they all have a strong work ethic.” N’Golo Kante excelled in his preferred position, and Chelsea looked freer and more adventurous without a second defensive midfielder. Paul Wilson

Match report: Burnley 0-3 Chelsea

4) Away comforts give Saints base for progress

Southampton have now won 14 away games in the Premier League under Ralph Hasenhüttl. Their triumph at Villa Park brings them nearer to a shot at rivalling last season’s tally of nine. While they will not always be able to doze off for the final half-hour as they did against a resurgent Villa, their propensity to spring out of the traps helps them get a foothold in games and marks them out as one of the most entertaining propositions around. Now they occupy a top-four place and it would be unwise to completely discount them from staying in the hunt. In James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings they have two players operating at the peak of their powers, as both amply demonstrated in putting the game beyond Villa. As long as Ings’ knee injury is not too serious then there is every chance they can run up a few more convincing leads on the road. Nick Ames

Match report: Aston Villa 3-4 Southampton

5) Olsen debut puts further pressure on Pickford

As a former Sunderland goalkeeper and lifelong Sunderland supporter, being dropped to the bench for a game against Newcastle at St James’ Park will have hurt Jordan Pickford. His manager, Carlo Ancelotti, preferred to use the word “rested” but it seemed a diplomatic euphemism on a day when his replacement, Robin Olsen, was the outstanding individual in a poor Everton performance. The 30-year-old Sweden international, on loan from Roma, excelled on his Premier League debut and Ancelotti suggested Pickford now has a challenge for his position at club level, as well as for England. “Olsen’s performance was good,” said Everton’s manager. “He’s a good, experienced goalkeeper and I’m used to rotating goalkeepers so it won’t be the last time he plays.” Before kick-off Ancelotti had suggested Pickford will return against Manchester United on Saturday; it will be intriguing to see if he does. Louise Taylor

Match report: Newcastle 2-1 Everton

6) Lundstram needs to work out priorities

And so it begins. The squabbles about money have started at Sheffield United. John Lundstram, influential in midfield last season but not as important to Chris Wilder as John Fleck, say, has turned down a new contract because he expects the club to break its tight wage structure. Wilder says they can’t afford to, some pundits believe that, at 26, Lundstram should think of himself and move to whoever offers the biggest pay cheque while others detect disloyalty. Would he, after all, have stood a chance of becoming a Premier League player without Wilder’s exceptional coaching? There are no easy answers and the problem could spread further among a squad whose success last season was partly down to their indomitable collective spirit. Lundstram started on the bench against City but, after stepping off it, missed United’s sole realistic scoring chance. Maybe he’s not quite as good as he thinks? Louise Taylor

Match report: Sheffield United 0-1 Manchester City

7) Bale is not the only arrival from Real Madrid to shine

When Gareth Bale arrived on loan from Real Madrid it was almost forgotten that Sergio Reguilón had also swapped capitals cities in search of a new start. The defender impressed on loan at Sevilla last season and already has three Spain caps to his named aged just 23. Reguilón has settled quickly into his new life in London and looks comfortable in the Premier League, proved by his calm defending and beautiful cross to assist for one of his childhood heroes to head home minutes after coming on. The winner was a sign of the connection the two can offer. The fanfare was all for Bale but maybe Reguilón will prove himself to be the shrewder signing in the long term. Bale knows the man’s quality, realising he could find him perfectly in the yard of space he made and soon the Spurs fans will embrace his quality, too. Will Unwin

Match report: Tottenham 2-1 Brighton



Gareth Bale (left) and Sergio Reguilón (right) are old friends. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty Images

8) Aït-Nouri shows potential which should trigger deal

Wing-backs have been crucial to Wolves’ rise under Nuno Espírito Santo, and Jonny Castro and Matt Doherty grew into two of the best in the Premier League. Doherty has left and Jonny is injured, but Wolves are starting to show that the good times could get better yet. Nélson Semedo, Doherty’s replacement, had a fine game against Crystal Palace on Friday night while Rayan Aït-Nouri marked his debut with a thrilling performance and his first senior goal. The 19-year-old could have been considered to be Wolves’ fourth-choice left wing-back before Friday but quickly showed he was not out of his depth as a starter. Wolves seem to have more strength in depth than many suspected. If Aït-Nouri continues to excel, the club will surely be happy to use the option to make his loan move from Angers permanent at the end of the season.
Paul Doyle

Match report: Wolves 2-0 Crystal Palace

9) Clarets need to find defensive strength of old

Burnley’s biggest problem is not hard to diagnose. They have scored three goals all season – none at home – and did not look like getting one in a game when the opposition keeper was never called into action. Yet it’s at the other end of the pitch where the real issues might lie. Last season Burnley conceded fewer goals than fourth-placed Chelsea. Two years before that their defence was the division’s sixth-best. Dyche’s successes, in other words, have always been built first and foremost on solid foundations. Not so much this season, though, with a suddenly nervy defence shipping goals at a rate of two a game. Two of Chelsea’s on Saturday were as cheap as they come and it will worry Dyche that as reliable a stalwart as James Tarkowski is enduring a steep downturn in form. Burnley are not capable of scoring their way to safety – so it is imperative they raise their game at the back. Alex Hess

10) Solskjær needs to make bold choices to ignite United

No one who remembers last season’s games with Southampton and Aston Villa will have been remotely surprised to see Manchester United struggle against a team committed to pressing their defensive players in possession. Ole Gunnar Solskjær must surely have expected Arsenal to pursue that strategy, yet his players seemed entirely unprepared for it, easily harried and almost entirely shut down in a weak, indolent first half. Scott McTominay and Fred have their attributes, but quick feet and sharp passing are not really among them; the only players United have with the skills to play out from the back and under pressure are Axel Tuanzebe and Donny van de Beek. Picking either in that role would’ve been a bold, unusual call, and it is easy to be wise after the event, but it is the manager’s job to anticipate these problems before they arise – or he will soon be an ex-manager. Daniel Harris

Ole Gunnar Solskjær fails to solve Manchester United’s prickly problem


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