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

1) Eze brings freshness to Palace

The cameo lasted 10 minutes but Eberechi Eze looked, er, at ease as he made his debut for Crystal Palace against Southampton. Repeating an almost constant condition of his time as manager, Roy Hodgson had been forced to play a patched-up side. He had central midfielders in central defence and wingers up front. But the adaptability of the manager means he can always find a way with the numbers. It is extra quality that Palace need. Alongside the return of Michy Batshuayi on loan, the addition of Eze looks to have ticked that box. Signed from QPR for £16m, he brings fresh qualities to the side. Hodgson is clear he wants more signings, but those numbers need to be the right ones if Palace are to improve their league position. Extra quality around Wilfried Zaha, the decisive figure against Southampton, might also help with his wanderlust too. Paul MacInnes

Match report: Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton

2) Parker faces testing time in market

Exactly how bad Fulham were on Saturday might only become clear when we discover how good Arsenal are. In fairness, they started well in their first game after promotion, but hardly threatened after Alexandre Lacazette’s opener and showed a lack of cutting edge. It might have been different had Aleksandr Mitrovic been fit to start, a couple of fizzing balls evading the away defence with nobody to capitalise. Mitrovic livened Fulham up upon his introduction but the game was lost by then and the conclusion must be that, without attacking depth, they will struggle. Scott Parker has dealt carefully during the window, primarily in defence. Now attention must turn to the front line. “For us to evolve and develop we need to bring players into this team that are going to improve us,” he said. He has three weeks to ensure Fulham have a fighting chance. Nick Ames



Scott Parker (left) needs Aleksandr Mitrovic (centre) fit and firing or Fulham look short of a cutting edge. Photograph: Clive Rose/AFP/Getty Images

3) Elneny looks ready for top flight

After a year playing in Turkey with Besiktas, Mohamed Elneny has returned to Arsenal looking like a more mature player and quickly settled back into their midfield. Many would have expected the Egyptian to leave London this summer but he is back and in Mikel Arteta’s plans. The fiery atmospheres of Istanbul made way for a silent Craven Cottage on Saturday where Elneny quietly went about his job against a Fulham midfield eager to make an impact. Elneny kept his distribution simple, shielded the defence throughout and showed an impressive workrate. Arteta will be hopeful the midfielder can maintain such form, meaning he can use his available funds to sign someone for a more pressing position. As someone who played in his position, Arteta could be the man to get the best out of a player who looks ready to consistently thrive in the Premier League. Will Unwin

Match report: Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

4) Klopp heaps praise on star Salah

Even Jürgen Klopp exhausted superlatives for Mohamed Salah a long time ago, towards the end of the forward’s phenomenal debut season at Liverpool, but the manager’s effusive praise returned after his match and understandably so. The Egypt international was the difference in every respect against Leeds. It was not merely the signal of intent to claim another Golden Boot that caught the manager’s eye. “He should be proud because it’s very special to get these kind of numbers,” Klopp said after Salah became the first Liverpool player to score in four consecutive opening matches, the first to register an opening-day hat-trick since John Aldridge in 1988 and made it 76 goals in 109 Premier League games. “But the numbers tell the story a little bit. The all-round performance was absolutely exceptional. There have been a lot of good performances for us from Mo for sure, but this was one of the better ones.” Andy Hunter

Mohamed Salah celebrates



Mohamed Salah scored the first opening-day hat-trick by a Liverpool player since John Aldridge in 1988. Photograph: John Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

5) Leeds impress neutrals but not Bielsa

Leeds became the first promoted club to score three goals at the home of the reigning champions since a Hull side, featuring Daniel Cousin and Geovanni among others, lost 4-3 at Manchester United in 2008. Phil Brown’s gung-ho side stayed up by a point that season – finishing 17th despite a goal difference of minus 25 – and surely Leeds will fare better than that. This was a helter-skelter return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence and the stats seemed to back up the initial impression that Leeds were equal to Liverpool in most areas. In fact, they had more possession, more touches, more passes and made more tackles than the hosts. Interestingly, though, Marcelo Bielsa was unimpressed with the number of chances created – they had six shots to Liverpool’s 22 – and said: “We were very efficient but we didn’t create enough goalscoring opportunities.” He was right, of course, and will expect an improvement in that area when Fulham visit Elland Road on Saturday. Marcus Christenson

Match report: Liverpool 4-3 Leeds

6) Spurs’ lack of grit plays on Mourinho’s mind

José Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino do not have a lot in common as coaches but one thing their best sides do share is a sense of defiance. So perhaps the most jarring thing about this Tottenham team, which is an odd amalgamation of both managers’ work, is how little fighting spirit they display in adversity. Spurs were not exactly terrible but they were at their worst in the 10 minutes after going behind. Rather than rally, they sank deeper into their own half and were lucky Everton did not double their lead. Spurs eventually mounted the merest suggestion of a late fightback. But as much as the sluggishness of Harry Kane or his own Rubik’s Cube tactics (Moussa Sissoko played three positions after coming on at half-time), it will be his side’s lack of grit that most plays on Mourinho’s mind as he looks to re-establish Spurs – and himself – among England’s elite. Alex Hess


‘I didn’t like my team’: Mourinho slams Spurs players after Everton loss – video

7) Rodríguez makes bright start

There has been something quaintly old-fashioned about Everton’s penchant for playmakers in recent years. At one point, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Davy Klaassen and a returned Wayne Rooney were crowbarred into the same team. James Rodríguez is the starriest candidate yet, though with a touch of faded grandeur. There were glimpses of his undoubted talent at Tottenham. Playing off the right, always looking to make key passes off perhaps the most educated Evertonian left foot since Kevin Sheedy and commandeering set pieces, there was much to be excited about even if his shooting radar was askew. Elsewhere in midfield, the excellent Allan quickly found the Premier League tempo alongside Abdoulaye Doucouré and André Gomes to give Carlo Ancelotti’s team a dominant, solid look. Optimism can be quickly extinguished, particularly among those from the blue half of Merseyside, but there was plenty of early-season cheer to take back north. John Brewin

Match report: Tottenham 0-1 Everton

8) Rodgers knows he can’t rely solely on Vardy

Timothy Castagne did a pretty decent impression of Ricardo Pereira in his first appearance for Leicester, opening the scoring from full-back. Castagne is vibrant and versatile and could shift to the left when Pereira returns, doubling Leicester’s threat. But Brendan Rodgers knows his team still need more reinforcements and is also aware Jamie Vardy cannot be relied upon forever to score most of his team’s goals. Harvey Barnes, who played well but fluffed a couple of good chances, still needs to hone his finishing, and Ayoze Pérez needs to sharpen up if he is to justify a regular place in the side. Even James Maddison, who made a welcome return from injury, has room to improve. West Brom’s need for a cutting edge is even more vital: if they do not manage to sign at least one new striker before October, they are doomed. Paul Doyle Match report: West Brom 0-3 Leicester

9) Carroll’s challange is looking after body

Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop were terrified of Andy Carroll. The West Ham centre-backs had no idea how to handle their old teammate. Carroll made his presence felt from the start – the forward was fortunate to escape censure after catching Tomas Soucek in the first minute – and looked in good shape as Newcastle opened their campaign with a 2-0 win at the London Stadium. The 31-year-old bullied West Ham in the air, linked the play and had a good understanding up front with Callum Wilson, who scored the opener on his Newcastle debut. But do not get carried away. As ever the question with Carroll is whether he can stay fit. His effectiveness is not in doubt but injuries have prevented him from making the most of his talent. The challenge for Carroll is taking care of his body. If he does then no defender will relish marking him. Jacob Steinberg

Andy Carroll celebrates with Jeff Hendrick



Newcastle’s Andy Carroll made a big impression on his former West Ham teammates. Photograph: Michael Regan/Reuters

10) Hammers short on experience as well as quality

Can West Ham fans be offered a crumb of comfort? Not here. Their opponents showed them what happens when a club target improvement on their weakest points with new arrivals, making Newcastle look a different side from last season. West Ham’s starting XI still looks thrown together, even though they were all present last season. Mark Noble and Declan Rice are supposed to hold the team together but when they have off days, no one looks keen to make up for their failings. They have lost the experience of Pablo Zabaleta in the dressing room – even if the Argentinian veteran was not a regular – a respected player who could provide a calm head, bountiful advice and help stitch things together in tough times. David Moyes needs quality but also Premier League experience, sooner rather than later, to boost a disjointed and unbalanced squad. WU

Match report: West Ham 0-2 Newcastle


Source link

Leave a Reply

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