Sports UK

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

1) Grealish thrives on responsibility of being captain

Some infrequent observers think Jack Grealish is an overhyped luxury player. They are wrong. Grealish is an artful creator but also a hard and clever worker. Since being made the Aston Villa captain after returning from injury in March, he has led by example. An outstanding performance in the win over Brighton was the latest evidence. “People thought the captaincy may be a burden for him, being a Villa fan, but from what I’ve seen he likes the responsibility and thrives on it,” the manager, Dean Smith, said. “He’s one of our top distance-coverers but also one of our top high-speed runners. Other sides that people don’t see or hear or write about: [against Brighton] he ran 60 yards back to dispossess a player in our penalty box. The quality of the player is there for all to see, and for him to be as good as he is defensively is certainly a bonus for us.” Paul Doyle

Match report: Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton

2) Norwich defence still in need of care and attention

It took nine games for Norwich to find their first clean sheet of the season – and a first away point – but it will take more than a decidedly drab draw at Bournemouth to convince that Daniel Farke’s team are capable of closing the back door. Tim Krul, the Norwich goalkeeper, took the acclaim but he had not been overworked by an unusually laboured Bournemouth attack. The Dutchman’s best save was his low stop of an early effort from Dominic Solanke. Krul deflected attention to the contribution of Alex Tettey, whose return to central midfield provided Norwich ballast in front of the defence. Injuries have contributed to their slide into the bottom three and Ben Godfrey limping off in the second half led to Tettey being repurposed into a backline which completed the match without any first-choice central defenders on the pitch. John Brewin

Match report: Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich

3) Frank Lampard’s use of Pulisic could spell end for Giroud

Is the writing on the wall for Olivier Giroud? It felt as if Chelsea were crying out for his hold-up play when struggling to break down Newcastle but Frank Lampard’s decision to introduce the more creative Christian Pulisic paid off when the American played a part in Marcos Alonso’s winner. Giroud was an unused substitute again and that could harden his desire to leave in January. The 33-year-old needs to keep his place in France’s squad for Euro 2020 and he had complained about his lack of opportunities during the international break. Lampard insists that Giroud will get chances. “He was bang-on with his quotes when he was away with France,” Chelsea’s manager said. “He shouldn’t be happy and accept not playing. That’s what good players do. I would happily sit down with Oli in January but January is a long way away. I want him here.” Jacob Steinberg

Match report: Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle

4) Zaha’s failed summer move affecting his form

It is 10 matches since Wilfried Zaha scored for Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and his goal against West Ham in February was the only time the forward found the home net throughout last season, despite reaching double figures for the first time in his career. There were some encouraging signs in the defeat against Manchester City on Saturday but Zaha looks as though he is still dwelling over his failed attempt to instigate a transfer in the summer, with Roy Hodgson hoping he can recapture his form ahead of the trip to his summer suitor, Arsenal, on Sunday. With an opportunity to show Unai Emery’s side what they are missing and his 27th birthday approaching next month, Zaha will be only too aware that he must start playing well if he is going to convince anyone to pay what Crystal Palace want to lure him from south London. Ed Aarons

Wilfried Zaha was not at his best against Manchester City.



Wilfried Zaha was not at his best against Manchester City. Photograph: Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Match report: Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City

5) Tom Davies and André Gomes could mark shift at Everton

The main topic of discussion had been the Everton midfield pairing of André Gomes and Tom Davies. Specifically, how the two could be overrun or overpowered by their West Ham counterparts given Gomes was making a first start in seven weeks after injury and Davies his first league start of the season. The duo banished the doubts emphatically, injecting much-needed pace and accuracy into Everton’s passing, giving their forwards freedom to break and dominating Declan Rice and Mark Noble in the opposition midfield. Manuel Pellegrini admitted he would have made 11 substitutions at the interval if he could have done, such was the paucity of West Ham’s performance. Everton’s unlikely central midfield duo, forced on Marco Silva by injuries but also a reflection of the manager’s positivity under pressure, were largely responsible for Pellegrini’s dismay. Andy Hunter

Match report: Everton 2-0 West Ham

6) Brendan Rodgers preaches need for more from his wingers

Leicester may be riding high but Brendan Rodgers knows exactly how he wants his team to improve as he urged his young wingers to contribute more goals and assists. Harvey Barnes, 21, created Jamie Vardy’s equaliser before Demarai Gray, 23, crossed for Youri Tielemans’ winner but their manager wants them to be more productive from the start of games. Rodgers said: “Our wingers need to do more. The problem is they are better coming off the bench. This is me being honest. We need more from the players on the sides, so when they come into the game like Demarai, he shows something or does something. We need more from that area both in goals and contributions. There is potential there of course, but there needs to be more efficiency but that’s the beauty of it: they’re young, they have time, they’ll develop and improve.” Peter Lansley

Match report: Leicester 2-1 Burnley

7) Rashford finally shows what is required of the main striker

Even before his goal Marcus Rashford was showing the vigour and threat he has struggled to deliver since Romelu Lukaku was sold and the 21-year-old became United’s main striker. Once a lethargic Liverpool began to step forward midway through the first half, it opened up the game to the counterattacking that is the one discernible hallmark of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Extra space provided ideal conditions for Rashford and Daniel James, the combination that supplied the lead United failed to protect. Where lesser opposition have sat deep and then closed down Rashford, following José Mourinho’s uncharitable advice that his former charge will always look to cut on to his right foot, Liverpool were ravaged by him. Adam Lallana’s goal came after Rashford had left the field, exhausted by the efforts of his best performance in a United shirt in months. John Brewin

Match report: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool

Marcus Rashford put Manchester United into the lead against Liverpool.



Marcus Rashford put Manchester United into the lead against Liverpool. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

8) Abdoulaye Doucouré central to defence and counterattack

Watford may have drawn a line under their awful start to the season. Quique Sánchez Flores has presided over some disappointing showings since his return so early in the season but after conceding 10 goals in defeats by Manchester City and Wolves, his team have tightened up. The two draws since have been built on more miserly play and Watford stayed compact throughout at Spurs. They will be disappointed in the scrappy way they conceded a late equaliser. Abdoulaye Doucouré was a central figure, an effective screen in front of a new back three, and pivotal in the counterattack, a part of the game where Watford have the ability to hurt opponents more than they have so far. Doucouré sprang the press, carried the ball and read the space well for his goal. Watford need more though, namely a forward who can provide a focal point for transitions. Paul MacInnes

Match report: Tottenham 1-1 Watford

9) Southampton seem to have same old problems

Is this season going to be any different for Southampton? A team who have flirted with relegation for the past two seasons occupy 17th after a draw at Wolves (they are above the bottom three on goal difference). Ralph Hasenhüttl insists the result was a step forward and the performance a platform they can build on but there is little evidence that Saints will avoid another fight for survival. Defensively they appear feeble, with Angus Gunn again unconvincing in goal and the 6ft 6in Jannik Vestergaard walked all over by Raúl Jiménez. “We can be critical with a few moments in the second half but we can also be positive about a lot of good habits,” said Hasenhüttl. Danny Ings scored in a fourth consecutive appearance for the first time in his career but Southampton must raise their game if they are to beat Leicester at St Mary’s on Friday. Ben Fisher

Match report: Wolves 1-1 Southampton

10) Guardiola needs to solve defensive shortcomings

Manchester City are still paying the price for their summer’s transfer business when they failed to fill the gaping holes at centre-back, forcing them to field midfielders Rodri and Fernandinho in front of Ederson. They both have all the requisite attributes to operate in the role but they are no more than a stop-gap and moving them away from their natural position is creating problems elsewhere, something that could easily catch up with them against superior opposition than Crystal Palace. Aymeric Laporte is a long-term absentee, while John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi cannot be trusted to enjoy a consistent run in the side, which means Pep Guardiola might need to sort his issues out in January rather than risk missing out on trophies in May. Although it will be pleasing to see his converts impress at centre-back, it’s just papering over cracks that look set to widen without treatment. Will Unwin


Source link

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

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

Close
Close
%d bloggers like this: