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

·7-min read

1) Fans forget morals for new owners

 To bang on about selections, formations and substitutions just a few days after Newcastle were taken over by a new regime in a move branded as “sportswashing” by some, feels unacceptably callous. And though football fans have no control over who owns their club, they have absolute control over their own behaviour, and the way some have responded to the change in ownership is depressing in the extreme. No one can blame them for celebrating the departure of the despised Mike Ashley, but songs about how rich they are – heard outside St James’ Park on Sunday – are neither edgy nor amusing when the provenance of those riches is rooted in a country with state-sponsored suffering. Football is more than just a game because clubs form a crucial part of their supporters’ identity, a link to the past and future rooted in family and friendship. But important though these things are, they are not more important than basic humanity, and no quantity of signings or trophies can change that. Daniel Harris

2) Lukaku not making desired impact for Tuchel

There was once a dream that was Rom. It feels a long time since Romelu Lukaku was traumatising the Arsenal defence, and looking not just the fabled “final piece” of this Chelsea structure, but the keystone of a whole new design. At the time Lukaku was hailed as the perfect centre-forward, tipped to hunt down Alan Shearer’s goal record and so on. Instead, he has been progressively drained of edge and confidence. Against Brentford he was again a spectator in his own team, touching the ball 18 times in 76 minutes. He has gone six games without a goal. At his best Lukaku is a wall to play off, with players zooming off him, using his angles, running on past. In this Chelsea team he spends long periods simply watching while the ball is funnelled between the embroidery artists behind him. Lukaku was never unstoppable and he certainly isn’t a poor player now. But there is a disjunction between player and system, and a gathering problem that Thomas Tuchel is struggling to solve. Barney Ronay

Romelu Lukaku is not having the desired impact in front of foal for Chelsea.
Romelu Lukaku is not having the desired impact in front of foal for Chelsea. Photograph: Javier García/REX/Shutterstock

3) Rice can help Hammers challenge for Champions League

David Moyes has openly stated he wants a top-four challenge from West Ham this season and no player embodies the improvement required to get there more than Declan Rice. The England midfielder was again outstanding as he and Tomas Soucek won the midfield battle against Everton and provided the platform for an impressive away win. His manager believes the 22-year-old, who won 100% of his aerial duels at Goodison Park and had a 91% passing accuracy, has upped his level since the European Championship. “He was head and shoulders above everybody on the pitch,” said Moyes. “He passed it, took control, wanted the ball, recovered the ball, tried to create opportunities, did the dirty bits when he had to and had a great air of control and poise. I can’t speak highly enough of Declan.” Andy Hunter

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4) Soumaré proving himself at Foxes

Perhaps it was the absence of anything resembling a midfield for Manchester United that made him stand out, but Boubakary Soumaré excelled for Leicester in front of the back three. Leicester have been undermined by their many injuries so far this season, and with no Wilfried Ndidi, who arguably has not been quite the same since his knee problem last season, there were fears among home fans that Leicester would not be able to exploit what is clearly a problem area for United. But the 22-year-old Soumaré, signed from Lille in the summer, was a beacon of calm alongside Youri Tielemans at the back of midfield, facilitating the Belgian’s forward sallies, and helping cut off the supply to an isolated Cristiano Ronaldo. Soumaré didn’t make a single tackle in the game but he didn’t need to, making more interceptions than any other Leicester player. Jonathan Wilson

5) Handling the pressure key for City in Belgium

Manchester City head to Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday not in the finest form and having lost their last match in the competition at PSG. It means City are third in their group, a point behind PSG and Brugge and Pep Guardiola is keen to remind his side that the heat is on. “I know what we have to do, we have to win. We know that. It is what it is. We love the pressure, I love it,” the manager said. “We live all the time on the brink, on the edge. We’ll recover well, then prepare just a little bit.” Despite these words it will be a surprise if they do not win in Belgium. Jamie Jackson

Pep Guardiola, supposedly, enjoys pressure.
Pep Guardiola, supposedly, enjoys pressure. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

6) Ndombele needs to find consistency under Nuno

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of Tottenham’s win at Newcastle was the terrific goal scored by Tanguy Ndombele, who once again showed what a uniquely ludicrous talent he is. The oozing elasticity of his dribbling and startling power of his shooting have never been in doubt – the question is whether he can get the most out of them. For that, he’ll need the support of his manager, and though it initially looked like Nuno Espírito Santo had taken against him, he’s now featured in four consecutive league games. The last two of those have been with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Oliver Skipp alongside him in midfield and with that combination Nuno might just have found the right blend. Daniel Harris

7) Neves proving longevity with Wolves

Rúben Neves has scored some sensational goals in the four years since “the wonderkid from Porto” joined Wolves for £15.8m. The 95th-minute winner on Saturday, dribbling in to the net after a hefty deflection off Matt Targett, was not among them – but it will remain one of the most memorable. Neves believes the spirit that he, Conor Coady and Romain Saïss, the three survivors from the first day of the Championship-winning season who also played and scored at Villa Park, have helped build has allowed them to come through a tricky start to this season. Peter Lansley

8) Seagulls need to address goal-shy nature

No top-six side has scored fewer goals than Brighton’s eight and, though judging them by that standard is harsh, of the remaining 14 teams, only five are less prolific. This is nothing new but though Graham Potter is doing well, he does need to solve the problem. The league return of Tariq Lamptey, who played half an hour at Carrow Road, should give them fresh impetus. The young defender has missed 10 months and while Potter may want to ease him back gently, a player able to carry the ball and make things happen is what Brighton will need when Manchester City visit on Saturday. Daniel Harris

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9) Leeds paying price for missing key trio

Not for the first time this campaign, Leeds were a pale imitation of the team that took the division by storm last season and, with one win from their first eight matches, Marcelo Bielsa must contemplate how to prevent a relegation scrap. They were without their headline acts in defeat at Southampton, including Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha. “You take two of the dominant players out of any team in the league and they feel it,” said the Leeds captain, Liam Cooper. “But we can’t use that as an excuse.” Ben Fisher

10) Salah ready to shine for years to come

After another extraordinary display Mohamed Salah received praise from Jürgen Klopp, who dissected the Egyptian’s outside-of-the-boot pass for Sadio Mané to break the deadlock. “He brought that from the summer break,” the manager said. “Mo is on the top level for years and there is more to come because of his desire.” Salah turns 30 next year. He is bright enough and good enough to add strings to his bow, just as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have shapeshifted in the face of advancing years. The signs are that, like them, he can continue to excel far into his thirties. Nick Ames

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