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

·9-min read

1) Spurs’ substitutes lack Nuno’s backing

Substitutions have been permitted in English league football since 1965, but maybe nobody told Nuno Espí­rito Santo. The Tottenham manager has been curiously reluctant to use his well-stocked bench in recent weeks, and even as his side sleepwalked to defeat at West Ham, he waited until the 84th minute to make changes. Even if the likes of Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn have hardly sparkled of late, a worrying gulf is opening between the first XI and the rest. Meanwhile, Nuno’s continuing stubbornness – “The game was under control,” he explained curtly – is hardly likely to endear him to the fanbase. Jonathan Liew

2) Manchester United players must take some responsibility

For all the talk about midfield imbalance and pressing from the front, it is defensive incompetence that is costing Manchester United most severely. As ever, the majority of the criticism will be aimed at Ole Gunnar Solskjær and rightly so – the debacle of a 5-0 home defeat and the travesty of 14 points from nine games are his responsibility. But he is still entitled to expect better from his team. Though Aaron Wan-Bissaka is 120 Premier League games deep, he remains inexcusably dozy whether closing down when he shouldn’t – as on Sunday – or failing to notice an opponent loitering behind him – as most other days. Meanwhile, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire spent the summer apparently establishing themselves among the elite, only to be dreadful ever since, and Victor Lindelöf is good until he isn’t. A change of manager at Old Trafford now looks inevitable, and when it comes, United’s players should consider why the basic professionalism incumbent on anyone, in any job, has been so comically beyond them. Daniel Harris

• Match report: Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool

3) Lacazette’s industry would be missed by Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette’s long-term future probably lies away from Arsenal but, on Friday night’s evidence, they would be well advised to make full use of him while they can. Although Emile Smith Rowe’s all-action display rightly took the headlines, Lacazette made a comparable impact in his first Premier League start of the season. Occupying the No 10 position, he succeeded in taking pressure off both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ahead of him and the midfielders behind, working industriously to ensure a disappointing Aston Villa were denied a foothold. He was also fouled for the penalty that gave Arsenal the 2-0 half-time lead their superiority deserved. Arsenal tend to attack more coherently when Lacazette is playing: more things stick and raids are more easily sustained. The chances of a new contract being agreed for the 30-year-old, who can leave for free next summer, appear slim – but anyone who can replicate his impact would cost a pretty penny. Nick Ames

4) Maddison looks ready for more forward strides

James Maddison’s winner at Brentford was his first goal since February and, while he will rarely receive an easier chance, the hope is that his season kicks on from here. The playmaker was playfully barracked by the home fans during the game, with his England credentials subjected to particular scrutiny. Nearly two years have passed since his sole cap for the national team and it will be a long way back to the forefront of Gareth Southgate’s thoughts from here. He has, at least, worked his way back into Brendan Rodgers’s good books after a flat start to the season and Leicester are a better side when he is on song. “His job is to create and score goals,” Rodgers said. “When you don’t have that, you do lose confidence. We have been analysing his game, and what’s important for him to be at this level.” If Leicester have now cracked that code, they should be well placed to maintain their uptick in form. Nick Ames

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5) Lamptey offers light in Brighton’s loss

It is rare for a team to be able to take positives from a 4-1 thrashing but Brighton undeniably can. They were well beaten by Manchester City but having found themselves 3-0 down at half-time, where others would have folded, they fought back. Graham Potter described his team’s second-half display as “amazing” and what will have especially encouraged the Brighton manager was the performance of Tariq Lamptey. The right-back came on as a 57th-minute substitute for his third appearance of the season having been sidelined for 10 months and shone, most strikingly in using strength and quick feet to bamboozle Jack Grealish prior to delivering a dangerous cross. Potter will be desperate to fully reintegrate Lamptey and could start that process in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Leicester. It is only a matter of time before one of the most exciting prospects in English football is once again regularly catching the eye. Sachin Nakrani

6) Tough love for Hudson-Odoi after Norwich mauling

Thomas Tuchel smiled. He knows that he can be tough on Callum Hudson-Odoi, who excelled in Chelsea’s 7-0 win over Norwich, but he was adamant that he will continue to ask for more from the winger. “He needs that,” Tuchel said. “These guys who are so full of quality hear sometimes a little bit too often how good they are. But you need to prove it, to show it, and for the offensive guys it is easy – deliver assists and goals. This is the highest level, so hopefully we are not unfair. But we are tough on him because it is not only enough to be part of the group. We are also aware that we are maybe unfair when we ask him to play right wing-back.” That last part was pertinent, as Hudson-Odoi had impressed in his favourite position on the left wing. The 20-year-old’s first goal since January should take the heat off him. Jacob Steinberg

7) Newcastle’s commitment cheers caretaker Jones

After a week that saw him entrusted with reviving Newcastle’s fortunes, Graeme Jones’s first match as a manager since taking charge of Luton’s 0-0 draw with Wigan back in April 2020 went as well as could be expected. While the coach who gave up his temporary post with Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad in August saw his side ride their luck against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Jones was delighted with the commitment shown to earn a fourth point of the campaign – even if a first win still eludes them. Jones is expected to be in charge when Chelsea come to St James’ Park this weekend and could even remain for the trip to face Brighton on 6 November. “The win is going to come sooner or later – we know that,” said defender Emil Krafth. “We just have to keep on fighting and show what we are.” Ed Aarons

8) King crowns Goodison return with a timely goal

Joshua King scoring at Everton came as absolutely no surprise to home fans schooled in the art of fatalism but a hat-trick in Watford’s first ever win at Goodison Park, accompanied by one of the worst defensive collapses in recent memory, was beyond the pale for an enraged home crowd. King was given 11 substitute appearances to demonstrate his worth at Everton last season by Carlo Ancelotti – “He lied to me,” the Norway international said in the summer – but returned with a clinical, industrious display that illuminated Claudio Ranieri’s remarkable transformation of Watford. Everton effectively replaced the free agent with another in Salomón Rondón, who again displayed all the mobility of a giant redwood and sparked chants of “Off, off” from Everton fans when booked in stoppage time. Ire was also notably directed towards Farhad Moshiri and Marcel Brands after the final whistle for continued mis-management. No wonder Rafael Benítez has called for improvement across the board. Andy Hunter

9) Wigan’s loss is Leeds’ gain as Gelhardt comes of age

Leeds’ history means they know better than most that financial problems can lead to a fire sale. Joe Gelhardt was among those to leave Wigan last year, as the League One side struggled to pay their wages. An exhilarating cameo against Wolves was an illustration of what they have lost. There were other departures: one senior figure, David Marshall, made the saves to take Scotland to Euro 2020 and another, Kieffer Moore, scored Wales’ first goal in the tournament, but at least Wigan can reflect they were pivotal figures in a team that was only relegated because of a 12-point deduction. In Gelhardt, Alfie Devine and Jensen Weir, Wigan had three England youth internationals who were sold on the cheap when a capricious owner suddenly took them into administration. They may have 15 years to watch each excel elsewhere and wonder what might have been. Richard Jolly

10) Cornet looks well worth the brass for Burnley

Maxwel Cornet has had a busy couple of months. The winger was sent off in what proved his final appearance for Lyon before wrapping up a £13m move to Burnley, for whom he has scored three goals in three starts, two of which came in Saturday’s draw at Southampton. The Ivorian was forced off with a hamstring injury on debut at Leicester and Sean Dyche admitted Cornet, who suffered from cramp towards the end of the game at St Mary’s, is still adapting to the pace of the Premier League. Providing he can stay fit, he looks a smart buy and a winless Burnley side are going to need him to fire if they are to steer clear of trouble. “He sees the picture early,” Dyche said. “It’s still early days. He’s still getting [used] to the true fitness and understanding.” Ben Fisher

Pos

Team

P

GD

Pts

1

Chelsea

9

20

22

2

Liverpool

9

21

21

3

Man City

9

16

20

4

West Ham

9

6

17

5

Brighton

9

0

15

6

Tottenham Hotspur

9

-4

15

7

Man Utd

9

1

14

8

Everton

9

1

14

9

Leicester

9

0

14

10

Arsenal

9

-3

14

11

Wolverhampton

9

0

13

12

Brentford

9

2

12

13

Aston Villa

9

-2

10

14

Watford

9

-5

10

15

Crystal Palace

9

-3

9

16

Southampton

9

-4

8

17

Leeds

9

-8

7

18

Burnley

9

-8

4

19

Newcastle

9

-9

4

20

Norwich

9

-21

2

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