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Premier League: 10 Talking Points from the Weekend’s Action

Premier League: 10 Talking Points from the Weekend’s Action

Thursday, 29 August, 2019 - 07:45
Chelsea’s Mason Mount after scoring against Norwich, Crystal Palace’s Gary Cahill celebrates victory at Old Trafford and Joelinton of Newcastle controls the ball against Tottenham. Photograph: Getty Images and PA
London- The Guardian
1) Bruce makes dent in the battle to win over skeptics
It will not end the culture war between Newcastle fans and Mike Ashley, but victory at the Tottenham Stadium might just lift a few suspicions over Steve Bruce. In the first half, Newcastle were the team with greater vigour, and Joelinton’s finish for his goal followed a fine pass from Christian Atsu. Bruce does not enjoy comparisons with Rafa Benítez, but players such as Atsu, Miguel Almirón and Sean Longstaff might just be allowed greater freedom to express themselves under his supervision than they were within the Spaniard’s rigid tactics. Having taken the lead, plenty of last-ditch defending was required – not a long-term strategy for progress in the Premier League – but Newcastle did look organized. And beating the team Ashley grew up supporting was sweet for Bruce and his fellow Geordies. John Brewin

2) Unflappable Mount shows his versatility
It takes more than a late positional switch to faze Mason Mount. The Chelsea midfielder was supposed to play behind Tammy Abraham in the 3-2 win at Norwich on Saturday but Frank Lampard had to shift him to the left when Pedro Rodríguez injured a hamstring in the warm-up. Mount’s response was to play a part in Abraham’s first goal and he later scored for the second time in two games, boosting his chances of an England call in the near future. “I think he can go to the top,” Lampard said. “He’s not a boy who wants the razzmatazz of it all, he just wants to be a top player for Chelsea and England. The confidence he has helps. I said to him five minutes before we went out that you’ll have to play on the left wing and come inside. It was no bother. He just took it on board and made all the right moves.” Jacob Steinberg

3) Everton’s heavyweights pack little punch
Frustration was written all over Marco Silva’s face. There was frustration with the result at Aston Villa and frustration with the way their opponents defended. “We controlled all the second half, it’s not easy to play against a team with nine players around their box,” the Everton manager said a little unfairly. Deep down, Silva must have been frustrated with his players too. André Gomes was poor, Gylfi Sigurdsson a substitution waiting to happen and Richarlison peripheral – that is £100m worth of talent. The list could go on. It was not until the introduction of Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean that Everton started to attack with any conviction. Iwobi hit an upright and Kean set up a wonderful chance for Theo Walcott. While both those new signings will surely start against Wolves on Sunday, Everton need some of their other big names to come to the party. Stuart James

4) Wilson’s wondergoal hints at a transfer masterstroke
Eddie Howe had to act quickly on the eve of the season when David Brooks was ruled out for around three months with an ankle injury but the loan signing of Harry Wilson from Liverpool already looks to have been a masterstroke. The Welshman’s unstoppable free-kick against Manchester City after he came off the bench to replace the injured Charlie Daniels briefly raised hopes of ending Bournemouth’s awful record against the champions before Sergio Agüero settled matters on the south coast. Wilson has made a name for himself by scoring spectacular goals – no player in England’s four professional divisions has managed more from outside the penalty area since the start of last season, when he was on loan at Derby – and Howe admitted he will be expecting a few more before he returns to Anfield. “I think Harry will probably want the next one,” he said. “It’s good to see – I don’t think we’ve scored that many in the past.” Ed Aarons

5) Saints limp to flattering win
Were it not for Florin Andone’s rush of blood, Southampton might have been joining Watford in early‑season crisis-club nil-point status. Andone looked as dumbfounded as anyone after the high-stepping hack on Yan Valery that was the most obvious of red cards. “It didn’t look like a great tackle,” Graham Potter said, embracing understatement. There were also Saintly sighs of relief when Lewis Dunk had a towering header chalked off by VAR. And Jürgen Locadia struck a post late on when Southampton were only a goal up, through Moussa Djenepo’s excellent strike. Victory did not alter the grim‑faced expression Ralf Hasenhüttl has worn through his team’s slow start, which has included defeats by Burnley and Liverpool. “It’s clear that we must do it much better,” he said. “It was too hectic.” JB

6) Lacazette left out again for marquee match
Alexandre Lacazette could be forgiven for dreading August. Since his arrival in 2017, Arsenal have played four league games against big-six opponents in the opening month. Lacazette has begun all on the bench. Two years ago, he was the odd man out when Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil were selected ahead of him at Anfield. Twelve months ago, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Özil were preferred against Manchester City and Chelsea. Even his status as Arsenal’s reigning player of the year did not save Lacazette oOn Saturday; Aubameyang was instead joined in attack by the full debutant Nicolas Pépé. While the £72m signing showed his pace and threat to offer encouragement and Lacazette should complete a front three who could torment lesser opponents, the Frenchman may wonder why he always seems to have a point to prove to his managers when it comes to selection for the marquee matches. Richard Jolly

7) Cahill’s arrival galvanizes Palace
Gary Cahill enjoyed the best of debuts as Crystal Palace beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the league for the first time in 30 years. A 33-year-old who has 61 caps for England signed on a free from Chelsea may turn out to be the bargain of the summer. And though Cahill – understandably – struggled with the pace of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, he was integral to a proud result. “There are going to be a lot more games in this league where you have more possession,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be one of them here. We dropped into a shape and worked very hard in it. We managed the game well in difficult moments and showed great desire. We showed that determination and it would have been easy to crumble at 1-1. To hit them on the break was great. We knew it was going to be difficult coming here.” Jamie Jackson

8) Choudhury adds midfield bite
Harvey Barnes scored a superb goal for Leicester at Bramall Lane and James Maddison shimmered with creativity throughout. But Brendan Rodgers wanted to ensure the contribution of another young talent was not overlooked. “Hamza Choudhury was absolutely brilliant,” said Leicester’s manager. “I like his ability to press the game and play an aggressive game. He is one of the best in terms of getting up to the ball and winning it back.” Performances such as this one suggest Choudhury has learned from the red card he received for a bad tackle on France’s Jonathan Bamba during England’s elimination from the European Under-21s Championship in June. “He was very unlucky [with that tackle],” said Rodgers. “He was just a fraction out from being an incredible challenge. But he is a good boy, an honest boy and he has responded to that.” Paul Doyle

9) Hammers hope Haller will bring the goals
Have West Ham finally found themselves a top-level center-forward for the long term? You would hope so, given Sébastien Haller set them back £45m, and the signs were promising in Saturday’s helter-skelter match at Watford. Even if Haller looked rusty when failing to get a shot off in the buildup to Mark Noble’s early penalty, he was a menacing presence around the box for the rest of the afternoon and was in the right place when it mattered to score the decisive goals. The 6ft 3in Haller shares certain similarities with Andy Carroll but is five years younger and, should he stay fit, could easily prove the spearhead West Ham hoped the England striker would be. On this evidence he will have plenty of chances to finish: Manuel Pellegrini’s side in effect played with four forwards and got away with it defensively, partly because Noble provided vital midfield stability on his return to the team, exactly 15 years after his debut. Nick Ames

10) McNeil triumphs in battle of the wunderkinds
Molineux witnessed a tired Wolves tear a point from the grip of Sean Dyche’s Burnley at the last on Sunday, but the crowd also got to watch two young English prospects strut their stuff. Morgan Gibbs-White was given a rare Premier League start for Wolves and, while he wasn’t alone in his failings, the midfielder fluffed his lines. On the Burnley side, however, the winger Dwight McNeil continued to show how important he is to the Clarets. A constant outlet who refused to lose the ball and was able to advance possession upfield without a burst of pace or having to throw a trick, the teenager looked the most composed player on the field and assisted Ashley Barnes for his goal. McNeil is not an England youth star like the Under-17 World Cup winner Gibbs-White but his future definitely looks bright. Paul MacInnes


(The Guardian)

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