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

·10 min read

1) Kane tripped up by karma police

With 34 minutes gone , Harry Kane tripped over the ball and tanked back after it, catching up with play just in time to feed Bukayo Saka for Arsenal’s third goal, thereby enshrining one of the great derby humiliations. This was nothing more than Kane deserved because while there’s something wrong about someone being forced to work somewhere against their will, it was he who signed a six-year contract with no release clause, and he who mistakenly thought an act of impotent petulance would faze the game’s most stubborn nihilist. Consequently it was hard not to enjoy the karma police catching up with him. Doubtless he’ll rebound from the disappointment – he’s too good not to – but he was once able to refocus games of this ilk to become all about him, a quality that might just have escaped him for good. Spurs may come to regret keeping him as much as he already regrets staying with them. Daniel Harris

• Match report: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

2) Partey key to Gunners moving forward

Arsenal were dreadful for significant parts of last season, and a lot of that was down to Mikel Arteta and his players. During the summer prior to it, the club spent £45m on Thomas Partey, only for injuries to restrict him to 24 starts. The impact of this ill luck was largely ignored, especially once, during last season’s first north London derby, Partey wandered off the pitch while Spurs were in the process of scoring. We’re seeing the rare value of a midfielder equally able to create and spoil, qualities that are not only crucial for their own sake but for the effect they have on the rest of the team: Arsenal’s full-backs advance, safe in the knowledge that he’ll cover them; their creative players commit to attack, secure in the likelihood that he’ll see them; and the entire squad can draw inspiration, confident in the company of a league champion who knows how to win. Daniel Harris

Masterful Granit Xhaka the living embodiment of Arsenal’s dream derby

Harry Kane and Tottenham endured a tough day at the Emirates.
Harry Kane and Tottenham endured a tough day at the Emirates. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

3) Life looking up for Loftus-Cheek

Positives were few and far between for Chelsea during their insipid defeat by Manchester City, but it was good to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek do well after coming off the bench. The midfielder deserves some recognition after a rotten time with injuries. Loftus-Cheek has struggled to find form since rupturing an achilles tendon in May 2019 and it seemed unlikely that he had much of a future at Chelsea after flattering to deceive on loan at Fulham last season. However the 25-year-old has continued to plug away and has clearly made an impression on Thomas Tuchel, who has previously compared him to Michael Ballack. “We do not reward without deserving,” Tuchel said after seeing Loftus-Cheek give Chelsea more thrust and energy during his brief cameo. Following on from a decent 90 minutes against Aston Villa last week, things are starting to look up for one of Chelsea’s most popular academy products. Jacob Steinberg

• Match report: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City

4) Villa deserved Old Trafford triumph

Aston Villa were seriously impressive in a victory that showed courage and talent via a front-to-back team display that augurs well for Dean Smith’s side. The Midlanders had not won at Old Trafford for 12 years and still took the contest to Manchester United at each opportunity as Douglas Luiz and John McGinn probed in midfield and Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings made clever runs to scatter the home defence. If the late headed winner from Kortney Hause made it feel like a smash-and-grab victory, the opposite was true. Sure, United had their chances. Mason Greenwood was a class above before the break but did not score, and Bruno Fernandes missed only his second penalty for the club in 23 attempts, following Hause’s strike. But Smith’s team had their own opportunities, would not be cowed by recent history or the venue, and in Watkins they possess a forward who, if he stays fit, appears to be heading only one way: up. Jamie Jackson

• Match report: Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa

5) Case to answer for culpable Klopp

“We thought we could score more goals to get a result,” admitted the Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp when asked why he decided against withdrawing one of his four forwards after they had established a 3-2 lead over Brentford on Saturday. Roberto Firmino’s immediate introduction from the bench for goalscorer Curtis Jones was a bold move in the circumstances, even if Klopp had already made the decision when the scores were still level. “We didn’t really need a third midfielder. They only played long balls,” he added. “I actually think it worked really well.” Yet while Mohamed Salah should have put the result beyond doubt before Yoane Wissa’s equaliser eight minutes from time and Liverpool also had other opportunities to win it after that, Klopp’s harum-scarum approach may have cost his side two precious points. Ed Aarons

• Match report: Brentford 3-3 Liverpool

6) Entertaining Leeds could use a win

David Moyes likened it to basketball and Michail Antonio to a marathon. Both West Ham’s manager and the scorer of their 90th-minute winning goal agreed Leeds are wonderfully entertaining but the league table shows Marcelo Bielsa’s side have failed to win any of their first six matches. Leeds turn games into frenetic, relentlessly end-to-end contests, but it seems their controls have jammed at top speed. A change of pace is surely called for; the best teams know when, and how, to slow things down but Bielsa’s look increasingly Kamikaze. “The way they play’s completely different,” said Antonio. “I’ve never run a marathon but that was the closest thing. Leeds go man to man and they’re tireless.” Less positively, they are also vulnerable risk takers. “It was like basketball,” said Moyes. “Not many teams in the world play football like Leeds.” Perhaps there is a reason why? Louise Taylor

• Match report: Leeds United 1-2 West Ham United

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are yet to win this season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are yet to win this season. Photograph: Ryan Browne/REX/Shutterstock

7) Timewasting part of the game for Clarets

Burnley gave Leicester as good as they got. Only once in the past year had scoring twice in a Premier League game not proved enough for them to win, but there was sufficient encouragement in the draw to make Josh Brownhill believe a first victory of the season is incoming against Norwich. “It is going to be massive,” he said. “Both of us have not got a win this season and for us we are definitely hungry to get that win. We are at home where we have had some good performances.” Leicester fans got irate with Burnley’s tendency to go to ground to waste time as they twice led against Leicester but Brownhill defended the ploy. “I think it is part and parcel of football,” he said. “Whoever is winning, you are not going to want to speed things up. It is all about seeing the game out. We are going to calm the game down and try and take it at our pace. If it was the other way around whether it was Leicester, perhaps they would do the same. We’ll do anything to get that win.” Peter Lansley

• Match report: Leicester City 2-2 Burnley

8) Townsend enjoys advanced role at Everton

Andros Townsend could have been playing Champions League football but for a late intervention from Rafael Benítez. “I was surprised that such a good player and good professional was still available,” the Everton manager said. Turkish champions Besiktas were understood to have offered the 30-year-old a contract following his departure from Crystal Palace. A fourth goal in six starts for his new club rewarded another tireless display. Townsend explained: “I wasn’t coming here just to make up the numbers as a free agent. I know I have got a lot more left to give. The last few years I wasn’t playing in the final third as much, I was more box to box, tracking back and helping the defensive organisation of the team, but Rafa knew I could play higher and fortunately I have picked up where I left off under him in those few months at Newcastle. Long may it continue.” Andy Hunter

• Match report: Everton 2-0 Norwich City

9) Saints need to change of plan

Where do Southampton go from here? A defeat at home to Wolves that extended their winless run to six matches prompted some familiar questions after a summer of change. Che Adams and Adam Armstrong, who scored on debut, were selfless but never tested José Sá and Ralph Hasenhüttl turned to Shane Long, who failed to break into the Bournemouth team on loan in the Championship last season, off the bench late on in a bid to breach the Wolves back line. The Chelsea loanee Armando Broja was also introduced in the second half. The Saints have failed to score in their past three matches and face a daunting trip to Chelsea next. “It’s not new that strikers coming to us need a bit of time to adapt to the Premier League,” Hasenhüttl said. “But it’s not only strikers, we also have 10s coming in good situations to score. We have to do something more.”

• Match report: Southampton 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

10) Four better than five for Newcastle

Steve Bruce trying to talk Newcastle fans around sounds less like a manager pleading his case than a man dictating his own obituary. When he says his team have done OK, he’s right – they should have hung on against Watford, might have taken something from Manchester United, could haveve beaten Leeds and should have seen off Southampton … except they didn’t, so sit fourth-bottom with just three points. At Vicarage Road Bruce made a change that might end up being extremely significant, switching from a back five to a four. This seemed to suit his team better – Isaac Hayden did well patrolling the area in front of the defence, and the knowledge that he was there allowed Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff to go forward with confidence. This gave crucial impetus to a team who struggle to score, and if Bruce really wants to convince the jury, he’d do well to step back and let things settle. Daniel Harris

• Match report: Watford 1-1 Newcastle United

Pos

Team

P

GD

Pts

1

Liverpool

6

11

14

2

Man City

6

11

13

3

Chelsea

6

10

13

4

Man Utd

6

8

13

5

Everton

6

5

13

6

Brighton

5

3

12

7

West Ham

6

5

11

8

Aston Villa

6

2

10

9

Brentford

6

3

9

10

Arsenal

6

-5

9

11

Tottenham Hotspur

6

-5

9

12

Watford

6

-2

7

13

Leicester

6

-3

7

14

Wolverhampton

6

-2

6

15

Crystal Palace

5

-3

5

16

Southampton

6

-3

4

17

Newcastle

6

-7

3

18

Leeds

6

-8

3

19

Burnley

6

-6

2

20

Norwich

6

-14

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