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

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Positives for Ten Hag despite defeat

The early stages at the Emirates suggested Manchester United would continue their recent dismal record in away matches against the leading clubs, the visitors inviting a lively Arsenal on to them. But the deluge never truly came, and the diligent defensive performances of Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in particular – the former shackling Bukayo Saka expertly – were crucial in giving United a base on which to build. That could so easily have been the narrative as Erik ten Hag’s side looked far more comfortable in their own skins in the second half. But Alejandro Garnacho’s late strike being ruled out for the most fractional of offsides proved the game’s Sliding Doors moment, after which it became all about the excellent Declan Rice’s first Arsenal goal and a late breakaway of the sort that happens to any team chasing the game. Rice was understatedly the best midfielder on the pitch and a fitting matchwinner, but there was more to encourage United in defeat here than in their two league wins so far, despite that meek opening spell. Tom Davies


Chelsea’s risky reliance on raw talent

The insistence on signing players under the age of 25 has made Chelsea fascinating but vulnerable. They look short of characters and their immaturity was clear during their defeat by Nottingham Forest. There was naivety from Nicolas Jackson, caught out by the new disciplinary laws when he was booked for asking Ryan Yates to be cautioned for fouling him, and no one seemed capable of guiding Chelsea through the difficult moments against resilient opponents. Forest were comfortable for long spells and it is hard not to wonder if Mauricio Pochettino is worried about whether a squad full of raw talent will be capable of grinding out results. Potential is all well and good but it is a risky strategy from Chelsea. There are no guarantees that it will work out and promises that this is a club project may not count for much if Pochettino is unable to produce results. Jacob Steinberg

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Nicolas Jackson of Chelsea sits on the pitch after a challenge in the home game against Nottingham Forest
Nicolas Jackson was booked for seeking to get Nottingham Forest’s Ryan Yates cautioned. Photograph: Mark Greenwood/IPS/Shutterstock


Maddi-Son: Spurs’ new deadly duo

Between James Maddison and Son Heung-min, Tottenham have more than replaced Harry Kane, based on the early evidence. The former offers creativity and the latter striking instinct. Many worried that Spurs would decline without their homegrown talisman but they are thriving under Ange Postecoglou, as shown by their demolition of Burnley. “We have no Harry Kane so everyone has to step up,” Son said afterwards. “Everyone has to take a big responsibility on the pitch to make and score goals.” Maddison and Son rightly took most of the plaudits on Saturday but it was a team effort and it is up to the players and Postecoglou to maintain those standards. This is a new-look, attack-minded Spurs that want to dominate matches in a style that has reinvigorated the squad. “We have good players and then we got a new signing [Brennan Johnson] as well so we’re very excited about it,” Son continued. Will Unwin

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Pickford stakes claim as England No 1

By mid-afternoon on Saturday, Jordan Pickford’s grin could have straddled the Mersey. That smile had, in first-half stoppage time, masked a grimace. Pickford could, in fairness, not do much about a Cameron Archer strike that cannoned off a post and in via his back. When your luck’s out, and all that. But with Everton seconds from their first point of the season, Pickford was called into action not once, but twice, by Oli McBurnie. First, he pushed a header on to the bar, recovering rapidly to nod McBurnie’s follow-up on to a post. Glee. Relief. Maybe even a little redemption. With each England squad announcement come doubts over Pickford’s credentials but he is Gareth Southgate’s pick for good reason. Everton need Pickford at his best if they are to avoid christening their shiny new stadium in the Championship. Sam Dalling


Ward-Prowse and value of experience

It is easy to be sniffy about signing proven Premier League players. Everyone would like to buy the next bright young thing, or spot an unknown gem playing for a foreign club, but there is something to be said for experience. Take James Ward-Prowse, who has made an outstanding start at West Ham. There were some who were underwhelmed by David Moyes’s insistence on signing Ward-Prowse, using it to bolster the argument that the Scot’s ideas are outmoded and too predictable. In signing the 28-year-old, though, Moyes has brought in a player who does not need any time to adjust to the pace of English football. It is not a surprise that Ward-Prowse has slotted in so easily. He provided two assists on his debut against Chelsea, scored against Brighton and swung in a corner for Kurt Zouma to head in West Ham’s second goal during their win over Luton on Friday night. Jacob Steinberg

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Walker commits to leaders City

Kyle Walker was an assured presence at the back in the win over Fulham and the full-back is to sign a new contract with Manchester City until 2026 after nearly leaving the treble winners for Bayern Munich this summer. The 33-year-old’s terms expire next June and after considering a move to Germany, he is now intent on staying. Pep Guardiola left Walker out of May’s Champions League final victory but the defender insists this was not a factor in his deliberations. “The contract extension is coming,” Walker said. “It’s my seventh season here and I feel like one of the old ones here now. I love the place, I’ve experienced things I only dreamed of here – especially the last season – so why would you want to leave a club like this? Everyone [mentions] the final. Of course I was disappointed because as a professional you want to play in the big games but I’m not playing a solo sport – it’s a team game.” Jamie Jackson

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Kyle Walker on the ball against Fulham
Kyle Walker is to sign a new Manchester City contract. ‘I love the place,’ he said. Photograph: Manjit Narotra/ProSports/Shutterstock


Gilmour keeps Brighton moving

Evan Ferguson rightly took the headlines after his hat-trick on Saturday, but he wasn’t the only Brighton player to have an excellent day. Billy Gilmour is another Chelsea academy product to have been sold on to help make ends meet and, while his physical slightness still concerns some, he ran the midfield against Newcastle. It’s not just that he registered his first assist of the season (even if Ferguson did most of the work); it’s the intelligence and range of his passing as he operates as a deep-lying playmaker, always looking to receive the ball from the defence before spreading it wide. “He is improving a lot,” Roberto De Zerbi said. “We are having a lot of meetings to speak about details on the pitch and the second and third goals are fantastic, because when the ball is with the centre-back he has to find the right position, the right body shape and the players between the lines have to find the right positions.” Jonathan Wilson


Szoboszlai can keep Salah on board

On a purely football level it will be clear evidence of progress, and of being able to compete with Manchester City for the biggest prizes once again, that will keep Mohamed Salah content at Liverpool. Signings of the calibre of Dominik Szoboszlai undoubtedly help in that regard. The Hungary captain was again outstanding in a surprisingly one-sided defeat of Aston Villa that maintained Liverpool’s unbeaten start through what had appeared a tricky opening set of fixtures. It was not just the 22-year-old’s first Liverpool goal that set the gifted, two-footed midfielder apart. “He is a machine,” purred Jürgen Klopp of his £60m summer signing. “In all four games now he has been absolutely impressive, tactically smart and ready for the dirty part of the game. Not the fancy stuff, not shooting, passing and running forward – closing down opponents. It was so important how Curt [Curtis Jones] and Dom closed the spaces. What a goal as well – it was the cleanest strike I saw for a long time.” Andy Hunter


Wolves drifting to back of the pack

As Manchester United fans bemoan their ownership staying on, the plight of Wolves offers another case study of the arc of foreign ownership. Would Wolves fans swap those past few years of watching João Moutinho and Rúben Neves at Molineux? Almost certainly not, even if the former sleeping giants have not quite hit the heights of the club’s previous old-golden era. Wolves scored twice at Crystal Palace but few could sensibly suggest last season’s lowest scorers have resolved their problems in attack. Gary O’Neil is the manager handed a squad whose prime assets were sold off after their Chinese owners were caught by geopolitical crosswinds. He could talk of how “when both teams were in shape, I thought we were the better side” but, without a regular goal threat, Wolves are in peril of sliding back to the doldrums they came from. John Brewin

Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic attempts a shot on goal at Crystal Palace
Sasa Kalajdzic goes close at Palace for a Wolves side that still lack firepower. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA


Wasteful Brentford make late point

The home contingent will have left the Gtech Community Stadium bemused as to how three points evaded Thomas Frank’s side. Mathias Jensen’s free-kick set things on their way but Brentford looked very uncomfortable following that and Bournemouth deservedly levelled through Dominic Solanke. The impressive Kevin Schade hit a post at 1-0 that proved to be costly for the hosts – had he scored it would have altered the contest. It was a different ball game in the second half with Brentford on top – but not for the first time, profligacy in front of goal was their undoing. After a setback that gave Bournemouth the lead against the run of play, Frank responded with the triple change of Kristoffer Ajer, Nathan Collins and youngster Michael Olakigbe, all of whom played their part before Bryan Mbeumo’s late intervention. Plenty to be pleased with, but the wait for a first home win goes on. Uzzi Majid

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