Sunday, September 24

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

1) Days absence is telling in draw

Attackers win games, but defenses win titles. Manchester City were without Rúben Dias – the centre-back that led them to Premier League glory last season – and his absence from him was obvious to see. On an individual level he is the best defender City possess and ensures calm among his colleagues, which limits mistakes throughout the backline. Liverpool’s opener came from Dias’ replacement, John Stones, failing to deal with a cross, heading it immediately into a dangerous area, allowing the visitors to recycle the ball and eventually level through Diogo Jota. To Stones’ right was Kyle Walker, a man who has seemed more dependable alongside Dias, but he made a couple of key lapses in concentration. First, he allowed Sadio Mané to get inside him and score the second equalizer. Second, he sat two yards behind his colleagues, allowing Liverpool to beat the offside trap and they would have scored if not for a fine Ederson save. City have the firepower to beat anyone but they still risk being let down by defensive frailties without Dias. Will Unwin

Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola react to Liverpool’s draw with Manchester City – video

2) No surprise in United defeat at Goodison

Perhaps the most damning aspect of Manchester United’s abysmal performance at Everton is that it came as no surprise to the away supporters who again called for the Glazers to get out of their club. Or, for that matter, anyone else. On paper, United appear the best opportunity for a relegation-threatened team to collect three crucial points over the next month. On the pitch, that is precisely what transpired as a collection of indulged individuals continued to go through the motions. The 20-time champions remain light years away from seriously challenging Manchester City or Liverpool. They were flattered by last season’s second-placed finish, profiting from Liverpool’s injury problems, and a managerial change may not remedy their deep-rooted malaise. Erik ten Hag, the Ajax coach, is expected to succeed Ralf Rangnick having impressed in interviews with the United hierarchy. He needs to interview them. Andy Hunter

3) Burnley fluff their lines at Carrow Road

Sean Dyche’s midweek claim that Everton don’t know how to win came back to bite him. Wednesday’s win over the Toffees was only his team’s fourth league victory all campaign. Defeat to Norwich took the rock-bottom club to five wins and kept Everton four points clear of Dyche’s team, when at Turf Moor it seemed Frank Lampard’s side were on the downward trajectory. Burnley were poor at Carrow Road, their spirit perhaps sagged by relying on hapless Manchester United to do them a favor at Goodison Park on Saturday. Norwich, the league’s lowest scorers, were made to look like interchangeable, free-flowing attackers, with Teemu Pukki expertly leading the line while Wout Weghorst, Burnley’s purported January saviour, was anonymous. Dyche may rue Maxwell Cornet’s glaring second-half miss and Charlie Taylor playing Pukki onside for the second goal. But it was Norwich who looked the group playing for their Premier League lives. John Brewin

Defeat to Norwich means Burnley are on their own as the team with the fewest league wins. Photograph: Joe Toth/Shutterstock

4) Self-help can turn around Werner form

Sometimes silence helps block out the noise. Thomas Tuchel conceded that sometimes there was nothing he could say to Timo Werner to help him during his barren run but said the striker “made his point” by scoring his first league goals since October in Saturday’s 6-0 route at Southampton. Tuchel added that Werner has learned to cope with the weight of expectation that comes with being a marquee signing. The German could spearhead Chelsea’s attack in their Champions League quarter-final second leg at Real Madrid on Tuesday with Romelu Lukaku unlikely to recover from an Achilles injury. “He took his chance and could have scored more but these are the kind of performances strikers need and we need from the strikers,” Tuchel said. “At some point there are no words, you have to help yourself.” Ben Fisher

5) Lloris saves put Spurs in control of destiny

Son Heung-min may have claimed the headline-grabbing hat-trick at Villa Park but Spurs’ top scorer acknowledged that Hugo Lloris erected the platform for the 4-0 victory. Lloris made seven saves in the opening 45 minutes as Aston Villa staged a storming bid for an equaliser. “I have saved us today,” Son said. “We scored goals but if Hugo wasn’t there, probably we were 3-1 down or 4-1 down. Hugo saved us in tough times when we needed him. He was turning like a superman – it is insane.” Spurs’ bid to qualify for the Champions League by claiming a top-four place is now in their own hands, and Son was happy with how his side dug in. “We showed a lot of character, especially after the first half when some teams would lose in this situation.” peter lansley

6) Worker bee Mbeumo stings Hammers

The curious story of two strikers. One struggling to find the net, despite his team having an impressive season; the other on a roll, netting important goals to finally extinguish relegation worries. West Ham’s Michail Antonio was challenged yesterday by manager David Moyes to reignite, having not troubled the Premier League charts since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo, supporting artist to his more flamboyant partner, Ivan Toney, is the definitive worker bee with end product. Antonio was anonymous during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat where fatigue affected the Hammers, who shortly traveled to France for their delicately-poised Europa League quarter-final second leg. How Moyes would love to see 10-goal Antonio end all this frustration against Lyon. Mbeumo blasted the opener for Brentford, following a terrific, selfless role in the now-famous Stamford Bridge raid. “Bryan this season has been mentally strong and can bounce back in games,” said Thomas Frank afterwards. Antonio must do the same. julian taylor

Bryan Mbeumo celebrates after firing Brentford in front.
Bryan Mbeumo celebrates after firing Brentford in front. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Shutterstock

7) Zaha will not pay penalty for misses

Should Wilfried Zaha stay on penalties after his latest faux-pas? Crystal Palace’s leading scorer since home his 11th league goal of the season on the rebound, matching his best top-flight tally of last season, in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester but only after Kasper Schmeichel had twice saved his spot-kicks. Zaha, whose slip against Norwich in February was his first miss from the spot in five attempts, took a rather languid run-up at the King Power Stadium before allowing Schmeichel to save. But after Caglar Soyuncu was adjudged to have encroached, Zaha was allowed to retake – and this time the Leicester goalkeeper saved the shot down the middle, only to concede on the rebound. Patrick Vieira confirmed Zaha will stay on penalties, however. “I will not change just because he has missed today,” the Palace manager said. “He’s our penalty taker and if we get one in the next game, he will take it.” peter lansley

8) Arteta needs to recover after mistakes

Mikel Arteta has faced diverse challenges at Arsenal but is now tasked with one of his biggest: getting their Champions League push back on the rails when four of their next six games are against Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham and Spurs. It will test what the manager, who has generally had a very impressive season along with his team, is made of. Arteta got things wrong in the damaging defeat to Brighton, moving Granit Xhaka to left-back and ensuring a midfield already weakened by Thomas Partey’s absence was now ripe to be dominated by bright, imposing opponents. He has clearly lost trust in Nuno Tavares and it deals him a headache for a run-in whose margins will be exceedingly fine. If Arsenal lose control of the engine room against direct rivals the consequences will be severe, perhaps even for their grip on a top-six place.. Nick Ames

9) Home woes push Watford towards drop

Watford’s latest dismal result marked their ninth consecutive defeat at Vicarage Road but Roy Hodgson was at a loss to explain. The Hornets manager has secured eight points away but defeats in all four home games since his arrival in January, have left the team marooned in the relegation zone. “Why is it we don’t win at home? I don’t know,” Hodgson told reporters. “I understand the question, but I don’t know there are any real words to answer it.” Watford’s wastefulness in front of goal and an error-strewn defensive display, with the defender Samir guilty for two of the goals, proved costly against upwardly-mobile Leeds. While Jesse Marsch’s appointment has had the desired effect to ease any fears of the drop, Hodgson has failed to galvanize Watford and relegation looks inevitable. Simon Mail

Match report: Watford 0-3 Leeds

Roy Hodgson was at a loss to explain Watford's dreadful home form.
Roy Hodgson was at a loss to explain Watford’s dreadful home form. Photograph: Ian Tuttle/Shutterstock

10) Guimarães is the real deal for Howe

Arsenal spent several months dithering as to whether to buy Bruno Guimarães from Lyon or not. In the end the 24-year-old Brazil midfielder was sold to Newcastle in January and on Friday the Gunners were given reason to regret their indecision from him. Guimarães illuminated an otherwise distinctly average match – won 1-0 by Newcastle courtesy of Chris Wood’s late penalty – with his blend of intelligence, technique, incision and improvisational ability to play between the lines. “Bruno’s going to be a mainstay of our team,” said the Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe, whose side are now within touching distance of safety. “He’s got that technical flair and positional intelligence but he’s also got great steel and resilience; he’s a winner with a great attitude. He’s got no fear. I think Bruno’s the complete package.” Howe’s gain is Arteta’s loss. louis taylor

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