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

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

1) Saka should take heavy tackles as a compliment

Officially, Bukayo Saka is the 33rd player with the most fouls in the Premier League. Unofficially, Arsenal fans will tell you that their man is the victim of a sinister conspiracy between opposition left-backs and referees to have him hacked out of the game. So, a valid concern or the usual tribal tinfoil nonsense? It’s actually more complex than it looks. What sets Saka apart is his unique close dribbling style, the ball almost wedged between his feet as he runs. So when he buys contact – because all wingers buy contact – the tackle often takes ball and man together, making it hard to see which impact came first. Simply put, the referees need to do better here. But it also needs recognition from Arsenal fans that Saka is not being deliberately exposed or singled out: he is just very, very good. Jonathan Liew

2) Can Emery nurture Villa’s stars-in-waiting?

It feels like a long time ago now, but Unai Emery gave Arsenal debuts to Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. It’s a piece of history that looks set to bode well for Aston Villa, whose academy graduate Jacob Ramsey completed the scoring in victory over Manchester United on Sunday. Ramsey replaced Ashley Young in Villa’s only change and he repaid Emery’s faith with a spirited midfield display, combining smartly with Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendía and Leon Bailey, and the way the 21-year-old, who joined Villa at the age of six, has started under Emery suggests he will be at the center of it. Emery referenced Villa’s academy at the unveiling last week and the Spaniard believes the club have one of the best coaches in the world to nurture talent. Ben Fisher

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3) Núñez looks bad for a wide role

It’s fair to say that Darwin Núñez is not the world’s smoothest footballer, and in fact his doomed, clumsy rush down the left provided Spurs fans with some rare levity in the first half. If the goalkeeper’s booming dribbling raised the question of what he was doing out on the wing, then perhaps Mohamed Salah’s two goals – sent after stealing into central positions – provided the answer: an attack led by Roberto Firmino gives Liverpool’s best playmaker license to run. infield. Not that this will be much comfort to Núñez, who remains the jigsaw piece that doesn’t fit. The lineage of Liverpool players signed as exciting goalscorers only to labor painfully wide is a long one, stretching from Heskey to Aspas via Diouf, Cissé and Babel. If the Uruguayan is to avoid joining that list, his manager will need to find an effective way to play him centrally. Whether such a solution exists, on current evidence, is far from certain. Alex Hess

Premier League: 10 talking points from this weekend’s action |  Soccer
Darwin Núñez played on the left against Tottenham. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

4) Howe’s first year has been a revelation

Although it seems increasingly unlikely that Ralph Hasenhüttl will make it as far as a four-year anniversary at Southampton, the man opposite him in the grave at St Mary’s is celebrating 12 months in the Newcastle job this week. The turnaround in that time has been remarkable, from a relegation battle to genuine top-four contenders. Their win on the south coast was Eddie Howe’s 20th in 41 league games – and 19 have come in the last 32 games. For all the inevitable talk of Saudi riches, Howe has also trained a set of individuals into a fine collective: 13 of his last matchday squad before his arrival. When a member of the press drew a comparison with Leicester’s 2016 title winners, Howe smiled. “I remember the Leicester team very well. But I think we’re just trying to be ourselves. Sam Dalling

5) Gnonto changes the game for Leeds

Wilfried Gnonto. Remember the name because Jesse Marsch’s 19-year-old Italy striker is very good. It is no exaggeration to say that Gnonto changed the entire topography of a game Bournemouth were in control of after coming off the bench at half-time. Despite Leeds quickly falling 3-1 behind, Gnonto – along with fellow substitute Sam Greenwood and Marsch’s inspired switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 – recalibrated the balance of power. After goals by Greenwood and Liam Cooper equalized, Gnonto Crysencio created Summerville’s second winning goal in two games with a stunning run and a beautifully weighted drive through. “Wilfried is a very intelligent young man,” Marsch said. “Wherever you play him, you see his knowledgeable and clear thoughts. He speaks several languages, understands tactics and has quality. He makes a big deal for several minutes.” Louise Taylor

6) Guardiola’s recipe for City success

Manchester City refused to accept anything less than victory despite João Cancelo’s red card in the first half. Pep Guardiola was asked if his team took an elixir to feed their addiction to victory. “A potion like Asterix and Obelix?” he said. “No, but I see Fulham, they are doing good things and I warned the players, they trained incredibly well, I saw how focused they were, so I fell asleep confident.” Kevin De Bruyne was again in fine form, and demanded the penalty in the 95th minute that Erling Haaland sent. The manager’s contract expires in the summer, and the Belgian seemed no more informed than anyone else about how the situation could play out. “After seven years it is perhaps more calm for him. To be honest, I don’t know [about his future], I don’t think you get too much out of him. And that’s okay.” Jamie Jackson

7) Lallana looks like a natural leader for Brighton

Roberto De Zerbi says he needs smart footballers who fully understand his complex tactics and style. One player who helps his teammates is Adam Lallana. The 34-year-old was briefly part of the coaching staff between Graham Potter’s exit to Chelsea and De Zerbi’s arrival, and gave an indication of future plans. “Lallana is a teacher on the pitch,” De Zerbi said after defeating Wolves 3-2. – I think he will be a very good coach. I hope not now because I want him on the pitch, but he is very intelligent, very smart. While working with the squad, his “enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism” impressed managing director Paul Barber. On the pitch, he looks perfect operating behind Leandro Trossard and excels with his one-press game in and around the area. He has a few years left in his legs, but when the time comes to hang up his boots, he will have options. Will Unwin

In the second half came one of those moments that were common to these pre-World Cup times. Lucas Paquetá screamed out after a tackle from Jordan Ayew, rolling over several times. Was his Qatar dream dead? The Brazilian, having his ankle checked, continued and played out the 90 minutes. “If anyone was going to maybe create or make us a goal late in the game, it was probably Lucas,” said David Moyes, putting the anxiety down to spasm. The Hammers have yet to see the best of a player who is counted among Brazil manager Tite’s selection, suggesting the problems of recruiting in this interrupted season. Paquetá did not look very interested in physical games with Crystal Palace and is back in the team after a shoulder problem. Moyes, like so many other Premier League managers, is forced to rely on players who focus on operations – a sub-optimal situation. John Brewin

Lucas Paqueta in action against Crystal Palace
Lucas Paqueta has yet to peak at West Ham. Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

9) Foxes find form at both ends of the field

“How are you far behind us?” asked a disbelieving Evertonian of a Leicester City video analyst sitting in Goodison Park’s press box on Saturday night. It was a reasonable question at the final whistle, given Brendan Rodgers’ team’s superiority in every department over the error-ridden hosts, although Leicester are now above Everton on goal difference and heading in a different direction. Creatively, the contributions of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Youri Tielemans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall overshadowed everything Everton had to offer. And their defense made Frank Lampard’s side look impotent, especially after Dominic Calvert-Lewin departed with another injury. Leicester conceded 22 goals in the first seven Premier League games of the season; they have conceded three of their last seven. “The summer was tough for us,” said Rodgers, who reserved special praise for his only summer outfield signing. “But I always said that with patience and hard work on the training pitch we could get back to our level. It’s great to see them playing with joy and quality and you can see the difference that Wout Faes is making.” Andy Hunter

10) The joy of a good goal game

Amidst the glitz and glamor of the Premier League – a department of otherworldly finesse and barely believable skill – there’s nothing like a horribly messy goal-scoring match to remind us that we’re all human after all. Nottingham Forest’s 96th-minute equalizer against Brentford had a bit of everything: a desperate flick from David Raya, several seconds of human pinball, a helpless last touch from Mathias Jørgensen and finally a heroic clearance from Ben Mee – only for goal-line technology to grab in and left him lying with his head buried in the turf. Thomas Frank’s side have played some excellent football this season, but they have also been very inconsistent. Without a win in four, they are now on their longest winless run of the campaign and face an unenviable trip to Manchester City ahead of the World Cup. They have not tasted victory away from home in the league all season; going on their wildly unpredictable form, they are likely to win 3-0. Will Magee

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