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

1 ) Gunners are thrilling but not invulnerable

Arsenal have become appointment viewing for a neutral because of the quality of their play rather than the expectation of comedy and schadenfreude. Such entertainment comes with a vulnerability that’s all part of the fun: they are still yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet at the Emirates. Darwin Núñez’s first-half equaliser suggested where Arsenal’s title challenge might fall flat. Gabriel was horribly flat-footed in his misread of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s diagonal and it was not his only moment of hesitancy. There was also space behind their midfield that Luis Díaz, until leaving the field with injury, made dangerous use of. William Saliba was equally static as Diogo Jota slotted in Roberto Firmino for Liverpool’s second. But Arsenal’s attackers meanwhile caused huge problems for their opponents’ defence, putting Liverpool through another failed examination of their defensive quality. At times, Jürgen Klopp’s team resembled a League One outfit raggedly clinging on for a cup replay. John Brewin

2) Classy Firmino offers beacon of optimism

Roberto Firmino’s ice-cool finish on Sunday was that of a man who knows who to keep his head while everyone else is suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Liverpool were their now-familiar madcap selves in north London: their defence a disaster, their star players bereft and Darwin Núñez occasionally threatening to establish himself alongside Andy Carroll and Andriy Voronin in the grand Anfield tradition of hapless long-haired centre-forwards. The unflappable Firmino has provided a lone note of hope to Liverpool’s calamitous season – not something many would have predicted when Núñez arrived this summer to supplement the prodigious output of Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Luis Díaz. The writing seemed to be on the wall for an ageing player who was already acquainted with life on the margins. Yet his seven outings this term have produced six goals, more already than last season’s final tally. Liverpool may be in crisis but Sunday’s classy strike continued a welcome Indian summer from one of the league’s most watchable footballers. Alex Hess

3) Akanji’s intelligence crucial for Guardiola

The champions’ next Premier League outing is at Liverpool, of whom Pep Guardiola said: “It won’t be any surprise to tell you how fascinating, difficult and competitive that will be. The biggest test I would say we can face in England is going to happen next Sunday.” Given the Merseyside club’s listing form under Jürgen Klopp this may be regulation manager-speak, but Guardiola’s comments about Manuel Akanji’s display at right-back versus Southampton suggest the injured Kyle Walker may not be missed if the centre-back again operates there at Anfield. “There are players you have to explain 10 times, train 10 times to do what you want him to do. This guy – we did just one training session and he got it: the movement you have to do as a full-back, the high pressing. And with the ball he’s a magnificent player.” Akanji was bought in the summer with a certain erstwhile Borussia Dortmund teammate part of the consulting process. “Erling [Haaland] texted me,” Akanji said. “Erling said that they had asked him about me. They had already made their plans but wanted some more information so asked Erling.” Jamie Jackson

‘I’ve never answered these questions,’ says Hasenhüttl when quizzed on Southampton future – video

4) Cool Casemiro shows his worth to United

Casemiro’s long-awaited first Premier League start began unpromisingly, his loss of possession creating the space for Everton’s Alex Iwobi’s opener. What followed was far more impressive. The short passing was often metronomic and it was his searing pass that set up Cristiano Ronaldo to break both this season’s duck and the 700-club goals mark. That move revived a Real Madrid partnership that won four Champions League crowns together. Casemiro’s anticipation in robbing Iwobi of possession had opened up the space for the counterattack. He did tire and United’s narrow advantage was protected chiefly by Everton’s bluntness in attack but Christian Eriksen enjoyed having such a cool, experienced, tactically aware colleague to play off. Amadou Onana’s later redeployment disrupted the pair’s control and Erik ten Hag may sometimes need fresher, younger legs but a manager who prefers sticking to winning teams will select the £60m man next time. Scott McTominay’s suspension for a late yellow guaranteed that. JB

5) Spurs pay respectful tribute to Ventrone

Gian Piero Ventrone’s impact at Tottenham could be felt, not only by the outpouring of emotion from the players and Antonio Conte, but also in the team’s doggedness on the pitch in victory over Brighton. Ventrone, whose sudden death at the age of 61, has deeply affected so many people connected with Spurs, was nicknamed “the Marine” for his demanding training sessions and his work ethic helped drive up Spurs’ intensity – it was certainly evident on Saturday as the team were forced to defend stoutly for long periods against Brighton. Tottenham’s performances have been questioned this season, but their tenacity could not be as they frustrated their opponents in Roberto De Zerbi’s first home game in charge. This was not a stylish win but the resilience from Tottenham’s players should be applauded after an extremely difficult week, which started with a derby defeat to Arsenal and was overshadowed by the loss of a cherished member of the coaching staff. Simon Mail

6) North-east needs a successful Newcastle

Played beneath a blue sky, Newcastle’s 5-1 win against Brentford was a joyful occasion, with St James’ Park celebrating the first anniversary of the club’s transformative Saudi Arabian led takeover. While Eddie Howe spoke afterwards of emulating those stellar Tyneside teams managed by Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, Bruno Guimarães, Howe’s Brazil midfielder, said it had been “one of the best days of my life”. Tellingly, Guimarães – who scored twice and excelled throughout – chose Newcastle over Arsenal last January but without the takeover he would probably be in London now. There are legitimate reservations about the Saudis yet, in an era when 10 Premier League teams are southern-based and levelling up is arguably England’s most urgent need, it matters that the top-tier’s sole north-east representatives succeed. A strong Newcastle United provide the local economy with the sort of boost Liz Truss seems unlikely to supply. Louise Taylor

Newcastle fans’ takeover anniversary banner
Newcastle fans celebrated the anniversary of the club’s Saudi Arabian takeover in unusual style. Photograph: Alex Dodd/CameraSport/Getty Images

7) Return of Bamford can boost Leeds

Patrick Bamford’s presence in the starting lineup for only the 10th
Premier League game since the start of last season made a monumental difference to Leeds’ potency in attack during the first half of their defeat to Crystal Palace. But while Jesse Marsch acknowledged that his side should have established more of a lead before succumbing to goals from Odsonne Édouard and Eberechi Eze, he believes the striker is showing signs of returning to the form that earned him an England call-up last year. “I thought Patrick is clearly in physically good form but we just need to get him fully game ready and sharp,” said Marsch. “On a day where he is a little bit fitter I think he would have scored. But Patrick can be part of the solution as well.” Ed Aarons

8) Hammers’ investments are paying off

“I think that was David Sullivan,” joked David Moyes after being told that the public announcer at the London Stadium had given West Ham’s substitutes a big buildup while he was reading the teams out. Sullivan, the co-owner, has certainly made sure that Moyes has more tools this season. West Ham’s small squad undermined them last season, their league form suffering because of their Europa League run. The situation had to be addressed given that West Ham had qualified for the Europa Conference League and there were positive signs during their win over Fulham. Moyes made vast changes after his side’s win over Anderlecht last Thursday. He could bring on Michail Antonio for Gianluca Scamacca and watch the striker make it 3-1 in the dying minutes. He could introduce Emerson Palmieri, an Italy international. He had Saïd Benrahma, Vladimir Coufal and Angelo Ogbonna in reserve. The man with the microphone had a good point. Jacob Steinberg

9) Hodge impresses on Wolves debut

Another game, another defeat for Wolves and, all in all, it was a miserable afternoon for the visitors given how comprehensively they were beaten by Chelsea. If there was one positive for them it was the performance of Joe Hodge on what was the 20-year-old’s senior debut for the club. Hodge, who has been capped at under-21 level for the Republic of Ireland, was an industrious and combative presence in midfield having replaced Gonçalo Guedes at half-time, a block on 60 minutes that prevented Conor Gallagher having a relatively clear shot on goal from the edge of the area especially eye-catching. Hodge’s use of the ball was also neat and he looks like a player to whom Wolves’s next manager – expected by most to be Julen Lopetegui – should give more minutes in the coming weeks and months. Sachin Nakrani

10) O’Neil making strong case for permanent job

Bournemouth may have been assessing the credentials of external candidates but Gary O’Neil is making a compelling case that the best managerial option is under their nose. Against Leicester on Saturday his side came from behind to secure victory, as they did against Nottingham Forest before the international break, and O’Neil’s unbeaten record in interim charge reads two wins and three draws; it is worth remembering that before that run Bournemouth lost 9-0 at Liverpool. Their defender Ryan Fredericks pointed to O’Neil’s tactical nous as a major strength and the 39-year-old’s decision to hand the left-back Adam Smith the responsibility of man-marking James Maddison paid off, with Leicester’s primary threat somewhat muted. The evidence is quietly stacking up in O’Neil’s favour and with winnable games against Fulham, Southampton and West Ham on the horizon, he could yet extend their impressive form. Ben Fisher

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