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


Martínez fails to convince

It’s not fair to pick a player from Manchester United’s dreadful debut under Erik ten Hag, but Lisandro Martínez struggled in earnest against Brighton. These are, of course, the first days for the new centre-back, but he will have to learn quickly. The little Argentine is a footballer the manager knows well but there are question marks over his stature. There will be serial aerial bombardments this season of the type he failed to manage against Brighton, with Danny Welbeck rising highest above him when he missed a close-range header in second period. Martínez could also have conceded a penalty by regrouping on the same player in a performance that gave no hint that the 24-year-old can help plug United’s leaky rearguard. Jaime Jackson


Klopp disappointed with senior players

Jürgen Klopp has posed the question of whether Virgil van Dijk actually fouled Aleksandar Mitrovic from the penalty spot to the press. He also wondered aloud if Jordan Henderson was fouled in the build-up to Mitrovic’s first goal. He still had some trouble escaping Craven Cottage with a stitch. “It’s my responsibility to find out why,” he said. His experienced players had been the most culpable. Mitrovic terrorized Van Dijk, with the Fulham forward also reintroducing those questions to the Trent Alexander-Arnold defence. The full-back flinched as Mitrovic crashed into the back post. Henderson struggled with Andreas Pereira and João Palhinha in midfield, Roberto Firmino failed in attack. The positive was the energy of Darwin Núñez liverpool after replacing Firmino, aided by two former Fulham players in Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho. Are Liverpool’s old guard suffering from a hangover from last season’s disappointments? A tight and truncated schedule for the World Cup will soon reveal all. John Brewin


City keeps opposition on guard

Kalvin Phillips was shown how to play in the Manchester City midfield not by Rodri, the man theoretically ahead of him in the pecking order, but by Kyle Walker. The right-back repeatedly wanders to the flank in space in the middle of the park. He collected the ball and played short passes to keep up City’s attacks. The Premier League champions enjoyed 77 per cent ball possession as they entered the new campaign. It was another reminder of the surprises Pep Guardiola can implement in his tactics. It’s a regular sight to see full-backs popping up in irregular places. While showing the team can adapt to the arrival of Erling Haaland, knowing what he will do with his smart runs, City are constantly evolving game by game. They adjusted in the final third and will keep teams on their toes with on-field innovations. A mark has been set. Won’t win

Erling Haaland of Manchester City.
Erling Haaland of Manchester City. Photography: Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images


Martinelli could be Jesus’ replacement

It took three months for Gabriel Martinelli to stand out last season but only 20 minutes to open his account this time around. His header at Selhurst Park was well taken and it was a reminder that, despite all the excitement around Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal have another potentially explosive Brazilian forward in their ranks. It’s easy to forget that Martinelli just turned 21; he tends to be deployed on the left but rotated positions with Jesus to good effect in the first half and there is a strong feeling that his long-term future lies in the middle. While many Arsenal fans are hungry for a back-up centre-forward to relieve Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, Martinelli would surely be able to fill the role competently if needed. For now, there’s a lot to love about the instinctive relationship the Brazilian teammates seem to have forged. Nick Ames


The burn shines under the pressure

Sven Botman cost Newcastle £35m from Lille in the summer but the much-admired 22-year-old Dutchman had to wait to make his midfield debut until stoppage time as Eddie Howe opted to stay with Dan Burn as left side, left-handed centre-back alongside Fabian Schär. With Botman also left-footed, the consensus was that the former Brighton defender would be the player to make way but, as Newcastle beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday, Burn made it clear he won’t. would not give up his place. without a fight. Arguably only midfielder Bruno Guimarães shone brighter than Burn, the latter earning Howe’s applause after he at one point dispossessed accelerating striker Brennan Johnson with timing and composure. worthy of a guestbook. Schär, meanwhile, broke Forest’s resistance with a superb shot from 25 yards out before Callum Wilson’s clever goal sealed the victory. Louise Taylor

Antonio Conte rarely looks so content with life, but the Italian’s demeanor after Tottenham’s impressive comeback against Southampton was an indication of the progress made over the summer. While three new signings – Ivan Perisic, Clement Lenglet and Yves Bissouma – only received late cameos, by then Spurs were leading 4-1. Conte knows that a bench that lacked the suspended Richarlison but also included Fraser Forster and Djed Spence now has the depth to compete on all fronts. “The message was very clear that we brought in new players to improve our team because our squad was really bad last season and the Champions League place was a big achievement,” he said. “Our first objective was to improve the team, not only physically but also mentally. We wanted the right players for my philosophy. Ed Aaron


Tuchel: Sterling can lift flat forwards

A rare victory at Goodison Park, a clean sheet and fine debuts from summer signings Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and most recently Marc Cucurella left Thomas Tuchel satisfied on opening day, although he seemed neither surprised nor disturbed by the lack of creativity from Chelsea. “We were joking at half-time that maybe it was a typical game chelsea game – we win 1-0 and Jorgi scores with a penalty,” admitted the manager. So it turned out. Despite Sterling’s polls, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were anonymous as 16 corners and a host of inviting free-kicks failed to trouble Everton’s injured defence. “I think Raheem will lift Kai and Mason and Pulisic,” Tuchel said. “Because the center of our formation is in the three centre-backs and the two number sixes, it’s a deep formation where you rely heavily on the two full-backs. We didn’t have enough full-backs to create more freedom for inside players. From there we go. Andy Hunter

Kalidou Koulibaly of Chelsea.
Kalidou Koulibaly of Chelsea. Photo: Jon Super/AP


It’s a new dawn for Leicester

As Leicester City prepare for what could be a new era, how much will they miss Kasper Schmeichel? Their recent captain had started every season opener for more than a decade before his move to Nice last week. Danny Ward, his patient assistant for four years, performed well in the 2-2 draw with Brentford, but the dynamic is clearly changing for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Schmeichel was a very vocal and passionate figure, and an excellent marksman. But Leicester’s abysmal record for set-piece concessions last season indicates Ward has the chance to help the team improve. “He was very assured and strong and we looked strong on set pieces,” Rodgers said. “He’s our No. 1 goalkeeper – he wears the No. 1 shirt and [he offered] presence, control of the box [and was] very good with his feet.” Peter Lansley


Elland Road can be a fortress for Leeds

Leeds won just four Premier League home games last season, including three against relegated sides. They stayed up the last day and will want to avoid a similar struggle this time around. To do so, they will need to improve their form at Elland Road. “The good thing about last year is that we found important points in away games, but we didn’t win enough at home,” said Jesse Marsch. A matchday one win over Wolves, courtesy of Rodrigo and an own goal, gives Leeds a platform to build on. The fans were behind the team from minute one on Saturday, giving them a boost even when Wolves took the lead. “I’m coming out of the tunnel for today’s game, of course I’m delighted it’s our first game, and after 30 seconds I want to play,” Marsch said of the atmosphere. “It’s awesome.” Won’t win


Cherries still need reinforcement

On the eve of Bournemouth’s first return game in the top flight, the words of Stuart Webber, Norwich’s sporting director, came to mind. Webber admitted he sent Daniel Farke off to war unarmed after being relegated with 21 points two years ago, although they only managed one more point as they suffered the same fate the last season despite spending £50m. Bournemouth made three signings but only one, Marcus Tavernier, brother of Rangers captain James, was fit enough to start their opening day win over Aston Villa. Tavernier started with a lively performance but Scott Parker needs additional reinforcements. Argentina centre-back Marcos Senesi, who is expected to sign from Feyenoord, will provide welcome ammunition. “We try to help the players we have to protect us for a long season,” Parker said. “We definitely need more players.” Ben Fisher

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