What did we learn in the Premier League over the weekend?
[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]
Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nick Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Let’s get to it.
1. Manchester City’s off day in derby draw: Man City had its chances but did not look like the team which had been scoring goals and keeping opponents from tempting theirs in recent weeks (well, the defense was at least pretty good). Sergio Aguero’s stomach issues allowed a derby start for Gabriel Jesus and the Brazilian couldn’t do much with it. City finished with 54 percent of the ball but only nine of the 20 attempts at Old Trafford. Forgettable. (NM)
2. Watch the weary: All credit due to Crystal Palace, but their 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur absolutely looked like a match-up of one team playing its 22nd match in 91 days while the hosts had played 12 in the last 92. Palace still needed goalkeeper heroics and a seeing-eye free kick to win, but it’s something to monitor from all PL teams in Europe as the UCL and UEL congestion turns to Festive Fixture congestion. (NM)
3. Watch the weary, part 2: This is a repeat of our “first thing” from Tottenham’s draw at Crystal Palace with slightly-changed numbers. Liverpool looked like a club playing its 14th match in 56 days as they drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Fulham, while the hosts had played eight in the last 57. It’s understandable stuff. (NM)
4. Not entirely clear if Arsenal players care: One could make a (rather strong) case that the Arsenal players are (already) no longer playing for Arteta, based on the evidence of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley. At the very least, they’re an undisciplined bunch that Arteta has been unable to reach and inspire. Nicolas Pepe’s recent red card was a worrying sign given its general absurdity, and Xhaka followed up with an even more foolish act deserving of a full ostracism from the squad. (AE)
5. Feel Good, Inc. at St. Mary’s: The coronavirus pandemic meant that Saints fans sat through the growing pains of the Ralph Hasenhuttl era and didn’t get to cheer on the club’s strong Project Restart, nor their big run to start this Premier League season. The visitors certainly helped things Sunday, but Southampton was all over the Blades from start to finish to improve their season record to 7W-2D-3L after going 5W-3D-1L in Project Restart. (NM)
6. Not much from Chelsea make-shift wingers: The Blues’ massive depth out wide has suddenly slimmed with Christian Pulisic joining Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi as Saturday absences at Goodison Park. Pulisic will be back quite soon, but for their 1-0 defeat away to Everton on Saturday, Chelsea’s attack options on the bench were young Tino Anjorin and center forward Tammy Abraham. Lampard opted for Timo Werner and Kai Havertz on either side of Olivier Giroud, whose red-hot form dipped Saturday. Werner loves the left side of the pitch but is clearly better at center forward. Attacking midfielder Havertz’s production was exceptional there and at wing during his time at Bayer Leverkusen but he didn’t have a great time Saturday. We’re betting Lampard wished he kept Pulisic on the bench for the final minutes. (NM)
7. Leicester doing it a different way: For the majority of Brendan Rodgers’ time as manager, Leicester have essentially been a one-trick pony: defend deep, win the ball back, send it into space for Vardy to run onto and beat the goalkeeper one-on-one. In Sunday’s 3-0 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion, for one day at least, Leicester scored twice with the Brighton defense fully set inside their own half. It’s only one game, and against a relegation-threatened side, but it’s positive progress nonetheless. (AE)
8. Villa snatch win to keep good start going: They didn’t get the points their recent displays deserved, but Saturday’s win at Wolves made up for that. A draw was probably a fair result but Villa snatched all three points in stoppage time thanks to a silly defensive mistakes from Wolves. Villa huffed and puffed in this game and had a few half chances which Rui Patricio saved well. Emiliano Martinez kept them in with a few fine stops of his own and then Villa got a slice of luck that had deserted them in recent weeks. 18 points from their first 10 games of the season is very good going and is halfway to safety in the Premier League for Dean Smith’s side. (JPW)
9. Leeds work hard, but don’t defend well: For all of the talk about El Loco Bielsa bringing his heart-racing tactical style to the Premier League, Leeds have been exceedingly poor — almost impossibly so — in defense thus far. The biggest difference Leeds will have noticed in trading the EFL Championship for the Premier League? How much more opposition players can do with the same amount of time and space, even when it’s brief and congested — PL players won’t panic and turn the ball over quite like players a division down. Leeds’ press is hardly useless in the Premier League, but it won’t be nearly as effective as the go-to plan, as evidenced in Friday’s 2-1 defeat to West Ham United. A dozen games into the season, we’re yet to see Leeds deviate and sit any deeper. Their 22 goals conceded ranks third-most in the league. (AE)
10. Newcastle’s positive subs pay off: The fact Steve Bruce wasn’t happy with a point at home against West Brom on Saturday was credit to him, especially after a tough few weeks as a COVID-19 outbreak shut down the training ground and forced the squad into self-isolation. Missing several key players, Newcastle chucked on Jacob Murphy and Dwight Gayle and that duo combined for the winner as Bruce was rewarded for his bravery. He gets a lot of stick for his conservative approach, but Newcastle are level on points with Everton and Wolves. Not bad. (JPW)