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

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

1) Bellerín shows Arsenal’s revival under Arteta

Héctor Bellerín has had his doubters over the past year. There have been suggestions a touch of his old pace has gone after long-term injury, and when PSG bid for him last month there was an argument it could be a good time for Arsenal to cash in. But Bellerín set up both goals against Sheffield United, the first after a typically barnstorming burst to the line, and is looking a touch nearer to his old self. “After such a long time at the club he doubted what ambitions he had here, how he could evolve here,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal’s narrow win. “But he came to me and said: ‘I can see what we are trying to do here and convinced it is the right place for me’.” Arteta seems to have that effect on people; Arsenal and their right-back are still getting up to speed but both are in a far better place than they were a year ago.

• Match report: Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield United

2) Watkins shows value of EFL in Premier League

As Premier League clubs complain that it is not their job to bail out those lower down the pyramid as many struggle to survive the pandemic, Ollie Watkins showed what is being produced by clubs outside the elite. The striker began his career at Exeter City – and even had a spell on loan at Weston-super-mare – but is now reaping the rewards of the hard work it has required to reach the top. Liverpool found out to their cost the abilities of the 24-year-old, first as he pounced upon a mistake and then added to it with two more clinical finishes. Previously, Aston Villa have targeted players with impressive scoring records in Belgium, signing both Mbwana Samatta and Wesley from the Jupiler League, to underwhelming effect. Many fear players from the Football League do not offer value for money but the early signs from Watkins will dispel that myth. The EFL is worth every penny. Will Unwin

• Match report: Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

3) Chilwell may be heir to Cole at Chelsea

It is already clear to see why Frank Lampard was so keen to spend £50m on Ben Chilwell. After having to wait for a heel injury to clear up before making his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea, the left-back was the driving force behind his new side’s thrashing of Crystal Palace. On this evidence Chelsea may just have found the heir to Ashley Cole. He defended well, shutting down the threat from Andros Townsend. He flew up and down the flank, supporting the attack, and delivered dangerous set pieces. He gave Chelsea balance and capped a fine performance with decisive contributions, scoring the opening goal before turning provider for Kurt Zouma. It was an excellent all-round display from the new boy, who looks a clear upgrade on Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri. Jacob Steinberg

• Match report: Chelsea 4-0 Crystal Palace

4) Ancelotti is taking Everton to new heights

While most Evertonians are delighted with the best start to a season since the 19th century, Carlo Ancelotti is evidently not satisfied. Ben Godfrey is expected to arrive from Norwich before the transfer window closes, but the Everton manager dropped a hint that he may not be the only new signing. “You will have to wait and see, maybe something will come along before Monday is out,” Ancelotti said. The Italian has a large contact book and it is fair to say Everton fans are impressed with the acquisitions of James Rodriguez – scorer of two well-taken goals against Brighton – Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré so far. Recruiting Ancelotti is clearly the best bit of business the club has done in years, and suddenly Everton’s horizons are no longer limited to being the fourth best side in the north-west. Paul Wilson

• Match report: Everton 4-2 Brighton

5) Fearless full-backs sum up Leeds approach

The last time Leeds beat the reigning champions or a Manchester club, they were a League One side and Jermaine Beckford, scorer of that 2010 FA Cup winner at Old Trafford, was in the press box, not on the pitch, on Saturday. And yet their performances against Liverpool and Manchester City suggest it will not be long before they claim a major scalp. They have offered thrilling excitement against the dominant duo of the last two seasons and are personified by their flying full-backs: Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas could have been preoccupied by defensive duties but showed the verve to get forward. Graduates of League One could have been forgiven if they had an inferiority complex. Instead, they showed the fearlessness that has allowed Leeds to approach seemingly impossible tasks imbued with belief. Richard Jolly

• Match report: Leeds 1-1 Manchester City

Luke Ayling comes up against Raheem Sterling.

6) Coufal makes flying start for West Ham

Leicester have been justifiably lauded for signing Timothy Castagne but West Ham’s new right wing-back outshone the Belgian on Sunday. Vladimir Coufal only completed his £5m transfer from Slavia Prague on Thursday night but went straight into the side as West Ham reduced Leicester to timid shadows of the team that beat Manchester City. “I was very impressed with him,” said West Ham’s assistant manager, Alan Irvine. “We know a lot about him from watching footage and we knew about him as a character because of Tomas [Soucek]. He has been used to playing in European competition and internationals but [had] to pick up on what we needed him to do in just two very short training sessions. He showed a lot of intelligence to be able to step in and perform the way he did.” Paul Doyle

• Match report: Leicester 0-3 West Ham

7) Cavani is not the answer to United’s problems

If there was any doubt that the people running Manchester United value celebrity and star power over success, this weekend provided the ultimate proof. On Saturday afternoon reports emerged that the club were close to signing a striking superstar in Edinson Cavani. Barely 24 hours later United’s sub-par defence, ill protected by Nemanja Matic, underwent an afternoon of excruciating indignity. Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly went through the whole gamut of defensive blunders: weak tackles, bad positioning, miscommunication, rash fouls and inattention. United have no excuse: since 2014 they have spent over £300m on defenders, all of whom arrived at the club as distinguished and talented footballers. After conceding 11 goals in three games, United’s pursuit of an ageing centre-forward may well be their most inept act of the weekend. No small feat. Alex Hess

• Match report: Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham

8) Fernández the unsung hero for improved Newcastle

Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson will earn the bulk of the plaudits after the former’s wing play unhinged Burnley and the latter boosted his goal tally to four in as many Premier League games. Yet a win would surely not have been possible without the contribution of Federico Fernández. In subduing Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, Fernández silenced those who have questioned Steve Bruce’s tactics during a fractious start to the season in which decent results have camouflaged often poor performances. This represented an improvement; partly thanks to one of the most astute signings Rafael Benítez made for Newcastle. “Federico can really read the game,” Benítez used to say. As a former central defender himself, Bruce knows he inherited an understated gem. Louise Taylor

Federico Fernández (left) holds up Christ Wood (right).

• Match report: Newcastle 3-1 Burnley

9) Baggies’ loose defence needs urgent upgrades

West Brom’s focus between now and the domestic transfer deadline seems to be on signing a bona fide striker but they surely need to bolster at the other end if they are to have any hope of staying up. They have conceded 13 goals in their opening first four matches and a back four of Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi, Conor Townsend and Dara O’Shea were unconvincing at St Mary’s. They struggled to cope with Southampton’s movement and had it not been for Sam Johnstone, it would have been game over by half-time. “We can’t say we were unlucky, we can’t say that we were there almost,” Slaven Bilic said afterwards. “We were not competitive enough, we were not on the level of aggression, determination, of pace, quality – that is everything.” Ben Fisher

• Match report: Southampton 2-0 West Brom

10) Robinson looks at home in Premier League

Considering Antonee Robinson was making his Premier League debut against, the recently-acquired Fulham defender showed plenty of promise at left-back. The US international looked as adept going forward as he did in defence. Scott Parker’s side has looked dreadful at the back since they returned to the top flight but Sunday’s performance offered greater hope thanks to a rejig of personnel. Robinson would have been a Milan player in January if it wasn’t for a failed medical, so there is no doubting his pedigree and he could have been forgiven if he decided to feel sorry for himself in response to the dealing falling apart. Instead, he has the best days ahead of him and has already laid down a marker. Will Unwin

• Match report: Wolves 1-0 Fulham