10 things we learned from a chaotic week of Premier League action

Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma could be the answer to Frank Lampard’s defensive dilemma as Harry Maguire struggles AGAIN in the spotlight… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from another chaotic week of Premier League action

  • Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma were a stellar partnership for Chelsea this weekend 
  • Manchester United collapsed at the back in their shock 6-1 defeat to Tottenham 
  • Harry Maguire endured a nightmare afternoon and was at fault for several goals 
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored again for Everton and was called up for England 
  • The in-form striker will rival Harry Kane to start in this week’s triple bill of games
  • Sportsmail looks back at the key talking points from another weekend of drama

A grand total of 41 goals were scored across one of the most memorable, and truly jaw-dropping, weekends the Premier League has ever graced us with. It was entertainment galore in yet another blockbuster set of fixtures, with shock results and dramatic finishes throwing up plenty of talking points once again.

Manchester United’s humbling at the hands of Tottenham and newfound antagonist Jose Mourinho may have allowed Jurgen Klopp to enjoy a wry smile before leading his Liverpool team out to face Aston Villa. His mood over the course of 90 extraordinary minutes would have soured in the worst way possible, however.

What is defending after all? There is simply no need for it. The absence of fans in grounds seems to have resulted in countless goalfests, all of which have thrilled neutrals and caused managers across the land to head back to the drawing board.

Sportsmail unpicks the standout storylines from a couple of days littered with twists and turns…

Manchester United had suffered a defensive horror show in their heavy defeat to Tottenham

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left deflated after watching his team ship six goals at Old Trafford

Harry Maguire under the spotlight after Spurs shocker

The sight of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire harrying a player inside the box in an attempt to stab the ball clear would typically have been a welcome one for supporters.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left disgusted when Maguire instead hauled team-mate Luke Shaw out of the way, allowing Tanguy Ndombele to fire home Tottenham’s leveller.

To add insult to injury, the midfielder’s effort hurtled into the net via a hefty and wicked deflection off of the sliding Maguire. 

United were torn apart by their opponents, leaving Jose Mourinho free to enjoy a wry smile and cheeky pat on his opposite number’s head at full time.

United and England defender Harry Maguire was much maligned after his poor performance

Son Heung-min scored twice in the first half to hand Jose Mourinho’s side an extraordinary win

A handful of apologies from players were posted on social media after the humiliation was complete, but the damage had been done. Not even Maguire, who was an ever-present figure for the club during his first season, can escape from the limelight this time.

The £80million defender was quite simply horrendous. The first goal was a sheer hot-headed rush of errors, and the second was inexcusable.

Allowing Son Heung-min to race in behind from a quick free-kick after being caught out just minutes later was worrying sloppy, and the fact Maguire sported the armband made his horror game even worse. 

The international break will afford him some respite, but Maguire has an ever-increasing hoard of cynics to prove wrong when he returns in a fortnight. 

Calvert-Lewin challenging Kane for England starting spot

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s towering header which opened the scoring in Everton’s win over Brighton mirrored the sheer aerial dominance made famous by the great Duncan Ferguson. 

Indeed, the club legend himself was sat on the bench and would have been delighted with the form being shown by the player sporting his iconic former shirt number.

The 23-year-old, thanks in part to adopting Ferguson’s trademark finish, has added goals to his game and is rapidly becoming a fearsome all-round striker. His effort left Mat Ryan helpless at his near post and capped off a dream week. 

A hat-trick against West Ham, his second trio of the season, helped his high-flying side secure passage to the Carabao Cup quarter finals. His first senior England call-up soon followed.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned his England credentials with another goal at the weekend

The red-hot Everton frontman scored a towering header and will rival Harry Kane this week

‘I’m a very, very proud man to get this first England call,’ he said. ‘I phoned my mum and my dad, and my mum burst into tears.

‘It’s something we’ve spoken about since I was a young boy. To get here now and get the call-up is a dream come true. I’m very happy.’

The conversation from Gareth Southgate was well merited. Calvert-Lewin has ensured he has been in all the right positions and is moulding himself into a true poacher. 

With England now facing a frantic triple bill of fixtures, now may be the perfect time to blood the youngster and test him out on the biggest stage of them all.

Manchester City are not the same without Fernandinho 

When two of the greatest tacticians in the history of football warmly greeted each other on the sideline, football fans sat back to watch a fixture full of complexities, niche adjustments and a gloriously high standard of action. 

As it turned out, the standard was indeed gloriously high but for all the wrong reasons. Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa cut irritated and disturbed figures while prowling their technical areas, with the Manchester City boss animated and aggravated in particular.

City had dominated the first 20 minutes and took a deserved lead through Raheem Sterling’s superb finish, but Leeds fought back and forced the big spenders to settle for a point in the end.

The encounter was alarmingly open. Neither midfield seemed capable of doing the dirty work. Leeds sauntered through City’s lines on far too many occasions after the break, and the visitors then imposed a similar style of play when Bielsa’s ranks tired.

Manchester City missed the presence and no-nonsense tackling of Fernandinho against Leeds

Bielsa remained on his haunches at the final whistle, clearing his mind of the chaos that had just unfolded. Guardiola appeared similarly punch drunk too. Both men will have to take their time to analyse one of the all-time top flight classics. 

City did regain a modicum of control when Fernandinho was introduced on 77 minutes. 

The new club captain has gained a reputation for breaking up attacks with sly tactical fouls, and it is this dark art that the former champions have often relied on to bail them out of danger.

Without him, City have appeared vulnerable and Rodri, seemingly bought as Fernandinho’s long-term successor, has so far failed to fill in as Guardiola would have wanted.

Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva make a promising partnership

Frank Lampard will be hoping to count on Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma for the rest of the season as his first choice centre back partnership. 

The duo impressed in the comfortable 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend and held firm well to earn a precious clean sheet. 

Silva was signed on a free from PSG and, aside from his wobbles on his top flight debut, has settled in well. Zouma, alongside his more experienced team-mate, read play superbly and helped Chelsea build from the back. He also netted the second goal with a formidable leap.

Edouard Mendy and Ben Chilwell, both summer signings from Rennes and Leicester respectively, were handed starts along the new-look backline too.

Kurt Zouma impressed at the heart of Chelsea’s defence in the win against Crystal Palace

Thiago Silva also delivered a commanding performance as part of the promising partnership

The shutout was Chelsea’s first in the league this season and will be more than welcome after the club shipped 54 goals last campaign. 

Antonio Rudiger found himself frozen out again with Lampard struggling to choose his preferred back five, but the manager’s decision appears to have paid off.  

Palace shocked Manchester United in their opening clash of the new term, and have become renowned for posing a danger on the counter attack. 

But Chelsea simply brushed them aside with a four-goal salvo in the second half, and both Silva and Zouma provided the team with the perfect foundation to spring forward from. 

Ross Barkley has settled straight in at Aston Villa 

Those faithful to the blue faction of Merseyside will have thoroughly enjoyed watching former player Ross Barkley helping Aston Villa put Liverpool to the sword.

The attacking midfielder made his debut for the Midlands outfit, having signed on loan from Chelsea and started from the off, and impressed in the rout.

Barkley netted in the 55th minute to add a further twist to an enthralling and bizarre game of football, with his effort from the edge of the box taking a devilish deflection and beating the under-siege Adrian. 

Ross Barkley scored against Liverpool on his Aston Villa debut in the 7-2 rout of Liverpool

The 26-year-old attempted six shots in total, with two on target. His pass accuracy of 83.9 per cent helped Villa breeze through Liverpool’s ill-fated high press time and time again. His defensive work was also admirable. 

Despite having played just 40 minutes in the top flight this season, and featuring once in the Carabao Cup, Barkley shook off any doubts over his fitness and linked up seamlessly with his new team-mates.

His maiden goal for Villa may have been born out of luck, but Barkley posed a constant threat and his memorable debut was fully deserving of the strike.

Allan Saint-Maximin provides the magic again for Newcastle

Steve Bruce has recently fired back spectacularly at criticism over Newcastle’s supposed cautious manner. He can now rest assured that his team will not need to rely on complex systems and tactics this season, however.

Simply pass the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and he will do the rest.

The winger joined from Nice for £16.5million last summer and has proved crucial to Newcastle’s hopes of winning games and avoiding an all-consuming relegation dogfight.

Newcastle have tasted victory in just one game from the 15 top flight fixtures in which Saint-Maximin has not started. But with him in the team, their record stands at 12 wins out of 26.

Allan Saint-Maximin inspired Newcastle to beat Burnley with a magnificent solo performance

The tricky winger netted the opener and also teed up Callum Wilson (right) for his first goal

He is making a notable difference in terms of cold-hard statistics and providing supporters with guile and flair on the field. Saint-Maximin obviously possesses fearsome pace, but countless other players have failed to fashion out an end product at the end of a lung-bursting sprint. 

Bruce’s key man is very different indeed. His final pass, or shot at goal, tends to be unerring. This was on display again against Burnley at the weekend. 

Saint-Maximin terrorised the visitors’ defence, forcing them back towards their own penalty area at every available opportunity. 

His opener came on 14 minutes, and his later dash down the flank and wonderful delivery allowed Callum Wilson to set Newcastle well on their way to the win.   

West Ham’s newfound steel sets them on course

With David Moyes absent for their last two league games, West Ham have secured two victories. Their latest came against Leicester.

Alan Irvine may have delivered his post-match press duties with a wry smile, but the truth is that the team have played very well and made their missing manager proud from his living room. 

What will have impressed him the most is West Ham’s defensive heroics. Angelo Ogbonna was a one-man clearance machine, single-handedly repelling wave after wave of attacks. 

Their shape for 90 minutes was compact and effective, and a classy Leicester team were often reduced to hopeful punts into the channels for Jamie Vardy. 

Angelo Ogbonna was superb for West Ham and helped them clinch a clean sheet at Leicester

BT Sport’s pundits rightly highlighted the dream debut from Vladimir Coufal. The full back settled into the backline immediately and, with a little marshalling from those around him, helped West Ham earn their clean sheet. 

Steve Sidwell insisted that had Coufal been signed last summer, he would have been horridly exposed by the club’s defensive woes. He is absolutely correct. The team were dogged by poor concentration and an inability to carry out the very basics then.

But it is a very different picture indeed in the early stages of this season. West Ham have tightened up at the back, particularly in the league, and it is this improvement that stands them in good stead for the rest of the campaign. 

Leaky defence at newcomers West Brom is worrying

Slaven Bilic believes his West Brom players ‘have to learn’ after their poor start to the season continued with the 2-0 defeat against Southampton.

The Premier League newcomers have picked up just one point from their first four games back in the big time – with that coming from their thrilling draw with Chelsea at the Hawthorns.

West Brom were leading by three goals but had been pegged back and settled for a share of the spoils. The attacking display will have pleased Bilic, but the Croatian certainly has cause for concern at the other end of the field. 

Slaven Bilic says West Brom ‘have to learn’ after suffering a poor start to their top flight return

The three goals were born from a grit and determination to upset all the odds, and the finishes were brilliant. It is a shame that quality was undone in such poor fashion.

With 11 goals shipped in their first three games, and with two more added to that ever-swelling tally on the south coast, West Brom are in real danger of losing their grip on the top flight already.    

Southampton, who have endured their own mixed showings this season, found they were able to carve through their opponents with consummate ease. West Brom were unable to gain a foothold in midfield, and this lack of control horribly exposed their defence. 

It is goalkeeper Sam Johnstone who has often come between them and sheer humiliation. Bilic will need to see change, and fast. 

Limp Fulham reinvigorated by Ademola Lookman

Scott Parker has not had much to take solace from this season at the helm of struggling Fulham – but the recent cameo from new signing Ademola Lookman will have brightened his mood slightly. 

The Cottagers fell to a 1-0 defeat against Wolves on Sunday but delivered an improved showing across every department. 

Lookman was again named on the bench after joining on loan for the season from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig, having made his debut for the club in the EFL loss at Brentford.

Fulham loanee Ademola Lookman impressed during his cameo against Wolves on Sunday

The 22-year-old posed a threat after replacing Ivan Cavaleiro and played a crucial role in Fulham’s efforts to gain their first point of the campaign. 

The team had offered very little in attack before Lookman’s second-half introduction, and the tricky substitute almost helped turn the tide of the clash. 

His intensity helped set the tone for Fulham’s best performance of the new term so far – and provided a glimmer of hope through the doom and gloom for Parker. 

Arsenal can play dirty in the most unpredictable of seasons 

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have made a name for themselves due to their eye-catching and fluid preferred way of playing. 

But they have also proved that, when the going gets tough, they can grind out results. In this season of shocks and unpredictability, it is this steadfast nature that will help them secure yet more silverware and push on for Europe.

Two wonderfully crafted goals against Sheffield United gave them a comfortable lead, but David McGoldrick halved the deficit late on. 

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have proven themselves capable of gaining results against the odds

Nicolas Pepe (right) and Bukayo Saka rounded off two superb moves against Sheffield United

The Arsenal of old may have struggled to cling on to all three points, but Arteta is aware of how important results against so-called ‘lesser’ sides are. 

Their game management was superb and the victory has extended their strong start to the new season.

It has not taken long for Arteta to impose his exciting blueprint on his squad, and the two trophies clinched last season are redemption for the club’s decision to hire and then back him.

Should Arsenal be able to continue grinding out results, regardless of their performances, they will truly be a force to be reckoned with.  




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