Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Guardian sport

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

David Moyes, Jérémy Doku and James Milner
David Moyes’s side are starting second halves poorly, Jérémy Doku was blistering against Bournemouth and James Milner keeps on running. Composite: Guardian Picture Desk

Tragedy chanting mars Luton’s near-miss

Luton are a credit to the Premier League. It has been delightful to see the elite struggle at Kenilworth Road and, in Liverpool’s case, almost coming a cropper. Rob Edwards’ team makes up for a deficit in quality with sheer effort and collective spirit though Tahith Chong’s goal was a beauty. The atmosphere was electric, too, with 10,000 Bedfordshire voices urging on their team. Unfortunately, the ground’s tight confines betrayed the subject matter of some unseemly songs from certain Luton fans. Tragedy chanting is a relic that belongs in the era when Luton were last in the top division. Songs mocking poverty on Merseyside are especially ridiculous when Luton’s unemployment rate is above the national average and that in Liverpool. Meanwhile, the residential area surrounding the stadium betrays visible deprivation in a town where life is often hard. The loudmouths were a minority but they severely let their club and community down. John Brewin

Fulham paying price for lack of firepower

Replacing Aleksandar Mitrovic was always going to be easier said than done. None of Fulham’s current strikers – Raúl Jiménez, Rodrigo Muniz and Carlos Vinícius – are in his class as a goalscorer, and rarely was his absence felt more keenly than during Fulham’s defeatby Manchester United. Muniz started but limped off in tears, while Jiménez and Vinícius have been underwhelming this season. Fulham fans may be left wondering what, exactly, the most expensive season tickets in the Premier League buy you. Marco Silva has been clear about the need for the club’s owners to spend in January. In the meantime, do his team have enough firepower to avoid being sucked into a relegation scrap? Jonathan Liew

Rodrigo Muniz tries to hold off Christian Eriksen
Rodrigo Muniz (centre) was unable to make his presence felt against Manchester United and limped off in tears in the 76th minute at Craven Cottage. Photograph: Daniel Hambury/EPA

Arteta’s rant blows issue out of proportion

Mikel Arteta appeared close to spontaneous combustion as he launched into a rather undignified rant about the perceived injustice of Newcastle’s winner. Anthony Gordon’s second-half goal was given following a triple-VAR-check for three potential offences, but it was not the only controversy in an intense, evenly-matched contest. The thought occurred that had a female coach reacted like Arteta did, they might expect to be labelled as hysterical, unbalanced or overly emotional. Amid the headline quotes, Arteta also had to admit Eddie Howe’s Newcastle have morphed into “big contenders”. Fabian Schär, a £3m central defensive signing by Rafael Benítez, was an example of the hosts’ superb defensive work and sublime distribution. On the balance of play, Arsenal should not feel they were entitled to a point at St James’ Park. Louise Taylor

… while VAR furore takes heat off Raya

Picking through the wreckage of Arteta’s attack on VAR, it is worth remembering none of his anger would have been required had David Raya simply claimed Joe Willock’s cross. Arteta’s call to drop Aaron Ramsdale in favour of Raya was invariably going to invite pressure, and with every game it is hard to shake the notion that he has manifested a problem that did not need solving. Newcastle made life difficult for Raya from the off, Callum Wilson hounding the goalkeeper inside the first minute. Of the three VAR checks that followed Gordon’s contentious winner, perhaps the most surprising verdict was Joelinton being cleared for his push on Gabriel Magalhães. Regardless, while Arteta rails at Premier League officials, his own decision-making should also face scrutiny. Ben Fisher

David Raya fails to take the ball from the cross that led to Newcastle’s disputed winner against Arsenal
David Raya fails to take the ball from the cross that led to Newcastle’s disputed winner against Arsenal. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images/Reuters

Cooper leads Forest praise for brave bugler

Steve Cooper told Nottingham Forest season-ticket holder Caiden Storry “everyone was really proud of him” after the young bugler struggled to finish his rendition of the Last Post before the victory over Aston Villa. The 16-year-old fan was comforted by both sets of players after appearing distraught after his performance on the Sunday before Remembrance Day. Cooper, the Forest manager, said: “For a 16-year-old boy in a Forest shirt to stand in the middle and do that is brilliant. And both sets of players responded. They have to go and perform, the players, so they know what it’s like. [The Last Post] is always a poignant moment anyway. I managed to get a quick word with him and we’re going to get him down to the training ground. I want him to meet the players so they can tell him how good he was. Caiden did a brilliant job today.” Peter Lansley

Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa players rally round Caiden Storry at the City Ground
Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa players rally round Caiden Storry at the City Ground. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Doku hits back in selection battle with Grealish

After a blistering display that featured a goal and four assists, Pep Guardiola discussed why Jérémy Doku is the ideal competition for Jack Grealish. “I want Jack angry [to be left out] and I want him to play good, and then Doku [to] be angry that he hasn’t played the last two games,” the Manchester City manager said. “Jack is back. The way he played at Old Trafford [in City’s 3-0 derby win], to give us more composure, was decisive for us.” Is there room for both in-form wingers in his side? “I can play both at the same time but when they don’t play, train better the next day because the moment is coming. When you are mentally there you will perform well and we will win games. This is what we have to do.” Jamie Jackson

Blades need players back to build on first win

Whether Sheffield United can use their first Premier League victory of the season as the springboard for a genuine survival bid is in doubt, given the current state of their squad. Cameron Archer was the club’s only fit senior striker at the time of scoring against Wolves, with Oli McBurnie ruled out with a groin problem and Rhian Brewster hobbling off before time – making it 10 players on the treatment table for Paul Heckingbottom’s side. William Osula, the other striking option, is an untested 20-year-old from the academy. That Heckingbottom chose to make only two substitutions, one enforced through Brewster’s injury and the other in added time, spoke volumes. The Blades cannot realistically hope to stay up while so many remain sidelined. McBurnie, Max Lowe and Anel Ahmedhodzic may at least return soon, but January investment may well be required to give United a puncher’s chance. With Prince Abdullah looking to sell the club, that might be a tall order, too. Dominic Booth

Rhian Brewster goes down injured against Wolves
Rhian Brewster adds to Sheffield United’s front-line injury woes, before going off early against Wolves. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Moyes’ half-time team talks aren’t working

What exactly does David Moyes say to his players at half-time? West Ham have conceded seven goals during the first 20 minutes of the second half this season. Moyes put it down to a lack of concentration and focus after his side’s 3-2 defeat by Brentford, but there is more to it than that. It feels structural. It is a mindset. West Ham have talented attackers but it was as if they forgot how to play during the second half. They dropped back, offered nothing as an attacking force and duly conceded a messy equaliser. Brentford were rewarded for being more assertive. West Ham, though, are in a bind. The caution is holding them back. Moyes, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has to address the issue as they have now lost three on the bounce and are in the bottom half of the table. Jacob Steinberg

Milner and Young at heart of the action

There was an intriguing battle down Everton’s right flank at Goodison Park on Saturday, where 38-year-old full-back Ashley Young took on 37-year-old James Milner. The two played together for England Under-21s over 17 years ago – before Evan Ferguson had celebrated his second birthday – when both were sprightly attacking midfielders. They have adapted over time to still be integral parts of their respective teams almost two decades later. Their longevity is testament to their flexibility; both have played in various positions forseveral clubs while maintaining their high standards. Recently, Milner suffered 45 minutes of being turned inside out by Jérémy Doku at Manchester City, while Ashley Young was sent off in the Merseyside derby. Both men put in fine performances in the weekend’s 1-1 draw, though, even if Young was credited with Brighton’s deflected equaliser. Both veterans are thriving and will be eager to reacquaint themselves next season … and maybe even the one after that. Will Unwin

James Milner and Ashley Young vie for the ball
James Milner and Ashley Young may be carrying 75 years between them but they are still performing for their clubs. Photograph: Chris Radburn/Reuters

Kompany could be running out of time

A record six home defeats from the start of the season is less than desirable for Burnley and excuses are running thin for Vincent Kompany. A run of “winnable” fixtures against Brentford, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace was supposed to be when a corner was turned but a return of precisely zero points threatens to add Kompany to the list of great players and on-pitch leaders of men who can’t cut it as Premier League managers. That Burnley have got Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea out of the way at Turf Moor may soon be to another manager’s benefit. “You put your hand on the fire, you burn yourself and from then you know you can’t put your hand on the fire any more,” said Kompany, such high-performance spiel echoing the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Arsenal next week and a visit from West Ham could well be fateful. John Brewin

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 11 20 27
2 Tottenham Hotspur 10 13 26
3 Liverpool 11 14 24
4 Arsenal 11 14 24
5 Aston Villa 11 10 22
6 Newcastle 11 16 20
7 Brighton 11 4 18
8 Man Utd 11 -4 18
9 Brentford 11 5 16
10 Crystal Palace 11 -3 15
11 West Ham 11 -2 14
12 Nottm Forest 11 -3 13
13 Chelsea 10 2 12
14 Wolverhampton 11 -5 12
15 Fulham 11 -8 12
16 Everton 11 -4 11
17 Luton 11 -11 6
18 AFC Bournemouth 11 -18 6
19 Burnley 11 -19 4
20 Sheff Utd 11 -21 4
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.