Same formula, different results
There was not a lot of difference between the way Arsenal lined up against Liverpool and the starting XI that won the FA Cup at the end of last season. Some of this can be attributed to the players agitating for a move – Alexis Sanchez looked out of the game, with Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlin also failing to impress. Yet Granit Xhaka was possibly the worst man on the pitch, and questions must also be asked of the entire defence, who still do not look accustomed to this back three. One player who usually does give 100% is Danny Welbeck, yet – with Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud on the bench – one wonders why he started at all. It is very early in the season, but already Arsene Wenger is feeling the pressure – in terms of his team selection, Arsenal’s new formation, and his ability to motivate his players.
Another short stay for Frank de Boer?
Frank de Boer lasted 85 days in the Inter Milan job, a record which he looks set to at least come close to if things do not rapidly improve at Crystal Palace. Sitting in 19th, they are ahead of West Ham only on goal difference, which still is scant consolation when Palace are yet to score a goal. The club want to instill attacking football – an “Ajax” approach – at Selhurst Park, but for the past few years they’ve struggled to make things click. After calling on Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce the last two times things went south, who is left to save them this time? Both the club and De Boer will both hope it won’t come to that, and that things will start improving sooner rather than later.
United show more patience, but also offer greater attacking edge
After Romelu Lukaku’s spotkick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, you could forgive Manchester United fans for thinking that this would be yet another home game destined for a draw. However, United have changed this season. You genuinely got the sense that the goal was coming, even after the penalty miss. The Red Devils have scored most of their goals in the latter stages of games this season, evoking scenes from Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Yet it is not just the timing of the goals. For the first time since the Ferguson era, United are playing with a genuine attacking edge – it seems the most successful club of the Premier League era have finally got their swagger back.
Routine win for Chelsea poses Everton questions
No-one would have batted an eyelid at a 2-0 result last season – champions elect vs a side who were good, not great. But this season, Chelsea had apparently been in turmoil before even a ball had been kicked, and certainly by the time their first game was over. But here it seemed to be back to business as usual for Chelsea, with more questions being asked about the opposition. It is no tragedy to lose to the champions, but Everton will have been expected to offer a little more given the huge amount of investment this summer.
Liverpool should hold onto midfielder coveted by bigger club
Emre Can has had an excellent start to the season, following up his brace against Hoffenheim with a series of wonderful surging runs and key passes in Liverpool’s demolition of Arsenal. The German has added more to his game going forward and is starting to show the potential that was promised when he arrived from Bayer Leverkusen. Juventus are rumoured to be interested, and Liverpool could do well to hold them off – and surely Can is the more logical player to keep than Coutinho. Liverpool want to prove that they are not a selling club, but with Can adding goals to his game and Naby Keita set to join next summer, £120 million for a player of Coutinho’s ability is surely too good to turn down.
Brighton running out of time
On the face of it, Brighton haven’t had the worst of starts in their first Premier League season – certainly not compared to West Ham and Crystal Palace. The 2-0 scoreline against the might of Manchester City’s forward line was fairly respectable, and they managed to get their first Premier League point when Southampton came to visit this weekend, meaning they aren’t quite in the bottom three. Yet they still haven’t scored, and their failure to provide adequate offensive reinforcements could prove costly. They have a few more days to make moves in the transfer market, but should no standout acquisitions arrive before midnight Friday morning, then it looks like their stay in the Premier League will be a short one.