Premier League: 10 Talking Points From The Weekend’s Action

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1) Rice’s international future coming to boil
Declan Rice faces a big decision over his international future after once again being left out of the Republic of Ireland squad for the Nations League matches against Denmark and Wales as he ponders switching allegiances to England. The versatile 19-year-old – who qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents – already has three senior caps and represented them at several youth levels but remains eligible for the country of his birth under current Fifa regulations. He performed well in a defensive midfield role despite West Ham’s improved run of results coming to an end against Brighton on Friday and looks like the kind of player who could excel in Gareth Southgate’s young England side if given an opportunity. Manuel Pellegrini said Rice must take his time to decide but the best advice for him is to follow his heart. Ed Aarons

2) Dyche calls for stiffer sanctions for diving
Those who play the game will tell you that diving cases are not always open and shut. But sometimes footballers just cheat. That is what Laurent Depoitre did at Turf Moor, throwing himself to the ground in the box amid no hint of contact with his side a goal down, and Sean Dyche could not hide his disgust afterwards. It was “embarrassing”, the Burnley manager said, before suggesting the only way to stop such offences is to impose far stiffer sanctions than the yellow card Depoitre received. A sending off would certainly have made it harder for Huddersfield to equalise, as they did a few minutes later through Christopher Schindler, and they did not deserve to lose. But they are still yet to win and Depoitre will need to apply himself properly, rather than attempting to con the officials, if he is to have any hope of helping them stay up. Nick Ames

3) Same again suits Wolves and Doherty
Wolves are purring in the league and continuity is a part of that. The same XI has started all eight matches since their return to the Premier League. There is continuity with last season, too. Despite the £60m spent this summer by the owners, Fosun International, seven of the starters were part of Wolves’ Championship‑winning team. Beyond that, there is Matt Doherty. Scorer of a deserved winner at Crystal Palace, he played for Wolves the last time they were in the top flight. The former trainee has also been in the team throughout Nuno Espírito Santo’s year in charge and spoke of his “massive pride” at remaining part of the Molineux revolution. “A lot of managers, new owners, they could have just wiped me out and said we are going with someone new but I have got my head down,” he said. “I’ve played well when I have needed to and I am still here, so long may it continue.” Paul MacInnes

4) Emery’s quiet revolution getting louder
Unai Emery was having none of the post-match “Can Arsenal win the title?” questions, preferring to filibuster his way through a rambling response with mentions of “work”, “calm”, “mentality” and “enjoy”. But a nine-match winning run in all competitions – the kind of sequence only Herbert Chapman, George Graham and Arsène Wenger have previously overseen at the club – might just have some of their more optimistic supporters dreaming. That sequence may well be extended. The most daunting of their next four fixtures is at Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League and, by the time Liverpool arrive at the Emirates Stadium next month, they might have won 13 in a row. They will need to muster a dominant display against Jürgen Klopp’s side if they are truly to banish the memories of those defeats by Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of Emery’s tenure but, for the first time in a while, Arsenal have genuine cause for optimism. Dominic Fifield

5) Everton get what they paid for
Everton’s two most expensive signings, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison, have thrived so far this season and scored the goals that brought victory at Leicester. But Bernard, hired for no transfer fee, was the most exciting performer on his first league start of the season. With that trio, each deployed in the positions where they can do most damage, Everton have an attack that should trouble any team. While showing how promisingly they are developing, Marco Silva’s side also exposed the persistent vulnerabilities in an otherwise fine Leicester team: neither Daniel Amartey nor Ricardo Pereira look secure on the right, and Wes Morgan’s best days at centre‑back are behind him. The captain’s second ban of the season will give Jonny Evans a route back into the starting lineup and it will be surprising if the Northern Irishman does not stay there. Paul Doyle

6) City’s spot of bother
It is astonishing that Manchester City don’t have anyone but Sergio Agüero who is capable of taking a penalty. In the end, with the Argentinian on the bench, the decision appeared to come down to Gabriel Jesús – who has scored one of three in this country – and Riyad Mahrez – who had missed four of his last seven, now five of his last eight. When Manchester United recently lost to Derby on penaltiesJosé Mourinho infamously said that “after the sixth, the seventh I knew we’d be in trouble with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly”. With City it seems the wobbles come after penalty No 1 (and even Agüero has missed four of the 15 he has taken in the last two seasons). Their next most experienced penalty taker was David Silva, who last took a penalty for City more than six years ago and missed. Of those players who were not present Kevin de Bruyne missed the only penalty he has taken for the club and Ilkay Gündogan has also taken only one penalty for City, scoring at Tottenham in April. But perhaps there is one other decent candidate. “I would have definitely scored,” said goalkeeper Ederson after Jesús missed from the spot in a 5-0 win over Swansea in April. Simon Burnton

7) Benítez left frustrated
If Newcastle’s defeat was a seismic result for Manchester United, it leaves Rafael Benítez’s side second‑bottom with two points after eight games. The visitors were 2-0 up after 10 minutes in a 3-2 reverse. Their manager, naturally, was left frustrated. “I said if we score the third goal then fine, good, but if they score I don’t want anyone giving up. The timing of the goal [Juan Mata on 70 minutes] and the way they were pushing was difficult for us. Still we had two or three counterattacks which we could have scored from. And then we gave them too much time to attack.” The crumb of comfort was the performance before the break. “We have to keep playing like in the first half,” said Benítez, who believes by January the team’s fate will be clearer. “We will have a better idea [then]. In December last year we were in the bottom five and and we finished 10th.” Jamie Jackson

8) Loftus-Cheek can take heart from Barkley
It was disappointing to see that there was no room on Chelsea’s bench for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The England midfielder started in the Europa League victory over Vidi last Thursday and he could have been forgiven for thinking that he would get another chance to impress in the 3-0 win over Southampton. However Maurizio Sarri had other ideas. Loftus-Cheek has just returned from injury and Sarri wants to see tactical and physical improvement in training before looking at him in the Premier League. Yet the 22-year-old should not be too downhearted. Perhaps he can take encouragement from the way that Ross Barkley is developing under Sarri. Barkley was in danger of becoming the forgotten man at Stamford Bridge last season but he registered a goal and assist against Southampton. While Chelsea are often criticised for not giving enough minutes to young English players, Barkley’s resurgence is an encouraging sign for Loftus-Cheek. Jacob Steinberg

9) Encouraging signs for Cardiff
The weather was miserable on Saturday and for Cardiff City it was another bleak afternoon following an eighth game without a win and a subsequent slide to last place. Yet afterwards Neil Warnock described himself as proud of his side’s display and was right to do so. The visitors showed resilience against Tottenham Hotspur, particularly after being reduced to 10 men, and produced six shots on target, the most Cardiff have managed in a league fixture this season. That came on the back of the five they had in the previous week’s defeat to Burnley, suggesting the Welsh team are finding their feet from an attacking point of view. This still feels like it is going to be a trying campaign for Cardiff but relegation may not necessarily be a formality, especially given they are not cut adrift from those above them. Sachin Nakrani

10) No defending Watford
Having been, at the very worst, competitive in each of their first seven fixtures this was a bizarre and frequently inept display from Watford against opponents who defended ably in the brief period they were required to and counterattacked ruthlessly. In particular, the Hornets’ reaction to having a centre-back sent off after half an hour was puzzling: there was a direct replacement on the bench, but instead they chose to crowbar Étienne Capoue into their back four, with calamitous results. Adrian Mariappa finally came on after 55 minutes and Watford’s defending instantly improved, though by then Bournemouth were four up. “It has been the first game where we hadn’t competed at the same level as other games,” said Javi Gracia, but it wasn’t just on the pitch that Watford’s decision-making appeared faulty. SB

[Guardian UK]

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