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Premier League: 10 Talking Points from the Weekend’s Action | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Joe Hart has conceded seven goals in two matches for West Ham United. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

London- 1) Chalobah’s weird weekend

Nathaniel Chalobah had an eventful match for Watford on Saturday. By dummying the ball at the suggestion of Bournemouth’s Harry Arter he inadvertently reminded the world of the subclause to Law 12 which states a player should be cautioned if he “verbally distracts an opponent during play”. The England Under-21s midfielder missed two good chances to score; a header and a one-on-one. He gave the ball away several times. But in only his second Premier League start Chalobah also led the match in both tackles and dribbles. It was his breakaway sprint that proved to be the catalyst for the opening goal. Rumours suggest the former Chelsea youth player might get a call-up for the upcoming England squad. Chalobah is still raw but the potential is apparent. And the next time someone shouts “leave” at him, he will surely think twice. Paul MacInnes

2) West Brom survive without Evans

Jonny Evans was missing with an injury – and not, Tony Pulis insisted, because the centre-back is agitating for a move to Manchester City – but the absence of the Northern Ireland defender did not prevent West Bromwich Albion from producing another masterclass at the back. While bad defending has been a theme in the first two weeks of the Premier League season, West Brom remain reliably stingy. Their new Egyptian defender, Ahmed Hegazy, impressed again and they have opened their campaign with consecutive 1-0 victories, beating Burnley despite being restricted to 32% of the possession at Turf Moor. Just like Bournemouth the previous weekend, Burnley struggled to create openings. West Brom may not always be exciting to watch but plenty oftheir rivals could learn from their organisation. The difficulties their opponents encounter while trying to break them down explains why Pulis’s men are likely to be free from relegation fears again. Jacob Steinberg

3) Benítez needs to improve forward line

Alan Shearer thinks it is going to be another long season for Newcastle, and it is not necessary to be a goalscorer of his pedigree to see why. For a club with a proud tradition of imposing centre-forwards, Rafa Benítez’s side look alarmingly lightweight up front and early indications are that the strikers who got them out of the Championship are going to struggle for goals in the Premier League. Newcastle have not managed to score in two matches, Dwight Gayle was brought off against Huddersfield, Joselu did little at Stoke to suggest he might be the answer to the Toon Army’s prayers, and even when Newcastle went behind Aleksandar Mitrovic did not make it off the bench. Benítez knows how to set up a team but he must realise – and his weary expression indicates he might – that Newcastle need more aggression and a greater goal threat to stand a chance. “We do some things well but we must improve,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how well organised you are, you have to score goals.” Paul Wilson

4) Maguire slots straight in at Leicester

Wise old heads in the Leicester City media suite – and contrary to popular belief, it is quite hard to watch thousands of football matches without learning at least something about the sport, even if only by osmosis – were being shaken after watching the Foxes toying with the Seagulls. On the evidence so far, it is going to be a cruelly long season. Not so for Leicester, of course, though retaining the services of Riyad Mahrez, likely to be the subject of renewed attention from Roma and others after another impishly creative performance, may be beyond them. Harry Maguire looks an excellent signing, though, at least the equal of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan in central defence, while his distribution gives City another dimension going forward. It will be interesting to see how Craig Shakespeare plans to use Kelechi Iheanacho once the former Manchester City forward recovers from a toe injury; get that dynamic right and qualifying for another European campaign is not out of the question. Richard Rae

5) Sadio Mané more important than ever

In the continued absence of Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané gave a timely reminder of Liverpool’s threat in attack. The Senegal international’s second‑half winner was gifted by the Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic but Jürgen Klopp, understandably, was keen to draw attention to the pressing and sharpness that also shaped his team’s victory. “I’m not too happy about singing the big song about a player this early in the season,” the Liverpool manager said. “But Sadio is important, everybody can see now he can change a game and that’s cool. He can learn so much still, that’s really good. Sadio made a decision at the end which is very important. He’s there in those situations. It’s not the same goal but it was a little bit like the Everton goal when he was quickest in mind [in the late win at Goodison Park last season]. Everyone thinks about how quick he is with his legs, and that’s true, but he’s quick in mind. That’s maybe the more impressive skill.” Andy Hunter

6) Allen praises Mark Hughes’s clever signings

Before Saturday Mark Hughes was many bookmakers’ favourite to be the first manager sacked this season but his Stoke City team ridiculed those odds and diverted pressure on to Arsène Wenger. Jesé Rodríguez looks ready to prove a delightful addition to the Premier League and Hughes’s other recruits, Kurt Zouma and Darren Fletcher, backed up his declaration that Stoke are stronger this season. “This result says everything about Mark Hughes,” said Joe Allen. “He has been able to draw in players that maybe in the past Stoke City would not have been able to sign. He has that aura. This summer people have been voicing a lot of frustration about this, that and the other. But this result might have changed a few people’s views on him. Just spending money to get success – it’s not as simple as that. The lads we have brought in have all made an impact.” Paul Doyle

7) Forster and Hart do themselves few favours

Fraser Forster and Joe Hart could end up doing Jack Butland’s work for him at this rate, ahead of the World Cup in Russia next year, with neither goalkeeper covering themselves in glory at St Mary’s. West Ham’s porous defence hardly helped Hart, now beaten seven times in just two matches, but he again looked a shadow of his former dominating self. Forster was oddly rewarded with a shiny new five-year deal in July despite a shaky time last term. In fairness to Forster, he made a superb save to deny Diafra Sakho before Javier Hernández swept home his second goal and credit must go to the West Ham striker for reacting quickest inside the box. But there is no doubt that the giant 6ft 7in goalkeeper is not quite at his formidable best. The Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, another option for England, could also jump in front of the pair in the pecking order. Ben Fisher

8) Clement needs more staying power from strikers

You cannot blame Paul Clement for choosing damage limitation against Manchester United. With Gylfi Sigurdsson out and not much in, packing the defence was a sensible option, but that did mean that what attacking players Swansea had were in for a tricky afternoon. Tammy Abraham was the man asked to hold their forward line together and, while he was given only occasional support from Jordan Ayew, Clement wanted more from the Chelsea loanee. “They have to find ways at keeping the ball and enabling the team to get forward,” Clement said. “Their industry was good but I think it could have stuck up front with them a bit better.” Still, this was only Abraham’s second Premier League start. “It’s going to be a brilliant learning experience but he’s not here on work experience,” Clement said. “He’s here to deliver and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he starts scoring goals.” Nick Miller

9) Conte wants recruits to back up Wembley win

Events at Wembley reminded the world of Chelsea’s qualities. Antonio Conte’s team were rugged and effective, combative and victorious, with the manager’s tactical game-plan helping to squeeze out what had felt an improbable result. Yet, as if emboldened by a win, Conte was quick to remind the hierarchy in the aftermath that time is ticking in terms of making additions to his options. It was as if he was suggesting spirit and heart will take you only so far. “We know the club is trying to do its best in the transfer market to try and improve the team and the squad,” he said. That was another nudge in the ribs of Marina Granovskaia, Michael Emenalo and the recruitment department to ensure Chelsea’s pursuit of Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Antonio Candreva, or even Virgil van Dijk, does not meander in the 11 days ahead. The tension has been eased, not eradicated. Dominic Fifield

10) Pochettino need not lose much sleep over defeat

The narrative of Tottenham’s Wembley hoodoo is likely to be fuelled by the defeat to Chelsea but Spurs played well for huge portions of the game and if anything their performance – in which they held two-thirds of possession and created double the number of chances that the champions did – suggested it will not be a case of having to battle through 38 away games this season. Christian Eriksen looked particularly sharp and one of his precise first-half deliveries deserved a goal. Mauricio Pochettino will not take much solace from the performance when points are currency in the Premier League, but Spurs could have earned something and Chelsea are due credit for repelling them. The fact remains, of course, that there is still a slight psychological hurdle that needs clearing, so beating Burnley at Wembley on Sunday seems essential before the international break. Lawrence Ostlere

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