10 talking points from the weekend’s action

1) Frozen Kane is up there with the best

By scoring his 200th and 201st league goals of his career, Harry Kane reminded us that he is not just one of the best centre-forwards of his era, but one of the best ever to play in England – and he’s still getting better. While he is a formidable poacher, what makes Kane special is the touch, intelligence and composure that mean he is one of the most lethal players of all time from 15-22 yards – an ability perfectly illustrated in his first goal in City Ground. . His first touch opened up the picture and his confidence in taking the shot early, using the defender as a screen, meant the keeper would be flat-footed. It wasn’t the most emphatic hit – Kane called it a “bad finish” – but his swing was so smooth and true, it followed the line he’d planned for it anyway. Daniel Harris

2) That sounds like management talking, Stevie

A fixture list that will then feature league leaders Arsenal and defending champions Manchester City is a serious test of Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa regime. Judging by the groans from the Holte End and the volume of boos as the manager walked down the tunnel at full-time, a significant proportion of Villa fans have already made up their minds. Gerrard issued a mea culpa, although he veered dangerously into corporate speak. “As far as moving forward, we have a choice. Either we feel sorry for ourselves and it goes on, or we roll up our sleeves.” Gerrard is a regular supporter of such pseudo-kinetic ferocity. His team, lacking creativity and relying too much on the magic in the boots of Philippe Coutinho, too often reflect such bland platitudes. The notion, prevalent at Gerrard’s appointment last winter, that Villa are a grand old club making a comeback is in danger of being sidelined for a surprise relegation battle. John Bruin

3) Firmino’s masterclass gives Klopp a selection headache

“Today he showed again why he is a world-class player,” said Roberto Firmino’s Virgil van Dijk after the Brazilian’s display against Bournemouth. Firmino reached a century of goals for Liverpool with two in their record Premier League win, adding three assists for good measure. The Brazilian closed the division gap between Jurgen Klopp’s rejuvenated side and Scott Parker’s shell-shocked players. Regardless of the opposition, such performances should be honoured. The 30-year-old is in the final year of his Liverpool contract and is no longer assured of a regular starting role with the injured Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez vying for his place. But its importance, its quality and its entertainment value endure. With Núñez available again for Saturday’s Merseyside derby at Everton, Klopp will have a welcome selection dilemma after the restrictions of recent weeks. Andy Hunter

4) Are the Emirates becoming a fortress?

“I just saw a man I love,” began Mikel Arteta after Arsenal came late to reclaim their place as the league leaders, coming back from a goal down to beat Fulham. “It’s the first time he’s been on the field for two years. he said it was the best he had ever seen.’ There is an unrelenting positivity around Arsenal this season and players who once dreaded playing in front of their fans are now finding comfort at home. Even when Gabriel Magalhães’ mistake allowed Aleksandar Mitrovic to put Fulham in front, there was only encouragement from the stands. When the defender hit the winner, the noise from the Emirates must have carried some distance into the still air of north London. Sam Dalling

5) Tuchel urges Sterling to start

Thomas Tuchel admitted Raheem Sterling is taking time to find his feet at Chelsea after the England striker’s winner against Leicester. Sterling made the most of his limited opportunities at Stamford Bridge and was only denied a hat-trick by Danny Ward’s superb save between his two fine goals. But Tuchel expects more to come from the player who now has 111 goals in 324 Premier League appearances. “At the moment he’s struggling a bit with his confidence and his dribbling, as you can see,” the Chelsea manager said. “And we were a player down, so it wasn’t obvious that he was going to have many chances to score. But he took three of them and scored twice. That was extremely important, not only to us but also to him as a person.” Ed Aarons

6) Wolves left VAR inconsistency

Should there be more consistency when it comes to referees using screens for big decisions? Peter Bankes showed Newcastle’s Fabian Schär a yellow card for a foul on Pedro Neto and was not asked to review the replays as Lee Mason, the VAR, checked for possible foul play. But the referee, who took a clear view of Neto’s challenge on Ryan Fraser during the build-up to Raul Jimenez’s disallowed goal that would have made it 2-0, was then asked to watch the replays and ruled it out. Wolves goalscorer Ruben Neves said of Sarr’s tackle: “Like I said to the referee, there’s no way he’s not going to go on the screen and see the pictures because he almost broke his leg.” Peter Lansley

7) Estupiñán offers proof of Potter’s quiet brilliance

Admiring the work of Graham Potter has become a cliché, but that shouldn’t mean we should stop. Yes, Brighton are well supported financially, but that guarantees little without the man at the top to tie it all together. Potter’s principles are the reason his side are now fourth in the table, with 10 points from four games. There is never any sense of panic about the way his team is playing, nor does it seem to matter when big players leave. This shows a manager who is clear in communicating their needs and a system that is extremely well defined. On Saturday, Pervis Estupiñán’s superb home debut made the home fans forget all about his predecessor, Marc Cucurella, who saw Brighton turn over £40m in just under a year. Those who watched Estupinan at Villarreal know him as a left-back with strength, intelligence and enterprise. It’s exciting to think how much better he could become under the tutelage of the Potter expert. DH

8) Guardiola was driven mad by the set-up mistakes

Manchester City score a lot of goals, but they also concede a lot – nine in their last six Premier League games, dating back to the end of last season. Two set-pieces conceded by Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze worried Pep Guardiola despite his side’s stunning comeback. “Set plays: just focus and they’re not going to score,” he said. “If you don’t want to concede a goal, you will block it. You will attack the ball properly. In this way they scored two goals. I’m not saying that Eze is not a good player, but you can imagine that [pre-game] meeting we had, the focus was [Joachim] Andersen. And he was alone, because we weren’t there. We were lucky today, but tomorrow we may not be lucky and we will lose points.” Jamie Jackson

9) Bazunu shines alongside other young Saints

It was a typically bold call by Ralph Hasenhüttl this summer to not only sign Gavin Bazunu from Manchester City but install the 20-year-old, who starred on loan in League One with Portsmouth last season, as his first-choice goalkeeper of Southampton. Bazunu impressed against Manchester United, but the Republic of Ireland international’s best moment to date is surely the penalty he took to deny Cristiano Ronaldo last November. Laser-focused Bazunu is the Premier League’s youngest No.1 and the last line of a young Saints defence. Armel Bella-Kotchap, also 20, shone at centre-back in the defeat to United and Hasenhüttl’s faith in youth is showing well. “The average [age of the team] it’s not that high, but you can’t see it,” Hasenhuttl said. “I have no fear with this team when I see how quickly they learn and adapt to this quality.” Ben Fisher

10) Gordon cleans up his classroom

Chelsea’s pursuit of Anthony Gordon has raised eyebrows and rightly so: £60million for someone who before Saturday had scored just four times in 38 games makes no apparent sense. But when judging a young player, it makes sense not to look at what he has done, but what he is capable of doing, and if Thomas Tuchel thinks Gordon is worth the money, then we should at least ask why. It’s clear that Gordon has pace and skill, but so do many others – what elevates him is his mentality. His willingness to take risks and commit to defenders quickly made him the best thing to watch at Everton and now, having confirmed his desire to leave, he is embracing the pressure that comes with such boldness. When he scored against Brentford, he had plenty of time to second-guess himself, but he kept his cool to earn a fine home win, his finishing and celebration making sure of it. DH









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West Ham


AFC Bournemouth







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