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


Martinez fails to convince

It is unfair to pick out one player from Manchester United’s dire opening display under Erik ten Hag but Lisandro Martínez seriously struggled against Brighton. These are, of course, the earliest of days for the new centre-back but he will have to learn fast. The diminutive Argentinian is a footballer the manager knows well but there are question marks over his stature. There will be serial aerial bombardment this season of the type he failed to deal with against Brighton, with Danny Welbeck rising highest above him when missing a close-range header in the second half. Martínez might also have conceded a penalty when bundling over the same player in a performance that did nothing to suggest the 24-year-old can help plug United’s leaky rearguard. Jamie Jackson


Klopp let down by senior players

Jürgen Klopp threw the question of whether Virgil van Dijk had actually committed a penalty-conceding foul on Aleksandar Mitrovic to the press corps. He also wondered aloud whether Jordan Henderson had been fouled in the buildup to Mitrovic’s first goal. He still had few quibbles about escaping Craven Cottage with a point. “It’s my responsibility to find out why,” he said. His experienced players of him had been most guilty. Mitrovic terrorized Van Dijk, Fulham’s striker also reintroducing those questions about Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defending. The full-back flinched as Mitrovic crashed in on the back post. Henderson struggled with Andreas Pereira and João Palhinha in midfield, Roberto Firmino flopped in attack. The positive was Darwin Núñez’s energy reviving Liverpool after replacing Firmino, aided by two former Fulham players in Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho. Might Liverpool’s old guard be suffering a hangover from last season’s disappointments? A tight, World Cup-truncated schedule will soon reveal all. John Brewin


City keep opposition on toes

Erling Haland of Manchester City.
Erling Haland of Manchester City. Photograph: Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Kalvin Phillips has been shown how to play in Manchester City’s midfield but not by Rodri, the man in theory ahead of him in the pecking order, but by Kyle Walker. The right-back repeatedly wandered off the flank into space in the middle of the park. He would get the ball and play short passes to keep City’s attacks going. The Premier League champions enjoyed 77 per cent of possession as they eased into the new campaign. It was another reminder of the surprises Pep Guardiola can implement within his tactics. It is a regular sight to see full-backs crop up in irregular places. While showing the team can adapt to the arrival of Erling Haaland, knowing that he will make his clever runs, City are constantly evolving on a game-by-game basis. They have adjusted in the final third and will keep teams on their toes with innovations across the pitch. A marker has been laid down. Will Unwin


Martinelli could be back-up for Jesus

It took three months for Gabriel Martinelli to get off the mark last season but only 20 minutes to open his account this time around. His header from him at Selhurst Park was well taken and it was a reminder that, for all the excitement around Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal have another potentially explosive Brazilian forward in their ranks. It is easy to forget Martinelli has only just turned 21; he tends to be deployed on the left but rotated positions with Jesus to good effect during the first half and there is a strong sense his long-term future from him lies down the middle. While many Arsenal fans crave a backup centre-forward to take the load off Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, Martinelli would surely be able to fill that position adeptly if needed. For now there is plenty to like about the instinctive relationship the Brazil teammates appear to have struck up. Nick Ames


Burn shines under pressure

Sven Botman cost Newcastle £35m from Lille this summer but the much admired 22-year-old Dutchman was made to wait to make his debut at centre-half until stoppage time as Eddie Howe opted to stick with Dan Burn as his left-side, left-footed central defender alongside Fabian Schär. With Botman also left-footed the consensus was that the former Brighton defender would be the player to make way but, as Newcastle beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday, Burn made it clear he will not give up his place of him without a fight. Arguably only the midfielder Bruno Guimarães shone brighter than Burn, with the latter earning Howe’s technical-area applause after, at one point, dispossessing Forest’s accelerating forward Brennan Johnson with copybook timing and composure. Schär, meanwhile, broke Forest’s resistance courtesy of a stunning 25-yard shot before Callum Wilson’s clever goal sealed victory. louis taylor

Antonio Conte rarely looks that content with life but the Italian’s demeanor after Tottenham’s impressive comeback against Southampton was an indication of the progress made over the summer. While three new signings – Ivan Perisic, Clément Lenglet and Yves Bissouma – were given only late cameos, by which time Spurs were 4-1 up. Conte knows that a bench that was missing the suspended Richarlison but also included Fraser Forster and Djed Spence now has the depth to compete on all fronts. “The message was very clear that we’ve signed new players to improve our squad because our squad was really poor last season and the Champions League spot was a big achievement,” he said. “Our first goal was to improve the squad, not just players physically but also mentally. We wanted the right players for my philosophy.” Ed Aarons


Tuchel: Sterling can lift flat forwards

Chelsea's Kalidou Koulibaly.
Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Photograph: Jon Super/AP

A rare win at Goodison Park, a clean sheet plus fine debuts from the summer signings Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and latterly Marc Cucurella left Thomas Tuchel content on the opening day, although he seemed unsurprised and unperturbed by Chelsea’s lack of creativity. “We were joking at half-time saying maybe it is a typical Chelsea game – we win 1-0 and Jorgi scores with a penalty,” the manager admitted. So it proved. Despite Sterling’s probing, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were anonymous while 16 corners and a host of inviting free-kicks failed to trouble Everton’s injury-hit defence. “I think Raheem will lift Kai and Mason and Pulisic up,” said Tuchel. “Because the center of our formation is in the three centre-backs and the two number sixes it is a deep formation in which you rely heavily on the two wing-backs. We didn’t have enough from the wing backs to create more freedom for the inner players. From there we go.” Andy Hunter


It’s a new dawn for Leicester

As Leicester City prepare for what could be a new era, how much will they miss Kasper Schmeichel? Their captain of recent times had started every opening game of the season for over a decade before his move to Nice last week. Danny Ward, his patient deputy for the past four years, performed well in the 2-2 draw with Brentford, but the dynamic clearly changes for Brendan Rodgers’ team. Schmeichel was a very vocal and impassioned figure, and a great shot-stopper. But Leicester’s horrendous record at conceding from set-pieces last season indicates gives Ward has the chance to help the team improve. “He was very assured and strong and we looked strong at set-pieces,” Rodgers said. “He’s our No 1 goalkeeper – he’s got the No 1 shirt and [he offered] presence, command of the box [and was] very good with his feet.” peter lansley


Elland Road can be a fortress for Leeds

Leeds won only four games at home in the Premier League last season, including three against the teams that were relegated. They stayed up on the final day and will want to avoid a similar struggle this time around. In order to do so, they will need to improve their form at Elland Road. “The good thing about last year is that we found some important points in away matches but we didn’t win enough at home,” Jesse Marsch said. An opening-day victory over Wolves, thanks to Rodrigo and an own goal, gives Leeds a platform to build on. Fans were behind the team from the first minute on Saturday, giving them a boost even when Wolves took the lead. “I come out of the tunnel for the match today, of course I am excited it’s our first match, and after 30 seconds I want to play,” Marsch said of the atmosphere. “It’s awesome.” Will Unwin


Cherries still need reinforcement

On the eve of Bournemouth’s first game back in the top flight, the words of Stuart Webber, Norwich’s sporting director, sprung to mind. Webber conceded he sent Daniel Farke to war without a gun after being relegated with 21 points two years ago, though they managed only a point more as they suffered the same fate last season despite spending £50m. Bournemouth have made three signings but only one, Marcus Tavernier, brother of the Rangers captain James, was fit enough to start their opening-day victory over Aston Villa. Tavernier hit the ground running with a lively display but Scott Parker requires further reinforcements. The Argentina centre-back Marcos Senesi, who is set to sign from Feyenoord, will provide some welcome ammunition. “We are trying to give the players we have some help to secure ourselves for a long season,” Parker said. “We definitely need more players.” Ben Fisher