Premier League hits and misses: Tottenham show best and worst side in rollercoaster Saints win

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Sensational Spurs show their limitations - and strengths

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's win over Southampton in the Premier League.

For most of the opening 45 minutes as Spurs travelled to the south coast it looked like Jose Mourinho was experiencing a severe case of déjà vu. Barely a week after he had accused his players of 'lazy pressing' and questioned their fitness during their opening-day defeat to Everton, they looked just as lacklustre against a Southampton side who on another day might have made them pay for it.

Spurs' midfield was at times non-existent, their defence often slow to react. But one thing they are never too far away from is goals, even without the upcoming addition of Gareth Bale when he is finally fit to play. Out of nothing, Heung-Min Son pulled them level on the stroke of half-time and alongside the equally stupendous Harry Kane, dragged Spurs to four more goals after half-time - from only six shots on target in the entire game.

Ironically for a Mourinho side, Spurs look far more comfortable at the front end of the pitch than at the rear, as much a result of personnel as anything else.

"Some people think strikers should just score goals, but it's also about giving dynamic to the attacking organisation," Mourinho told BT Sport after full-time. "But with him dropping back and connecting the game between the lines for Son to attack spaces, we created problems they could not resolve."

He was not wrong - and with Bale eventually adding to their forward ranks, Spurs do at least have plenty to be optimistic about.
Ron Walker

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Time to take Kepa out of the firing line

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Dominant Liverpool beat 10-man Chelsea

Confidence is key for goalkeepers, but right now Kepa Arrizabalaga's is missing. His boss Frank Lampard accepted as much in his post-match interview after another error from his Spanish No1 had cost Chelsea another goal.

This time it was a casual pass out from the back which was too easily intercepted by Sadio Mane for Liverpool's second. Over recent months there have been misjudgements, technical flaws and breakdowns in communication. It all adds up to a nervousness in Chelsea's backline and muddled decision making by the team's goalkeeper.

The effects of that were plain to see just 13 minutes into the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool when Kepa went darting to the side of his penalty area but lost the race for a loose ball to Mohamed Salah. He was fortunate to get away with that one but his second-half blunder will be replayed over the coming days.

While Kepa is young for a keeper at 25 and has time on his side to recover his form and realise the potential which convinced Chelsea to make him their club record signing, Lampard can't afford to wait for the mistakes to dry up. Chelsea are linked with Edouard Mendy but even if the Rennes keeper doesn't arrive, a change is surely needed to restore some belief at the back.

If Chelsea truly have ambitions of competing with the likes of Liverpool at the top end of the table this season - and their heavy transfer spending has increased expectations - they can't afford their defensive struggles to be a feature of the season ahead, as they were of the season just gone.
Peter Smith

Fabinho provides a defensive solution for Liverpool

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Jurgen Klopp praised Fabinho after his performance against Chelsea

An injury to Joe Gomez left Liverpool light at centre-back for their trip to Chelsea, but they needn't have worried. Fabinho, his makeshift replacement alongside Virgil van Dijk, was arguably the best player on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

Against a Chelsea attack strengthened by the signings of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz in the summer, this was not an easy game in which to be drafted into the backline. But Fabinho certainly made it look that way.

The Brazilian set the tone for a near-faultless performance by twice dispossessing Werner in the opening stages. By the end of the game, he had made as many interceptions (four) as the rest of the Liverpool team combined. Nobody made more tackles or ball recoveries.

Fabinho provided plenty of composure with the ball as well as without it, completing 86 of his 89 passes at an accuracy rate of 97 per cent. It's little wonder Klopp went out of his way to praise him afterwards.

Liverpool's lack of bodies at centre-back is such that fans will still be hoping for a new recruit in the position before next month's transfer deadline. Dejan Lovren's departure means Van Dijk, Gomez and Joel Matip are the only natural centre-backs in the squad. But Fabinho's performance on Sunday night was a reminder that he is more than capable of covering too.
Nick Wright

Leicester's squad stepping up

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester win over Burnley in the Premier League.

Perhaps the most pleasing element of the victory for Brendan Rodgers will be that they did it without some of their key players from the best parts of last season. Ben Chilwell is a Chelsea player, James Maddison only came on at 3-1, Wilfred Ndidi had to fill in at centre-back, Ricardo Pereira is still injured and Jonny Evans was serving the second game of a three-match ban.

Up stepped the likes of Dennis Praet, James Justin, new signing Timothy Castagne and most impressively of all, Harvey Barnes. They were the players that hurt Burnley going forward and continued to cause them problems.

Barnes is a player who has often frustrated the Foxes faithful, mainly because they know how good he could be but he doesn't always show it. He was excellent against the Clarets and it was only his display that overshadowed that of Castagne. The Belgian has slotted right into Leicester's side and looks at home in the Premier League.

Burnley never make things easy, even with a makeshift backline, and they fought hard throughout, but Leicester showed character to come from behind and to pick up their first back-to-back victories since January.

Going top after two games is nothing to shout about, however, it is the perfect start to a campaign for Rodgers and Leicester following their post-lockdown problems. When they have a fully fit squad, the Foxes will once again be pressing for a European spot.

​​​​​​Man Utd start on the defensive

Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace 2:58
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace's win over Manchester United

Remember how simple it was a year ago when the transfer window closed before the season started? Now, with the window allowed to be open for almost a month after the campaign has kicked-off, we are back to the peculiarity of Fantasy Football selections needing to be finalised before clubs have committed to the real thing and the awkwardness of every early season result being viewed through the prism of a fast-closing transfer window.

And at Old Trafford, it's now closing very fast indeed.

Even before their defeat to Palace, the concern of Man Utd fans about their club's relative inactivity - limited to a single signing, Donny van de Beek - had been increasingly vocal. How could it not when Liverpool were signing Thiago Alcantara and a £45m reserve forward, Tottenham were bringing home Gareth Bale and Roman Abramovich had rediscovered his Chelsea cheque book?

Those concerns would have intensified on Saturday night just before United's belated start when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named Dan James, whose form plummeted in the final third of last season, in his starting eleven almost exactly at the moment as Liverpool formally unveiled Jota and Tottenham made Bale's return official.

What transpired over the next couple of hours was all-too predictable: an anonymous outing for James prior to his half-time substitution, an excellent illustration in reverse of why United are chasing Sancho, and a raw demonstration of why they should prioritise at least one new defender over a forward in any case.

As Gary Neville put it afterwards, United's problem area isn't up front. It's at the back.

Which, after a summer of near silence, is also rather where United are at too. Barely eight weeks ago, when they won at Leicester to secure Champions League qualification, United were on the offensive. Now, having started the season late both metaphorically and literally, United are on the defensive.

They have catching-up to do, and just two weeks to do it in.
Pete Gill

What's possible for Palace this season?

Roy Hodgson heaped praise on match-winner Wilfried Zaha after his two goals consigned Manchester United to a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace have remained eagle-less since the passing of their much-loved mascot Kayla but having won just one of their nine games post-lockdown, Roy Hodgson's side have rediscovered their sense of direction.

After two wins in their opening two Premier League games this term Palace are soaring and in Wilfried Zaha they have their undoubted talisman in red-hot form.

For all the debate over the retaken penalty during Saturday's 3-1 win at Manchester United, it was a richly deserved win that will have lifted expectations for the season among Palace supporters.

The arrivals of Ebere Eze and Michy Batshuayi has already worked in raising the standards of those already at the club; Zaha scored only four league goals last term but already has three this time around, but Hodgson is remaining grounded when it comes to readjusting the season's targets.

"I think we're a good football team - and I thought that last season," he said. "Funnily enough, I thought it many times during the lockdown when we were losing game after game. I didn't think we looked like a bad team - we were just not getting the results.

"I've got great faith in the team and in our defending and work rate. We've also got some very good footballers that given the right opportunities will score goals.

"We're only two games in, but points are hard to come by in this league. Everyone in our position is looking for the magic 40 and we've got six on the board already. That's all I take from the game at the moment, plus the fact that we played so well."

But having left such a trail of destruction at Old Trafford, Palace have earned the right to aim higher.
Ben Grounds

Newcastle brought back down to earth

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's win over Newcastle in the Premier League.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes in football.

A week or so ago, Steve Bruce was described as having his best week as Newcastle boss after the arrivals of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson and their 2-0 win at West Ham.

That was quickly followed up by victory over Blackburn in the Carabao Cup, however, fast forward a week and Newcastle have been brought back down to earth with a bump following a dismal display against Brighton.

Bruce's team failed to attempt a single shot on target in the match, the first time they've failed to have a shot on target in a home Premier League game since December 2018 when they played Fulham.

They have now lost three consecutive home Premier League matches for the first time since a run of five between August and October 2018.

After a trip to Morecambe in the Carabao Cup in midweek, games against Tottenham, Manchester United, Wolves, Everton and Chelsea loom large. All the positivity built up by the club can quickly disappear if Steve Bruce and his side are not careful.
Oliver Yew

All-action Lamptey catching the eye

Tariq Lamptey was only on the field for 58 minutes of Brighton's win at Newcastle, but he did more than enough to earn the man of the match award.

He caught the eye with an impressive performance in his side's defeat last Monday against Chelsea and again he was the name on the lips of the Sky Sports pundits after his all-action display at St James' Park.

"We spoke about him before the game and how influential he is for this Brighton team," said former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole. Yes, he's a young boy but Graham potter trusts him. Everything Brighton did was going through him and he was a constant presence and a constant danger for Newcastle."

Sky Sports' co-commentator for the game, Andy Hinchcliffe, was also effusive in his praise for the young wing back. "He only played 58 minutes but Lamptey fully deserves the man of the match award. He showed attacking and defensive desire and plenty of quality. I think we are going to be hearing a lot about this young man."

Brighton will be hoping the 19-year-old's rise to prominence continues and if it does, the reported fee of around £3m they paid to Chelsea for his services last January will be a snip. Let's hope the substitution at Newcastle because of injury at Newcastle was just a precaution and he's back out there strutting his stuff against Manchester United next Saturday.
Oliver Yew

Southampton's fragile mentality rears its head again

Heung-Min Son is seen post match with the match ball having scored 4 goals in Spurs' win over Southampton
Image: Heung-Min Son left with the match ball after crashing four past Southampton

Southampton's 9-0 defeat to Leicester last season seemed like a breakwater in their season - one from which the Saints never looked back - but it was difficult not to draw parallels with the level of that capitulation in their 5-2 defeat to Tottenham.

Being pegged back at 1-1 moments before half-time was an understandable disappointment, however the level of Ralph Hasenhuttl's side's collapse after the break was one which will be hard to swallow, especially on the back of such poor defeats to Crystal Palace and Brentford in their opening two games.

Without a strike force with the clinical nature of Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane, even with Danny Ings' superb goalscoring instincts, Southampton need to be far better at the other end of the pitch.

Hasenhuttl was in philosophical mood after full-time. "The game could go in a different direction. When we went down we were very naive. If it needs such a result to get the heads clear then I will take it," he said. He'll certainly hope so, because Southampton cannot afford too many afternoons like this.
Ron Walker

Everton's talented attack take centre stage

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton's win against West Brom

Think of all the things a cracking Premier League game should have - a surprise start from the underdogs, VAR overturning a disallowed goal, red cards and a hat-trick. Everton's win against West Brom had it all.

But perhaps the most exciting thing - for Everton fans at least - was the sheer quality they now possess up front and they used it to full effect against a sloppy West Brom defence. The easiest place to start is with Dominic Calvert-Lewin's hat-trick, with the first two goals showing his poacher's mentality. While the third may have been a slight fluke off his turned back, he was just having that kind of game - everything was heading goalwards.

Then there's James Rodriguez, who has brought that touch of world class that a Carlo Ancelotti side deserves - make no mistake about it, James came to the Premier League for the Italian manager, which is just what the Everton owners wanted when they bought Ancelotti in. James made quality passes and crosses time and again, netting his first Premier League goal with a superb, drilled finish.

Richarlison also notched up a personal milestone, registering two assists in a Premier League game for the first time ever and he was unlucky to come away without a goal.

Ancelotti said after the game that he is pleased with his attack, but does want to shore things up defensively. That will surely come with some more time and work on the training pitch, but what Everton have shown up front thus far is how incredibly exciting things could be this season.
Charlotte Marsh

Arteta's abundance of ammunition

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal's win over West Ham

It's a luxury few managers in the Premier League have; a wealth attacking talent so good that you can concede twice as many attempts on goal than you are able to register on the opposing goal and still win a football match. That's the position Mikel Arteta finds himself in at Arsenal.

With Willian having an uncharacteristically off day by his usually high standards, Arsenal lacked a creative influence in midfield and invited wave after wave of West Ham pressure.

It looked as though it would ultimately cost the Gunners two points, and at some stages even all three, but when that crucial moment of quality was required, Arteta's side show they had it in abundance.

The timing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's run in behind and the precision of his sumptuous cross for strike partner Alexandre Lacazette in the first half served West Ham with a warning they failed to heed.

Yes, you may point to the fact that it was Arsenal's only attempt on target before the break, but when you take them in such devastating fashion, who needs more?

After the break there was another ruthless example that Arsenal possess such quality in reserve, with Eddie Nketiah putting his differences with Dani Ceballos to one side by coming off the bench to wrap up the contest.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says that his side shouldn't have to rely on the players at the top end of the pitch to get them out of trouble after they beat West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League

"We always look a threat because of the players we have up front," Arteta said, with the broadest of smiles on his face after maintaining Arsenal's perfect start to the season. "We know what Eddie can bring, he's a goalscorer and he has a good sense of where the ball is going to land."

With a telepathic trio of strikers at his disposal Arteta has landed on his feet at Arsenal, he knows there is room for improvement but if he can crack the puzzle of supplying his attack, they can fire him right to the very top.
Jack Wilkinson

Leeds forward line firing on all cylinders

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds' win against Fulham

If there has been one problem for Leeds in their two previous seasons under Marcelo Bielsa, it was that they didn't always finish the chances they created. But in just two Premier League games, Leeds have netted seven goals.

They are showing a clinical edge to the game and putting away the opportunities they manufacture.

Helder Costa takes the plaudits for his two efforts against Fulham - one powerful effort and one placed effort leaving keeper Alphonse Areola with no chance. Don't forget Patrick Bamford, though, who has scored in both of his Premier League games and is already answering the questions about whether or not he is good enough for this level.

This was a victory without Pablo Hernandez, too, who pulled up with a groin strain in the warm-up and record signing Rodrigo was not at the races in the first half.

When he is up to speed with Leeds' style and Hernandez is fully fit, they will continue to create opportunities and the early signs are they have found a way to make the most of them.

When Leeds play, expect goals.
Matt Storey

'Criminal' Hammers have cause for optimism

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West Ham manager David Moyes says his side didn't deserve to lose against Arsenal after his players had 'done an unbelievable job' in getting back in the game after going behind in their 2-1 defeat in the Premier League

Whatever way you look at it, two defeats from two makes for grim reading for West Ham. But the bitter pill of defeat at Arsenal was made even harder to swallow after such an encouraging performance.

For large parts Arsenal were stifled, frustrated and seemingly out of ideas, as chance after chance fell the Hammers' way. If any side was going to push for the winner, your money would have been on West Ham, and you would have been as disappointed when a defensive lapse, branded 'criminal' by David Moyes, handed the game to the Gunners.

After their opening-day defeat to Newcastle few would have envisaged West Ham had such a performance in them but a rousing display, albeit in defeat, has renewed the dwindling new-season optimism at the club.

And, with Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool on the horizon, they are going to need it.
Jack Wilkinson

West Ham's next five fixtures and how they fared in them last season.
Image: West Ham's next five fixtures and how they fared in them last season.

Lack of discipline costs West Brom

Referee Mike Dean sends off Kieran Gibbs
Image: Referee Mike Dean sends off Kieran Gibbs

When Grady Diangana tested Jordan Pickford inside three minutes before scoring a superb goal shortly after, you expected West Brom to take the game to Everton after a demoralising 3-0 defeat to Leicester on the opening weekend.

But what transpired at Goodison Park was more of a blow because it was West Brom's own ill-discipline that cost them. The easiest place to rest the blame would be with Kieran Gibbs for his unnecessary sending off at the end of the first half for striking James. While it may have been out of character for the former Arsenal defender, it was petulant and certainly warranted a straight red.

He was swiftly followed by manager Slaven Bilic after his on-field protests to referee Mike Dean, which is not allowed under Premier League rules. The Croatian is experienced in the English game and knew his confrontation could lead to a sending off, which is just what happened as he watched on from the stands for the second half.

With a defender and manager down, it was not going to be long before the wheels came off for West Brom, even if Matheus Pereira's superb free-kick hauled the Baggies level immediately after the break. Everton went on to score three more while West Brom's attacking bite from the first half evaporated.

It is not just Gibbs and Bilic who must shoulder the blame, the defending overall was well below par. Calvert-Lewin scored twice from tap ins right on the goal line, as did Michael Keane, and there was not enough cohesion in the West Brom defence to keep out Everton's talent. There is already plenty for Bilic to work on and the Baggies need quick improvement.
Charlotte Marsh

Defensive issues will be fatal for Fulham

Mateusz Klich makes it 2-1 to Leeds
Image: Mateusz Klich scored one of Leeds' four goals against Fulham

Fulham's latest foray into the Premier League is going to be a short one unless they fix their woeful defence - and quickly. They have already shipped seven goals in two games and all four at Leeds could have been avoided if they just cut out basic errors.

Scott Parker said after the game that it wasn't necessarily something they could work on in training, or to do with the team's shape, but more to do with his side's attitude to defending. He wants them to smell the danger, to develop a nasty side and to stop giving their opponents numerous chances to score.

The first goal saw Helder Costa unmarked from a corner while Robin Koch had a header tipped over as he lost his marker at a corner. Fulham's defenders didn't do their basic jobs from set-pieces. But Joe Bryan's push on Patrick Bamford to give away the penalty was unnecessary and something Parker certainly couldn't legislate for.

A gap the size of the River Thames was available for Mateusz Klich to find Bamford for the third - clearly there was a distinct lack of communication between Michael Hector and Kenny Tete - and Hector left his team-mates short in the build up to the fourth, committing to an aerial challenge that he got nowhere near.

Fulham's midfield duo of Harrison Reed and Frank Anguissa were impressive, they always looked like they could hurt Leeds when going forward and Alphonse Areola dealt with crosses well and made a good double save in the second half. But none of that matters if the back four player like strangers every week.
Matt Storey

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