TALKING POINTS: TEN THINGS WE LEARNED FROM SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21st PREMIER LEAGUE ACTION
Newcastle vs Chelsea – Three talking points
Tammy returns from the shadows
When Chelsea rolled out the briefcases full of money to sign three of the best attacking players around Europe, it spelled the end for other players to either depart the club permanently or secure a loan move, but not Tammy Abraham and rightly so it would seem.
After a mixed start to the season, which saw both Kai Havertz and Timo Werner play centrally, Abraham has forced his way back into the first XI with three goals in his last three starts for Chelsea, including his strike at St James’ Park.
His movement and build-up play were impressive against Newcastle and he finished clinically in the second half to give Chelsea a two-goal lead.
There was a high possibility that Abraham would get lost in the shuffle of attacking talent now at Stamford Bridge, but the 23-year-old, through his goals and work rate, has given Frank Lampard no choice but to keep starting him.
Magpies mediocre display
Although not many would’ve expected Newcastle to get anything out of the game, their performance against Chelsea was simply so poor, and the 2-0 score line heavily flattered them.
Newcastle managed just 29% possession in the game and showed a real lack of desire to attack their visitors.
There were multiple opportunities where Steve Bruce’s side could’ve moved the ball into forward areas but instead decided to retreat.
The absence of Callum Wilson had an obvious effect on the Newcastle players and the midfield clearly didn’t trust Joelinton, his replacement, to carry the ball forward or hold it up.
Thankfully for the Magpies, Wilson will be back for their next game against Crystal Palace and after this performance, Newcastle faithful will be hoping he can immediately rediscover his dangerous partnership with Allan Saint-Maximin.
The lengthy loss of Lascelles?
Undoubtedly Saint-Maximin is Newcastle’s best player but someone who goes under the radar is the captain Jamaal Lascelles and his crucial leadership from the back may be in jeopardy for the next few weeks.
The defender went down on two separate occasions with an injury to the back of his knee and he was eventually withdrawn at half-time.
Steve Bruce has plenty of defensive options at his disposal but he won’t want to lose Lascelles ahead of three games that could define Newcastle’s early season.
Palace, Aston Villa and West Brom are next on the agenda and all three are winnable games for Newcastle, but without their skipper it could be a harder task.
Post-match, Steve Bruce admitted he was unsure about the extent of the peculiar injury to the back of Lascelles knee and many will be crossing their fingers it’s not a long-term problem.
Aston Villa vs Brighton: Two talking points
An unlikely Seagulls partnership
After lining up without a recognised striker in games before the international break, Brighton set up with Danny Welbeck & Neal Maupay and they were both heavily involved in the dogged win over Aston Villa.
The former Arsenal & Manchester United man took advantage of Villa’s high defensive line and rolled back the glory years with a superbly composed finish over the on-rushing Emiliano Martinez.
The pair very nearly combined in the opening 45 as well, when Welbeck’s deft touch sent Maupay through on goal but Martinez kept out his effort.
Maupay may not have had the biggest goal-scoring impact but he was a problem all afternoon for Villa and even more so when he linked up with Welbeck.
Although the performance was more about the brilliant defending from Graham Potter’s side, the impressive strike partnership of Maupay & Welbeck was highly effective and could be in weeks to come.
Brighton resolute but Villa wasteful
Just one win for Brighton this season and Villa dominating top six challengers, it spelled a comfortable afternoon for Dean Smith’s side, but that didn’t quite happen.
Trezeguet was guilty of missing two or three golden opportunities but at the same time the Seagulls defending was top class.
The Egyptian forward skied an effort from close-range in the first half but that was from the rebound of his initial shot which was heroically blocked by a Brighton defender.
Five minutes before the interval Ben White emerged out of nowhere to slide in ahead of Ollie Watkins preventing a certain goal.
Villa will understandably be disappointed to leave the game empty handed considering the chances they created but a needed three points for Graham Potter’s side will do wonders for their confidence.
Tottenham vs Manchester City: Three talking points
Are they title contenders now?
A battling team performance, unbeaten in the league since the opening day and a clean sheet against one of the best attacking teams in the world. Spurs are top of the Premier League and surely after today they’re in the conversation to be there in May.
Jose Mourinho’s side put in a wonderful performance to secure a 2-0 victory over Manchester City and move two points clear at the top of the table.
Some may argue it was a negatively defensive way of playing but most people who watch football will know that is what they call a Mourinho masterclass.
Every single player on that pitch played their part, making last-ditch blocks and gut-busting runs to prevent City from scoring.
With hard-fought one-goal victories against the likes of West Brom, Brighton & Burnley complemented by goal-fests over Manchester United & Southampton. Spurs have shown they can win in all kinds of manner and that’s what title-winning teams do.
The immense spine of the team
You will have to go far to find a better team performance than Tottenham Hotspur’s rugged display against Man City, and while all 14 that took to the field had an impact, five stood out ever so slightly above the rest.
Harry Kane, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Moussa Sissoko, Toby Alderweireld & Eric Dier all showed tremendous character and determination to earn Spurs all three points.
Hojbjerg did a number on Kevin De Bruyne, Sissoko delivered one of his best performances in a Spurs shirt, Alderweireld & Dier earnt another clean sheet and Kane was just Kane.
Mourinho lost Alderweireld late on in the game to a groin injury and will be hoping his injury isn’t too long-term as the Belgian looked to be back to his best.
Manchester City’s weakness exposed to the world, again!
Multiple trophies have been won in Pep Guardiola’s reign as City boss but they’ve majorly struggled to find their feet this season, losing twice already and both times they’ve been punished on the counter-attack.
Everyone knows that City will have the majority of the possession in their games and a lot of the time it will result in an end product but so far this campaign it hasn’t quite gone to plan.
Jamie Vardy heavily exposed the high line of City and the gaps left by the marauding full-backs to inspire Leicester to a comprehensive win at the Etihad.
For Spurs second goal they broke quickly, with Giovanni Lo Celso taking up the position left by Kyle Walker before calmly sliding the ball through the legs of Ederson.
Teams know what City will do it’s just about stopping it and if you have a resolute defence, a tactically efficient manager and some pace going forward you are bound to cause City some serious problems.
Manchester United vs West Brom: two talking points
West Brom’s ridiculous lack of luck
Baggies fans thought their luck was bad before the international break when Harry Kane struck late for Spurs to deny West Brom a well-deserved point, but it was another level of bad luck against Manchester United.
Bruno Fernandes was adjudged to have fouled Chelsea-loanee Connor Gallagher in the box but after a VAR review David Coote reversed his initial decision for a penalty, despite it looking a blatant foul.
No less than five minutes later United had a penalty of their own, nothing dubious about this one though.
Sam Johnstone saved the initial effort but was off his line and the re-taken penalty was tucked away by Fernandes. Albeit a mistake from the Albion shot-stopper you had to feel for him.
And just to top it off, with his first few touches after coming on, Callum Robinson pinged a 25-yard strike that cannoned of the bar after it looked destined for the top corner.
Another unfortunate Premier League matchday for West Brom as they still look for their first win of the season and they’ll be hoping to start getting the rub of the green in these crucial matches sooner rather than later.
Martial’s unwanted stat finally ends
After just under five hours of Premier League football, Anthony Martial finally had his first shot on target against West Brom, not goal but a shot that has actually forced a keeper to do something and it was a dreadful miss that sums up his season so far.
Of course, his tenure as United’s front-man was interrupted following a red card against Spurs but Edinson Cavani, in his first minutes as a United player, got a shot on target and that has to be quite worrying.
The Frenchman didn’t play amazingly well in the game, being forced onto the left of the attack when Cavani was introduced, but he very nearly opened his account for the campaign.
Following a delightful dummy from Cavani, Martial took a sublime first touch to set himself but Darnell Furlong got back well to block.
Post-lockdown Martial was virtually unstoppable obtaining five goals and four assists and while he has found the net in the Champions League, he simply can’t get going in England’s top flight which has to be a worrying sign for United.