1. Liverpool struggle for fluency but produce title credentials

Liverpool at their best, are one of the most exhilarating sides to watch in the English top flight. Fluid in motion, devastating in attack. Kloop has not only improved mood at Anfield, he has made fans look forward to each game, no matter the pedigree of the opponent. This season, the football have lacked the fun factor. Salah was a little off the pace in this encounter, Firmino slowed up play, passes were strewn with errors. This isn’t the classic Kloop Liverpool we all know and love to watch.

They are however one of the three teams to have a perfect start this season. I reckon many in Merseyside would embrace this new found ability to win in spite – not because – of performance.

Liverpool have lacked killer instinct when paired against opposition that sit off them and pose puzzles for them to solve. West Ham, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Leicester City are not opponents that strike fear into the heart (with all due respect, of course) but 12 points from 12 isn’t a bad way to start a season.

Kloop and the fans would happily settle for maximum points in exchange for swash-buckling football.

2. Is it time for Crystal Palace to let Benteke go?

There was a time Fernando Torres was the trailblazer for Center-forward depreciation during the Spaniard’s less than happy time at Stamford Bridge. The fall from goal-scoring grace meant despite winning a few trophies, Torres was never regarded as a top no 9. He did threated a return to form in Spain but was kept out of the squad by a emerging Antoine Greizmann.

It’s starling to witness similar happen to Benteke, once feared for his goal scoring exploits. At Aston Villa, he seared a reputation as a deadly marksman. Now at Palace, after a nightmare time at Anfield, he has at times looked anything like a footballer, let alone a center forward of repute.

Is it time to cut the Belgian lose. Palace would have to consider that Benteke is more of an hindrance than a useful component on the pitch. Zaha was thoroughly missed in this encounter as he’d been the inspiration for the side, showing some of his best football last season.

Watching the Belgian shank the ball way over the bar or lose the ball due to a poor touch is no longer a sight worth seeing despite the comedic value . It’s become a hindrance and a pain to watch. Put him out his misery already.

3. It’s early September but David Wagner knows he faces a test of a lifetime 

Conceding 9 goals in two games against Chelsea and Manchester City isn’t a disgrace certainly not in the form in which these two clubs are in.  It is games against the likes of Cardiff City, Stoke City, and Everton that they are judged and expected to do much better. They haven’t won a game, scoring just two and letting 10 goals at the other end. They have the joint worst goal difference in the league – alongside West Ham.

Fighting relegation in September is probably a situation no one wants to find themselves in even though it is premature to make conclusions so early in the season. Everton, despite their worst showing in the opening season, managed to snatch a draw.

When one half of a footballing puzzle is left unattended, there is every likelihood it will come back to haunt. When two halves are barely functioning, it calls for an emergency.

Two goals for and 12 against isn’t a great stat – and start – for the season. Both ends of the pitch needs work.

4. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s profiting from Fulham’s style 

“It is a different style we play here at Fulham (compared to at Newcastle).

“The players enjoy the football more than last season (when I was) with Newcastle, where we knew how we wanted to play, we always played on the results, that’s it.

“This season, this (Fulham) team, we always try to score more goals than the opponent.

“Newcastle was more tactical, we didn’t play so much attacking football as we play now.

“Obviously, it worked because Newcastle were promoted last season, and I hope we are promoted again with Fulham.

“This is the reason I came here – the style, the players, always attacking, always trying to score one more than your opponents, always with a lot of possession.”

He opined this last season in the Championship with Fulham. It’s fair to say after four goals in the premiership that it wasn’t a dig at his old club, rather a honest assessment of his new found form. Newcastle would need someone like him to sort out their goal scoring mess.

5. Mateo Kovacic is the loan signing of the season

Loftus-Cheek would have looked on at Kovacic’s display with honest appraisal: He isn’t good enough to displace the Croatian international from his starting berth. It isn’t just the Croatian’s attacking onus and his use of the ball, it is his work rate that caught the eye. He constantly looked after things at the rear end of the pitch. He seems to want this to work after spells on the bench in Madrid.

The standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithfuls are indications of a growing affection for the Croatian and his immense efforts. Fabregas, looking on from the medic room would have been aghast as will Drinkwater and sporadically impressive Ross Barkely

If Chelsea want to play a more expansive, eye-catching brand of football, they could do with a midfielder with the guile and gut of Kovacic, who would make the 4-3-3 less susceptible to defensive gaffes. Chelsea are already talking of making this deal permanent, which is great news for both parties.

6. Adama Traore could be the X-Factor in Wolves’s Arsenal

A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. That is the definition of hope, something of a scarce commodity at West Ham these days. each week, each defeat brings a crushing feeling of despair. When will this stop?

Despite a promise of more forward thinking football, West Ham have no wins, have score two goals and let in 10. West Ham stunk for much of last season but managed to keep their Premier League status intact. In comes Pellegrini and there’s no hope in sight.

Wolves were looking to split the points equally when Adama Traore struck late, confining West Ham to the root of the table. The 22 year old has abundance in pace, power and trickery but his decision making make many bald with incessant scratching.

The talent is not hidden but if Nuno can garner a lot more from the Spanaird, Wolves might be looking to inflict further damage to unwary teams.

7. Newcastle can do better than Rafa Benitez 

Benitez has legitimate excuses to defend himself against the backdrop of really unpleasant results but legitimate or not, he hasn’t done himself any favours. How long before fans turn their ire from owner Mike Ashley to the one directly responsible for the sequence of damaging results. The football is hardly inspiring, the emphasis on a defensive style has many left with wondering if another manager can or cannot get more from this team.

Chelsea clocked up over 80% of the possession last week, with Newcastle players asked to limit the spaces with which the Chelsea players operate. It nearly worked. But sitting back, constantly inviting pressure to your penalty area is very risky and stupid when you consider that Newcastle score when they ventured forward in that game. So why not let go of the handbrakes and let these players enjoy themselves a bit?

If Newcastle go down under Rafa’s watch, he’ll be one responsible. Quite a few clubs weren’t backed in the transfer window but are doing far better than the Magpies. Excuses will not do, blame shifting will not get Newcastle the desired results.

8. It’s time Lacazette and Aubameyang start as strike partners

Aubameyang seems like the starting striker for Arsenal despite doing a whole lot less than Lacazatte. The Frenchman’s ability and willingness to shield the ball and bring others in play in the attacking third makes him a valuable asset. So it’s curious why the Frenchman spends more time on the bench than on the pitch. Unai Emery has said he doesn’t consider playing the two strikers as he wants more bodies in midfield, but without someone closer to him, Aubameyang has struggled for goals. Stats show Arsenal average more goals with both on the pitch and it is easy to see why.

A goal and an assist will convince Unai Emery about reconsidering his stance to leave one striker in play.

9. Watford show winning run is no fluke

You could forgive Watford fans of having dreams on the Premier League title, a la Leicester City. It isn’t happening but Watford performances have given them licence to dare to dream. Spurs were beaten by a Watford team looking to exploit Spurs vulnerability from set pieces. their vibrant play unnerved Spurs who until Deeney’s equalizer looked confident of keeping their 100% record in hand. Instead, it was Watford who shook off their lethargy and drove at the away side.

Pochettino would have been almost amused at the way his team crumbled at the first sign of resistance. Spurs will have to chalk this off as a one-off but the way and manner in which they surrender the maximum points must have hurt. Watford are now one of three teams with perfect start to the season. Which isn’t bad at all

10. Mourinho responds with win but questions still linger   

The past week must have been very distressing for the Portuguese as wave after wave of articles, questions followed him and even kept him company in his quiet hours. The heat had never been this on for Mourinho in this manner. Losing to Tottenham 3-0 isn’t the end of the world but it unearthened  a vulnerability in Jose that made the Portugese demand respect from the press. Respect is earned, and against Burnley, Mourinho got some leeway from incessant questioning from the former friends.

This was a win achieved with minimal fuss but the form of Pogba, the red card shown to Marcus Rashford means he wouldn’t look forward to press conferences just yet. The international break has come at a good time for Mourinho, during which he has time to fine-tune his team and his answers.

 

Michael Okoye
Blogger/Football Analyst at Sportskick
Michael Okoye is an ardent football fan as well as a writer. He lives somewhere in West Africa with Lions and Leopards for company. He takes interest in football and detests mediocrity in sports writing. He has a massive man crush on Juan Mata. A Chelsea fan and a great lover of wits and sarcasm.
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