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

1) Grealish still has time to shine at City

Pep Guardiola’s love of tricksy ball-players is well-known – he once spent more than £30m on Cesc Fábregas when Barcelona already had perhaps the greatest midfield of all time. Similarly, adding Jack Grealish to a Manchester City squad already supremely stocked with attacking talent seemed unnecessary and, despite a crucial goal at West Ham in last season’s title run-in, the move has yet to properly pay off. Grealish began Saturday’s game at Wolves under pressure … and then scored after 55 seconds. He will know that this is not the end of the conversation, and needs to be the start of something more significant. The portents are good: others have taken a season to adjust to the specific demands placed upon them by Guardiola. With defences preoccupied with the demands of handling Erling Haaland, there should be both scope and space for Grealish to deploy his unique brand of improvisational brilliance. Daniel Harris

2) Lage’s Wolves pack looks thin at both ends

Watching a free-scoring Manchester City side rack up another three goals en route to victory must have felt something of a tease for Bruno Lage, given Wolves have managed that many across all seven of their league games so far. Summer signing Sasa Kalajdzic faces months out with a serious knee injury, Raúl Jiménez is also sidelined, Gonçalo Guedes is yet to score following his arrival from Valencia and Diego Costa may only be fit enough for the bench against West Ham after the international break. If Wolves’ bluntness is a concern, so too is the incoming three-match suspension for centre-back Nathan Collins. Wolves allowed Conor Coady to join Everton and now appear light in defence. Lage could not hide his irritation following the defeat, insisting that he wanted both a striker and a centre-back before the transfer window deadline. Wolves have problems to solve in both boxes. Ben Fisher

Anthony Taylor shows a red card to Nathan Collins for his foul on Jack Grealish. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/Shutterstock

3) Vieira and Nwaneri point to bright future

“We know the reasons why we signed him,” said Mikel Arteta of Fábio Vieira, who capped his first Premier League start with an excellent goal against Brentford. “I think he fits in really well. He is a creative player; he needs to play with instinct. I liked the way he went about the ugly part of the game.” Despite a striking full debut from the 22-year-old, it was a player almost seven years younger that Arteta answered repeated questions about after the game. “It was a pure gut feeling,” he said of his decision to make 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri the Premier League’s youngest-ever player. “It’s another step, after that he maybe needs three steps back to go another one forward.” Nwaneri was told on Saturday he was in Arteta’s plans, and stayed in the team hotel before coming on in stoppage time. “Congratulations and enjoy it,” were the manager’s final words before his young charge made history. John Brewin

4) Hammers look rusty in Goodison defeat

David Moyes was left frustrated by the efforts of his players at Goodison Park. He is trying to integrate his summer signings into a struggling side, but those who know the demands of their manager are not setting the standard for new arrivals to follow. Moyes admitted his side played poorly, adding that Everton were not much better. The home side were dreadful in the first half but West Ham could not improve against a team there for the taking. They had won their previous two visits to Goodison Park and had more gears to go through, but only found them after Neal Maupay’s winner and a collection of substitutions, including the direct Maxwel Cornet, brought some life to a stale performance. Moyes now has two weeks to think about how to change things – and might start by swapping out the old for the new. Will Unwin

5) Iwobi enjoys more central Everton role

“I’m glad you remember,” deadpanned Alex Iwobi when asked about his crisp assist to Maupay in the win against West Ham. Following a first half of slapstick comedy in which players on both sides charged around displaying precious little control or composure, it was refreshing to see a midfielder produce a few moments of both in the second half. The former Arsenal winger picked out Demarai Gray and played a simple one-two with his teammate. Maupay capitalised to full effect with his match-winning strike; it was as simple as it was effective and bodes well for Iwobi’s future in a more central role. There were also appreciative words from the player on Frank Lampard’s influence and his belief that Iwobi would flourish in the middle. “The manager allows me freedom to express myself, like I do in training, and bring it to matches,” Iwobi told Sky Sports. There were promising signs here. Luke McLaughlin

Alex Iwobi takes the ball away from Lukasz Fabianski during Everton’s win over West Ham.
Alex Iwobi takes the ball away from Lukasz Fabianski during Everton’s win over West Ham. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters

6) Leicester try to look on the bright side

When is a 6-2 defeat not a 6-2 defeat? Well, according to Brendan Rodgers and James Maddison, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday evening. The scoreline showed that Leicester were well beaten, but their manager and his star creative player felt otherwise. They collectively asserted that beyond the team’s set-piece fallibility – Spurs’ first two goals came from corners – and the individual mistakes – Wilfred Ndidi’s dithering before Tottenham’s third – the foundations of a decent performance were visible. Wishful thinking? Wilful blindness? Or a fair assessment? Who knows what to believe, although Rodgers’ suggestion that centre-back Wout Faes excelled defensively on debut dilutes his credibility a little. Now comes an international break – Rodgers must hope that for him a fortnight’s rest does not become an extended hiatus. Sam Dalling

7) Bentancur begins to offer Spurs cutting edge

In October 2018, Juventus won 1-0 at Manchester United in the Champions League, their win far more comfortable than the scoreline suggested. The main reason for this – other than the poverty of United’s performance – was the excellence of a young Uruguayan in their midfield. Rodrigo Bentancur, just 21 then, looked a future star, his passing simple but perceptive, a slender frame belying serious toughness. In the following years, his career stalled somewhat, and when Antonio Conte signed him last January, few in Turin were perturbed. Since then, though, things have changed, and he is now fulfilling the potential that was so obvious the first time he played in England. Against Leicester, he delivered another excellent all-round display and, most promisingly of all, supplied a goal and an assist. He has scored just five goals in his club career, far too few for a player in his position; if he can address that, he will become even better. DH

Rodrigo Bentancur (right) celebrates after putting Spurs 3-2 ahead at home to Leicester.
Rodrigo Bentancur (right) celebrates after putting Spurs 3-2 ahead at home to Leicester. Photograph: Vincent Mignott/EPA

8) Derbies offer Forest a chance to stop the rot

There is great need for stability at the City Ground, with manager Steve Cooper on a contract with less than a year to go and with a small compensation clause in place. The club hierarchy will be relieved that Brighton looked elsewhere for their new head coach, but Cooper is still seeking the formula to help Forest “look like a team” after signing 22 players. The defeat to Fulham on Friday was their fourth successive league defeat, with bottom-six Midlands derbies against Leicester, Aston Villa and Wolves next up. Forest fans of a certain age will recall the last time the club lost six successive Premier League games was the start of the 1992-93 season, when their eventual relegation led to Brian Clough’s departure and the end of their greatest era. Pete Lansley

9) Magpies have lost something in transition

It is one thing monopolising the ball and quite another knowing what to do with it. Newcastle enjoyed 72% of possession as they drew 1-1 with Bournemouth but required a penalty – converted by the otherwise intelligently shadowed Alexander Isak – to earn a point. Eddie Howe’s side were so flat that a clever counterattacking Bournemouth organised well by their caretaker manager, Gary O’Neil, looked the more dangerous team at times with Philip Billing (scorer of the opening goal), Marcus Tavernier and Jordan Zemura all impressing on the break. Until recently, Newcastle were a low possession, counterattacking outfit, and an ongoing stylistic transition partly explains why they have won only one league game this season. “We have got to be better with the ball,” said Howe. “We’ve got to be more creative and show a bit more patience.” Louise Taylor

10) Has Gerrard’s merciless Mings call paid off?

The commotion that surrounded Steven Gerrard’s decision to strip Tyrone Mings of the Aston Villa captaincy was impossible to avoid, but perhaps it was the right call after all. Last month Mings secured Villa’s victory against Everton with a crucial block to deny Anthony Gordon a stoppage-time equaliser. The defender gave as good as he got against Erling Haaland in the draw with Manchester City, and was a standout performer in Friday’s win over Southampton. Mings’ season began acrimoniously, on the bench at his former club Bournemouth but the centre-back, who has lost his place in the England squad, has bounced back from that disappointment. “The idea was to take that [the captaincy] away from him so he could focus on him more and not worry about other players in the team, just solely focus on you and bring your attributes to the table consistently,” Gerrard said. “He has got them. I still think he can do better.” BF

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

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