10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 10
The Premier League’s 10th matchweek saw confirmation that Arsenal’s moved into Liverpool’s class, Newcastle’s ahead of schedule in trying to get there, and Manchester City remains in a class of its own.
And, honestly, are we overlooking Harry Kane right now?
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Here’s a look at 10 things that stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
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10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 10
1. Stretched Liverpool go for 2015, early-Klopp vibes (Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool): Jurgen Klopp’s decision to go back to a 4-2-3-1 formation was supposed to be about defensive solidity. That didn’t work at all at Arsenal. Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara were playing 25 yards deeper than the front four of Luis Diaz (who was replaced by Roberto Firmino), Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez, and Mohamed Salah. There was nothing in-between. When Liverpool got the ball forward early and played direct it worked. When they didn’t they were overrun in midfield and the topsy-turvy nature of this clash reminded me of when Klopp first arrived in 2015 and his high-octane, heavy-metal football was exciting to watch but Liverpool had no balance (especially defensively) whatsoever. Klopp’s side can’t match the intensity they’ve been hailed for over the last few seasons and Arsenal’s youngsters swarmed their defense and midfield in the second half to show that Klopp has to change something drastically or Liverpool will be out of the title race... if they aren’t already. (JPW)
2. The joy has returned to Chelsea’s play (Chelsea 3-0 Wolves): It took the Blues a while to break through but it was always coming against Wolves. Chelsea’s players already seem to have embraced the extra creativity and freedom that Graham Potter’s tactics have brought to London. Chelsea looked sharp in attack even after leaving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling on the bench. There is an extra belief about their play when they’re going forward and they could have scored more than three. All over the pitch Chelsea’s players look to be enjoying playing football again and winning three games on the trot (in all competitions) will help confidence levels too. (JPW)
3. Harry Kane deserves some of the headlines hogged by Haaland (Brighton 0-1 Spurs): There’s a multi-verse in which we’re discussing the fact that Harry Kane is on pace to break the Premier League single-season goal record but Erling Haaland. Kane has eight goals in nine matches this season, on pace for 33.7 goals in a season (Can’t wait to see what that .7 looks like in real life). Unfortunately for the England captain, Erling Haaland is making the scoring leaders list look like it belongs in indoor soccer. And double unfortunately, Kane’s attempted clearance in the 90th minute coincided with Alexis Mac Allister’s left-footed shot attempt at the same ball, catching him on the back of the ankle. He had to leave the match as precaution at a minimum, and anything with Kane’s problematic ankles will be closely monitored by Spurs fans.
“It’s just a knock, I think,” Kane said after the game. (NM)
4. Alex Iwobi, Frank Lampard’s mini-me, continues to Impress (Everton 1-2 Man Utd): Frank Lampard was a unit of a midfielder who could shoot from distance. Regardless of what you think about his work as Chelsea or Everton boss, the longtime England midfielder is working wonders with Alex Iwobi. The Nigerian international came up as a winger and attacking midfielder at Arsenal but Lampard has shown him the ways of a complete midfielder. Iwobi’s goal was fantastic and reminiscent of his manager, and a fitting reward for a player who’s been Everton’s MVP early this season. Can Lampard work the same magic with former Man United man James Garner? (NM)
5. Intensity key as Man City builds momentum for huge clash (Man City 4-0 Southampton): All eyes will now be on City’s next Premier League game, their trip to Liverpool next Sunday. They are well ahead of Liverpool so far this season but their struggles at Anfield in recent seasons are well-documented and Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing style does put them off. This edition feels like peak City, though. They’re hungry to win the ball back, have quality on it when they do, and they have so many players in form and flying. It’s hard to not predict City running away with the Premier League title this season and this game coming up at Anfield will show how just how much they’ve accelerated away from Liverpool over the summer. (JPW)
6. How(e)'s he doing it so quickly? (Newcastle 5-1 Brentford): Eddie Howe, yes, has received some sensational buys in the transfer market from Newcastle’s owners, but he’s also made some inspired moves with pre-takeover Magpies. Joelinton’s move from forward to center mid has been well-documented — “J7” didn’t start on Saturday — but the rebirth of Fabian Schar as a dependable starter and the reinvigoration of Miguel Almiron and now Jacob Murphy means Newcastle’s depth is going to feel even better once Allan Saint-Maximin, Jonjo Shelvey, and Alexander Isak are ready to start. (NM)
7. West Ham growing tougher as Scamacca, Bowen find form (West Ham 3-1 Fulham): It has taken the Hammers a little while in the Premier League but they looked really sharp, as attackers Jarrod Bowen and Gianluca Scamacca stretched Fulham’s defense and had the quality to finish when chances arrived. Only some Bernd Leno brilliance stopped them scoring a few more and West Ham looked much more like themselves. (JPW)
8. Forest full of fight, but not ideas (Nottingham Forest 1-1 Aston Villa): They so nearly got there in the end, but Forest and Villa never quite managed to combine for a full 1.0 xG on Monday (they topped out at 0.95). Neither side could string anything together in the final third. It was a slog from start to finish, particularly for Forest, who accounted for just 0.28 of the xG total. Emmanuel Dennis’ goal seemed to come too early for Nottingham Forest, who immediately shrunk and became timid when the challenge of defending a one-goal lead (unlikely to score again as they were) called for courage and confidence to be the aggressors. Thus the response from Aston Villa came almost immediately and the prospect of scoring a second goal seemed even more unlikely than the first. (AE)
9. Leeds punished for early failures in front of goal (Palace 2-1 Leeds): Jesse Marsch’s men absolutely buzzed out of the gates at Selhurst Park and threatened to end any hopes of a home win with an early goal and a plethora of chances. Alas, only one crossed the line. Patrick Bamford remains goalless on the season in a long return to form. He’ll almost surely find it, but it wasn’t Sunday as Leeds only got one -- a rebound off the post deposited by Pascal Struijk -- and left the game wide open. Palace’s equalizer came out of nothing but its winner did not, as the Eagles found control at home and earned their three points. (NM)
10. Bournemouth defying statistics and logic (Bournemouth 2-1 Leicester): Bournemouth’s 0.48 expected goals per 90 minutes heading into Week 10 was not only the worst mark in the Premier League, but it was so by quite some way (Aston Villa, with nearly twice the output at 0.85, was the next closest). That number will climb a bit following Saturday’s result, but the Cherries will still be last in xG by a country mile. And yet, there they sit in 8th place in the PL table. (AE)