Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action | Guardian writers | Monday 15 September 2014

Balotelli struggled, Diego Costa shone, AFC have injury woes and Zaha has raised excitement: Getty

Balotelli struggled, Diego Costa shone, AFC have injury woes and Zaha has raised excitement: Getty

Chelsea look the finished article in attack, Arsenal have injury troubles already and Liverpool fail their first rotation test

1) Greater challenges loom for Van Gaal

It is important to measure this victory against the fact that United’s opponents played with so little distinction. It was a “new start”, to quote Van Gaal

2) Chelsea forward line feels complete

Diego Costa drew the focus. How could he not, with a hat-trick on Saturday to swell his goal tally from four Premier League games to seven? The Spain international is this team’s new battering ram and principal finisher, providing the bite that was missing last season when Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres

3) Wenger’s scant defence hit by injury already

This was always likely to happen, what with Arsène Wenger exiting the summer transfer window with six defenders in his squad.

4) Liverpool’s new-look squad fail first rotation test

The Champions League has disrupted Liverpool’s season before it has started. With Daniel Sturridge injured, Raheem Sterling rested before the Champions League return, you-know-who gone and three of Liverpool’s attacking quartet making their Anfield debuts on Saturday, it was understandable their forward play lacked its usual fluency against Aston Villa.

5) Pardew up against it at Newcastle

To an extent Alan Pardew is a patsy. He was not responsible for selling Yohan Cabaye, whose departure seemed to spread disillusionment among the rest of the squad, nor is he the main influence on transfers. It is not his fault that Fabricio Coloccini, for example, looks to be in terminal decline and Newcastle do not have a better centre-back on their books.

6) Leicester show the value of consistency

The back four of Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan, Liam Moore and Paul Konchesky all excelled in Leicester’s 1-0 away win at Stoke City. The quartet have been brilliant and ever-present this season, Leicester conceding just five goals to the considerable strike forces of Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke.

7) Poyet must work out how to incorporate Giaccherini

he fact that Sunderland stole a 2-2 draw at home against a vastly superior Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was partly due to Emanuele Giaccherini’s belated introduction from the bench. The Italy international attacking midfielder also played a big part in last spring’s escape from relegation, creating a few of Connor Wickham’s drop defying goals.

8) Wilfried Zaha lifts Crystal Palace up a notch

Zaha was clearly in the mood to be a showman and the sight of him back in a Palace shirt certainly lifted the crowd and the roof would have been raised if the winger had scored at the end of a weaving run. Instead he shot straight at Burnley’s Tom Heaton, though, and had faded by the time he was substituted after 69 minutes.

9) Martínez eager for European action

Everton start their Europa League adventure this week, at home against Wolfsburg on Thursday night, and if Roberto Martínez is true to his word – and there is no reason to suspect the Spaniard will not be – Goodison Park.

10) City feel Touré’s absence

Manchester City’s battling title win last season owed a particular debt to the efforts of Yaya Touré. The Ivorian started 35 league games and scored 20 league goals from a nominal holding position. In the three league games Touré missed last term, City collected only five points.

Menzi Kulati



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