Three talking points from the Premier League
Manchester United were the big losers as the rest of the Premier League’s major powers restored a semblance of normality after a chaotic start to the season filled with goal fests and upsets.
Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham moved up the table with single-goal victories, while big-spending Chelsea are beginning to click into gear as they won 3-0 at Burnley.
United, on the other hand, are languishing in 15th after failing to win at Old Trafford for a sixth straight league game as Arsenal were worthy 1-0 winners thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty.
AFP Sports looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.
Arsenal break ‘big six’ ceiling
Arsenal’s improvement under Mikel Arteta took another huge step forward with the Gunners’ first away win against a ‘big six’ rival in the Premier League for 30 games stretching back to January 2015.
In nearly a year in charge, Arteta has managed to make Arsenal competitive again when faced with the opposition of the calibre of Liverpool, City, Chelsea, United and Tottenham.
City and Chelsea were beaten en route to winning the FA Cup last season, while Liverpool have won only one of four meetings against Arteta’s Arsenal.
Much more is needed to turn the Londoners back into title contenders as they again showed a struggle to score goals despite dominating large spells of the game at Old Trafford.
Indeed, Aubameyang’s penalty is the only time Arteta’s men have found the net in their past three games. But the fact they now boast the best defensive record in the league having already played City, Liverpool and United away in the opening seven games exemplifies how they are now a far harder side to beat.
“We knew since the beginning we have to trust the process,” said Aubameyang. “Mikel is bringing something very nice.”
Bale bolsters Tottenham’s title credentials
Gareth Bale has had to bide his time to make an impact in his second spell at Spurs with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min now the established stars for Jose Mourinho’s men.
But the Welshman offered a glimpse of what could be possible if all three can gel as an attacking trio as he came off the bench to score the winner in a 2-1 victory over Brighton.
Spurs are now up to second, just two points adrift of Liverpool. Had they not conceded last-gasp equalisers to Newcastle and West Ham in their previous two home games, Tottenham could have been top of the table.
They may well head into the November international break there as they travel to struggling West Brom next weekend, while Liverpool face Manchester City.
So much will depend on keeping Bale, Kane and Son fit as all three have had injury problems in recent seasons.
But with all of England’s traditional giants showing frailties, there is a golden opportunity for Spurs to target a first league title in 60 years.
Ings injury mars Southampton joy
After dream starts to the campaign for Everton and Aston Villa have fizzled out, Southampton have stepped forward as the latest side to dream of what could be possible in an unpredictable season.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men sum up the unpredictability of the Premier League with just three points separating Tottenham in second from Newcastle in 11th.
Thrashed 5-2 at home by Spurs to be left with no points from their opening two games, Southampton have stormed back to move fourth thanks to four wins and a thrilling 3-3 draw at Chelsea in their last five games.
After roaring into a 4-0 lead at Aston Villa on Sunday, the Saints were left hanging on for a 4-3 win, but of greater concern for Hasenhuttl was an injury suffered by Danny Ings.
The England international has twice previously suffered cruciate ligament damage in the past.
“It didn’t look good at the time,” Hasenhuttl said after the game.
“He overstretched his knee and this is always dangerous and he was immediately shouting, ‘my knee, my knee’. He will have a scan tomorrow.”
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