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10 Talking Points From Matchweek 8: Man United Survive Scare While Liverpool Show Resilience

From Manchester United coming from a goal down to win 2-1 against Brentford in stoppage time to Arsenal beating Manchester City, matchweek 8 of the Premier League was not short of entertainment, controversy and goals.

A total of 27 goals were scored across 10 games over the weekend, with four games ending in a draw—Crystal Palace vs Nottingham Forest, Brighton vs Liverpool, West Ham vs Newcastle United and Wolves vs Aston Villa. North London duo Tottenham and Arsenal—who are placed first and second on the table respectively—are the only unbeaten teams in the Premier League heading into October’s international break.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 talking points from Premier League matchweek 8.

#Haaland blows cold in Man City’s toothless defeat to Arsenal

Arsenal sealed a memorable win over Manchester City at long last on Sunday—breaking their 12-game curse with a 1-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium. Toothless Man City mustered just four shots, with striker Erling Haaland managing none.

Haaland was not at his best and managed just 23 shots throughout the game after being manhandled by Arsenal duo William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes. Both centre-backs were completely in sync with one another, thereby, taming the Premier League’s scariest striker that might give Guardiola headaches as he ponders City’s slump during the international break.

#Arsenal send title message

Arsenal had last beaten Man City in the league back in December 2015 when Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini were in the dugouts. So for Arsenal fans, ending that long barren run against City was worth the wait, as Gabriel Martinelli fired a last-gasp winner albeit a huge deflection from Nathan Ake to earn the Gunners a 1-0 win over the champions on Sunday and send the Emirates Stadium into delirium.

Given the way Arsenal collapsed in the Premier League title race last season, they needed a strong start to the season and a statement win against City. Mikel Arteta finally got the better of Pep Guardiola, and this win could be a psychological turning point for the Gunners as they chase the title once more.

#Andoni Iraola under pressure at Bournemouth

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola is in danger of becoming the Premier League’s first managerial casualty of the season if he is unable to turn the club’s fortunes around. They sit 19th in the table, without a win in eight games.

The Cherries sacked Gary O’Neil after he helped them achieve safety in the top flight last season and the club were excited to bring in Andoni Iraola, who had a successful spell at Rayo Vallecano. But the Spaniard is yet to weave his magic and get results, and a 3-0 defeat to Everton last weekend—their third defeat in a row—may force the owners to take a call during the international break.

#McTominay saves Ten Hag’s blushes

Manchester United were staring towards a third embarrassing home defeat in eight days until Scott McTominay proved an unlikely hero despite only coming into the fray in the 87th minute.

Erik ten Hag’s side were struggling to find a way to get past a resolute Brentford, who had taken the lead in the first half through Mathias Jensen. Enter McTominay late in the game and he turned the tide upside down. The Scot expertly brought the ball down and picked out the corner for the equaliser before heading home an astonishing winner in the seventh minute of added time to spare Ten Hag’s blushes.

The Dutch tactician was then keen to stress a dramatic “Fergie Time” victory over Brentford could prove a turning point in Man United’s troubled season.

#Sterling sparkles as Chelsea smash Bournemouth

Chelsea came from behind to record a 4-1 win against Burnley at Turf Moor for their second successive victory on their travels in the Premier League. Raheem Sterling was the architect of the Chelsea win, producing two assists and a goal after being recalled into the first XI after a knock to Mykhaylo Mudryk.

The Blues looked set for further disappointment this season after falling behind against Burnley, only for Sterling to force an own goal to restore parity before winning a second-half penalty to complete the turnaround. The English winger then got on the scoresheet himself to cap a memorable afternoon at Turf Moor.

#Kudus knocking on Moyes’s door

Mohammed Kudus is yet to start a Premier League game for West Ham since his summer move from Ajax, even though he has impressed during his outings in the Europa League.

The creative midfielder bagged a brace against Backa Topola last month and hoped to keep his place in the first XI after performing well against SC Freiburg last week. However, the Ghanaian saw his place taken by Michail Antonio in attack when West Ham welcomed Newcastle to the London Stadium.

With a minute left on the clock and Newcastle having retreated back a little bit at 2-1, Vladimir Coufal found Kudus, who expertly lashed home with his left foot from 20 yards out. The 23-year-old will hope he has done enough to bulldoze his way in after the international break.

#Tottenham show grit to edge past Luton Town

Eight games into the new season under Ange Postecoglou and having sold talisman Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, there are precious few Tottenham fans who would have believed they would sit at the summit heading into October’s international break.

Spurs’ unbeaten start to the season looked under threat when they were reduced to 10 men before half-time, following Yves Bissouma’s second yellow card. Micky van de Ven gave Spurs the lead in the 52th minute and then alongside Cristian Romero defended extremely well against the Carlton Morris-led Luton attack.

There is a real positivity about Tottenham’s play and they seem to have bought into what Postecoglou wants pretty much immediately, with new signings such as Van de Ven, James Maddison and Guglielmo Vicario settling in so quickly.

#Sheffield United continue to sink

Sheffield United’s search for a first win of the season continued, as Fulham secured a 3-1 win over the promoted side at Craven Cottage. But the game was overshadowed by a devastating injury to Sheffield United captain Chris Basham, which led to the game being stopped for 13 minutes during the first half and led to a standing ovation from the whole of Craven Cottage as he was stretchered off.

Nonetheless, it was another tepid, meek display from the Blades in their 3-1 defeat to Fulham. Paul Heckingbottom clearly looks on borrowed time at Bramall Lane.

#Murillo shows great promise in Nottingham Forest’s draw at Selhurst Park

Murillo has been a breath of fresh air in the Nottingham Forest backline, impressing in back-to-back starts for Steve Cooper’s side. After making his debut against Brentford, the Brazilian impressed in Forest’s goalless draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

It wasn’t just the inch-perfect pass to set up Morgan Gibbs-White or his samba-style jinking and dribbling run that almost ended in a brilliant goal: Murillo, who made only 13 senior appearances for Corinthians before moving to Forest in the summer, also formed a solid partnership in central defence alongside Willy Boly that provides great promise for the rest of the season.

“It’s only the start” for Murillo, Cooper rightly mentioned in his post-match presser.

#Liverpool’s blend of brilliance and vulnerability

Going into the game against Brighton on Sunday, there were questions in the minds of the Liverpool fans and across the media—Would Liverpool be affected by the VAR controversy of last week against Tottenham? Would that lead them into something self-destructive? Might it even stimulate them? The truth is it barely seemed to matter at all.

This was Liverpool as they have been for most of this season—a blend of brilliance and vulnerability that makes them look at times like genuine title contenders and not in others. Five times already this season they have gone behind and come back to win and, until Lewis Dunk tapped in Solly March’s free-kick with 12 minutes remaining on the clock, it looked close to being a sixth.

Had Ryan Gravenberch not hit the bar from close range eight minutes into the second half, it surely would have been the Reds’ sixth win. That speaks well of this unit’s mental toughness and character, and rather less well of their defensive skills, but the sense lingers this isn’t sustainable.

Rohan Sengupta

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