Manchester United moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League this weekend, while at the other end Slaven Bilic is in serious trouble at West Ham.
It was a weekend where Tottenham’s ‘Wembley Curse’ reared its ugly head again at home to Burnley, while Arsenal were decimated by a rampant Liverpool at Anfield.
But who stood out (rightly or wrongly) this weekend in another highly-entertaining Premier League matchday?
Manchester United. They made hard work of it at times against Leicester (and missed a penalty), but Man United’s 100% record with zero goals conceded continues. The real test of this side’s progress will come when they face another of the top six, but for now, the strides forward appear to be pretty evident.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Another game, another assist. The Armenian is pretty much undroppable at this point as Mourinho’s creator-in-chief.
Liverpool. The Liverpool front three were always likely to cause Arsenal problems, but they tore them apart viciously. Arsene Wenger’s team selection didn’t help matters but Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and substitute Daniel Sturridge all got on the scoresheet in a perfect afternoon for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius. Jurgen Klopp gave Simon Mignolet the day off – Arsenal did the same with his replacement.
Emre Can. Can will be the main beneficiary of Liverpool’s failure to sign Naby Keita, with the German international quietly maturing into a really important player in the starting lineup. This was evident as he bossed the midfield on Sunday. Can’s contract is up next summer, with talks ongoing, and keeping him at Anfield is vital.
Chelsea. Quietly dispatching Everton seven days after seeing off Tottenham. That Burnley defeat looks now to be opening-day jitters rather than the crisis it threatened to be.
Huddersfield. Three games in, still unbeaten. Even more impressively, David Wagner’s side are yet to concede a goal in this Premier League season. Bigger tests will obviously come down the line, but Huddersfield have made people sit up and take notice of their start to the campaign.
Burnley. Sean Dyche’s side collected only seven points away from home all season last year (only Hull’s record was worse). They already have four this season – earned at Stamford Bridge and Wembley, no less. Some going by the Clarets.
Arsenal. What the hell was that? Disorganised, ill-disciplined, horrendous. Arsenal were all over the place at Anfield and the 4-0 scoreline could have been much worse. Much will be made of Arsene Wenger’s team selection but the players on the pitch, from the defence that couldn’t handle Liverpool’s front three to a midfield that was bullied far too easily, right up to a front line that didn’t register a single shot on target. This is a team that is far too easy to play against.
Arsene Wenger. Dropping his new £52m striker for Danny Welbeck, dropping his £35m defender for Rob Holding, leaving gaps out wide against a team with some of the strongest wide players in the league. Wenger’s mistakes were plentiful at Anfield on Sunday – he got this one very wrong and as much blame as the players themselves have to shoulder, some of it should be reserved for the manager.
Grant Xhaka. Three games, three mistakes leading to goals. Three at the back has done nothing for the Arsenal midfield and few look more exposed in the formation than the Swiss international. Has no partnership to speak of with Aaron Ramsey (nor had he one with Francis Coquelin in the second half at Anfield).
Slaven Bilic. Bilic looks like he might win the Premier League sack race already. Three matches, three defeats, generally terrible performances. Bilic’s position seemed to hang by a thread at times last season, meaning a bad start this time around would always lead to his job being in trouble. The West Ham players might come back from the international break to a new face in the managerial dugout.
Crystal Palace. Zero points, zero goals. Frank de Boer may have to compromise on his tactics to meet the standard of these Palace players if he is going to get anywhere at Selhurst Park.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we catch up with Sligo Rovers striker Vinny Faherty after that brilliant win at Cork City last weekend, as well as looking back as the latest League of Ireland action.