Friday, September 29, 2023

James Maddison oozes class, Arsenal tinkering backfired and Man United find a way – What we learned in the Premier League on Saturday

Saturday’s Premier League action meant some afternoons for the division’s biggest clubs.

While Tottenham managed to grab a 2-0 win in the day’s early kick-off with Bournemouth, Arsenal, Manchester United and Brighton all struggled to claim a victory as the increasingly competitive nature of the top flight came to bite them.

West Ham were unstoppable against BrightonGetty

The campaign may be in its infancy, but we’re already learning heaps about the strengths and weaknesses of all 20 clubs in the Premier League, not to mention fueling our predictions of how each team could fare over the course of 38 games.

Here’s what talkSPORT learned from the six Saturday fixtures from the top flight.

James Maddison oozes quality

Harry Kane’s move to Bayern Munich means that Tottenham are in need of a hero – thankfully, they may have found one.

Having arrived for £40million from Leicester, question marks were asked over Maddison’s ability to perform at the highest level given that he was part of a side who had just suffered relegation, but early signs show that Spurs fans had nothing to worry about.

After laying on two assists for his teammates on his debut against Brentford, Maddison has now scored his first goal for Tottenham after placing a neat finish into the bottom corner of the net to send Spurs on their way to a 2-0 win over Bournemouth.

Fans were loving what they saw – not just because of the goal scored, but also due to his continued involvement and influence over the course of the game as Ange Postecoglou’s side looked to hold onto the ball and dictate play.

It’s very early days for the 26-year-old, but Maddison’s start to life with Tottenham surely couldn’t have gone any better for him.

Maddison is proving to be a real hit with Tottenham’s supportersGetty

Things are looking up under Postecoglou in north LondonGetty

Mikel Arteta’s tactics backfire

Arsenal had enjoyed three wins out of three at the start of this season, but as the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Fresh from a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Monday night, Arteta took the decision to change things up in his starting XI, most notably dropping Eddie Nketiah and bringing in Leandro Trossard to play as a false nine, meaning that Arsenal had no striker on the pitch and a total of seven midfielders.

With the Gunners held to a 2-2 draw, Gabby Agbonlahor was stunned at what he had seen from the north London side and insisted that Mikel Arteta must take the blame for dropping points.

He told talkSPORT: “Why is Arteta trying to do this experiment with Arsenal? Why are you playing with no striker? Why are you playing with a false nine and why have you not started Nketiah?

“Why are you playing Havertz? Why is Thomas Partey playing right back?

“Why aren’t you playing White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko in a back four, a midfield of Partey, Rice and Odegaard and then Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli? That’s the team that Arsenal should be playing.

“I just don’t understand the team that he played today. Arsenal fans will agree that Havertz isn’t working.

Arteta got it all wrong against Fulham, believes AgbonlahorAFP

“You’re playing Thomas Partey at right-back to fit in certain players – stop playing him at right-back and play him in centre-mid. Give Declan Rice the authority to make forward runs with Odegaard.

“Play Nketiah. You had two strikers on the bench today.

“It’s disrespecting Fulham, they maybe thought it was an easy game. I just don’t understand it.”

Man United find a way

It was far from a perfect day at the office, but Man United’s supporters won’t mind too much.

In fact, it was a torrid start with Nottingham Forest going 2-0 up inside four minutes, leaving fans at Old Trafford terrified as to what the rest of the 90 minutes could have in store for them.

Thankfully for Erik ten Hag, their big-name, experienced stars were able to keep their heads and guide them back into the game.

Marcus Rashford looked dangerous all afternoon and teed up Christian Eriksen to get one back, before Casemiro made up for a horrendous early miss to draw the game level.

The Red Devils will be relieved to have found a way to victory

Steve Cooper’s side had moments of threat, however Bruno Fernandes managed to grab a third to see them to a second Premier League win of the season.

Let’s not pretend that Man United are looking like world-beaters, because they aren’t.

However what they are doing is finding a way to grind out results when they’re not at their best – something that could serve them very well as they look to enjoy a long, successful campaign in which they might even mount some sort of title charge.

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