Three talking points from the Premier League

Three talking points from the Premier League

© AFP 2022
October 8, 2023 at 7:03 PM
Gabriel Martinelli scored Arsenal's winner over Manchester City
Gabriel Martinelli scored Arsenal's winner over Manchester City. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Arsenal ended an eight-year wait to beat Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday to leave the title race wide open.

Both sides of the north London divide lead the way with Tottenham ahead of Arsenal only on goal difference after their hard-fought 1-0 win at Luton.

The top six are separated by just four points but with none of the sides from third down to seventh winning this weekend, Manchester United and Chelsea clawed back some ground.

United needed two stoppage time goals from Scott McTominay to beat Brentford 2-1, while Chelsea showed signs of clicking under Mauricio Pochettino in a 4-1 win at Burnley.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.

Haaland drought leaves City toothless

Erling Haaland has failed to score in his last three games
Erling Haaland has failed to score in his last three games. Photo: Ian Kington / IKIMAGES/AFP
Source: AFP

As Erling Haaland and his Manchester City teammates squabbled with a member of Arsenal's security team after the final whistle in their damaging 1-0 defeat on Sunday, it was tempting to suggest that was the most fight shown by the champions all afternoon.

Toothless City mustered just four shots, which ranked as the fewest a Pep Guardiola side had managed in a top-flight game since Barcelona had the same tally against Espanyol 13 years ago.

City's second successive league defeat -- the first time they have suffered that indignity since December 2018 -- won't necessarily be fatal to their bid for a fourth successive title.

But Arsenal undoubtedly exposed a few chinks in the treble winners' armour, not least the lack of contribution from Haaland, as they moved two points above City.

Haaland started the season with a flurry of seven goals in five league games, but since then the striker has scored just once in his last five appearances in all competitions, including three in a row without a goal.

He barely had a significant touch in the Arsenal penalty area as Gunners centre-backs William Saliba and Gabriel subdued him in a manner that might give Guardiola a few sleepless nights as he ponders City's slump during the international break.

Do Tottenham dare to dream?

Eight games into their first league campaign under Ange Postecoglou and having sold Harry Kane, there are precious few Tottenham fans who would have believed they would sit top of the table heading into October's international break.

Not for the first time since Postecoglou took charge, Spurs were forced to go the hard way round getting three points at Luton.

Yves Bissouma's dive that brought a second yellow card left his side down to 10 men for the entirety of the second-half.

Yet, they still found a winner through Micky Van de Ven and showed a steel to see out an aerial bombardment that would have undone many more talented Tottenham sides of the past.

Postecoglou has already installed a winning mentality that has seen him lift league titles in Australia, Japan and Scotland in his coaching career.

Doing so at Spurs would dwarf any of those achievements, but with no European football to drain their energy, Tottenham are entitled to start dreaming about what could be possible.

McTominay papers over Man Utd cracks

Scott McTominay (left) saved Manchester United from defeat against Brentford
Scott McTominay (left) saved Manchester United from defeat against Brentford. Photo: Darren Staples / AFP
Source: AFP

United were hurtling towards a third embarrassing home defeat in eight days until McTominay proved an unlikely hero despite not setting foot on the field until the 87th minute.

Erik ten Hag hailed the academy graduate as "the heart" of a club that continues to lurch from crisis to crisis.

Ten Hag was keen to suggest a dramatic victory could prove a turning point in a troubled season.

But many of the same old failings were on show against a Brentford side that have not won since August.

Andre Onana made another goalkeeping error for the Bees' goal and United were largely toothless in attack in their search for an equaliser.

Indeed without the help of Brentford stopper Thomas Strakosha on his Premier League debut for both goals, United would have fallen to a seventh defeat in 10 games.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022