The Premier League served up its usual feast of thrills and spills last weekend, with sumptuous goals, empathic victories and contentious decisions one again demonstrating why the competition is the most avidly followed in world football.
Title challengers Liverpool and Chelsea maintained their unbeaten records with convincing wins over markedly inferior opposition, Manchester United continued their recovery with a solid win over Everton, while Newcastle United continued their impressive run of appearing last in the Match of the Day running order with another uninspiring performance against Southampton.
Arsenal had their winning run halted by Crystal Palace, there were big wins for Europa League place contenders Watford and Bournemouth, while top tier new boys Wolves and Fulham both slumped to defeats.
As always, the round of fixtures produced a number of talking points, and here’s nine things we learned from the captivating weekend of footballing action…
9. Granit Xhaka Still Has a Left Foot Like a Traction Engine
Ooft! What a mighty strike that was!
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, the Fantasy Football equivalent of investing in wildly fluctuating cryptocurrency, scored another trademark thunderbolt free-kick in his side’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace one Sunday.
The mercurial midfielder has become more known for his uncanny ability to find himself in the referees notebook than his scoring ability on late, but his sensational set-piece against the Eagles served as a reminder of what the Switzerland international has tucked away in the locker.
8. The Ice Under Slaviša Jokanovi? Isn’t Getting Any Thicker
Die hard Chelsea fans may recall the days when, during an ill-fated spell at Stamford Bridge during his playing career Slaviša Jokanovi? had an undesirable reputation of somehow triggering an opposition goal whenever he would come on as a substitute.
The Serbian coach’s association with conceding goals appears to have seeped into his management career, and the Cottagers shipped another three of them in a harrowing 3-0 loss at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
Given the instant gratification demanded in modern football, management jobs are more insecure than ever, and Jokanovi? could well be shown the door within the next couple of weeks.
7. Huddersfield Town & Newcastle United Are Simply Doomed
While the season is just ten games deep, both Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United have shown little sign of having the quality necessary to avoid relegation this season.
Terriers boss David Wagner could well have had his head turned by interest from Bundesliga sides in his services, while Rafael Benítez looks about as comfortable as a cat stuck up a chimney to be in the Magpies dugout at the moment.
Newcastle didn’t register a single shot on target in their abject 0-0 draw with Southampton, while Huddersfield’s lack of clinical finishing cost them dearly in a 3-0 hiding at the hands of Watford.
6. José Mourinho DOES Have Another Alternative to Starting Lukaku Upfront
Never one to miss out on the opportunity for a good moan, Manchester United boss José Mourinho insisted that he would have no choice but to start goal-shy striker Romelu Lukaku against Everton – given his lack of alternative options.
Low and behold, the wily old silver fox had a trick up his sleeve, and Anthony Martial was selected alongside Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata in a dynamic front three.
The Frenchman controversially won his side a penalty and scored a stunning goal, proving that United perhaps have more firepower than Mourinho had empathically suggested.
5. Callum Wilson Deserves an England Call-Up
Just what on earth does Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson have to do to earn an England call-up?!
The 26-year-old put in another masterclass in forward play against Fulham, bagging a brace to take his season tally to six goals in eleven matches.
Given Harry Kane’s post-World Cup dip, the Three Lions could do with a rampant marksman as backup to their captain, and Wilson’s ice-cool finishing ability makes him arguably a more suitable option than bench-warming extraordinaire Danny Welbeck.
4. Liverpool’s Push for the Title is Starting to Look Unstoppable
It’s been a long, long wait for Liverpool fans, but with their shaky defence now seemingly a thing of the past, Jürgen Klopp’s side are finally looking capable of winning the club’s first league title since 1990.
As expected, the Reds bulldozed their way past Neil Warnock’s hapless Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon, with last season’s star player Mohamed Salah starting to look back to his redoubtable best.
It’s a long ol’ season, but the Merseysiders have started the campaign brilliantly, and look the most able squad to wrestle the league title away from Manchester City.
3. Wolves’ Strong Start Is in Danger of Unravelling
Wolverhampton Wanderers went on a blinding run of form in September and early October, taking the scalps of West Ham United, Burnley, Southampton and Crystal Palace, as well as picking up a big point at Old Trafford.
However, Nuno Espírito Santo’s side slipped to their second consecutive defeat against Brighton on Saturday, and are staring down the barrel of two tricky fixtures against London sides Arsenal and Spurs.
Arguably the most impressive promoted side in years, there’s no chance that Wolves are going to be relegated, but they’ll need to up their game again if they’re to making serious inroads into the upper echelons of the league table.
2. ?ukasz Fabia?ski Is the Most Underrated Goalkeeper in the Premier League
West Ham invested in all manner of exotic new talents in the summer transfer window, but their acquisition of Premier League veteran ?ukasz Fabia?ski was arguably their most important of the lot.
The 33-year-old was in sensational form during his side’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City on Friday evening, and pulled off a number of acrobatic saves to ensure his side left the east Midlands with a precious point.
While he never got much of a look in during his stint with Arsenal, Fabia?ski proved himself as a top stopper during his time with Swansea, and is continuing to excel in the top tier with the Hammers.
1. Chelsea Are Much More Than a One-Man Team
Despite club talisman Eden Hazard being ruled out of action with a back injury, Chelsea stormed to a convincing 4-0 win over Burnley on Sunday afternoon.
The direct running approach offered by wing wonder Willian served as the ideal replacement for Hazard, and proved that the Blues are more than capable of excelling without their Balon d’Or coveting star.
With Ross Barkley in the form of his life and Jorginho pulling the midfield strings like a master puppeteer, Maurizio Sarri’s reinvigorated Chelsea look set to be the biggest entertainers in the league this season. Pass the popcorn, mate!