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10 thoughts from electrifying weekend of Premier League action


theScore examines the most important developments and discusses the biggest talking points from another rip-roaring weekend in England's top flight.

Chelsea making life difficult for themselves

If there was any confusion as to why Chelsea are panicking to revamp their squad before the transfer deadline, their trip to Elland Road offered a glimpse into what's plaguing Thomas Tuchel's struggling squad.

It was a disastrous afternoon against Leeds United in a match that highlighted Chelsea's need for a proven striker and defensive reinforcements after falling 3-0. Chelsea came out of the gates with a positive, attacking attitude but failed to capitalize on early opportunities before the momentum shifted in favor of the hosts.

Things got ugly for the Blues after Edouard Mendy's catastrophic first-half mistake. After failing to clear the ball just feet away from his goal, Mendy lost possession to Brenden Aaronson, who slotted the ball in from close to set the tone for the remainder of the fixture.

It went from bad to worse following Mendy's blunder when a reckless challenge near the Blues penalty area resulted in Leeds' second goal in four minutes against the shell-shocked visitors. Hopes of mounting a comeback were wiped out after Jack Harrison's goal was followed by new arrival Kalidou Koulibaly getting sent off for picking up his second yellow of the contest.

With Koulibaly suspended, Chelsea could increase their efforts to add another defender. But, with time ticking down, options are few and far between for a Chelsea side linked with a shock move for Manchester United captain Harry Maguire.

Marsch proving critics wrong

Along with being a day to remember for Leeds United fans, Sunday's lopsided victory over Chelsea may have also been the moment supporters finally moved on from Marcelo Bielsa and embraced manager Jesse Marsch.

While Marsch's arrival didn't have the same excitement that accompanied his predecessor, Leeds' bright start to the season has certainly helped the American manager endear himself to supporters and remove any doubts that he's the right man for the job.

Leeds opened the Premier League campaign with a win over Wolves and a draw with Southampton. But the club produced their best performance under Marsch on route to sealing a stunning victory over a Chelsea side that finished 36 points above them last season.

Goals from Aaronson, Rodrigo, and Harrison helped secure three massive points. However, Leeds United's energy and organization caused Chelsea headaches throughout the match and helped the hosts record their first Premier League win against the Blues since 2002.

Marsch had plenty of doubters upon his arrival - in many cases, just because of his American accent - but the 48-year-old has ushered in a style of play that's won over fans and produced points to help ease concerns over another relegation battle for Leeds this campaign.

Brighton need to be taken seriously

With so much going on in the opening three weeks of the Premier League season, some might overlook that Brighton and Hove Albion are one of the hottest teams in England.

The Seagulls continued their sensational start Sunday, cruising to a comfortable 2-0 win. In the process of moving up to fifth place, Brighton have relegated West Ham to the bottom of the table.

Their string of positive performances to open the 2022-23 campaign may come as a surprise to some, but there was evidence near the end of last season to suggest big things were in store for Graham Potter's squad.

Brighton closed out last term with a victory over none other than West Ham to ensure a top-10 finish in the table, a feat made possible largely due to their five-game unbeaten run over the final weeks of the 2021-22 season.

Even with key players departing this summer, such as Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma, Brighton have persevered with a trio of positive performances - highlighted by an opening day victory over Manchester United - that should generate more excitement around the south-coast club.

Magpies' summer lacks sparkle - and that's just fine

The flashiness that was expected from Newcastle United in this transfer window has been lacking. Where's the Robinho signing? What about an overpriced striker like Adrian Mutu? Instead of playing Football Manager like the early days of other takeovers, Newcastle instead played it safe by acquiring established, dependable players like Sven Botman and Nick Pope.

Eddie Howe has opted for evolution over revolution and, perhaps most crucially of all, has given players who predate the Saudi takeover opportunities to prove they can be a part of this era.

Many of them are repaying his faith.

Joelinton has been a revelation since Howe turned him into a bustling midfielder, and the Brazilian unsettled Manchester City's core with his physicality and pressing in Sunday's 3-3 draw. His pressure on Kyle Walker was key in the buildup to Callum Wilson scoring Newcastle's second goal, and he waded in with three interceptions, two of which were in City's half.

Stu Forster / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The entertaining yet often frustrating Allan Saint-Maximin is also making a strong claim to be a main figure of Howe's regime. He repeatedly pulled City out of shape with his dribbling and produced two assists in the first half, which was more than he managed through 19 appearances at St. James' Park last season.

Miguel Almiron, who has sometimes been a figure of fun since his 2019 switch from Atlanta United, was another player who many believed would be jettisoned when the Public Investment Fund's riches arrived on Tyneside. Instead, the Paraguayan kept Joao Cancelo occupied with his determined running and atoned for a glaring miss when he scored Newcastle's first goal from close range. He epitomized his side's intensity.

Many expected the takeover to be followed by huge upheaval. Instead, Howe has sought stability during a gradual build, and he's reaping the rewards as the players he inherited seize their chances to prove they should be part of his plans.

Here are the main talking points from Saturday's matches ...

Replacing Coady isn't easy

Nathan Collins doesn't shy away from a challenge. He captained Stoke City at 18, tried to break up the James Tarkowski and Ben Mee defensive partnership at Burnley, and now, at 21, he's stepping into Conor Coady's shoes at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

And that will be tough. Coady arrived at Molineux as a busy, raw midfielder and left as a reliable, ball-playing center-back who seldom missed a game. He was a leader on the pitch and hugely popular in the stands through his key role in Wolves' rise from underwhelming Championship outfit to established Premier League side.

There was an element of goodwill involved when Wolves granted Coady's move to Everton. His starts would've waned as head coach Bruno Lage moved toward a back-four rather than a defensive trio so, with England's World Cup campaign approaching, Wolves let their captain find precious minutes elsewhere.

Jack Thomas - WWFC / Wolverhampton Wanderers FC / Getty

So, replacing Coady might be Collins' greatest test of all. How do you follow a legend?

There's no denying Collins' physical qualities. Wolves were caught out by a quick free-kick during Saturday's trip to Tottenham Hotspur that sent Son Heung-Min through on goal. Son needed to control the delivery on his chest, but the way Collins caught up with the pacey South Korean and squeezed him off the ball was impressive. He was also confident when striding out of the backline, completing two dribbles.

But he was at fault for the only goal of the game: Harry Kane was livelier than Collins and outwrestled the defender for his back-post header. Wolves will miss Coady's distribution, too. The former skipper instigated so many attacks through his long-range homing missiles to Wolves' wing-backs, and neither Collins nor Max Kilman possesses that level of quality.

This might take time.

Perisic fits like a glove

If Antonio Conte could create his ideal wing-back in a lab, it would likely be modeled after Ivan Perisic.

The two-footed Croatian was Tottenham's standout performer in his full debut Saturday. Still boasting the elite athleticism needed to cope with the intense demands of playing the wing-back position under the Italian manager, Perisic, 33, was instrumental in fashioning the lone goal in Spurs' 1-0 win.

He won the game's decisive corner kick with a surging run forward and earned the assist on Kane's historic tally with a flicked header to the back post from the ensuing set piece. Physical power, incisiveness, and attacking contributions: All of Perisic's preeminent qualities were on display.

He did all that without shirking his defensive duties, either.

With Ryan Sessegnon (22) already in the squad and recent signing Destiny Udogie (19) slated to join Spurs next season after spending a year on loan at Udinese, Conte has his long-term succession plan in place at left wing-back.

But, at least for now, that spot firmly belongs to Perisic.

Zaha should have no regrets

Wilfried Zaha was in Manchester United's Champions League group-stage squad for the 2013-14 season, but he didn't make a single appearance. He wasn't even an unused substitute, while David Moyes handed chances to other youngsters like Adnan Januzaj and Alexander Buttner.

And since then, Zaha hasn't had any opportunities to participate in those Champions League evenings he craves. He turns 30 in November, so it probably won't happen.

He should have no regrets, though. He could've thrown a tantrum and forced a transfer to a Champions League regular, but would those European appearances be more valuable than his lofty status at Crystal Palace? Zaha's the main man, and he won't need to buy a pint in Croydon long after his playing days are over. Surely that's more valuable than a few Champions League outings that probably wouldn't have ended up with silverware.

It's an exciting time at Palace right now, and Zaha's at the center of it all. He seems to relish his role. With two goals to his name against Aston Villa (one fine strike on a breakaway and a finish after his initial penalty was saved), he wasn't prepared to kick back. He could've bombed down the flank after winning the ball in a tussle with Boubacar Kamara, sending Villa's celebrated summer recruit tumbling. Instead, he invited Kamara to return to his feet before beating him again. It was cruel, it was cocky - it was fantastic entertainment.

Zac Goodwin - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Zaha's touch before Jean-Philippe Mateta made it 3-1 was another joy. He was strutting, reveling in being the entertainer at Selhurst Park, and produced an audacious flick with the outside of his right foot to send Tyrick Mitchell down the left flank. Mitchell's cross for Mateta was sublime.

He won't be playing against Club Brugge or RB Leipzig this fall, but Zaha is leading a young group who are playing some of the best football that Crystal Palace fans have seen in generations. That's something the winger should cherish. The Champions League isn't everything.

Rodgers in a tough spot

Brendan Rodgers must be desperate for the transfer window to close.

Leicester City's rough start to the season continued Saturday, as the Foxes threw away a 1-0 second-half lead against Southampton, conceding a pair of goals to Che Adams en route to a dispiriting 2-1 home defeat.

Wesley Fofana's absence loomed large.

Prior to the contest, Rodgers said Fofana and midfielder Youri Tielemans weren't in the lineup because it would be detrimental to field players who "aren't quite in the right frame of mind." The influential pair have been incessantly linked with transfers this summer. Chelsea are desperately chasing Fofana, while Arsenal have long admired Tielemans, who was at least on the bench Saturday and came on as a substitute.

Michael Regan / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Daniel Amartey slotted alongside Jonny Evans in central defense as Rodgers switched to a back-four. While Leicester handled the Saints well enough for the opening hour, Adams' introduction proved too much for the makeshift backline. A clever - though by no means revolutionary - throw-in routine bamboozled the Leicester defense for Adams' first goal of the encounter, and then he slipped into a hole between Amartey and Timothy Castagne to net his acrobatic winner in the 84th minute.

Perhaps he would have scored both even if Fofana was on the pitch. Maybe the 21-year-old would have locked down Adams, and Leicester would've retained the lead and claimed three points. We'll never know now.

But one thing is certain: the uncertainty surrounding the French defender's future - and the club's bemusing transfer window as a whole - is threatening to drag Leicester down early in the season.

Mitrovic silencing doubters so far

Coming into the season, Aleksandar Mitrovic was considered a tweener. Too good for the Championship - he smashed the single-season record with 43 goals last year to help Fulham earn promotion - his ability to replicate that success in the top flight, or recapture a fraction of it, was widely questioned.

He's silencing any doubters thus far, though.

With a last-gasp winner against Brentford on Saturday, the burly Serbian equaled his goal total from the entire 2020-21 season, his last in the Premier League before the current campaign.

It's not just the goals, either. Mitrovic has been a constant menace inside the opposition penalty area through his first three matches. Just ask Liverpool.

It's very early, of course, but the returns so far suggest Mitrovic is more well-rounded than two seasons ago, and he's surrounded by a better Fulham team than the one that faltered badly in its previous Premier League adventure. That won't translate to 43 goals, but it's a great sign for Marco Silva and the Cottagers.

Arsenal, fans having fun again

It’s hard to imagine a fan base in the Premier League that's having more fun these days than Arsenal supporters, who were treated to another captivating performance as Mikel Arteta's men continued their scorching-hot start to the season.

In an away encounter that might've proved tricky for the Gunners in the past, Arsenal got the job done in decisive fashion Saturday. They delighted their traveling support with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bournemouth in a match that featured beautiful goals - and the birth of perhaps the catchiest tune in the Premier League.

The fun started early and continued right up until the final whistle. Arsenal came out flying with two early goals from Martin Odegaard that essentially put the match out of the reach for the struggling home side.

But, despite the early heroics from the Norwegian playmaker, it was William Saliba’s name that rang from the away stand to the tune of "Tequila," the wildly catchy 1950s hit. It's all anyone could hear for the last 15 minutes of the first half and blared even louder after halftime when the French defender recorded his first Arsenal goal with an incredible strike to make it 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium.

While he didn't get on the scoresheet this week, Gabriel Jesus extended his phenomenal start to life as a Gunner. The tenacious Brazilian was once again at the heart of Arsenal's rampant attack and finished another eye-catching shift with an assist for Odegaard's second goal.

In usurping north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to finish Saturday atop the Premier League, Arsenal also opened the season with three straight league wins for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign (when they were in the midst of an unprecedented 49-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League).

10 thoughts from electrifying weekend of Premier League action
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