London (AFP) – Five things we learned from the English Premier League this weekend:
Spurs need a Wembley win
— Tottenham’s impressive display in their 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea gave the lie to suggestions they are unable to perform at Wembley, their home for the season while White Hart Lane is rebuilt, but the sooner they get a win there, the better. Spurs have lost eight and won just one of the last 10 games they have played at the national stadium, a record that has created talk of a ‘Wembley curse’. Their loss to Chelsea, who prevailed through Marcos Alonso’s 88th-minute winner, brought an end to a run of 14 successive home league wins. They were unfortunate not to have claimed at least a point, having drawn level through Michy Batshuayi’s own goal in the 82nd minute.
Ibrahimovic loss a blessing in disguise for Man Utd
— Zlatan Ibrahimovic could scarcely have enjoyed a better maiden season at Manchester United, scoring 28 goals in 46 games and inspiring his side to League Cup glory before injury curtailed his campaign. But while Ibrahimovic thrived, United’s other forwards struggled, with nobody else in the squad mustering more than 11 goals. New striker Romelu Lukaku is a far more mobile player than Ibrahimovic and his movement has opened up space for United’s other attacking players to exploit. Lukaku took his tally to four goals in three games in United’s 4-0 win at Swansea City, while Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial have each scored two goals in two games and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has already supplied four assists.
Liverpool have options at full-back
— Full-back was something of a problem area for Liverpool last season. Manager Jurgen Klopp was heavily dependent on Nathaniel Clyne at right-back and became so disillusioned with Alberto Moreno’s performances on the other flank that midfielder James Milner ended up slotting in at left-back for the entire season. This season, things appear to be different. Eighteen-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has earned rave reviews in the absence of the injured Clyne and in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, enterprising left-back Andy Robertson was named man of the match in his first appearance since signing from Hull City. With 20-year-old Joe Gomez slotting in assuredly for Alexander-Arnold on the other flank, Liverpool kept only their fourth home clean sheet of 2017.
Wenger woes return
— A new season has brought familiar problems for Arsene Wenger as Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Stoke highlighted his team’s Achilles heel once again. Having battled back for a dramatic 4-3 win over Leicester in their season opener, Arsenal had shown a rare glimpse of the kind of fighting spirit often missing from their play. But just eight days later they reverted to type with a tame surrender at the hands of old nemesis Stoke. Most alarming for Wenger was the limp manner in which his back three allowed Jese Rodriguez to gallop through unchecked for the 47th minute winner. And for all Wenger’s complaints about Alexandre Lacazette having an equaliser ruled out for offside, even the Frenchman had to admit Arsenal had been sluggish and unconvincing.
— Back in the top flight for the first time in 34 years, Brighton are learning that fairytales can quickly turn sour. Chris Hughton’s side captured the imagination with their long awaited return to the top flight, but so far the Seagulls have struggled to show they can make their stay last longer than a season. Beaten 2-0 by Manchester City in their season opener, Brighton fared no better at Leicester as goals from Shinjo Okazaki and Harry Maguire sealed the points for the hosts. Worringly for Hughton, who has broken Brighton’s transfer record three times since last season in a bid to improve his squad, Albion managed just two shots on target.