LONDON (Reuters) – The following are talking points from the Premier League weekend:
TUCHEL SAYS HE’S NOT WORRIED, AND YET…
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was not worried after the Blues dominated a home league match only to draw for the second time in a row, but for some fans, there might be grounds for concern.
True, before Chelsea drew 1-1 with Manchester United, they had looked imperious against Juventus in the Champions League and away to Leicester City, racking up seven goals and conceding none.
But there were echoes of familiar failures to turn dominance into goals on Sunday with Timo Werner, back from injury, and wingers Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech unable to score.
The return of striker Romelu Lukaku as a substitute offered the promise of goals, but the Belgian also struggled to find the net before an injury last month.
“We created chances, we created deliveries, we had a huge amount of shots. Can we take them better? Yes,” Tuchel said. “But we put in an effort and I think the spectators feel that so the energy is right, the quality is right, the result is the result.”
FREE-SCORING LIVERPOOL LOOKING OMINOUS
Not everyone tipped Liverpool as serious title contenders this season, given their meek defence of the first Premier League crown last term, but their forwards have clicked into gear, and are looking ominous after a 4-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.
Liverpool have scored two or more goals in 17 consecutive games in all competitions – becoming only the second ever English top-flight club to achieve this feat after Sunderland in 1927.
They have plundered 39 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, their highest goal total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.
“This year we had a pre-season which was a proper pre-season, which was incredibly helpful, especially up front with Sadio (Mane) and Mo (Salah) who had the longest pre-season they had for ages,” manager Juergen Klopp said.
“We could work on a lot things and found the stability back.”
VILLA ARE A WELL-OILED MACHINE UNDER GERRARD
Aston Villa’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace gave Steven Gerrard two wins from his first two games in charge and in eight days the former midfielder has changed the goalposts from avoiding relegation to finishing in the top half of the table.
Dean Smith struggled to get the squad to gel following Jack Grealish’s departure but Gerrard’s influence has been evident in a confident and well-drilled Villa side who create chances even when they do not dominate possession.
Gerrard’s biggest test will come on Wednesday, however, when Villa host champions Manchester City.
EVERTON NEARING CRISIS MODE AHEAD OF MERSEYSIDE DERBY
Everton go into Wednesday’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool with a growing sense of unease around Goodison Park following their 1-0 loss at Brentford on Sunday.
They were poor in the first half, more dominant in terms of possession in the second, but their efficiency in the final third remained woeful against a team who had not kept a clean sheet at home since the opening day of the season.
Everton have taken two points from the last 21 available, and while it has been an injury-ravaged campaign, their squad depth has been found wanting.
Manager Rafa Benitez has escaped widespread criticism because of the injuries, but a heavy loss to his former club on Wednesday will infuriate an already restless fanbase.
MADDISON REDISCOVERING HIS MAGIC
James Maddison was Leicester City’s midfield creator-in-chief last season but an underwhelming start to this campaign was mirrored by the club’s dip in performances.
Two goals and three assists in three days, however, have breathed life back into a side who returned to the top half of the standings with a 4-2 win over Watford in which he scored the opener and assisted Jamie Vardy twice in the first half.
“You can see his quality, he was a real inspiration for us,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“When he’s running, working and creating, he gives the team confidence. It’s not about one player, it’s about the team, but he was excellent.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair, Nick Said, William Schomberg, Peter Hall, Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Ed Osmond)