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Sports News

Premier League talking points

LONDON (Reuters) - Talking points from the Premier League weekend:

Soccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v Liverpool - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - October 4, 2020. General view as the big screen displays the score after the match. Pool via REUTERS/Catherine Ivill

OLD PROBLEM RETURNS TO HAUNT LIVERPOOL

It would be foolish to read too much into one, astonishing, defeat for Liverpool but Sunday’s 7-2 hammering at Aston Villa did see, temporarily at least, the return of one old problem for Juergen Klopp.

With goalkeeper Alisson ruled out, after picking up a shoulder injury in training, Klopp had to turn to Spanish back-up Adrian.

The keeper, brought in on a free transfer just before the start of last season, gifted Villa their opening goal and that set the tone for a match in which Liverpool’s defence looked far from the standards of last season.

Adrian has made five errors directly leading to opposition goals in his 21 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, the same number as Alisson in 92 games for the club.

The club’s recruitment in recent years has been justly hailed but it remains baffling why a more reliable back-up to the Brazilian has not been secured.

UNITED’S NEEDS ARE BACK TO FRONT

All through the close-season transfer window, the talk around Manchester United has been focused on their long-running attempt to sign winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

But after Sunday’s humiliating 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, it is the other end of the field that looks more urgently in need of reinforcement.

Eric Bailly was chosen ahead of Victor Lindelof as partner for Harry Maguire in the centre of defence and whilst the Ivorian had a poor game, the more worrying aspect was Maguire’s shocking performance.

The England defender and United captain is supposed to be the leader and organiser at the back but he looked neither and simply struggled with his own duties.

With full backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw also exposed by Spurs, United’s back-line was as weak as the scorline suggests.

They weren’t helped by the midfield offering little cover and Solskjaer must surely regret playing Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes together given neither are noted for their ability to work back off the ball and close down spaces.

United are badly in need of a quality central defender and a “box to box” midfield presence.

In many ways, they are the same weaknesses that cost Spurs’ victorious manager Jose Mourinho his job at Old Trafford almost two years ago.

LEEDS CAN DO GREAT THINGS THIS SEASON

Having gone toe-to-toe with champions Liverpool on the opening day and now Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in a 1-1 draw at Elland Road on Saturday, big things are expected from an all-action Leeds United this season.

City dominated early on, but Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds kept on throwing bodies forward and deservedly equalised in the second half through Rodrigo Moreno, and they did have chances to take all three points too.

“That was good, huh?” Guardiola said, before going on to further praise the man he once described as the best coach in the world.

And, from what we have seen from Leeds as they have taken seven points from four games, further exhilarating, attack-minded performances are sure to follow.

BURNLEY NEED BODIES, FAST

With the transfer deadline fast approaching, and with no points on the board after a 3-1 loss at Newcastle United on Saturday, Burnley’s need for new signings is bordering on the desperate.

“The whole world knows what I want,” manager Sean Dyche said after the defeat at St James’ Park, in reference to how many times he has stated that the club need to bring in further fresh faces.

A long injury list has not helped matters, but neither has the fact that the 1 million pound ($1.29 million) capture of Dale Stephens represents their only major transfer incoming to date.

CAN WEST HAM MAKE THE NEXT STEP?

Following their impressive 3-0 away rout of Leicester City, West Ham’s assistant manager Alan Irvine said it was time the East London club upped their ambitions beyond mere survival.

Overseeing the win in the absence of boss David Moyes who had contracted the coronavirus, Irvine must have been purring with delight after West Ham dismantled Leicester thanks to lethal finishing on the counter-attack.

It would be audacious to expect West Ham to punch above their weight all season and become an established top-four side among a barrage of heavyweights, but their clinical performance at Leicester suggests they are well equipped to make some progress.

Reporting by Simon Evans, Zoran Milosavljevic, Rohith Nair, Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond

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