Man City, Spurs, Arsenal & Chelsea: What we learned from last year’s top six

Liverpool's remain defensively frail, Kane opens his scoring account whilst Manchester United's winless run at Stoke City continues.

The Premier League was back with a bang following the international break and it surely did not disappoint.

Several deadline signings were making their debuts at their new clubs and a number of mouthwatering clashes welcomed back the fans with Liverpool travelling to the Etihad, Tottenham visiting a rejuvenated Everton, Chelsea at the King Power Stadium and Manchester United at Stoke City.

24 goals were scored across the seven games played on Saturday, with six players getting braces for their clubs.

As we take stock of these Saturday matches, here is what we learned from the last year’s top six teams as the season progresses.

  1. 1 Lucky Arsenal, poor Bournemouth

    For two teams that have been under pressure following a bad start of the season, this was a game to get fans back behind the team.

    With none of the teams keeping a clean sheet since the opening game of the season, it was imperative that their defenders be on full alert. However, Bournemouth committed too many defensive mistakes for which they paid heavily by conceding three goals.

    The mid-match confrontation between Asmir Begovic and Tyrone Mings summed up Bournemouth's frustrating afternoon as Arsenal remained firmly in control of the match.

    Two chances in the second half by Jermain Defoe and Joshua King were all Bournemouth could afford in 90 minutes.

    For Arsenal, this was a great game to build confidence ahead of a Sunday lunchtime kick-off at Stamford Bridge, a ground that has brought a lot of misery to Gunners' fans.

  2. 2 Manchester United's winning run comes to an end

    A handshake controversy, a well-balanced game with attacks coming end to end, and a winning run halted. Well, that summarises the match between Stoke City and Manchester United.

    The Red Devils have not won at Stoke City since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and this record will stand for another year as Jose Mourinho failed to end this voodoo against the Potters.

    Despite having 62% possession, the United attack was kept at bay by a brilliant Jack Butland who continuously kept Stoke City in the match. There was nothing United could have done better on this weekend and Jose will be satisfied with this point as it may prove crucial in the title run-in.

    Mark Hughes does not get a lot of credit for the job he does considering the number of high profile managers in the Premier League. Well, the game against United showed that he can go toe to toe with the big boys.

    Despite missing several first-team defenders, Stoke City were confident in the match and threatened as much as United throughout the game. 

    Summer signings Jese Rodriguez, Darren Fletcher and Eric Choupo-Moting were impressive for Stoke City with the latter banging in two goals to earn Stoke a well-deserved point.

    If the Potters can keep up these performances, then a top-eight finish is highly likely in May. 

  3. 3 Tottenham are a title threat

    August is over and so is Harry Kane’s goal shyness. He introduced himself to the season by scoring two goals, one being a contender for goal of the weekend.

    The race for the Golden Boot will be an exciting one. At 24-years-old with 80 league goals in 117 appearances for Spurs, could he break the 260 goal mark set up by Alan Shearer?

    The Wembley hoodoo was not at play here and Mauricio Pochettino once again showed us the brilliant work he has been doing at Spurs. Despite the even balance of the game in terms of possession, Tottenham took their chances converting three of the six shots on target into goals. 

    With summer signing Davinson Sanchez starting in the centre of the back three, the trio shut out Everton’s fluid attack, restricting them to only one shot on target in the entire game.

    The Toffees were all over the place, especially at the back with Kane, Dele Alli and goal-scorer Christian Eriksen constantly switching sides, making it had for Ashley Williams, Michael Keane and Morgan Schneiderlin to keep up.

    By the 50th minute, Everton were out of the game as they kept chasing shadows throughout their half. Goodison Park may not be a fortress.

    In Ronald Koeman’s own words, his boys were too nice and too weak.

    Could this be Tottenham’s season to win their first Premier League title? If they keep putting on such displays, then the title may be nearer to Wembley than most of us think. 

  4. 4 A good start to Chelsea's September

    In the last four seasons, Chelsea had not won a match in September, but this season the stars seem to be on their side.

    Antonio Conte’s side started brightly at the King Power Stadium, dominating possession in the early phases of the game. Despite the brilliant forward runs by wing backs Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s front three were not as clinical, with Alvaro Morata particularly lukewarm.

    However, two well-taken goals by Morata and N’Golo Kante reduced the pressure as Chelsea hung on to win 2-1.

    For Leicester City, their current form should worry them as they have lost three of their opening four games. The last time this happened was in the 1994/95 season that resulted in relegation to the Championship.

    The Foxes aren't a bad team and their direct style of play will surely earn them points against teams playing a high defensive line. Craig Shakespeare needs to find a way out of the current mess to ensure Leicester do not get involved in the relegation battle. 

  5. 5 Guardiola vs Klopp: A philosophical clash

    Before Mane's red card, the game was tight with chances coming end to end. Liverpool’s speedy wingers, Mane and Salah, were a constant threat to City’s three-man defence, constantly bringing Ederson off of his line to spare City’s defensive blushes.

    Could City have scored five past Liverpool even with Mane present? The jury is out on this one as some argue that Mane’s absence may have given City’s wing-backs a chance to push forward, disorganising a fragile Liverpool defence.

    During this clash, Guardiola’s sleek passing football won over Klopp’s heavy metal counter-attacking style.

    The second half was a one-way affair with Jesus and Sane each bagging a brace each to inflict the heaviest defeat on Klopp in his Liverpool career.

    The glaring realities for both teams is that, defensively, they still need to sort out a lot. City have the personnel and should probably revert to a four-man defence.

    For Liverpool, Klopp can spend some of his time scouting for a commanding centre-back who can help marshal the Reds' defence.

    Could a bid for Virgil van Dijk be in the offing in January?

  1. POLL: Which top six winner put on the best show this weekend?

    1. Manchester City
    2. Arsenal
    3. Chelsea
    4. Tottenham
    103 votes
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Victor Oria

Victor Oria is a graduate of Biochemistry and currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine. He has been a contributor to RealSport since December 2016.

He is a sports fan in general but prefers to spend time watching soccer, rugby or wrestling sometimes volleyball. He supports Arsenal FC but occasionally lends his fanatism to RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid, Olympique Lyon, Inter Milan and SL Benfica.