Watching Liverpool’s thrilling draw against Manchester City only made it harder to digest that the Premier League, which once again threw up a big set of talking points, is set to take a two-week hiatus for the international break.
Anfield’s classic was the return of the Premier League ‘advert’, an enthralling contest that put two title hopefuls in the spotlight and left us still in doubt over which one is better equipped to take the league crown home.
Elsewhere, Chelsea earned a much-needed – albeit late – win over Southampton, while Manchester United’s sticky form continued with a 1-1 draw against Everton – and Cristiano Ronaldo was not a happy man.
Outside the current title race, Spurs stopped the rot of three successive defeats to beat Aston Villa but there was no such joy for their rivals Arsenal, who were held by Brighton. Last season’s top four contenders Leicester continued their struggles by surrendering a 2-0 lead against Crystal Palace.
Sportsmail here examines some intriguing points to reflect on as the Premier League concluded a seventh gameweek.
The Premier League served up a host of talking points as we head into the international break, including from the thrilling draw between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield
Signs of life for Ross Barkley
Not long ago, Ross Barkley was on the verge of joining a group that no one wants to be a member of. Much like Danny Drinkwater and Michy Batshuayi, the former Everton star looked like a Chelsea outcast after being loaned to Villa last season and failing to make a start in this campaign.
But for two games in a row now – with the Blues showing hints of vulnerability – Thomas Tuchel has looked to him to turn the tide. Chelsea left it late to beat Southampton 3-1 at the Bridge on Saturday, and Barkley was given seven minutes to shine after James Ward-Prowse levelled, and seven was all he needed.
Barkley was the instigator of the second goal to put Chelsea back in front – pinging a superb cross-field pass to the surging Cesar Azpilicueta to hit a first-time cross to Timo Werner, who made no mistake.
Ross Barkley only had seven minutes to shine for Chelsea off the bench but made an impact
He played a huge part in the second goal against Southampton after coming off the bench
The midfielder was also who Tuchel turned to in Turin when Chelsea found themselves 1-0 down against Juventus in midweek.
He wasn’t able to influence that contest, but you have to give credit to Barkley for getting his head down and working hard. Clearly he has shown the German that he brings something of value to this talented squad.
Time for Brentford to start Wissa?
Let’s be honest, a lot of people thought Brentford had the potential to do well in their first Premier League season, but not this well. All the talk going into the campaign was about Ivan Toney after his 33-goal haul in the Championship, but there is another man topping the charts.
Yoane Wissa – unbelievably – hasn’t started a league game yet, but he’s scored two late winners back-to-back and manager Thomas Frank will feel he can no longer afford to leave the Frenchman out of his line-up.
Yoane Wissa has scored two late winners for Brentford and has surely earned a starting spot
He came on for just eight minutes against West Ham with the scores level at 1-1 and netted the winner at the death by smashing home from a rebound. Things seem to be falling into place for Wissa at the moment – quite literally.
It was almost deja vu from last week against Liverpool when the ball fell to his feet after some pinball in the box, before he fired home from close range to secure a 3-3 draw against Jurgen Klopp’s men. And these aren’t two flukes either.
Wissa is the club’s joint-top scorer this season with five, including four in his last three. Okay, two of those were in the League Cup against Oldham, but he is producing when called upon, and Frank would be best served to give him the opportunity from minute one.
Son is Tottenham’s talisman, not Kane
When Harry Kane announced his decision to stay at Spurs this season – despite clearly wanting to join Manchester City – there was a feeling of unease. Was he just waving the flag because he realised he was getting nowhere with Daniel Levy, or did he genuinely want to commit to his boyhood club?
Based on his performances this season, it appears to be the former. We saw an improved Kane in Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, but ‘improved’ is not what we expect from the England skipper, who is now without a goal in the first seven games for the first time since 2015-16.
Son Heung-min is looking like the man who can carry Spurs out of trouble this season after a starring display to inspire a 2-1 win over Villa at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Instead, the man taking the limelight is deservedly Son Heung-min, the player who signed a new contract without hesitation this summer – he was simply sublime against the Villans and the difference maker.
Two assists for the South Korean, and as Dean Smith admits, Villa could not live with him as he provided two inch-perfect passes for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Lucas Moura to banish their poor form. Son was also on target in the 3-1 loss to Arsenal – albeit a consolation – and has three strikes this season.
As for Kane – his failure to score a one v one in the dying minutes summed up his struggles in front of goal. He looks to be second guessing himself and is not the same player who was both top scorer and top assister last season.
It is Son who looks more committed, and it is Son who can be crucial in turning the club’s fortunes around.
Harry Kane’s lack of sparkle in front of goal continues after he failied to secure a transfer
Bernardo Silva can be Man City’s secret weapon
Who needs a striker, eh? Well, maybe if Pep Guardiola had one then he would have walked away from Anfield with all three points – but once again this season, his midfielders are doing all the heavy lifting.
Despite having the star names of Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on the park, it was Bernardo Silva who was a real bright light in the swashbuckling display on Merseyside.
Watching the Portuguese star dancing around a horde of Liverpool bodies in the early stages before providing an inch-perfect cross to Phil Foden was mesmerising, and he was a handful for the Reds all day long.
Bernardo Silva continues to dazzle for City this season and Liverpool couldn’t handle him
To think, he was talked about as a possible makeweight in the negotiations to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham. Based on the forward’s current fortunes, they’ll probably be glad to have the former Monaco man on their books. He is in great form and also ran the show in City’s 1-0 win over Chelsea.
Credit too should go to Foden, who put in a fabulous display and capped it off with a goal. It hasn’t been an easy time for the 21-year-old after an up and down Euro 2020 with England that saw him pick up an injury and miss the final, but this was the perfect reminder of his ability and character.
Salah could go on to become the greatest
What more can you say about Mohamed Salah after that magnificent game? You run out of superlatives for the Egyptian. His solo wonder goal saw him dink his way through a sea of bodies on the right flank and drop the shoulder before firing home at an angle. In some ways it was a goal of simplicity – but beautiful simplicity at that.
Both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola were left marvelling at his brilliance after the final whistle, calling him one of the best in the world and hailing a goal that will be remembered for the next 60 years.
Mohamed Salah was fantastic against City, scoring a sensational individual goal
More importantly, Salah will be remembered as a Liverpool legend and surely one of the best that has ever played for this great club. The Reds have had no shortage of heroes to worship – Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and John Barnes in decades gone by, to name just a few.
But in a new era of football where Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are fading away, Salah has the potential to launch himself to the top of the pyramid and his influence has already secured a handful of major trophies for Liverpool.
He can further cement his name into Liverpool folklore if he continues to deliver moments like that.
Leicester have lost their mojo under Rodgers
When Leicester surrendered a place in the top four two season ago, it was dismissed as unlucky. Similarly, their final-day collapse in 2020-21 was met with little reaction – mostly thanks to an FA Cup triumph over Chelsea, but there has been an underlying issue with the Foxes for quite some time.
They spent 567 days in the top four over the past two seasons but never made the final leap, and performances this season indicate they won’t be making the jump this season either.
The worrying thing is Rodgers’ men so often begin a season in electrifying fashion, before petering out late on. Will it be the opposite this time? Or have his side simply fallen flat? The way they allowed Crystal Palace back into the game to draw 2-2 after going 2-0 up was a concern.
Leicester look a shadow of the team that impressed so many last year after yet another draw, leaving Brendan Rodgers with plenty to ponder after the stalemate at Crystal Palace
Their opening was reminiscent of the old Leicester as Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy made it two in quick succession, but they didn’t run away with it like the old Leicester. Rodgers, who could have joined Arsenal or Tottenham in recent years, may now be wondering whether his allegiance to the cause at the King Power was the correct play.
It’s now one win in six and eight points from seven. When it comes to expected goals, Leicester are 13th in the table, and that’s where they stand. Problems to solve for Rodgers.
You must keep Ronaldo happy, Ole
If you’re going to keep one of the greatest players of all time on the bench – you better win the game.
Last week Mauricio Pochettino subbed off Lionel Messi – and the man who replaced him – Mauro Icardi – scored the winner for PSG.
At Old Trafford on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave Ronaldo just over half an hour to shine against Everton, but the beaming, energetic forward the club has known for the last few weeks was nowhere to be seen.
He cut a moody figure while being prepared to join the action on the touchline and wasn’t able to find a winner after Andros Townsend levelled the game to secure a 1-1 draw. And at full time off he stormed back to the dressing room – clearly still furious that he wasn’t given more time to impact the game and resenting his boss.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must keep Cristiano Ronaldo on side at United, his future depends on it
The superstar cannot keep overshadowing games when things don’t go according to plan
It’s inevitable that the five-time Ballon D’or winner will take centre-stage after sealing his sensational return to the club – but Solskjaer must find a way to get on his good side, even when things don’t go United’s way. Perhaps a manager with a bigger personality would be able to lay down the law to Ronaldo.
Solskjaer will have his reasons for benching Ronaldo – managing the fitness of a 36-year-old is important, but he is a pure athlete and will want to play all the big games. Ronaldo will be key to many victories this season, but he cannot let the player overshadow every defeat.
It’s time for lift-off at Leeds after first win
Given how well Leeds have performed under Marcelo Bielsa in recent years, it feels strange to say they’ve just secured their first win of the season after edging to a 1-0 win over struggling Watford.
Before this weekend the Whites had lost three times and drawn three – not quite the relentless machine we have become accustomed to under the Argentine.
But after adding a first clean sheet too, Bielsa has something to build on ahead of some tough games to come. They face fellow strugglers Leicester City next up before a trip to Tottenham.
In big games, Leeds usually go gung-ho and end up conceding a host of goals, but this game will have taught Bielsa that his side need to work with a foundation of being solid at the back, before they get back to their electric, ruthless nature in front of goal again.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds got their first win and clean sheet against Watford but must build on it
Burnley and Norwich look like sinking ships
In one of the least surprising results of the season so far, two of the main candidates for relegation shared the spoils. Sure it was a lively encounter with plenty of chances, but neither side looked like showing the ambition needed to seal what would have been a vital three points in the fight for survival.
Norwich have been accused of lacking hunger to pull off a real battle for survival after Daniel Farke admitted the club ‘expected’ to go down two seasons ago, and it appears they expect a similar outcome this year.
Burnley have often started seasons off slowly but, after letting in 11 goals so far, a clean sheet and a point will have been a welcome result for Sean Dyche. His side have treaded water for so long in the Premier League but being organised at the back has always been one of the key factors in staying alive.
Both sides remain winless this season and have tough games coming up. Burnley have Man City and Tottenham to come, while Norwich will soon face Chelsea. It will be a long season for both sides, it’s just a shame they didn’t do more with a golden chance to show they are up for this fight.
Burnley and Norwich’s stalemate failed to show either is up for the relegation fight this season
Brighton are going places under Potter
Quickly becoming known as xG FC, Brighton look like they’re finally turning their expected goals into actual goals this season after storming up the Premier League table, even if they started to look like their misfiring alter egos against Arsenal.
It was 0-0, but it easily could’ve been another win in the bag for Graham Potter’s men in a dominant display against a revitilised Gunners outfit. They bossed possession and had 21 shots, but only two of those were on target.
Dan Burn, Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay were all guilty of missing big opportunities to break the deadlock, but it is the manner in which Brighton are stamping their mark on games that will please their manager most.
Now fifth in the table and two points off the summit, Brighton have a real philosophy to get behind and pulled off a respectable point without a key player in Yves Bissouma. If this side were a touch more clinical they could be someting very special indeed this season.
If Brighton can become more ruthless in front of goal they could have a special season