By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur inflicted a first defeat of the Premier League season on Chelsea, while Manchester City and Liverpool maintained their unbeaten records. Claudio Ranieri made a winning start as Fulham manager and Huddersfield Town climbed out of the bottom three by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Here are the talking points from this weekend’s Premier League action:
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri said he was not happy with any of his players after the 3-1 humbling by Spurs but it is Alvaro Morata’s continuing struggles that are the biggest cause for concern at Stamford Bridge.
Morata was again profligate in front of goal against Spurs and the striker took his tally to 18 offsides for the season, more than the entire Bournemouth team.
The former Real Madrid striker has scored five league goals and is struggling to become the figurehead the likes of Diego Costa and Didier Drogba have been for Chelsea in the past.
“It’s definitely not easy. It happens to everyone to go through difficult moments,” Drogba said. “What mostly gets you through that period is the support of the fans. And Chelsea fans have been great to him, giving him all the support.”
Morata could find that Chelsea supporters’ patience may be wearing thin.
Fulham fans may not yet be dreaming of winning the Premier League, but they can start to hope of staying in the top flight for another year after making a winning start to Claudio Ranieri’s reign as manager.
The former Leicester City boss who won the title in 2016 was brought in to halt a desperate slide in the London club’s performances which left them bottom of the table on the back of seven straight defeats.
A thrilling 3-2 home win over Southampton brought the joy back to Craven Cottage, even if they still prop up the standings.
That may not last long, though, as Fulham are level on points with Cardiff and Southampton and with four points separating 13th down to the bottom, the battle for survival could be one of the tightest ever.
LEICESTER ON REDALERT
Leicester City recovered well from going down to 10 men in their 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, rescuing a point courtesy of a Jamie Vardy penalty.
It was the fourth time this season the Midlands side have been shown a red card – twice as many as any other team in the league.
While many could forgive emotions being highly charged among Leicester players given recent tragic events, there was no excuse for James Maddison to dive in the area to earn his second yellow card.
“Apologies to everyone for what happened today. Nobody wants to see diving in our beautiful game. I was anticipating contact that never came, but that’s no excuse,” the 22-year-old wrote on Twitter.
Boos rang out again at Old Trafford as Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace on Saturday.
United manager Jose Mourinho accused his players of lacking heart as they failed to score at home for the fourth time this season. Mourinho’s team are now 14 points behind their table-topping rivals Manchester City.
How long can Mourinho condemn his players and not take any blame himself? Former United midfielder Paul Scholes has voiced criticism of the approach and his former team mate Rio Ferdinand has joined in.
“He’s got his right to say that but I think behind closed doors, in the changing-room embarrass them in front of the team. I don’t think you get positivity doing that and the fans don’t like that either,” Ferdinand said.
Wolverhampton Wanderers had high hopes after earning promotion from the Championship with a continental playing style and plenty of flair players in the squad.
They began life well in the Premier League but have stuttered lately and particularly at home and the 2-0 defeat by Huddersfield was their third straight loss at Molineux.
In those three games they have only scored twice, both from the penalty spot in the 3-2 defeat by Spurs.
Wolves got promoted through their controlling style of play, stringing together passes from the back and dominating possession.
However, in the Premier League they have averaged 47 percent possession and are struggling to convert when they do get opportunities. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo perhaps needs to set up his team to become a more effective counter-attacking side who can capitalise on the break after defending deep.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)