By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win at Bournemouth, while Manchester City suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Chelsea. Manchester United thrashed Fulham and third-placed Tottenham Hotspur won away at Leicester City.
Here are the talking points from this weekend’s Premier League action:
Before Chelsea’s home clash with champions Manchester City on Saturday, questions had been asked of manager Maurizio Sarri’s use of N’Golo Kante in a more advanced role, especially after defeats by Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But perhaps it is more about Kante having the patience to fit in with Sarri’s style. The midfielder had only scored one league goal in each of his last four seasons but he surpassed that tally when his powerful effort put Chelsea on the way to a 2-0 victory over Pep Guardiola’s previously unbeaten side.
The goal came from a rare Chelsea counter-attack before halftime. The hosts, having soaked up City’s pressure, broke quickly up the field with Eden Hazard finding the run of Kante in the box who thumped a fierce shot beyond the keeper.
Perhaps Sarri’s decision to release the archetypal holding player further forward was a masterstroke after all.
David Luiz headed the second goal to wrap up an impressive statement win for Chelsea that removed City’s cloak of invincibility.
West Ham United had to cling on at home to Crystal Palace but still came away with a 3-2 victory to claim their third win in succession, having scored three goals in each one.
It is the first time the Hammers have gone on such a run in two years, and it has been more than 30 years since they have done so scoring three or more in three successive victories.
The early season doubts about manager Manuel Pellegrini are dissipating as it looks as if West Ham have finally found a coach to implement their fabled attacking style after experiments with Sam Allardyce and David Moyes.
Now, with the likes of Felipe Anderson, Javier Hernandez and even Robert Snodgrass all firing, 11th place West Ham can once again start looking up.
Premier League clubs have agreed in principle for Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to be used from next season onward. However, that is not soon enough for Newcastle coach Rafa Benitez after his side’s 2-1 stoppage time defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Spaniard felt that referee Mike Dean ignored an apparent elbow in the face suffered by Ayoze Perez that could have been a penalty and a possible red card.
Earlier, Dean had sent off Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity but Benitez claimed that Jamaal Lascelles was close enough to have intercepted.
“It was key to the game, the red card and the elbow on Ayoze Perez,” Benitez told the BBC.
“We need VAR right now. In this game it would have changed everything. How can you explain those decisions to our fans?”
NO VARDY, NO PARTY
Leicester City’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, but it was the second match in a row that they looked a shadow of their former attacking selves without injured talisman Jamie Vardy.
The 31-year-old striker missed Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Fulham and the Spurs match due to a groin injury. In his place Kelechi Iheanacho led the line but to little effect.
In front of their own fans against Spurs they only had three shots on target. Leicester clearly need their striker back as soon as possible to stop their season stagnating.
Few could have argued against the decision to name Mo Salah man of the match after he scored his first hat-trick in the league since March to give Liverpool a 4-0 win at Bournemouth which took them to the top of the standings.
However, the Egyptian showed his humble side when he refused to accept the award and instead gave it to his team mate James Milner who was playing his 500th Premier League match.
“No, I will not take it, he’s made 500 games,” Salah told Sky Sports, standing alongside the Englishman.
“I have to congratulate him for his amazing career. He deserves it today and I hope we are going to win something this season together, but I will not take it.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Martyn Herman)