By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Five talking points from the Premier League weekend:
It is easy to point the finger at Manchester City’s defence when allocating blame for Sunday’s shock 2-0 home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers but the problems were far deeper.
True, Argentine centre-half Nicolas Otamendi continues to make errors and when John Stones returns after the international break, there is a case for midfielder Fernandinho being the one who keeps his place.
But what will have concerned Pep Guardiola most about the performance, which left them trailing leaders Liverpool by eight points, was the sloppiness of City’s passing in midfield and their lack of incisiveness in attack.
Wolves defended deeply and brilliantly – forcing City to chip in crosses from wide rather than pass their way through the middle – and Guardiola’s side look much less dangerous in such situations.
The statistics which summed up the game — City had 76% possession but only two shots on target all game.
CAN’T WINWITH ‘KIDS’? DEPENDS ON THEKIDS…
Both Chelsea and Manchester United entered this season claiming this would be the year they turned to their own youth players.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard had different reasons for needing to quickly bring through players from their academies.
Chelsea have a transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA and so couldn’t go into the market. United have no such ban but with players such as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leaving and no strikers brought in, found themselves in a similar situation.
The two teams met on the opening weekend with United triumphing 4-0 but since then it has been a very different story.
Chelsea moved up to fifth with their latest impressive win coming in a 4-1 victory at Southampton with young talents Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount on target.
United slumped to 12th with their 1-0 defeat by Newcastle United, their second straight reverse away from home. Solskjaer’s side have just two wins out of eight.
Chelsea’s youngsters look not only hungry but ready for Premier League football and it helps that the likes of Mount, Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, have all gained experience on loan in the Championship.
In contrast, United’s youngsters are still trying to make the step-up from development football to the highest level — it is a huge step, made even harder by the lack of in-form, quality experienced players around them.
What a moment it was for Newcastle midfielder Matty Longstaff, scoring the winning goal against Manchester United, on his Premier League debut for his local club.
For once the badge-kissing was entirely justified for the lad from North Shields, playing alongside his brother Sean in the centre of midfield.
For all their problems, there is a refreshingly ‘Geordie’ feel to Newcastle at the moment with Gateshead born striker Andy Carroll back at the club and Steve Bruce, a product of Wallsend Boys Club, in charge.
SILVA ON THINICE
Everton’s 1-0 defeat by Burnley was not just a disappointing result, it was a woeful, soulless performance from Marco Silva’s side who have now lost four in a row and have slumped into the relegation zone.
After a strong end to last season and more spending in the transfer market, there were real hopes among Evertonians that the club could make a push for a top six finish — instead the team have gone backwards.
The concern will be that Silva’ track record in England, at previous clubs Hull and then Watford, was of his team’s showing promise before hitting a decline that the Portuguese manager was unable to turn around.
So much is going wrong for Tottenham Hotspur, who followed up their 7-2 home loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League with a 3-0 defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
But the stat that stands out the most is that Spurs have failed to win in their last ten away games in the Premier League and have not won on the road since a 2-1 victory at Fulham in January.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)