Three talking points from the Premier League – FRANCE 24

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Tottenham and Arsenal’s contrasting start to the Premier League season goes on with one half of north London sitting top of the Premier League, while the Gunners are rock bottom without a point or even a goal from three games.

Spurs have the only 100 percent record in a perfect start for new manager Nuno Espirito Santo, but the expected title challengers: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all well-positioned within three points of the leaders.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the third weekend of the season.

Is Ronaldo really what United need?

News of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford has sent the United support into a frenzy of excitement.

Manchester United fans held up a cardboard cut out of Cristiano Ronaldo in a 1-0 win at Wolves
Manchester United fans held up a cardboard cut out of Cristiano Ronaldo in a 1-0 win at Wolves Oli SCARFF AFP

Even at 36, the five-time Ballon d’Or and Champions League winner brings a guarantee of goals.

But the Red Devils performance in escaping with a 1-0 win at Wolves exposed the lack of balance in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad even before adding another attacking option.

Solskjaer is yet to find the right blend to get the best from Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in a midfield three as Wolves tore past the isolated Fred on the counter-attack in the first-half.

Another reason to resist splashing out on bringing Ronaldo back was how it could effect the development of Mason Greenwood.

The 19-year-old was described as “special” by Solskjaer after scoring for the third consecutive game to start the season, but will have to battle Ronaldo or £73 million ($100 million) signing Jadon Sancho to fit in either as a centre-forward or on the right of a front three.

Chelsea show resilience of champions

Chelsea may have lost their 100 percent record in a 1-1 draw at Liverpool, but will have ended the weekend the happiest of the title contenders after resisting for a full half at Anfield with 10 men.

Chelsea held out with 10 men for a full half to draw 1-1 at Liverpool
Chelsea held out with 10 men for a full half to draw 1-1 at Liverpool Paul ELLIS AFP

The defensive shape that guided Thomas Tuchel’s men to the Champions League last season was in evidence as Liverpool struggled to break through the Blue wall.

It was a missed opportunity for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who cannot count on the strength in depth of Chelsea, City or United as the season goes on.

Chelsea on the other hand looked to be the complete package under Tuchel, able to control games with the ball or without it.

Kai Havertz headed them into the lead and they were looking comfortable until a double punishment of conceding a penalty and losing Reece James to a red card for handling Sadio Mane’s effort on the goal line.

Arsenal hit rock bottom

Not so long ago Arsenal considered themselves an established member of the top four, now they are also-rans as City swept aside the 10-man Gunners 5-0 on Saturday without having to be anywhere close to their best.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka was sent-off in a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka was sent-off in a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City Oli SCARFF AFP

Mikel Arteta has reportedly been given until the international break in October to save his job with games against Norwich, Burnley, Tottenham and Brighton to come.

The Spaniard admitted he and his players have to look themselves in the mirror after losing their first three league games for the first time since 1954.

But the concern is that is just the result of a demise that has long since set in.

When Arsenal finished sixth in Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge in 2017/18, it was their worst league finish in 23 years.

In Arteta’s first two seasons they have finished eighth and the gap to the elite clubs at the other end of the table is only growing.

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