By 90Min
October 31, 2018

Another week down and another bundle of talking points to dissect from the last few days of Premier League action - with the usual suspects at both ends of the table up to their predictably 'old tricks' (cue tiresome Halloween jokes).

There were goals, thrills and spills throughout the weekend, though it's Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea side who appear to have emerged from the weekend with the most momentum following a resounding 4-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Blues appear to have seamlessly adapted to the famed 'Sarri-ball' philosophy, and in England midfielder Ross Barkley, they have unearthed the gem they hoped he might be when they opted to sign him for £15m from Everton in January. His goal on Sunday, coupled with a brace of assists, was his third goal in as many games, and after recently returning to Gareth Southgate's England fold, the sky could well be his limit after all.

Couple his resurgence with the timely return to goalscoring form of Alvaro Morata and the re-emergence of midfield outcast Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who dusted off his Premier League cobwebs to wrap up Sunday's game, and you suddenly feel that Chelsea are well equipped to challenge champions Manchester City, as well as the red hot Liverpool for the league title come the end of the season.

The success of Sarri's side is no surprise to those that know him and his methods however - with his style of football having catapulted Napoli into genuine Serie A title contenders over the past couple of seasons. Though success did not follow (the immovable force that Juventus is being their unfortunate obstacle), it's clear that the Italian tactician is somewhat of a master when it comes to bringing out the best in his players.

Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Kalidou Koulibaly and summer recruit Jorginho, who immediately followed Sarri to Stamford Bridge, are examples of players whose game was taken to the next level under his guidance. In Barkley, David Luiz and Eden Hazard, we already have three examples of Chelsea's current crop who have rediscovered their confidence and form - and with the season barely ten games old, it's frightening (for everybody else at least) to think how far the Blues could actually go this season, despite their apparent lack of depth up front.

Chelsea v Southampton - Premier League

There will be slip ups along the way though. And when there are, you can bet your bottom dollar that Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will be around to pick up the pieces. On Monday night, in testing conditions, his side saw off Tottenham at Wembley thanks to an early Riyad Mahrez goal. Although not able to play at their fluent best (in part due to the dreadful surface created by three Autumn NFL fixtures), City did what all great champions do - ground out a result in what's sure to be one of their toughest away fixtures of the season.

And with the return to the starting lineup of Kevin de Bruyne imminent, things worrying look as if they can only get better for the Etihad faithful.

Elsewhere, Liverpool were back in the goals against relegation strugglers Cardiff - with Mohamed Salah back to his influential best as he contributed a goal and two assists in the Reds 4-1 win. Late goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Sadio Mane put a rather shiny gloss on an otherwise okay performance though, with Jurgen Klopp still likely to have small concerns over the cohesion of the Salah-Firmino-Mane trio that has served him so faithfully over the past 15 months.

Visionhaus/GettyImages

In years gone by, however, the Reds may not have won by such a comfortable margin when not playing well, which is perhaps a testament to the belief that this season could finally (yes, finally) be their year.

In more predictable news, Arsenal's winning streak was halted at 11 games at Selhurst Park by a dogged Crystal Palace, who even more predictably, were awarded their 34,606th and 34,607th penalties of the calendar year (or so it seems). The Gunners have slipped four points off the pace as a result, while north London rivals Spurs are further point behind following their aforementioned defeat to City. 


Although not a disastrous result for Unai Emery's men, it's one that you always feel is coming with Arsenal. Too many times in recent memory, results have slipped through the Gunners fingertips - so their reaction to the result against Liverpool on Saturday should prove to be an entertaining spectacle.

At the bottom, it's very much as you were for this season's strugglers - with Newcastle, Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff and Southampton now registering just two wins between them in their collective 50 Premier League games. What's clear is that every side (with perhaps the exception of Fulham and Aleksandar Mitrovic) lack a goalscorer, and well, they can't defend either.

Having a goalscorer is the least of Fulham's worries however, with Slavisa Jokanovic now looking odds on to be the first manager chopped this season. His Cottagers side put in a frankly woeful performance against Bournemouth on Saturday, and although the Cherries are playing great football right now, the ease and nonchalance in which they were able to carve Fulham open at will was desperately alarming. Unless Jokanovic adapts his tactics, he's surely on a one way trip to unemployment.

Not far behind him could be Rafa Benitez - with the Spaniard's patience (let alone Mike Ashley's) surely running out given how his Newcastle side have started the season. Bereft of ideas, lacking inspiration and moreover, lacking any depth to their squad - things really look quite dire up on Tyneside. Things need to turn around quickly for the Magpies, and whilst it's fair to say that home games with in-form duo Watford and Bournemouth are probably the last thing they want, they are probably exactly what they need.

Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Two wins, a win and a draw, hell even a solitary win must be the mandate heading into the next two weekends. Failure to achieve that, and it could adiós to the north-east for Rafa.

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