Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Seasoned striker needed at Manchester United?
Erik ten Hag earned a much needed win to relieve the pressure at Fulham, but Manchester United continue to struggle for goals in the Premier League. Bruno Fernandes’ late winner was just the club’s 12th in 11 Premier League games this season, with Brighton, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City each having scored double that number – or more.
Marcus Rashford was left out at Fulham and has been poor this season, while Alejandro Garncho, Antony, Anthony Martial and Rasmus Hojlund are without a Premier League goal or assist this season. Hojlund has shown promise, particularly in Europe, but an experienced option to alleviate some of the pressure on the 20-year-old Dane is required.
Porto’s Mehdi Taremi has been linked and would be a sensible signing. Though short-term, the Iran international is out-of-contract at the end of the season and could be available at a cut-price fee in January. A record of 83 goals in 161 appearances for the Portuguese side proves his calibre.
At present, Ten Hag’s team are not good enough at either end of the pitch to secure Champions League football.
Doku delights to make history
Pep Guardiola was given an almost impossible challenge to improve on perfection last summer, as the Spaniard sought to evolve a Manchester City team who had just claimed treble success. Among the arrivals was Jeremy Doku, a footballer who has provided the Premier League champions with a new x-factor.
Some have (lazily) compared Doku to former Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin and while there are similarities between the movement and acceleration of the duo, the former has shown he has the end product to go with the tricks, flicks and devastating dribbling. Against Bournemouth this weekend, Doku channelled his inner MC Hammer with a ‘U Can’t Touch This’ performance of evasive footwork.
What a game at the Etihad! 💥
Great team performance, keep it pushing onto the next 🤫
— Jeremy Doku (@JeremyDoku) November 5, 2023
Bournemouth, quite simply, couldn’t cope as Doku tormented the chasing Cherries all afternoon, becoming the youngest player – and only the eighth – to register four assists in a Premier League game.
After opening the scoring at the Etihad, Doku ran riot to create four goals for his teammates. A bewitching piece of footwork then set up Bernardo Silva for the second, while the pick of the bunch came with his fourth assist as Doku threaded a long-range pass through the Bournemouth backline.
Still just 21-years-old, Doku has all the ingredients fans love and defenders hate.
Lascelles shows a captain’s character
Forget, for a second, the noise surrounding Newcastle’s winner and Mikel Arteta’s anger, and instead focus on the football at St James’ Park. Newcastle ended Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season and became the first team to stop the Gunners from scoring this season.
At the heart of a solid defensive performance was Jamaal Lascelles, who has come in from the cold to star in recent weeks. Lascelles has been with Newcastle for almost a decade and is club captain, but the centre-back’s future appeared to be away from the Magpies after just two Premier League starts last season.
Lascelles turned down a move away during the summer, with the defender determined to remain part of the club’s ambitious project. Sven Botman’s injury has handed Lascelles a route back in and he has taken that chance in some style. \
The 29-year-old was outstanding in the win over Arsenal, in a continuation of his recent form. Such has been his level, Lascelles was name-checked by Gareth Southgate last month. Against Arsenal, Lascelles stood tall to earn his side a clean sheet, with six clearances and three blocked shots.
Home comforts help Forest bounce back
Nottingham Forest went into this weekend’s home clash with Aston Villa on a six-game winless run, with the form book favouring the visitors.
Steve Cooper’s side have, however, been strong at the City Ground since promotion to the Premier League, having lost just two of their previous 19 games in Nottingham. Home comforts again helped as Forest bounced back from their recent dip to claim an impressive win, one which lifts the Reds up to 12th in the table.
Ola Aina opened the scoring with a crisp finish from the edge of the penalty area, before Villa ‘keeper Emiliano Martinez’s error saw Forest take control. Martinez got a hand to Orel Mangala’s shot, but could only parry the ball up and into the goal.
2 – Nottingham Forest have only lost two of their last 20 home games in the Premier League (W9 D9) – since the start of October 2022, only Manchester City and Liverpool (one each) have lost fewer home matches in the competition. Collective. pic.twitter.com/iOfJqTmEGt
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 5, 2023
Forest are one of just five teams in the Premier League, alongside Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs, to remain unbeaten in home games this season. That form on home soil will be crucial to keeping the club above relegation trouble.
Darwin Nunez – Meme Machine
We feel like we’ve wrote quite a bit about Darwin Nunez in recent pieces, and there’s good reason for that. The Liverpool forward is one of the most watchable players in the Premier League right now, quite simply because he is utterly unpredictable.
Perhaps no player in the division fluctuates from highs to the head-scratching lows quite like Nunez, who occasionally reels off his full repertoire of sublime and ridiculous moments within the same ninety minutes. There’s a lot to like about Nunez and there’s little doubt the Uruguayan is not short on good will at Anfield, but his ability to look world-class in moments and awful in others is frustrating for Jurgen Klopp and the fanbase rooting for him to succeed in a red shirt.
Liverpool need more from Nunez than what he showed this weekend. His nine shots against Luton was the most a player has recorded in a Premier League game this season, but returned no goals. He hit an early chance against the crossbar when freed in behind by Trent Alexander-Arnold, before somehow spurning this effort over the bar from point-blank range.
“Goodness, gracious, me… that was a MISS”
Flag goes up anyway but HOW has Darwin Núñez not put this in the back of the net?! pic.twitter.com/KLusRRd3Rt
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 5, 2023
Nunez’s numbers are impressive. He had 11 G/As in 12 games before the draw at Luton and has averaged a goal involvement every 72 minutes in the Premier League even after his howler at Kenilworth Road. But the lack of clinical touch was costly at Kenilworth Road and cost Liverpool precious points. The chaos is what makes Nunez such a threat, but calm is needed alongside it if both he – and Liverpool – are to reach the next level.
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