Wednesday 26 October 2016

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Published 16/10/2016 | 19:06

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is having the first blip of his reign at the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is having the first blip of his reign at the Etihad Stadium

Manchester City were put on the spot as it got tight at the top of the Premier League and the division welcomed its first American manager

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Here, Press Association Sport studies five talking points from the weekend's action.

1. Pep's spot of bother

Having won his first 10 games in charge, Pep Guardiola is experiencing his first blip at Manchester City. Guardiola failed to win a home game for the first time as Everton relied on the goalkeeping brilliance of Maarten Stekelenburg to pinch a point in a 1-1 draw. City retained top spot, but on the back of a 3-3 Champions League draw at Celtic and defeat at Tottenham it is the first time questions have been asked of Pep. Especially when his side missed two penalties in a game for the second time this season. The lack of a killer instinct again could be severely punished against Barcelona in the Champions League this week.

2. Steady Eddie looks ready

Interim manager Gareth Southgate might be set to steer England permanently through the choppy waters caused by Sam Allardyce's sudden departure. But Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe seems every inch a future England manager as the ripening Cherries continue their impressive march up the Premier League. Bournemouth climbed into the top half - albeit briefly - due to a 6-1 demolition of Hull with Howe's brand of football easy on the eye. With the likes of Jordon Ibe, Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson exhibiting pace and purpose, Bournemouth continue to defy the odds, and now have nine different goalscorers this season.

3. No ordinary Joe

Stoke manager Mark Hughes had complained in the week that Wales had 'compromised' Joe Allen's fitness during the international break. If that was the case, then Hughes might want to see Chris Coleman and company do the same in future. For Allen returned to Stoke colours to score both goals in a 2-0 victory over Sunderland, securing an overdue first Potters' win. It was the first time Allen, shining in a new number 10 role, had scored a brace in the same match and extended his tally to five goals in four games for club and country. Stoke might have had a difficult start to the season, but in Allen they have one of the Premier League's most under-rated talents.

4. Bob's got a job on to save Swansea

Bob Bradley, t he Premier League's first American manager, will be perplexed by some of the defending he saw on his English football bow, a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal which dropped Swansea into the relegation zone. Individual errors were to blame for all three Arsenal goals and Ashley Williams' excellence at Everton is a painful reminder of what their former captain was worth to them. Bradley has exciting attackers in Modou Barrow and Gylfi Sigurdsson but he knows he has to build a solid base from the back - or Swansea have no chance of staying up.

5 North-east storm clouds gathering

Newcastle might be showing their clout in the Championship, but it is a far different story in the top flight. Traditional slow starters Sunderland appear abject under David Moyes with only two points from their first eight games. A horrible injury list has not helped, but there appears to be a distinct lack of confidence and quality at the Stadium of Light. Middlesbrough's only win this season came at Sunderland and a third successive home defeat - 1-0 to Watford - again underlined their glaring deficiencies. Goals have been hard to come by, with the 2-1 win at Sunderland the only time they have managed more than one in a game this season.

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