Premier League: 10 huge talking points from gameweek 11

Premier League talking points gameweek 11

Gameweek 11 sparked plenty of debate. From the title race taking shape to fans finally being allowed back in stadiums, let’s dive in.

Now almost a third of the way through the Premier League season, clubs are heading into the dreaded Christmas fixture list. A game every three days in sub-zero temperature is taxing at the best of times, but with all the disruption that’s gone before, this December will be especially tough.

Before all that, though, there was some action at the weekend we need to pick the bones out of. So, here are all the major talking points from gameweek 11:

COVID continues to create problems

Steve Bruce Newcastle

It was a historic moment at a handful of Premier League grounds last weekend, as a few thousand fans finally got to witness their teams play live again. For those clubs fortunate enough to find themselves in Tier Two, 2,000 fans were allowed back in for the first time this season. Others, unfortunately, weren’t so lucky.

That’s especially true of Newcastle, who saw their match with Aston Villa postponed after an outbreak of COVID cases at the training ground. According to reports, five players and two members of staff tested positive during the week, meaning the fixture will now need to be rearranged amongst an already jam-packed winter schedule.

We’re no closer to knowing who England’s number one is

Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford

England manager Gareth Southgate was in attendance at Turf Moor for the early Saturday kickoff. And while he was no doubt monitoring the likes of James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it’s likely Southgate’s main reason for his trip to Burnley was to watch England’s top two goalkeepers, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope, square off.

However, if Southgate was hoping the match would help him make a decision on who to start between the sticks for the Three Lions, he’ll have been left disappointed. Both keepers conceded but generally looked solid throughout. Pickford’s distribution was on point while Pope pulled off a string of impressive saves. Sorry, Gareth.

Players come in from the cold to great effect

Raheem Sterling Manchester City

It was a weekend of comebacks in the Premier League. Not in terms of scorelines, but players themselves. Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, Christian Benteke and Ayoze Pérez have all warmed the bench in recent weeks, but all made surprise starts and repaid their managers’ faith emphatically.

Sterling grabbed a goal and won a penalty in Manchester City’s home win against Fulham, Pogba netted a superb long-range effort in United’s victory over West Ham, Crystal Palace’s Benteke scored twice against a 10-man West Brom, and Pérez opened the scoring at Bramall Lane to help Leicester see off a stubborn Sheffield United.

Are United overly reliant on Fernandes?

Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford Manchester United vs West Ham

There were plenty of raised eyebrows among Manchester United fans at 4:30pm on Saturday, as team sheets revealed that Bruno Fernandes had been omitted from the Red Devils’ starting lineup. Fernandes has been a revelation since signing for United almost a year ago, and the club have become somewhat overly reliant on his quality as a consequence.

That much was evident at the London Stadium, where West Ham went in at half time one to the good. Fernandes was introduced at the interval and immediately inspired an upturn in performance, setting up Pogba for the equaliser and generally leading the charge as United turned things around to win 3-1.

Chelsea flex their title credentials

Chelsea celebrations vs Leeds

A lot was made of Chelsea’s spending in the summer transfer window. Big things were expected of the Blues given the influx of talent, and after a shaky start to the season, they’ve begun living up to the hype. Frank Lampard got the better of old foe Marcelo Bielsa on Saturday, as his side outplayed Leeds United to claim all three points at Stamford Bridge.

Olivier Giroud speared Chelsea’s attack and was particularly impressive. He followed up his four goals in midweek to pull Chelsea level after Patrick Bamford had put Leeds in front. Goals from Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic then sealed the win, moving Chelsea up to third in the table, just two points behind leaders Spurs.

Is Meslier the best keeper outside the big six?

Illan Meslier Leeds United

Despite conceding three at the weekend, it was another fine performance between the sticks for Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier. The young Frenchman pulled off seven saves in total, preventing an embarrassing scoreline, and has left fans debating whether he’s the Premier League’s best shot-stopper not currently employed by one of the big six clubs.

There’s no doubt Meslier’s made a huge impact since succeeding Kiko Casilla as Leeds’ number one last campaign, helping the club earn promotion and get off to a strong start in England’s top flight. This season, he’s now kept the joint-second most clean sheets in the league (4) and made the fourth most saves (40). At only 20 years old, the France U21 international clearly has a very bright future ahead of him.

Vardy returns to Sheffield to conquer rivals

Jamie Vardy goal vs Sheffield United

Jamie Vardy was cut from Sheffield Wednesday’s academy as a school boy, aged 15, but has remained a fan of the Owls since birth, and therefore relishes any chance he gets to play against his bitter rivals, Sheffield United. After scoring in last season’s fixture at Bramall Lane, Vardy cupped his ears at the home fans in delight as Leicester ran out 2-1 winners.

Well, fast forward to this season and the ex-England international was at it again, this time in even more dramatic circumstances. Latching onto a last-minute through ball from James Maddison, Vardy broke clear of the Blades’ defence to slot home the winner. Reeling away in euphoria, Vardy, in the absence of fans, two-footed the corner flag, shattering it into pieces amid the wild celebrations.

Kane paints north London white amid breaking more records

Harry Kane goal vs Arsenal

It was another Mourinho masterclass at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Spurs vanquished their north London rivals, Arsenal, to claim all three points on derby day. Harry Kane once again stole the show, setting up Heung-Min Son for the opening goal before Son returned the favour for Kane to double the lead and seal a 2-0 victory.

Kane’s strike was his 250th for club and country, his 100th home goal for Spurs, and now makes him the leading scorer in North London Derby history. Kane’s weekend, record-breaking antics also moved him past Michael Owen in terms of all time Premier League goals, giving him the seventh highest tally in the competition’s history. Not bad.

Arsenal look in genuine trouble

Arsenal players vs Spurs

Arsenal have been on a steady decline for some time now. Arsène Wenger’s late years at the club were marred by disappointment and inconsistency, and things have only gotten worse since his departure. A distant owner, poor recruitment, bad decision-making and Unai Emery have all contributed to the decline, but there was genuine hope last December, when Mikel Arteta took to the dugout, that the Spaniard could turn things around.

Alas, despite being lauded for his coaching pedigree, the manager has only succeeded in taking the club backwards in the last year — in terms of the club’s on-field results, at least. Arsenal now sit in 15th after their derby day loss, and jokes of a relegation battle are becoming more common by the day.

Salah loves the Premier League’s winter ball

Mo Salah goal vs Wolves

Mo Salah’s Premier League record with Liverpool when playing with a white football reads as follows: 53 appearances, 27 goals, 11 assists. Not bad, right? Well, check out his stats come winter time rolls around that ball turns into a yellow one: 56 appearances, 47 goals, 18 assists.

It appears Salah has a special relationship with yellow footballs, and after opening his winter account with a goal and assist versus Wolves on Sunday evening, it seems as though he’s up for another huge festive haul this season. We’d make a joke about the Egyptian King having ice running through his veins, but no-one wants to hear that.

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