Three talking points from the Premier League




 

Arsenal underlined their emergence as genuine Premier League title contenders with an impressive 3-1 win against Tottenham.

But champions Manchester City look the cream of the crop again after crushing Manchester United 6-3, while spluttering Liverpool's expected challenge is yet to materialise.

AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:

Haaland's hat-trick haul

As Cristiano Ronaldo watched on from the Manchester United bench, Erling Haaland matched the Portuguese's number of Premier League hat-tricks in City's latest rout of their local rivals.

Ronaldo's three hat-tricks in the English top flight took the five-time Ballon d'Or winner 232 games. Haaland has needed just eight.

The Norwegian looks set to destroy the record books if he maintains a blistering start to his City career.

Haaland has scored 17 times in 10 competitive games for the English champions.

"What Erling is doing he has done in Norway, Austria and Germany," said City boss Pep Guardiola. "That is the reality.

"So he came and realised my mates run like animals so he has to do it too. And of course the quality we have alongside him helps him to score goals."

Arsenal make statement of intent

 

Faced with a test of their mettle after Harry Kane's equaliser in Saturday's north London derby, Arsenal responded with an emphatic statement of intent.

In previous years, when Arsenal were often a spineless group capable of collapsing at the first hint of pressure, the sight of Kane scoring his latest goal against them would have triggered a dispiriting surrender.

Just months earlier, Kane had scored twice as Tottenham beat Mikel Arteta's team 3-0 to spark a meltdown that saw Arsenal pipped to a Champions League place by their hated neighbours.

But Arsenal have matured since that painful loss and their response to Kane cancelling out Thomas Partey's opener was a dynamic display that featured second-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka.

Aided by a red card for Tottenham's Emerson Royal, Arsenal's seventh win from eight league games kept them top of the table, strengthening their unexpected push to win the title for the first time since 2004.

"We dominated the game from the start but they scored out of nothing and it was important to strike back and get the momentum again and the energy, so I think it was crucial to get the second goal," Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard said.

"From that moment I think we controlled the game again and it was a solid win in the end. I think they suffered a lot."

Liverpool running out of time

 

If Liverpool's title challenge is not already over after winning just two of their opening seven games, it very quickly could be with Arsenal and City to come in their next two Premier League matches.

A familiar cocktail of poor pressing and disastrous defending allowed Brighton's Leandro Trossard to score a rare hat-trick at Anfield despite the Seagulls also missing a number of other clear-cut chances.

"I don't know how many situations I saw today where the offensive players could just turn between the lines," said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. "It was horrendous, really horrible to watch."

A side that took their run at an unprecedented quadruple to the final two games of last season appear to be suffering a physical and mental hangover from that 63-game campaign.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been the focus of most of the criticism, but Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah are other pillars of the Reds' success under Klopp currently suffering a slump in form.

Lose their next two games and Liverpool face a long season ahead just trying to haul themselves back into the top four.

kca-smg/mw

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