Premier League talking points

1. CONTE NEEDS NEW SOLUTIONS

"From last season to this, you have big teams becoming bigger," said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after the 1-0 defeat by Manchester City.

City and Manchester United, only off the top on goal difference, appear imposing. Therein lies the justification for Conte's frustration, aired within Stamford Bridge over the close season, at the need for more significant squad strengthening to keep ahead.

The manager always knew life was going to be harder this time round. He will now have to find fresh solutions during the international break.

2. ABSENCE OF FIREPOWER

The gap to the top six clubs yawns like a chasm and Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton's approach in the 0-2 loss to Arsenal - an approach born out of necessity - was characterised by damage limitation.

He used a 4-5-1 system and, even after Arsenal's early opener, Brighton did not come out. Their lack of firepower is a worry. It was the fourth time in seven league matches that they had drawn a blank.

3. LEARNING CURVE FOR ALLI

Amid a cornucopia of perks, the downside to being a footballer is that you have to do your growing up in public. So far in his short career Dele Alli has attracted derision for some naughty challenges, a rude gesture and, on Saturday in the 4-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a devious dive.

Those deeds were varying degrees of bad. But, if they are the worst things that this 21-year-old has done while rising to the top of his profession, and if he learns from them, then who among us can honestly hold them against him for long?

4. HODGSON'S BLUNT APPROACH

Crystal Palace's 4-0 hammering at Manchester United makes it seven defeats from as many games, 17 goals conceded and none scored. Palace will again be without three key figures for Chelsea's Oct 14 visit: Christian Benteke and Wilfred Zaha (knee problems) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ineligible).

So, how are they going to fare?

"So it's got to be the lads I put out there who go out there and run their b******s off, if you excuse my expression, to try to do the best job they can possibly do," manager Roy Hodgson said. It may get worse before it gets any better.

5. NEGATIVE TACTICS BACKFIRE

West Bromwich sit 10th, which is respectable enough, but have only three wins from 19 matches and, perhaps most frustratingly for the supporters, no shift in the way the team plays, despite £40 million (S$72 million) being spent.

Tony Pulis is never going to ask his teams to open up and play in a gung-ho way, but it is hard to escape the feeling that the group of players at his disposal should be capable of coming up with a better way of holding on to a 2-1 lead against Watford than time-wasting almost throughout the second half.

The tactics were overly negative and came back to bite West Brom when Watford scored a 95th-minute equaliser.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2017, with the headline 'Premier League talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe