Football: Premier League talking points

Manchester United celebrates after scoring the second goal against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sept 4, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON - Talking points from the Premier League weekend:

Have United turned the corner?

After Manchester United lost their opening two games of the season, including a humiliating 4-0 thrashing at Brentford, their season was written off before it had even begun.

But Erik ten Hag's side have since won four straight games, including beating Liverpool and, on Sunday, league leaders Arsenal, who had a 100 per cent record going into the game.

On top of the results, United have also invested around £140 million (S$225 million) to bring in Casemiro from Real Madrid in midfield and Antony on the wing from Ajax Amsterdam.

Brazilian Antony scored on his debut at Old Trafford and while compatriot Casemiro has yet to start, few doubt he will add some extra steel and experience to United's midfield.

But what has been most noticeable in the run of wins has been the performances of two earlier close-season signings - central defender Lisandro Martinez and left-back Tyrell Malacia.

They have given some much needed solidity and composure to a back-line that had so often been panicky and flaky.

The other addition, Christian Eriksen, gave his best display so far against Arsenal with his clever play and smart positional sense appearing to bring out the best in Bruno Fernandes.

With Cristiano Ronaldo's future now settled, until January at least, there is suddenly an air of confidence around Old Trafford but have the Red Devils turned the corner?

The fans will be wary of any grand claims - there were moments under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when United looked to be heading in a positive direction before it all unravelled again.

Ten Hag was wise to dampen any talk of United being back among the best. "I understand fans are dreaming and the standards of Manchester United have to be good, but we're at the start of a process, we're still far away," he said.

Richarlison offers Spurs attacking variety

Tottenham's Richarlison (centre) scores but his goal is disallowed after a VAR review against Fulham at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sept 3, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Tottenham Hotspur produced their best attacking display of the season in a 2-1 win over Fulham that should have been far bigger and Richarlison was behind much of their best work.

The Brazilian, signed to offer an alternative to the tried-and-tested formula of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, started with them in a three-way attack for the first time on Saturday.

The No. 9 linked superbly with both as well as giving the midfield passers another target.

He ended with an assist, a disallowed goal and also struck the post with a superb volley and looks set to have a big impact as the season progresses for the Londoners.

Controversial VAR calls criticised

West Ham United manager David Moyes (second from left) talks to referee Andrew Madley (second from right) after the match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sept 3, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

The use of the video assistant referee (VAR) was once again in the limelight as managers hit out at the controversial decisions made in Saturday's matches.

West Ham United boss David Moyes said he was "embarrassed" for the VAR official after his team were denied a 90th-minute equaliser in their 2-1 defeat at Chelsea, while Eddie Howe was certain Newcastle United had a "perfectly good goal" chalked off in their 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

Jesse Marsch accused officials of a "lack of respect" as Leeds United were denied a penalty in a 5-3 loss at Brentford and VAR did not ask the on-field referee to review the incident.

He was later shown a red card for arguing with the officials.

The Premier League has reportedly asked the referees' body to look into those decisions.

Time running out for Rodgers

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is feeling the heat with fellow strugglers Aston Villa to come next weekend. PHOTO: REUTERS

One point from Leicester City's first six games is a damning enough statistic, but just as worrying for manager Brendan Rodgers will be what a soft touch they have become.

The Foxes were torn apart on Sunday at Brighton & Hove Albion, who won 5-2 and could have inflicted more humiliation on the visitors had they been more clinical in front of goal.

The chasms of space afforded to Brighton in the Leicester box and the fact City continually gave away possession in midfield will be of huge concern to Rodgers, who is feeling the heat with fellow strugglers Aston Villa to come next weekend.

Leicester are playing like a team desperately low on confidence and belief and Rodgers must find a way to snap them out of it. On the evidence of Sunday, it will be a tall order. REUTERS

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