Premier League Hits & Misses: Harry Kane, William Saliba and more

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Hit: ‘Harry Kane, he’s one of a kind’

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s match with Wolves.

It really was a sight to behold.

Harry Kane being interviewed on the pitch in front of Tottenham’s impressive South Stand at full time. Both are monumental structures – arguably the best in world football. Both are taking Tottenham to the next level. Both are priceless.

Kane had just done what Kane does best: scoring goals for his adoring audience, heading home an Ivan Perisic flick-on to keep the early season momentum rolling for Spurs and Antonio Conte. The finish was a simple one but the movement and reading of the situation to get into such a devastating goalscoring position was pure striker’s instinct.

Kane was simply born to score goals. The rumours are that at his 12-week scan, his parents witnessed a silhouette of him wheeling away celebrating a goal, arms aloft.

Jamie Carragher mentioned on Monday Night Football that Kane is perhaps underrated which struck a chord with me as, how can he be? Who seriously thinks he isn’t one of the very best we’ve ever seen in terms of strikers? Of course these things are subjective and many will tell him to ‘show us your medals’ when ranking him among the greats. But, remember, Djimi Traore won a Champions League.

Kane’s numbers are frightening. He now holds the Premier League record for most goals scored for a single club (185) – one more than Sergio Aguero. And, is now just 75 behind Alan Shearer’s overall record of 260. It’s odds-on he breaks it.

As the South Stand stood en masse to sing the synonyms Kane chant about his Tottenham heritage it was clear to see that not only is he one of their own but also one of a kind.
Lewis Jones

Miss: Wolves woeful run goes on but no time for panic

Image: Harry Kane’s winner left Wolves with one point from their first three games

Wolves are now without a win in 10 Premier League matches.

Normally that would be enough to turn the heat up on a manager – but everyone at Wolves is calm and rightly so. This was another ‘nearly performance’ from Lage’s men. Lining up against a team that is the third most likely to win the Premier League title according to various bookmakers’ markets, Wolves showed serious tactical acumen, control and defensive organisation for large parts of an encounter that really could have gone either way. In the first 45 minutes, especially, Wolves were excellent with and without the ball. Nathan Collins and Max Kilman hardly broke sweat in the heart of the defence, restricting Spurs to a miserly one effort at goal.

Going the other way, the midfield trio of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Matheus Nunes provided the platform and tenacity for Wolves to ask serious questions of Tottenham’s defensive line. However, when a chance dropped to a Wolves player the finish wasn’t a crisp one and despite having 12 efforts on goal in the first period, Hugo Lloris wasn’t overly extended – something Conte spoke about in his post-match press conference in defence of his team’s sloppy showing in the opening period.

The next three fixtures for Wolves read: Newcastle (h), Bournemouth (a) and Southampton (h) before back-to-back games with Liverpool and Manchester City. Although there is no panic or worry internally about where Wolves are heading, Lage will need to turn performances into results sooner rather than later.
Lewis Jones

Hit: Saliba turns on the Arsenal style

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Bournemouth against Arsenal.

For all the talk of their frontline – and they dazzled again at times in Bournemouth – William Saliba’s coming of age has been a main component of Arsenal’s flawless start.

The 21-year-old became the club’s forgotten man after signing three years ago from Saint Etienne in a £27m move before heading out on three different loan spells – but now he’s ready for the Premier League.

The centre-back’s stunning goal against Bournemouth was merely the icing on a dominant individual display which helped limit the home side to just one shot on target.

“It’s still early in his career but he went away and learnt the game in France and he looks a man now,” said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp. “He’s getting confidence, he’s got that aurora about him and defensively they look so much better.”

Most impressive was how Saliba completed all 76 of his pass attempts against Bournemouth; the most passes by an Arsenal defender with a 100 per cent completion rate in a Premier League match. The definition of a Rolls-Royce performance.
David Richardson

Miss: Trouble brewing at Leicester?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the match between Leicester City and Southampton.

Che Adams’ late volley to secure Southampton’s win saw plenty of Leicester fans head for the exits at the King Power Stadium. Those that stayed made their feelings particularly clear as loud boos greeted the full-time whistle.

It’s been a frustrating summer for Leicester and that has translated into a frustrating start to the season.

Brendan Rodgers admitted he understood those frustrations after Adams’ late double saw Southampton come back from a goal down to secure their first win of the campaign. Leicester’s wait goes on.

“It’s a challenging time, there’s no doubt about that,” the Leicester boss told Sky Sports. “Of course supporters look at the club over a course of the summer and they get excited by having new signings and seeing them develop and seeing us push on. We haven’t been able to do that. So, the atmosphere, it is difficult, and I totally understand it from the supporters because they want to see us continually push on.”

But with no major signings on the horizon and the club facing the prospect of potentially losing defender Wesley Fofana or midfielder Youri Tielemans – or both – things could get worse before they get better for Leicester.

Their fixtures don’t get any easier either with the Foxes facing a trip to Chelsea before welcoming Manchester United to the King Power Stadium.
Oliver Yew

Hit: Positives for Hasenhuttl’s young Saints

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says it was important to secure the first win of the season today against Leicester City.

There was trouble potentially brewing at Southampton with reports of player unrest at the club. Ralph Hasenhuttl had apparently lost the dressing room, but the comeback against Leeds last week and the revival at Leicester, which saw them secure their first win of the season, have surely dispelled those rumours.

It was the substitution that saw Che Adams come on that made all the difference as the striker scored just his second brace in the Premier League to lift the mood around St Mary’s.

There were other positives for Saints too.

The average age of Southampton’s starting XI – 23 years 238 days – was their youngest ever fielded in the Premier League and the youngest in the competition since Manchester United – 22 years 284 days – against Crystal Palace in May 2017.

Things are definitely starting to look up for Hasenhuttl and his side.
Oliver Yew

Hit: Crystal Palace’s attack finally bare their teeth

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.

Last season, there was sometimes a feeling that despite their attacking talent, Crystal Palace needed to take more of their chances to kill games off. Patrick Vieira often said the same himself.

When he arrived at the club, one of the tasks for Vieira was to cultivate a young, attacking team who scores goals – not surprising for a club that has produced one of the Premier League’s best attacking talents in Wilfried Zaha.

While the pieces may not always have fit together and injury sometimes hampering their development, Saturday’s victory against Aston Villa showed just what this team can do when they unleash their potential.

Eberechi Eze looked back to his best after an Achilles injury sidelined him for much of last season. Crystal Palace missed his tenacity and creativity in midfield. His barn-storming run from defence deep into the opposition half in the first period was spell-binding to watch.

Zaha scored twice – now three goals in three games at the start of this season – with his own backheel for Tyrick Mitchell in the build-up to Jean-Philippe Mateta’s third goal was sublime. His own consistency is key this season.

Jordan Ayew, Jeffrey Schlupp and Odsonne Edouard were also brilliant going forward, with Vieira continuing to harness all of his best attackers in one starting XI.

Although the performance was superb, some may argue that the game hinged on a contentious penalty. Steven Gerrard deemed it ‘harsh’ and I’m also not convinced it should have been given. But even if the decision went the other way, Crystal Palace would still have scored again and won the game.

As ever with these things, the key now is consistency. Producing the same level of dazzling attacking performance to find the net, and keep them out at the other end.

Their next Premier League game is against reigning champions Manchester City. Can Crystal Palace produce another performance as they did against Liverpool and Aston Villa to shake the league up in its early stages? Watch this space…
Charlotte Marsh

Miss: Aston Villa struggle – a one-off or something more serious?

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Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says he does not agree with the referees decision in awarding Crystal Palace a penalty resulting in them gaining another goal

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard must be on the hunt for some lucky heather considering his side’s lack of fortune at the moment.

Villa are without key summer signing Diego Carlos for an extended period with only three games of the season played and there were other moments that failed to fall their way at Selhurst Park.

The biggest was the Lucas Digne handball given after a lengthy VAR review, which swiftly followed Leon Bailey’s rocketed effort hitting the crossbar. Had that gone in, the dimesons of the game would have shifted.

But such was Crystal Palace’s afternoon, you feel they still would have gone on to win regardless. Aston Villa were simply second best for much of the afternoon, although began well with Ollie Watkins’ strike.

As Gerrard explained: “We never kept the lead for long enough. We allowed Crystal Palace back into the game too soon. We didn’t defend long balls well enough, we didn’t win enough individual duels at the right times in the big moments.”

While the Villa manager vowed to work harder with his squad on the training pitch, some may be asking if this was a one-time struggle or the start of something more endemic.

Yes, not every moment went their way and they were playing a hugely talented Crystal Palace side at a notoriously difficult away ground – Gerrard knows more about that than most.

But it’s also one game checked off against what will likely be a close rival in that mid-table shuffle and they were outplayed and easily beaten. Aston Villa have now lost three consecutive away league matches for the first time since November 2021 under Dean Smith.

Some will clamour for new signings – and again, luck has not been kind with the Carlos injury – and Gerrard will likely have his options.

For now, there’s no need for panic stations, but next weekend’s Premier League match against West Ham will give more indications of just how much work Gerrard has on his plate.
Charlotte Marsh

Miss:Everton progress stunted without focal striker

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Everton against Nottingham Forest.

Frank Lampard is hamstrung. Everton will not be able to advance without a fully recognised striker. It’s not for the want of trying, but while Dominic Calvert-Lewin – conspicuous by absence – remains injured it’s hard to see how growth can or will be achieved at Goodison Park. Everton possess a very noticeable Richarlison shaped hole.

Lampard’s side mustered 19 attempts against Nottingham Forest, but needed goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to provide the assist for Demarai Gray’s 88th minute leveller. Scoring goals cannot be left to chance in the Premier League.

Anthony Gordon, who received a warm reception from the Goodison crowd following a week that has been plagued by exit rumours, was lively throughout but again lacked cutting edge. While Salomon Rondon, at 32, last registered a Premier League goal in December 2021. It’s hardly an inspiring conversion rate. Everton’s eight shots on target were shared between Gray (three) and Gordon (five).

They were staring down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat prior to Gray’s late intervention, which, in truth, was the product of some naive defensive positioning from Steve Cook.

You watch Liverpool and Manchester City, they all play that pass,” Lampard said of Pickford’s punt that found the run of Gray. Well, that’s about the only comparison you can legitimately draw between Everton and Liverpool or City. Most strikingly, it’s the work both of those clubs have done in the summer window to address their No 9 vacancy, that sets them apart from the Toffees.

The longer that void continues, the more costly it will be.
Laura Hunter

Hit: Fulham display their credentials under Silva

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Fulham against Brentford.

Marco Silva’s sides have always had three things in common – playing the right way, prioritising attack over defence and struggling to defend set pieces. Saturday’s victory was a microcosm of that style at Craven Cottage, and showcased how different this Premier League campaign is likely to go compared to their last under Scott Parker.

Fulham got their fans off their seats from the first minute – for Bobby Decordova-Reid’s goal, as well as anything else – with their front-foot football, full of intensity and tempo. In the end, they could not keep it up for 90 minutes but still with better finishing from Aleksandar Mitrovic would have sealed their first victory back in the top flight far earlier than the final minute.

This was perhaps more of a litmus test than their opening two games, with Brentford the kind of side they will look to replicate this season, and both will be aiming for similar outcomes come the end of the campaign.

On the basis of this, they look capable of passing that test. There’s a long way to go this season, and even if Fulham do end up being relegated from the Premier League for the third season in a row, you can’t imagine it will be anywhere near as toothless as their departure in 2021.
Ron Walker

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