The two-week international break meant this game week was looked forward to more than usual.
Here are five talking points from all the action from the English Premier League:
Liverpool vs. Manchester United turns out to be an uncharacteristically dull affair
When Liverpool and Manchester United take each other on, it’s supposed to be the biggest match in England. It rarely goes eventless, let alone goalless. Anticipated to be a feisty affair, the game on Monday night proved to be the exact opposite. José Mourinho approached it his familiar tactics.
To be fair to him, containing a high-scoring side like Liverpool, sitting back, absorbing the pressure, and then hitting on the counterattack is the way to go. Burnley did the same and got three points. Eventually, Mourinho also got what he wanted. David de Gea made two sensational saves to deny the Reds three points single-handedly.
Eddie Howe is destined for a big offer soon
Bournemouth hit Hull City for six goals in an affair that proved why Eddie Howe has the reputation of being the best, young, English manager. Their exciting win was ceaselessly impressive. Bournemouth finished 16th last season, and seem like they can improve on that finish this season.
Howe has been linked with both the England job, as well as Arsenal’s. While the manager has naturally denied an inclination to leave his beloved Bournemouth right now, there is little doubt he will want to go when the time comes, perhaps in a couple of years.
FA chairman backs Eddie Howe to manage England one day https://t.co/BAeqCmNFBi
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) October 17, 2016
Claude Puel shows he can fill the Koeman void
Claude Puel arrived from Nice with a reputation for getting the job done. He had to take over from the ever impressive Ronald Koeman. While it would be naïve to say that Southampton “don’t miss” Ronald Koeman, it would be equally erroneous to suggest they do.
Puel seems to have settled on a reliable formula at Southampton. They have defensive stability, with Oriol Romeu shielding the sturdy back-line. Their run of six clean sheets did end against Burnley, but the performance at the back was top notch once again. Charlie Austin continued his good form, scoring two goals. Nathan Redmond got the other goal.
Southampton’s attacking trio comprising Austin, Redmond and Dusan Tadic looks very threatening when they’re clicking. The Saint Mary’s outfit begins a run of tough fixtures, with a visit to Inter Milan in the Europe League next, and these performances, particularly in the back, will be incredibly encouraging.
The coming of age of Theo Walcott
Arsenal fans have been waiting for a long time to see Theo Walcott become the footballer he was supposed to be. The Englishman has been put in a category of players who are simultaneously excellent, and not good enough. After years of burning promise, at 27, Walcott finally looks the player the Gunners thought they were getting from Southampton 10 years ago.
Arsenal won against Swansea, which isn’t extraordinary, but Walcott could have scored 5 or 6, which is certainly worth mentioning. In the end, he got a well-deserved brace. The England international has scored five goals in eight games this season — as many as he managed in each of the last three campaigns. It makes you feel about the player; if not for injuries, he could have blossomed into the same category as of one of his peers, Alexis Sanchez.
Manchester City’s penalty woes
Romelu Lukaku went into the Manchester City game with five goals in his last four league games. This was after 11-game goal drought extending from the end of last season to the start of this. If Everton wanted to return to Merseyside with a point or three, much depended on how Lukaku did. In the end, he didn’t falter.
After a smartly taken goal, Lukaku now has nine goals in 10 appearances for club and country this season. Thanks to Manchester City missing not one but two penalties, Guardiola‘s side were denied a win and allowed Arsenal to get level on points.
City Stats: Manchester City have failed to score 4 of the last 8 penalties in all competitions this season.
— City Chief ️ (@City_Chief) October 15, 2016