By Taiwo Ibrahim
The pick of the bunch was the clash between Arsenal and Manchester City, even though it didn’t live up to the hype, the Gunners were able to end their hoodoo against the treble winners.
Sportivationng.com brings you the five major talking points from the weekend matches on matchday 8 of the 2023-24 Premier League season including Arsenal’s win over Manchester City.
1. Arsenal finally free from Man City’s shackles
After that 2-1 victory in December 2015, with Arsenal on course for the title – Leicester were never going to win it, obviously – few at the Emirates Stadium would have predicted it would take another eight years to repeat the result.
With two emphatic defeats to City helping to turn the tide in their rivals’ favour last term, this win could be a psychological turning point for Mikel Arteta’s side as they chase the title once more.
Then again, the bigger picture is that this season may not be another straight fight between Arsenal and City. At this stage last term, there were seven points between first and fourth: now, there are only three.
2. Spot-on changes saves Ten Hag’s Manchester United
The manner of this deep-in-added-time comeback win offers a way for Erik ten Hag to jumpstart Manchester United’s season: look to freshen the XI with players desperate to force a way into the starting lineup, who will give those dropped for them the precise same motivation.
The manager, hobbled by a long roll call of injuries, was forced to choose Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans in defence and then, as this game slipped away at 1-0 to Brentford, threw on Alejandro Garnacho and, in the 88th minute, Scott McTominay.
Evans was composed while Garnacho created United’s equaliser and Maguire their winner, both scored by McTominay.
This is not a case for the 35-year-old Evans or the ponderous Maguire to be named on every team sheet but the impact of the pair, plus Garnacho and McTominay, should remind Ten Hag of how new blood can invigorate a team that has been otherwise listless.
3. Mudryk To Battle Sterling For Chelsea Place
Mykhailo Mudryk just cannot catch a break. After finally breaking his Chelsea scoring duck at the 25th attempt last Monday against Fulham, he picked up an untimely knock and then watched as his replacement on the left wing, Raheem Sterling, produced a talismanic display to down Burnley on Saturday with two assists and a goal.
It was unfortunate for the Ukrainian – who was brought on after 83 minutes at Turf Moor – but speaks to a wider issue that is central to the marked improvement of Mauricio Pochettino’s side: competition for places.
It’s too early to say that Chelsea have turned a corner given their wins at Fulham and Burnley were against two of the league’s more malleable defences.
But their expensively assembled collection of players is beginning to resemble a cohesive squad, with the manager confident increased depth will drive further improvement.
“With time, with all the players fit, there’s going to be massive competition and that is good for the team,” said a buoyant Pochettino.
4. Man City Domestic Away Form Worrying
Whether it highlights the impact of a City team without Rodri or a question of mentality playing away from home, the fact remain that City must keep their focus and return to the standards set in previous years.
Manchester City suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since 2018, which emphasises the magnitude of the standard the players have set over the last five years.
5. Maddison Is The Real Deal For Tottenham
Spurs have a new talisman. Down to 10 men and under pressure early in the second half, Tottenham needed someone to stand tall.
James Maddison has been the player to do so ever since he arrived this summer.
After whipping in a couple of dangerous corners, he then went to collect a short corner from Dejan Kulusevski and his magic won the game for 10-man Spurs.
A swivel of his snake hips and a duck of his languid shoulder opened up a gap and with everything swirling around him, Maddison still had the composure to pick out Micky van de Ven in a crowded penalty box to slot home the only goal of the game.
It was pure brilliance and with that assist Maddison took the Premier League lead in assists.
For many years now his talent has been clear for all to see and with Harry Kane leaving this summer, Tottenham needed a new talisman and a new hero.
Maddison will never reach Kane’s levels of incredible output for Spurs but he is proving to be the difference maker right now.
Whenever this new-look, dogged Tottenham find themselves in a tight spot, they now turn to Maddison for inspiration.
The Premier League will return after the international break with Chelsea taking on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.