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7 Truths: United's midfield can win the league, comeback papers over champions' cracks

7 Truths: United's midfield can win the league, comeback papers over champions' cracks
By Eurosport

13/08/2017 at 19:18Updated 14/08/2017 at 07:28

Our writers look back at the weekend's action from the Premier League.

1. Manchester United's midfield can win them the league

Much was made of Chelsea's decision to allow Nemanja Matic to re-unite with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United and after the opening weekend of the new Premier League season you'd imagine the debate will only intensify.

Whilst Cesc Fabregas was regularly caught out and was eventually sent-off for two stupid challenges against Burnley, Matic dominated the game at Old Trafford. He was calm in possession, broke up play well and delighted fans with one magical run. This isn't necessarily new, Matic has always been a good player, but there's an obvious difference between when he is playing for a manager he wants to play for and in a system that suits him and when he isn't.

7 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates with Paul Pogba after the match

7 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates with Paul Pogba after the matchReuters

Next to him Pogba was simply majestic. Some of his touches were outrageous, including one moment when he tackled one West Ham player, flicked the ball over another and then burst away from a third. With Matic next to him, Pogba appears liberated and he looked every bit an £89 million player.

When you consider that Mourinho could bring in Ander Herrera to make it a three in big games, it becomes clear that if United win the league this season it will be down to their midfield first and foremost.

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2. Continuity could prove a masterstroke for Spurs

There has been much made of Tottenham’s inability or unwillingness to get transfer business over the line this summer. However, in a season of upheaval a bit of continuity could be just what is required.

The reaction to Tottenham’s transfer inactivity has been a touch overboard. It is difficult to spot a weakness in their starting XI that they would have the finances to address. They operate in a different market to the rest of the top six and Everton.

In fact, their greatest strength this season might very well be the fact that the players know each other’s games intimately. They have been notorious slow starters in previous seasons and it has cost them.

Tottenham's Ben Davies celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates

Tottenham's Ben Davies celebrates scoring their second goal with team matesReuters

As it stands they have a slight competitive advantage over the rest of the title contenders who all have to bed players in. A strong start could prove crucial to their hopes of attempting to go one step further than last season.

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3. Late comeback papers over champions' cracks

Antonio Conte was asked after Chelsea's 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley, that saw both Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas sent off, whether or not his team selection was sending a message to the board about needing new players.

It's ironic for either Conte or Chelsea to complain about this given how many good players they've let go without replacing, but what's done is done and the club have to either promote or buy to bolster the squad in the final weeks of the transfer window.

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas reacts after receiving a second booking resulting in being sent off

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas reacts after receiving a second booking resulting in being sent offReuters

Alvaro Morata impressed on his debut but his late showing does not mean Chelsea's problems are over. With summer signing Tiemoue Bakayoko injured and Fabregas suspended there is no obvious partner for N'Golo Kante in midfield next week against Spurs. While Nathaniel Chalobah impressed on his debut for Watford, Conte was scratching around trying to fit players into certain positions.

If the Chelsea board think this thin squad can last a season that includes European football they are sorely, sorely mistaken.

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4. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is illustrative of Chelsea's shambolic window

Huddersfield may have beaten Crystal Palace with ease but Ruben Loftus-Cheek was one of the best players on the pitch. He is illustrative of what has been a shambolic transfer window for the champions. There is no way that with a squad as threadbare as Chelsea’s Loftus-Cheek should have been allowed leave on loan.

Crystal Palace's Ruben Loftus-Cheek in action with Huddersfield Town’s Chris Lowe

Crystal Palace's Ruben Loftus-Cheek in action with Huddersfield Town’s Chris LoweReuters

Chelsea may have lost their title before a ball was even kicked this season.

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5. Wayne Rooney deserved his moment

Wayne Rooney looked a jaded force last season for Manchester United but on his second Premier League debut for Everton he cut a rejuvenated figure and deserved his goal and his moment on Saturday.

The passion with which he celebrated suggests that Rooney might be able to rediscover some of his form at his boyhood club. A change of scene could foster a renaissance of sorts and it would be an appropriate finish to a wonderful career.

His post match comments spoke volumes.

" To play for this football club again is a huge deal for me and to score at Goodison in my first game back, it doesn't get much better. A great moment."
" It was a tough game and we were a bit fortunate to go in 1-0 up at halftime. I thought we were the better team in the second half and deserved to win."

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6. Porous Liverpool have done nothing to address issues

It is a dereliction of duty from the coaching staff that Liverpool are still conceding goals from set-piece situations. In a summer of ridiculous spending, the concept of coaching has taken a backseat. Jurgen Klopp and his staff need to address the rudimentary mistakes that have afflicted Liverpool during his tenure.

Watford and Liverpool

Watford and Liverpool Getty Images

The Reds can sign as many defenders as they want but if, as a team, they continue to make crude mistakes such as failing to pick up their men at corners, they will continue to throw away results like they did on Saturday against Watford.

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7. Stoke need goals

Stoke City need a goal-scorer before the transfer deadline after carving out few chances in their 1-0 defeat to Everton.

Saido Berahino looked isolated playing as the lone striker, while Mame Biram Diouf has never been a consistent scorer in the Premier League.

Defensively they looked solid with Kurt Zouma having a decent debut and they have the creativity in the form of Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri – but they do not have a poacher to put the ball in the back of the net.

Mark Hughes’ side face Arsenal next Saturday and play Chelsea and Manchester United in September so they need reinforcements quick.

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