Premier League talking points: an unsung hero, when are things going to Fall right for Kane and whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer at the hands of a ‘cold’ penalty taker. With the refreshing exception of Brighton, things are beginning to take an all-too-familiar look at the top of the Premier League, while already Norwich are in danger of dropping off the bottom. It was back to being Pep’s Full House on Saturday but the City boss could not give any goals to cheer – yet another of the talking points Express reporter Matthew Dunn picks out from the weekend’s action.
A LESS THAN NOBLE ACT
DID the summer teach us nothing? You don’t bring substitutes on to take penalties.
It turns out the theory holds even if when the best penalty taker in the five major leagues is up against a goalkeeper who has watched his last 40 kicks fly past him into the back of the net.
So just as Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho failed in their ‘specialist’ roles, so too did Mark Noble against Manchester United, with David De Gea surprising even himself by saving.
Research has shown that players coming on just before a shoot-out are nearly twice as likely to fail as those who have had a few minutes to warm up.
Who knows what science lies behind it – sometimes these things simply come down to the will of the footballing gods
And the fundamental of the sport is that it is about the 11 players on the pitch against their 11 opponents.
No mention of a specialist kicker. So let’s ‘kicker’ them out once and for all.
KANE NEEDS TO SHOW HE IS STILL THE MAIN MAN
JUST because Harry Kane started his season a couple of weeks late, does that mean his own personal end of August ends late too?
The England captain is notorious for his early-season struggles but Spurs desperately need him to get going soon.
Harry Maguire (5) has had more shots than Kane (4) this season.
Of course, he has not had the service from a Tottenham team who are struggling for cohesion under Nuno Espirito Santo. But he has carried weak Spurs teams in the past.
It is clear once again the best he can hope for from the campaign is individual glory.
Well, Mo Salah has four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo three and Romelu Lukaku the same.
Kane needs to rediscover his motivation by finding the way to hunt those three rivals down. Spurs need that selfishness from him.
OLD BANGER LEADS THE WAY
HE had already scored in the Premier League but when James Milner passed his driving test shortly after his 17th birthday, his dad decreed that until he had more experience on the road, he could make do with a Ford Focus.
Milner used to park it in the players’ car park at Leeds between the Hummers and Ferraris of team-mates ‘living the dream’.
Nearly 19 years later, that engine is still revving and this weekend Milner was fulfilling the role of a courtesy car while Trent Alexander-Arnold was struggling with something under the bonnet.
He retired from football after Euro 2016 after 61 caps even though Gareth Southgate spoke to him before the World Cup two years later.
Would history have been different if he had been able to bring him on when England were leading against Croatia that summer? Or against Holland in the Nations League the following year? Or Italy in July?
England’s loss has certainly been Liverpool’s gain.
PEP SHOW WITH NOTHING ENTICING TO SEE
MANCHESTER CITY’S fans are rather like Pep Guardiola’s team, unfortunately.
Offered a shot at some top quality action, the truth is they would much rather pass.
Hence the drop in attendances.
They don’t have that trouble at Liverpool where they have managed 25 per cent more shots than City so far this season. Guardiola’s side have instead knocked the ball around – 3,147 passes already.
On average, after 31 passes, eventually they manage some sort of attempt at goal.
That’s not going to put bums on seats, let alone keep them there.
POTTERING ALONG NICELY
THROUGHOUT history, from Sir Alf Ramsey even to Gareth Southgate, the FA have gone for relatively successful managers at largely provincial clubs away from the very intense spotlight.
So as Brighton quietly build on their strong start to the campaign, could we be witnessing an early bid to go for Southgate’s job when it is vacant again?