Premier League things we learned: Thiago Alcantara impact, Harry Kane’s evolution, James Rodriguez magic and more

England’s No. 9…and No. 10?

For 45 minutes, this talking point was exclusively a Danny Ings appreciation section; he was utterly spectacular for Saints, a non-stop dynamo who had everything in his game from confidence and energy to a tremendous first touch and an unerring finish.

He is unquestionably in top form right now, Saints’ best player and most likely goal threat, and he must be making a huge claim to be much more regularly involved for Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

Ahead of though, of course, is Harry Kane – and in the second half it was he who stepped up massively.

In a slightly different way, though: creator-in-chief for Spurs, dropping into clever areas, finding pinpoint passes through gaps and claiming no fewer than four assists. Start them together!

Kane set up four goals for Son
Kane set up four goals for Son(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Kane might have been the creator, but it was Korean forward Son who applied the finishing touch.

His movement was relentless and unstoppable, while there are few players who can lay claim to being as ruthless and versatile as he is when it comes to one-on-one chances.

Not only is he technically gifted but he happily finishes with either foot, as he displayed here to such great effect.

Son was consistent in finding the spaces and the timing of his runs, and the service was very much present for him to keep putting the chances away.

James magic gives Ancelotti era take-off

James Rodriguez shone on his home debut for Everton, injecting the craft and creativity to release the attacking potential for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

A whipped left-footed finish in the first half saw him score his first goal in blue, but it was the ease at which he can receive possession and his gift to play three moves ahead that can really propel this side towards the top four.

The gorgeous, scooped ball into Richarlison who then supplied Dominic Calvert-Lewin showed what a difference-maker he can be. Tougher tests await, but after a 5-2 win over West Brom, James looks to be providing the spark this side has been craving. 

James Rodriguez in action against West Brom(EPA)

Tariq Lamptey continued to show his breathtaking speed and infectious energy for Brighton.

The former Chelsea starlet is influencing the Seagulls at both ends of the pitch: his anticipation saw him nudge the ball ahead of Allan Saint-Maximin to win a penalty that Neal Maupay converted for the lead.

While his determination and spacial awareness allowed him to cut off Callum Wilson with a crunching, last-ditch tackle to help protect their lead. It’s early, but Lamptey is making a major case as the league’s best young right-back this season.

Nketiah and Ceballos make amends

A week after their pre-match feud was caught on camera, pushing one another after a heavy tackle during the warm-up at Craven Cottage, Eddie Nketiah and Dani Ceballos showed their chemistry to clinch Arsenal an undeserved three points against West Ham. 

Mikel Arteta’s side had been poor, overrun in midfield and outfought for large stretches of the match. But, after Michail Antonio cancelled out Alexandre Lacazette’s opener, Arsenal conjured something from nothing. Ceballos leap onto Ceballos’ brilliant through ball and found Nketiah lurking in the perfect poacher’s position to tap in the winner. 

There are still flaws there, despite Arsenal’s recent success, but again they showed a spirit they’ve long lacked before Arteta’s arrival.

Thiago made his Liverpool debut(Getty)

Thiago’s quick entrance

It took only 45 minutes for new signing Thiago Alcantara to enter the fray, brought on as a half-time substitute for Jordan Henderson.

The former Bayern man occupied the deepest midfield role after his entrance, with the usual incumbent Fabinho playing behind him in defence.

It was a neat, tidy and relatively restrained performance from him, dictating play from the centre, though he then caught Timo Werner in the box to concede a penalty—saved by Alisson.

Clearly there’s lots more to come in future, and it’s notable that Jurgen Klopp was shouting directives at him throughout the half, in terms of areas to take up and where to move defensively.

First up, it’s worth pointing out that Kepa made a couple of decent, if routine, saves, and his aerial handling was generally solid.

But he doesn’t help himself with avoidable errors, and those are the ones which take the headlines here again.

The Spanish international was almost caught out early on, speeding out of his goal to the left-side of the area and losing the foot-race with Mo Salah, though Liverpool didn’t score on that occasion.

They did after the break though, with Kepa trying to pass out past the Mane press, and only managing to assist the No. 10 in netting his second goal.

Man City gauntlet laid down

Prior to kick-off the talk had been about whether Chelsea and their new signings – not all on display – could show enough to begin to close the gap between themselves and the top two.

While the answer to that question was an emphatic no, Liverpool themselves have put a quick marker down for their more genuine challengers, Manchester City.

Ahead of Pep Guardiola’s team kicking a first ball of the season, the Reds already have a six-point lead to sit on, claiming a 100 per cent start with two very different performances.

With Diogo Jota to come into the squad and several of the side still building fitness, it’s shaping up to be another great season for the title-holders, who have put down the early marker for those hoping to keep pace.

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