Sport

Speaking issues: Chelsea appearance actual deal, Partey harm blow, Solskjaer lifeline, Dier, Eze, Benrahma and extra

After another weekend of engrossing action in the Premier League and beyond, Standard Sport’s team of football writers offer 10 major talking points to stew over as we head into the November international break…

Dier growing in stature

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Eric Dier‘s display was one of the few highlights in an otherwise dour Tottenham win over West Brom on Sunday. Dier twice made vital interventions in the first half and was generally a commanding and composed presence at centre-half.

Both Spurs and England desperately need stability at the back and, having started the season unconvincingly, Dier may be the man to provide it.

The 26-year-old is clearly trusted by Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate having moved to defence, but truer tests of his quality await, with Spurs set to face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal soon after the international break. Dan Kilpatrick

Chelsea starting to look the real deal under Lampard

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Chris Wilder claims Chelsea are now in the same company as Liverpool and Manchester City as one of the Premier League’s finest teams – and it’s hard to argue with that assertion.

It’s still early days in the season and Frank Lampard is right to try to ease the pressure on his team, but he can only do that for so long.

Saturday’s game against Sheffield United was another test of Chelsea’s credentials after they went behind early at Stamford Bridge. They ultimately cruised to a 4-1 victory. Carry on like this and a title challenge is on. James Robson

Benrahma plan looks to be working for West Ham

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Said Benrahma was praised for the impact he made when introduced from the bench as West Ham grabbed a late win over Fulham on Saturday. 

The winger has been working his way up to full fitness since joining from Brentford as David Moyes attempts to ease him into Premier League life with as little expectation as possible. Moyes took a similar approach with Jarrod Bowen, and it looks to be working with Benrahma.

The Algerian made a game-changing impact as he set up the winner for Tomas Soucek and will be itching to make his mark from the start after the international break. Jack Rosser

Morgan debut a timely boost for Spurs

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Alex Morgan finally made her debut for Tottenham Women on Saturday, more than six weeks after becoming the biggest signing in WSL history. The USA forward played the final 20 minutes of the 1-1 draw against Reading in her first appearance in a year after giving birth to daughter Charlie.

Morgan afterwards promised there was more to come as she continues to work her way back to full fitness.

For Spurs, Morgan’s availability is timely. After starting the season with ambitions to disrupt the ‘big three’, they are winless after six matches and will go bottom if they lose to Bristol City next weekend. Dan Kilpatrick

Brutal Keane bursts Walker’s bubble

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Kyle Walker’s outstanding form this season has earned him an England recall and suggested he’s not ready to hand over the baton to the procession of young English right-backs who have burst onto the scene.

But his clumsy challenge on Sadio Mane earned Liverpool an early penalty in their 1-1 draw with City – and Walker a rebuke from Roy Keane, who described him as an “idiot”.

Gareth Southgate is not as blunt as the fiery former Manchester United captain – but he can’t have liked what he saw at the Etihad. Not least after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury. James Robson

Palace run offers Eze chance to shine

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Eberechi Eze announced himself to the Premier League with a wonderful first Crystal Palace goal and a fine assist in their 4-1 win over Leeds.

The winger, signed from QPR for almost £20million over the summer, has been eased in by manager Roy Hodgson so far, but is primed for a good run in the side with a favourable fixture list ahead after the international break.

Palace next play struggling Burnley before then facing Newcastle and West Brom. Eze promised Saturday is “only the start” and Palace’s run of games suggest he could have some fun when the Premier League returns. Jack Rosser

Arsenal hope Partey does not add injury to insult

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After an embarrassing home defeat by Aston Villa, the last thing Arsenal need is summer signing Thomas Partey out injured. The midfielder came off at half-time during Sunday’s 3-0 loss with a thigh injury and is set for a scan on Monday.

Partey was one of Arsenal’s better players against Villa – although admittedly that was a low bar – and his absence would be a blow for the Gunners and rub salt in the wounds after a defeat.

Partey did not appear to be in too much discomfort as he watched the second half from the bench, instead of getting treatment indoors, which is an encouraging sign. Simon Collings

Barkley pushes case for England call-up

Ross Barkley’s loan move to Aston Villa has served as a reminder of the quality that once saw him regarded as one of the brightest prospects in English football.

The midfielder took a gamble by walking away from Chelsea and Champions League football to spend a season with a side that were expected to be involved in another relegation battle.

And it looks like it is paying off, with Barkley forming an impressive relationship with Jack Grealish and producing some of his best form since bursting onto the scene with Everton.

Should that partnership continue to blossom, then it is surely only a matter of time before Gareth Southgate wants to see if they can replicate it in an England shirt. James Robson

Solskjaer back from the brink?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a handy habit of coming up with crucial wins just when he needs them. 

With Mauricio Pochettino’s shadow looming large and a daunting trip to Everton awaiting Manchester United, a 3-1 victory on Saturday was precisely what was needed.

But talk of United making a better start than last year is nothing to celebrate. It was their woeful form this time last term that saw them record their worst start since 1989 and push the Norwegian to the brink. James Robson

Parker starting to find some stability at Fulham

Scott Parker was left raging after Fulham’s defeat to West Ham. He was angry about Ademola Lookman’s failed Panenka penalty and was unhappy about the decision to allow Tomas Soucek’s goal given Sebastien Haller was offside in the build-up.

As Parker cools off and reflects this week, he does have some positives to take. Fulham have a completely new-look defence, with Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Andersen forging a new partnership at the heart of it.

The Cottagers again looked more assured at the back against West Ham. With Aleksandar Mitrovic struggling to score up top, a solid foundation is key if Fulham are to have any hope of staying up. Jack Rosser

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