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Weekend football wrap: 10 talking points - Arsenal lack firepower, Chelsea full-backs key, more Messi misery

James Robson, Dan Kilpatrick, Simon Collings, Malik Ouzia
·6-min read
Pool via REUTERS
Pool via REUTERS

The Standard Sport team assesses another dramatic weekend of action across football...

1. Bamford has come a long way since "terrible" Palace spell

It is five years since Patrick Bamford cut short a year-long loan at Crystal Palace and described his time at Selhurst Park as “terrible”. Bamford failed to start a Premier League game for Eagles in five months under Alan Pardew and did not score a goal before he returned to Chelsea. Bamford admitted he had been left “tearing his hair out” at a lack of opportunities and back then many doubted he could ever cut it in the Premier League. After his hat-trick for Leeds in their 3-0 win at Aston Villa, Bamford has six top-flight goals already this season and is now being touted for an England call-up. Malik Ouzia

2. West Ham hopes rest on Antonio

Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Ings, Vardy, Bamford, Rashford: the Premier League is currently awash with in-form English strikers... and where to rank Michail Antonio? The forward underlined his importance to West Ham again by scoring a third goal of the season and 11th since the June restart (only Harry Kane, with 12, has more in the same period) with an acrobatic finish in the 1-1 draw with Man City. The 30-year-old has looked rejuvenated since the extended break but his fitness is suddenly a concern after he was forced off with discomfort for the second game running on Saturday. He is set for a precautionary scan on his hamstring. West Ham’s hopes of overachieving this season surely rest on him remaining fit. Dan Kilpatrick

3. Plenty of possession but no penetration for Fulham

Fulham have now made their worst ever start to a Premier League season. The Cottagers have one point after six games following their 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace and unless they develop a cutting edge there is a good chance they will go straight back down. Fulham had 64 per cent possession against Palace but they rarely threatened and only got on the scoresheet when Tom Cairney struck a sweet 25-yard shot past Vicente Guaita in injury time. The statistics tell the story. Fulham have made 646 passes per goal they have scored this season - the second highest in the Premier League. Malik Ouzia

4. Arsenal lack firepower

After putting three past Fulham on the opening day of the season, Arsenal’s forwards have failed to score more than twice in any match this term. It is a statistic that sums up their stuttering form in front of goal and they will hope the visit of Dundalk on Thursday can change that. Leicester City on Sunday was the latest night where the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left Emirates Stadium frustrated, and they desperately need to put a team to the sword to reignite their season. Dundalk in the Europa League this week looks like the ideal chance for that. Simon Collings

5. Zaha rises to Hodgson's challenge

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wilfried Zaha responded to the challenge thrown down by Roy Hodgson last week with a brilliant display at Craven Cottage. Hodgson had called on Zaha to produce more and the stand-in Crystal Palace captain tore Fulham apart as the Eagles won 2-1. First he set up Jairo Riedewald for the opener and then scored himself to make it five goals this season, which already tops his tally for last term. “I was not being negative," said Hodgson after the game. “I have never doubted his commitment to the cause and that he is going to win us matches with his skill and ability.” Malik Ouzia

6. Millwall face Rowett absence

West Ham were transformed during David Moyes' recent absence from the touchline with coronavirus and their neighbours Millwall are now facing the same situation after manager Gary Rowett tested positive last week. Rowett was absent from Saturday's 1-1 draw home draw with winless Barnsley and will also miss the matches against Preston and Huddersfield. The timing of Rowett's illness has come at a potentially bad time for the Lions, who had just found their stride with back-to-back wins before this weekend, having made a stuttering start to the new Championship season. Assistant manager Adam Barrett will remain in the dugout until Rowett returns and will be tasked with maintaining the side's momentum, with Millwall targeting a play-off place this term. Dan Kilpatrick

7. Full-backs key for Chelsea

Old Trafford underlined the wealth of options England have full-back - and that’s without taking Trent Alexander-Arnold into consideration. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is arguably the best defensive full-back in the country - but still needs to offer more going forward. While the jury is still out on whether Luke Shaw will ever fulfil his potential. But in Ben Chilwell and Reece James, Chelsea have to modern-day wide defenders, who attack with speed and deliver with real quality. They pinned back their Manchester United counterparts on Saturday - and we’re both responsible for Chelsea’s two best openings. On each occasion Kai Havertz failed to make the most of the service - but Gareth Southgate cannot fail to be excited by their development. James Robson

8. Nightmare for stand-in VVV-Venlo goalkeeper

(ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
(ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana went straight to console VVV-Venlo opposite number Delano van Crooij after their record-breaking 13-0 win in the Eredivisie on Saturday. “Respect,” he later tweeted along with a picture of the pair embracing at the final whistle. It was a horrible day for VVV-Venlo but it could have been even worse were it not for Van Crooij. He made 10 saves, which is the highest in an Eredivisie match this season. Given Van Crooij, the 29-year-old back-up goalkeeper who was making only his fifth Eredivisie start, conceded 13 times for his hometown club, that is unlikely to provide him with any comfort. Malik Ouzia

9. Defoe leading Rangers’ push for title

Steven Gerrard's Rangers can move nine points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a win at Kilmarnock next weekend. Rangers have not won the title in a decade and this is easily the strongest position the Gers have been in since their return to the top-flight in 2016. Propelled by veteran Jermain Defoe, who scored his 300th club career goal in Sunday's 2-0 win over Livingston, Gerrard's side are full of confidence. Celtic, meanwhile, have problems defensively after a sloppy 3-3 draw with Aberdeen made it three games without a win. Hoops manager Neil Lennon, though, has insisted it is too early to talk about their neighbours being the new favourites for the title. Dan Kilpatrick

10. Messi’s misery deepens in Clasico

After Barcelona conceded the third goal in their 3-1 loss to Real Madrid, Lionel Messi stood on his own in the centre circle, with his hands on his hips and a lost look on his face. It is an image that has become all too familiar in recent months. Defeat in his last Clasico at the Camp Nou was another painful reminder of why Messi wanted to leave Barcelona in the summer. This is the worst Barca team he has played for. They are now 12th in La Liga and things could get worse for Messi, and Ronald Koeman, when Barcelona play Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday. Simon Collings