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Premier League Takeaways: Pardew Running Out Of Excuses, Everton Forget McCarthy, Xhaka Excels

Premier League Takeaways: Pardew Running Out Of Excuses, Everton Forget McCarthy, Xhaka Excels
By Gavin Cooney

Here are the main takeaways from the 3pm fixtures in the Premier League today, as we head for an international break:

Chelsea 3-0 Burnley - Chelsea's success could Costa a few big names

Whereas Liverpool huffed, puffed and blew up rather than blow down the Burnley wall last weekend, Chelsea demolished their opponents with the remorseless thrust and thrift characteristic of an Antonio Conte side.

Conte lined Chelsea up in a 4-2-4 formation, a side that once again that did not feature Cesc Fabregas. N'Golo Kanté held the fort at the back of midfield, excelling to an extent which may be troublesome for Jose Mourinho's chief enforcer of evil, Nemanja Matic:

Chelsea's link-up play between Oscar, Hazard and Willian was divine at times, but these moves were invariably scuppered by the lumbering figure of Diego Costa, who continues to shuffle around the pitch as if the marrow in his bones has been laced with mercury.

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Michi Batschuyai has impressed in each of his two substitute appearances in the league thus far, and it's difficult to see him continuing to start games on the bench as Costa toils.

Costa has proved valuable with late goals in the season thus far, and he still has much to offer, but the Blues look all the more slick with Batschuayi up front.

Watford 1-3 Arsenal - Xhaka Can 

Eamon Dunphy appeared on RTE radio last Monday to analyse last weekend's games, and in doing so branded Granit Xhaka 'useless', citing his performance in a friendly game against Ireland as proof.

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You won't have to be told what happens next: said 'useless' player turned in a virtuoso performance that is anathema to anyone who has pretensions beyond being useless. Xhaka took up the defensive midfield position that was once such a problem for Arsenal, and if today is anything to go by, Francis Coquelin will have to acquaint himself with the subs bench.

He was as defensively resolute as you'd expect, but most impressive was his long-range passing: completing 62 of 71 passes:

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At just 23, Xhaka has already been capped 40 times for Switzerland. One problematic position has finally been sorted by Arsene Wenger. It's a rapid turnaround from his clumsy debut against Liverpool, where he committed an opening day record four fouls in his twenty minutes of action.

Crystal Palace 1-1 Bournemouth - Pards Needs Zaha 

Alan Pardew has openly complained about his side's lack of goals this season - No side has scored fewer goals in the Premier League in 2016 than Palace -  but has now been given what he wanted in the form of Christian Benteke. This is IKEA management from Pardew: he has the side with pacy wingers who can whip in the crosses, and now he wishes to slot in the striker who can make use of this abundant ammunition.

The issue is this: Yannick Bolasie has left for Everton, and Andros Townsend prefers to cut in from the right-wing. This leaves Wilfried Zaha as their main purveyor of width.

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Pardew today selected two strikers and left Wilfried Zaha on the bench, and what he gained in bludgeoning power up front he lost in pace out wide: Andros Townsend was selected on the right-wing but spent much of the game cutting in on to his left. Exactly why Zaha was dropped is unclear: it may be connected with Spurs open courting of the winger this week.

The end result was a weirdly narrow Palace formation, with Zaha providing width as a second-half substitute:

In the end, a second-half siege following the introduction of Wilfried Zaha yielded an equalizer through Scott Dann.

Damien Delaney admitted that Palace needed to provide Benteke with ammunition: with Yannick Bolasie leaving to make room for Benteke, Palace can't afford to lose Zaha as well. If Zaha does leave, Pardew may be next to follow.

Leicester 2-1 Swansea - Swans Prove To Be Good Party Guests 

The champions won their first game of the season in the fashion they won many last season: an opener through Jamie Vardy following a long ball over the top with victory solidified through a Wes Morgan goal from a set piece.

With the frightening pace Leicester have on the break, they are quite happy to play teams who play high defensive lines. Have a look at Swansea's on the opener:

Ranieri went back to last season's formula, (4-4-2, with Okazaki alongside Vardy) rather than the Musa-accommodating 4-3-3 that proved insubstantial against Hull on the opening day. Leicester back to winning ways. If it ain't broke...

Everton 1-0 Stoke - James Who? 

James McCarthy looks set to be on his way out of Everton: he did not appear in the match squad for today's game against Stoke.

According to the FAI, McCarthy is injured (groin strain), but this was not even mentioned by Ronald Koeman in his pre-game briefing. Everton went with Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gueye in midfield, and the latter excelled in the eyes' of supporters:

McCarthy's departure looks an inevitability.

Southampton 1-1 Sunderland - Black Cats' Luck Still Can't Hold 

David Moyes does the 'haunted manager' look better than anyway. In that sense, he will find himself at home at Sunderland, a club seemingly perpetually down on their luck in the early stages of a season.

They are doomed by an astonishing record: Sunderland have not won a Premier League game in August in SIX YEARS: the last win coming via a Darren Bent penalty against Manchester City in 2010, a game that featured Titus Bramble.

Here, they took the lead against Southampton but failed to hold on to it, and ended the game clinging on for a point. Moyes has admitted the club are in for a relegation battle. He will be true to his word.

 


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