Lukaku makes good with Barkley pulling Everton’s strings
Takeways: Two keys for Everton coming into this season were making sure Ross Barkley stayed healthy, and getting Romelu Lukaku to score more goals. On Saturday, Everton fans got a glimpse of what their season might look like if both these men can perform. Barkley was superb, involved in all three goals for the Toffees and showing a good nose for goal himself. Lukaku, with two goals on the day, showed power and promise in what was arguably a man of the match performance. For Southampton, worries now mount: Their leaky defense has now conceded five goals in just two games, and don’t seem to have the cutting edge up top as in seasons past.
Getty ImagesChristopher Lee
Leicester City off to dream Premier League start
Takeways: Few would have believed that even at this early stage of the campaign that Leicester would be anywhere close to the top. After a miracle escape last season, the Foxes jettisoned Nigel Pearson and brought in a manager better known for obsessive tinkering than winning and the preseason predictions were gloomy. But so far, Claudio Ranieri is having the last laugh. Saturday, Leicester swept aside the same West Ham side which blindsided Arsenal and look like a real force this year. Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez were brilliant on the day, exploiting a narrow and slow Hammers side for a goal apiece. Keep an eye on Leicester, folks.
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
What to make of Sunderland’s sinking ship
Takeways: Another game, another loss, and the result is that the Black Cats look a team already out of luck. Norwich made Sunderland look painfully amateur on Saturday, putting the match to bed inside the hour against an opponent that seems to have little midfield control and no defense to speak of. Younes Kaboul was particularly awful, and while Costel Pantilimon did not cover himself in glory on Russell Martin’s opener, it must be noted his backline stood and watched as the ball caromed off Martin’s leg and into the net. The obvious question now is: How long will Sunderland fans put up with these miserable showings?
Shelvey, Gomis the difference again for Swansea City
Takeways: Right about now, Liverpool may be wondering why they allowed Jonjo Shelvey depart for Wales. Shelvey is one of the most under-rated playmakers in the league, and looks like the sort of tonic the Reds could use this season. Instead, Shelvey’s setting up Bafetimbi Gomis week after week, and giving a very solid Swansea side the kind of creativity that can make them a top-six contender. Gomis has now scored seven goals in his last eight league games (including last season) and is making an early case for being player of the year.
AFP/Getty ImagesGEOFF CADDICK
Tottenham cannot make a lead stick
Takeways: Stoke are hardly pushovers, but there is something troubling about a team that allows a two-goal lead slip away like fine sand through their fingers. Spurs were deservedly up thanks to goals from Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli but showed no spine against a late flurry of pressure. Stoke would score two goals inside five minutes late in the game to make the fans at White Hart Lane wonder what had hit them. Part of the problem is Spurs’ still-shaky backline, which puts tremendous pressure on the excellent Hugo Llloris. But part of it is the over-reliance on Harry Kane: when he was hauled off late, Spurs had no way to break Stoke’s pressure. This is a year of subdued expectations at Tottenham, but even so, this result will stick in their craws.