Liverpool will play far better than they did at Bramall Lane and drop points. Home supporters filed out of the stadium unsure whether to be proud at the effort, impressed by their team’s ability to match the European champions, or annoyed that they failed to at least take a point. Most will have eventually settled on a combination of all three.
For Liverpool, an afternoon on which they discard the performance and focus only on the result. There is much to be gained from winning while playing badly, and Jurgen Klopp will demand more from his players while surmising that Liverpool are unlikely to be as profligate in front of goal too often this season.
But the form of Mohamed Salah may concern Liverpool’s manager. It is not just that Salah missed a one-on-one to put the game out of Sheffield United’s reach, but that his touch was so heavy and his attempted flicks so ineffective. Salah has four league goals this season, so there is clearly no cause for widespread panic, but he has dropped a level from last season to this. Starting 62 matches since the beginning of last season is surely taking its toll.
A hugely important victory for Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham, who battled their own indiscipline (Serge Aurier) and incompetence (Hugo Lloris) to take precious points and lift the talk of mini-crisis. They now have more points than at the same stage of last season, and they would take a repeat of 2018/19.
One problem for Pochettino to solve is the right-back position. Kieran Trippier has been sold, Aurier is unreliable and Kyle Walker-Peters and Davinson Sanchez have both been briefly tried and then seemingly rejected by the manager.
But Saturday inadvertently offered a new option. When Aurier was sent off, Moussa Sissoko celebrated his new contract by filling in at right-back and performing effectively. The role suits Sissoko’s strengths — work-rate, driving forward with the ball — and when everyone is fit he might struggle to hold down a position in midfield. Will he get the chance to continue against Bayern Munich?
There is still a nagging sense Manchester City are not quite at it away from home. They create chances at will, but are giving the opposition their own opportunities. Everton were unable to hold on for a point, but they should never have been given the chance to.
But there is one cog in this City machine that is at the very top of his game. Kevin de Bruyne has now reached eight assists for the season. After seven matches, he is only seven assists behind Eden Hazard’s total from 2018/19 that saw him lead the way.
In three games this season, De Bruyne has assisted two or more goals. Had City finished their chances as we know they can, he would have done it in every match.
If a lack of competition for places up front for England is such that Harry Kane could fail to score in his next ten appearances and still be guaranteed of his starting spot, Gareth Southgate will have been heartened by the start to this Premier League season. The rise of Tammy Abraham — league minutes, goals, responsibility — means that he is guaranteed to be given a chance to shine for his country soon.
But the existing back-up option is also reminding Southgate that he merits continued inclusion. Callum Wilson hasn’t started for England since his debut against USA in November 2018, given less than 25 minutes of action since, but scored his fifth league goal of the season against West Ham on Saturday.
More impressive still is Wilson’s accuracy this season. He has attempted only 11 shots in the Premier League this season, demonstrating the variety in Bournemouth’s attack, but 10 of them have been on target. That percentage (91%) is higher than any other player to have scored three or more goals in the division this season.
After Ross Barkley missed a late penalty against Valencia in the Champions League, following a seemingly frank discussion with Willian and Jorginho, Frank Lampard insisted that Barkley was his No. 1 penalty taker and was therefore right to pull rank. That seemed an odd call, given that Jorginho had never missed a penalty in English football and Barkley hadn’t scored one for club or country in three years.
By Chelsea’s EFL Cup tie against Grimsby, Pedro was handed penalty duties with Barkley on the pitch, which seemed to suggest t Lampard had demoted the England midfielder. On Saturday against Brighton, with Barkley and Pedro on the pitch, Jorginho took the penalty.
It all sounds like a bit of a mess, but Chelsea and Lampard have surely landed upon their right option. Jorginho’s penalty-taking technique may be unusual, but you cannot doubt his record. It seems likely that will be the end of Barkley’s brief - and bizarre - time as No. 1.