Picture the football pre-weekend as blank, empty and waiting to be filled with stories, footprints, marks, talking points, and as usual some are digested here.
Kane needs a rest
It was another leggy performance from Spurs this weekend, who unquestionably looked second-best against Liverpool at Wembley, and were lucky to lose just 2-1. Many players epitomised their lacklustre display, Eric Dier looking uncomfortable in midfield, while Michel Vorm virtually gifted Liverpool their opener, but perhaps none more so than Harry Kane. England’s captain had only 22 touches in the entire game, three of which were kick-offs. In truth, Kane has looked off the pace since he got injured at Bournemouth in March, despite scoring over 15 times since then.
The danger for Spurs is the striker picking up another injury, and his continued legginess means he surely needs a rest. But with games coming thick and fast, and Tottenham’s need for wins increasing, whether he’ll get it is unlikely.
West Ham will face tougher challenges than Everton, but it hardly matters right now
‘Three goals’, Manuel Pellegrini said, when asked what his players got him for his birthday. The Chilean and his side needed points more than anyone else in the Premier League this weekend, having begun with four successive defeats, and at Goodison they got it.
Not that it should signify all is well though, Everton were listless, and lacked real thrust in attack, yet caused West Ham a fair amount of problems. The Hammers will face tougher challenges than this one, but their need for a win currently trumps how it comes or who it comes again. There are room for improvements, but more importantly this was a cause for relief.
In Unai Simon, Bilbao have a goalie for the future
It’s always been a trait of Athletic Club to pick themselves up after a loss in the transfer window, relying on their youth system and their signing policy as always. And after Kepa left for Chelsea, they were always going to delve into one of those for a replacement: step forward Unai Simon.
The young goalkeeper, who joined from Elche, was thrown into the limelight at home to Real Madrid, and didn’t disappoint, putting in an inspired performance as Bilbao held the European champions at San Mames. Saves from Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric all caught the eye, with the goalkeeper’s ability to make himself big and give opponents little room to find a finish matched by his athleticism and power of recovery. Bilbao need not worry about losing Kepa, they have what looks like a ready-made replacement.
Inter far from alright
And that’s a second defeat of the season for Inter, in only four games. Luciano Spalletti’s side have looked far from formidable so far, even their only win of the season was anything but convincing, and the manager is still struggling on finding both the right personnel, and the right formation. Inter are already way behind in Serie A, and, with European duty about to begin, need to pick themselves in what’s a daunting Champions League group.
Lyon’s sloppiness will cost them
Rescuing a draw against Caen is hardly the kind of result genuine contenders aim for, especially when that Caen side spends more half an hour with a man less. Lyon went from barraging Nice and yet losing before the international break, and slacking off at Caen and very nearly suffering defeat after it.
Lyon have dabbed in inconsistency and sloppiness so far this season. It’s already costing them in the league, it might do similar in Europe as well.