It was another extremely entertaining weekend in the Premier League, as stories at both ends of the table took another twist and turn on what we could look back on as a pivotal couple of days in the bigger picture.
There was a lot to take out of the weekend, but here are the five things which caught my eye the most over the course of the round of fixtures:
Hodgson is weaving his magic once again
Roy Hodgson doesn’t get much of a positive press these days after his failed spell as England manager, but in this age of dinosaurs being margined out of the game, he continues to stand the test of time and get results for his team. Crystal Palace’s victory at West Ham temporarily had the Eagles sitting fourth in the table. As it is they go into the international break in sixth which is some achievement.
His side might set up defensively, but at no stage does he park the bus and not look to win the game. His team offer an organisation and a physicality that is hard to play against, but when they have the ball they play a modern game and can be good to watch. It is about time Roy gets the credit he deserves.
The break comes at a good time for Norwich
Another international break is upon us. Sometimes it comes at a good time for a team and occasionally the opposite applies, but the former is very much the case for Norwich City. In fact it probably couldn’t come quickly enough for Daniel Farke and his men.
Their 5-1 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon could well be a defining result of their season, but it came about because the Canaries have so many players out injured. They were down to their third string goalkeeper and a set of players almost unknown to each other. The two weeks until their next game offers them a chance to get some personnel back on the pitch, and they are much needed to avoid a long seven months ahead at Carrow Road.
Brighton have a new hero
Goals have been hard to come by for Brighton and Hove Albion ever since they came into the Premier League, but they might have a new hero to salute after a wonderful first start at top flight level for Aaron Connolly on Saturday afternoon.
The youngster had his first taste of senior football while on loan at Luton Town last season, and ran the Spurs defence ragged at the Amex Stadium, bagging two goals and linking up play to set the Seagulls on their way to plenty more opportunities. A lack of mobility up top has often been the pitfall of Brighton, but in Connolly they look to have that covered. The 19-year-old was called into the Republic of Ireland squad off the back of his display against Tottenham. On that evidence it was well deserved.
Youth continues to make headlines in the top flight
In keeping with that theme, one of the trends of this season is the growing number of youngsters who are impressing in the Premier League, and that was the case once again over the weekend. Matty Longstaff thrilled the St James’ Park crowd on his Newcastle United debut, while Chelsea young trio of Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all impressed in their win at Southampton, and James Maddison once again stood out for Leicester City at Anfield.
We should point out that it isn’t all positive for the young guns however. Manchester United included a host of academy products in their defeat to Newcastle and they struggled in the main, while a young Southampton side were put to the sword by a rampant Chelsea.
A number of managers are in hot seats
An international break can always be a pressurised time for managers. If clubs are going to go down a new direction, the two week stint without a match offers the opportunity for a transition which provides minimal disruption to a season, and there are three or four Premier League bosses who will be dreading their phone ringing.
Mauricio Pochettino could be nearing the end of his Tottenham Hotspur spell after a disastrous week, while the knives are getting sharpened for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford. Perhaps the biggest threat is on Marco Silva at Everton. Despite spending big in three successive transfer windows, his Toffees side get worse if anything, and something is surely going to give there soon.