Three talking points from the Premier League

Aston Villa’s 4-1 demolition of West Ham on Sunday left just two points separating the Premier League’s top five as leaders Manchester City bounced back to winning ways against Brighton.

Tottenham can regain top spot if they beat Fulham on Monday, but Arsenal missed their chance to end the weekend at the summit after a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.

Liverpool remain well-placed just a point off the top as Mohamed Salah’s double ensured another miserable 2-0 Merseyside derby defeat for Everton.

But it was another winless weekend for the bottom three as Sheffield United, Bournemouth and Burnley suffered damaging home defeats.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.

Fortress Villa Park

Only City have won more than the 62 Premier League points amassed in 2023 by a transformed Villa under Unai Emery.

Most of that haul has come at home with Villa Park restored to being a fortress.

Victory over West Ham was an 11th consecutive home league win for Emery’s men, who have their sights set on reaching the Champions League for the first time.

“For me to play at home is always something special,” said Emery. “We have to believe and always connect with the fans.”

The form of Douglas Luiz and Ollie Watkins encapsulates Villa’s revival.

Luiz became the first Villa to score in six consecutive home league games after netting twice against West Ham.

Only Erling Haaland and Salah have more Premier League goals and assists than Watkins since Emery took charge a year ago.

Doku lays down Grealish gauntlet

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi put 37-year-old James Milner out of his misery at half-time at the Etihad after being torn apart for 45 minutes by the speed and skill of City’s Jeremy Doku.

The Belgian set up Julian Alvarez’s opening goal in a 2-1 win as the champions recovered from losing back-to-back league games for the first time since 2018.

Doku’s dazzling start to life at City since a £55 million ($67 million) move from Rennes in August has left one of the stars of last season’s treble triumph in the shade.

Jack Grealish was again left on the bench by Pep Guardiola and has his work cut out to regain his starting place ahead of Doku on the left of City’s attack.

Bournemouth’s backward step

Gary O’Neil savoured revenge on his return to Bournemouth as Wolves came from behind to win 2-1 and extend the Cherries’ wait to taste victory under Andoni Iraola.

O’Neil was surprisingly sacked in June despite comfortably leading Bournemouth to survival last season against the odds.

The club’s owner, American Bill Foley, admitted he didn’t “feel good” about making the decision but that the chance to hire Iraola was too good to turn down.

The Spaniard had earned a reputation as one of the continent’s most promising young coaches for the job he did at Rayo Vallecano despite meagre resources.

By contrast, Bournemouth splashed out over £100 million in the transfer window but are yet to see any return on that investment with just three points and no wins from nine games.

Next weekend’s clash against Burnley could prove Iraola’s last roll of the dice with City and Newcastle to follow before the next international break.



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