1) City’s sluggish midfield needs a fresh impetus

As Liverpool’s front four overran Manchester City’s defence in the opening stages, Pep Guardiola was forced to accept the lack of mobility in key central midfield positions was putting his side at risk. Rodri and Ilkay Gündogan are devoid of pace, something which makes City more vulnerable to the counterattack than most. Additionally, they lack the impetus to instigate attacks from deep positions, leaving transitions to be slower than is required for a team who want to challenge for all major trophies. Guardiola dropped Gündogan alongside Rodri but this failed to quell the wave of Liverpool attacks being thrown at a City defence that is still building an understanding. Guardiola’s centre back pairing might finally be sorted but his next big acquisition needs to be in front of them if he is to ensure City are capable of beating Liverpool in the future. Will Unwin

Match report: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool

2) Arsenal are in dire need of an in-form No 10

A bad, bad night for Arsenal. An own goal, an injury to Thomas Partey and a shellacking at home to Aston Villa. Hats off to the visitors, but irregular happenings were also afoot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t trap a beanbag. At one point, Kieran Tierney, dribbling towards his own goal, simply fell over. The gameplan for Arsenal seemed to be to intricately work it through to their talented wingers and then lump crosses precisely towards Tyrone Mings’s forehead. It didn’t work, and at no point did anyone think to try a different tack. With Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley in particularly surgical mood at the other end, Arsenal’s lack of a No 10 has rarely looked more alarming, to make Arteta’s decision to omit a certain creative midfielder quite mystifying. Not Mesut Özil but Joe Willock, who despite two man-of-the-match performances in as many Europa League starts, has not yet played a minute of league football this season. The 21-year-old has looked searingly good in Europe, equal in gusto, guile and maturity, and deserves his chance domestically before Arteta starts to look towards the January transfer window. Michael Butler

Match report: Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa

3) Solskjær acknowledges United’s character flaws

When he eventually finished venting his fury at the fixture schedule and turned to the positives of Manchester United’s victory over Everton, Ole Gunnar Solskjær gave an appraisal rooted in realism. The United manager could have declared vindication in his methods at the end of a draining week in which the pressure on his job resurfaced following defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir. He was wise enough not to do so. Instead, he acknowledged the character flaw in this squad by admitting United’s talent – plus the commitment required to underpin it – can not only come to the fore when backed into a corner. “No one likes to be criticised so of course they are going to come out and show their quality,” Solskjær said. “My job is to make sure that guard is up every time. It is never going to be easy; you have to outfight and outrun teams all the time, and we did that after a very difficult week for the boys.” Andy Hunter

Match report: Everton 1-3 Manchester United. Continue reading

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