Talking points: Chelsea rivals scared; Bale questions; Arsenal malaise


here was no shortage of drama across the Premier League this weekend, with Tottenham defeating Arsenal in the north London derby to return to the Premier League summit.

Chelsea also further underlined their own title credentials with a 3-1 win over Leeds, while West Ham were made to pay for missed chances against Manchester United, Crystal Palace thrashed 10-man West Brom and Fulham battled to no avail against Manchester City.

In Scotland, the pressure continues to mount on Celtic boss Neil Lennon after another disappointing result, while over in Spain Real Madrid earned some respite against Sevilla.

Here are the big talking points from the weekend action…

Does Bale have a role to play at Tottenham?

( Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I )

For the third big game running, Gareth Bale was an unused substitutein the Premier League as Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday. Bale is still, according to Jose Mourinho, working his way back to full fitness and there is more than enough time for the Welshman to make his second coming at Spurs memorable.

But there are questions over whether the Welshman is a good fit for Mourinho’s counter-attacking system and swapping Real Madrid’s bench for Tottenham’s while playing in Europa League backwaters was presumably not what Bale had in mind when he agreed to return to north London.

With Harry Kane and Heung-min Son irreplaceable and Steven Bergwijn ideally suited to Mourinho’s approach, it remains to be seen if Bale can force his way into the Portuguese’s best XI, which would have been hard to imagine when he joined. Dan Kilpatrick

Chelsea have the big boys scared

( POOL/AFP via Getty Images )

First Jose Mourinho, now Jurgen Klopp. The Premier League’s big-name managers are queuing up to point out Chelsea’s title credentials. Frank Lampard, meanwhile, reckons such talk is 12 months premature. The truth is somewhere in between.

These are still very early days, so it’s understandable Lampard is trying to calm expectations. At the same time, there’s no denying the strength in depth in this Chelsea squad – nor their outstanding form.

If Mourinho and Klopp are trying to turn the focus of attention on Lampard, it’s because they’re worried. James Robson

Value of Antonio highlighted by wasteful West Ham

( West Ham United FC via Getty Ima )

Each missed opportunity was another moment for the returning fans to wonder when they would come to rue such a chance, and they were right to worry.

The brilliance of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford told in the second half as those back at the London Stadium were left to ponder what might have been. Jack Rosser

Benteke grabs his chance with both hands

( Getty Images )

After a steady first half at The Hawthorns, Palace ripped into 10-man West Brom after the break, with Benteke scoring twice and playing a big role in Zaha’s second goal.

There’s a lot more work to do if Benteke is going to be deemed worth his hefty wage, but it’s a start. Jack Rosser

Arsenal prepare for massive clash with Burnley

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Never has a match with Burnley been so big for Arsenal. After their defeat to Tottenham on Sunday, the Gunners are desperate to get things back on track and they will hope victory over Sean Dyche’s side can steady the ship.

Burnley have struggled even more than Arsenal this season, winning just once, and they head to Emirates Stadium with a tall order. They will know, however, about the mounting pressure on Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, which could play into their hands.

2,000 Gunners fans will be in attendance once again and they will expect and demand a reaction after Sunday’s north London derby loss. Simon Collings

Questions over Mitrovic role after latest snub 

( POOL/AFP via Getty Images )

Ivan Cavaleiro has started leading the line recently and it is hard to see how a target man like Mitrovic fits Parker’s current system.

“Mitrovic isn’t injured,” Parker said. “It’s purely how I saw the game and what was suited for the team’s personnel. There will be discussion around Aleks, but he has a big part to play for us this year.” Simon Collings

Pressure still on Zidane despite Real win

( Zidane locks horns with Guardiola for the first time in a competitive match on Wednesday night / Getty Images )

Zinedine Zidane will take help wherever he can get it. And if it takes an own goal from Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to ease the pressure on him at Real Madrid, he’ll gladly accept it. The problem is, Zidane knows it will take much more than that to turn the tide.

There are worrying noises coming out of Madrid that his days are numbered. It seems remarkable that Zidane’s position should even be under discussion, given his spectacular success in two spells – winning three Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles.

That record alone should mean he’ll be in high demand if he is shown the door – and more than one Premier League club could have a vacancy soon. James Robson

Lennon faces more calls to go as Celtic stutter again

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After drawing with St Johnstone at the weekend, the pressure on Neil Lennon at Celtic has ramped up even further. The 1-1 tie means his side are 13 points behind Steven Gerrard’s Rangers in the Scottish Premiership and – even if Celtic have two games in hand – that has sent alarm bells ringing. 

Lennon, however, remains adamant he is the man to turn things around.

“It will improve, I’ve no question of that,” he said. Time, though, does not appear to be on the former midfielder’s side. Simon Collings

Southgate sees goalkeepers steal the show

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Gareth Southgate picked a good game to attend on Saturday. He was at Turf Moor, where both Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope produced outstanding reflex saves to ensure the match between Burnley and Everton ended 1-1.

Those displays will give Southgate some confidence about his England goalkeepers. Pickford kept out a firm header from Chris Wood, while Pope denied Gylfi Sigurdsson late on.

Both goalkeepers have come in for criticism this season but, with next summer’s Euros on the horizon, Southgate will have been heartened by what he saw. Jack Rosser

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