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Soccer-Premier League talking points

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September 12, 2021

(Reuters) – Talking points from the Premier League weekend:

RONALDO NOW POSES A DIFFERENT GOAL THREAT

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United and the Premier League after 12 years away could not have gone more perfectly on Saturday.

Two goals on his second debut for the club in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United was just what the adoring United fans wanted to see. His first strike perhaps gave an indication of what role the 36-year-old will play this time around.

The Portuguese forward showed great striker instincts to tap home after Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman had fumbled the ball. It was a poacher’s goal that his manager was proud of and one that indicated Ronaldo is now less about the trickery and step-overs and more of an old fashioned, out-and-out hitman.

“People will say that first goal is just a tap-in but there is more to it than that,” United’s manager and former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “It is anticipating rebound, it was a great goal.”

SAUL HAS CHELSEA DEBUT TO FORGET, LUKAKU SHINES

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel had said loan signing Saul Niguez had the perfect profile https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tuchel-excited-by-saul-signing-says-midfielder-was-chelsea-target-years-2021-09-10 to slot into their midfield but he had a debut to forget after a poor performance in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/lukaku-kovacic-break-stamford-bridge-ducks-chelsea-beat-villa-3-0-2021-09-11 saw him hooked off at halftime for Jorginho.

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Saul was added to the starting lineup with N’Golo Kante out injured but the Spaniard was well off the pace in a match where striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice on his second debut at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea moved into second place.

The 26-year-old from Atletico Madrid was dispossessed three times in 45 minutes, with Tuchel saying he made some “big mistakes” and struggled with the intensity of the game.

“You could see he isn’t fully adapted, it’s completely my responsibility,” Tuchel said. “I had the feeling he could jump in for us and play at that level. I thought it was maybe better to change him, but it doesn’t change anything.”

SALAH JOINS 100 CLUB AS LIVERPOOL REJUVENATION CONTINUES

Only four players have got there faster, and only 30 in total, but Mohamed Salah’s opener in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Leeds United on Sunday earned him a spot among an elite group of players with 100 Premier League goals to their name.

Ninety-eight goals for Liverpool and two for Chelsea were scored from 162 appearances, with only Alan Shearer, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry notching a century quicker.

Salah has scored eight goals in his last 12 Premier League starts, a run that has coincided with Liverpool going 14 games unbeaten to once again look like title contenders – a contribution that has not gone unnoticed by his manager.

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“Mo’s record is crazy,” Juergen Klopp said after the Leeds win. “He is still hungry and I don’t know how many records he can break.

“Since he joined us he has been the perfect player – a top class player.”

SILVA NOT LOOKING LIKE THE FALL GUY AT CITY

When Manchester City signed another top quality attacking midfielder in the shape of 100 million pounds ($138.43 million)British record signing Jack Grealish in the close season it appeared Bernardo Silva’s days at the club were numbered.

The 27-year-old was linked with a move by British media, with competition for places so tough given Grealish was added to a list of attackers that included Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres and many more.

But the determined Portuguese has worked hard and made himself a key component again for manager Pep Guardiola, earning City a hard-fought 1-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday with a well-taken winner and seems keen to stay put.

“I love the club, I love my team mates, I love football here,” the determined Silva said. “I’m enjoying it and I’m always going to give my best.”

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KANE FALLS FLAT AS EDOUARD HAS DEBUT TO REMEMBER

Harry Kane had a day to forget as Tottenham Hotspur slumped to a first league defeat of the season in a 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, whose new signing Odsonne Edouard fared rather better.

For the first time in his Premier League career, England striker Kane had neither a shot nor touch in the opposition box in a game where he completed the full 90 minutes as 10-man Spurs endured a miserable afternoon at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The London side’s new manager Nuno Espirito Santo tasted a league defeat for the first time as Spurs boss, three players were missing due to quarantine restrictions, defender Eric Dier went off injured while Japhet Tanganga was sent off.

The encounter went rather well for Edouard, though, as he became only the fourth player in Premier League history to score more than once as a substitute on their debut and the first since Sergio Aguero for Manchester City against Swansea City back in August 2011.

($1 = 0.7224 pounds)

(Reporting by Peter Hall and Rohith Nair; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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