London: Here are five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend.
Man City pay the penalty
The old adage is "practice makes perfect" and Manchester City suggested the opposite -- that lack of practice makes imperfect -- is likely true too. Long-suffering England fans, who've seen the team exit several major tournaments on the back of penalty shoot-out defeats, have often been annoyed by several national managers saying there is no point practising penalties. They may, however, take some comfort that City boss Pep Guardiola, one of the outstanding managers of his generation, believes the same thing too. But his approach was called into question as both Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero had penalties saved by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg in a 1-1 draw against Everton. Guardiola remained steadfast, though, saying penalty training would remain off his agenda. "You can practise in training sessions, but nobody is there, no pressure," he said.
Arsenal ready to lose 'soft' tag
One sure fire way to annoy Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is to suggest his team can be 'bullied' off the ball as he thinks this then becomes an excuse for his team to be on the receiving end of foul play. Wenger denies his team lacks a backbone but a lack of defensive resilience has more than played its part in the London club's failure to win the Premier League title for more than a decade. Yet against Swansea the French manager's stubborn insistence did not ring quite so hollow as Arsenal clung on to a 3-2 win at the Emirates despite being a man down for the final 20 minutes after Granit Xhaka was sent off. One swallow does not a summer make but Wenger will hope this is the dawn of a new, tougher Gunners outfit capable of standing firm all the way to May.
Chelsea's Kante is Leicester's loss
N'Golo Kante showed Leicester what they are missing and repaid Antonio Conte's faith with a dominant display in Chelsea's 3-0 win against the champions on Saturday. Kante was the heart and soul of Leicester's astonishing Premier League title-winning campaign last season, but the France midfielder made a close-season move to Stamford Bridge and his old club haven't been the same since. Without Kante, Leicester lack drive in midfield and have now won only two of their first eight league games. Meanwhile, after being criticised for a mistake in Chelsea's defeat at Arsenal last month, Kante is starting to show why Conte paid £30 million (33.2 million euros, $36.5 million) to sign him. Controlling midfield with an understated authority, he was voted man of the match.
Referee rows can precede kick-off
Premier League referees have long known their decisions will be subjected to intense scrutiny. But now they can face questioning even before kick-off with Anthony Taylor in the firing line ahead of Monday's match between Liverpool and Manchester United. There have been suggestions that the fact the official, a fan of non-league Altrincham, lives not too far away from United's Old Trafford ground means he could be biased come Monday's match at Anfield. Remarkably, that point of view has been put forward by former top flight English referee Keith Hackett, who said he feared the focus on Taylor would be "intolerable". It might be more tolerable if the likes of Hackett at least waited until Taylor had blown his whistle.
Bournemouth bubble yet to burst
Conventional wisdom has it that you cannot maintain a team in the Premier League for any great length of time on home crowds of just over 11,000. But with England's top division now enriched by broadcast deals totalling £8.3 billion, Bournemouth, under the astute guidance of manager Eddie Howe, are doing their best to prove conventional wisdom wrong. Certainly there were no complaints from the bulk of the 11,029 crowd at Bournemouth's Dean Court ground as the south coast club thrashed Hull City 6-1.