5 talking points from Saturday’s Premier League action

Paul Fennessy

DAVID MOYES HAS taken a considerable amount of criticism for Manchester United’s much-discussed slow start to the season.

However, there are some aberrations a manager cannot legislate for.

Unted’s poor performance in the opening 75 minutes of yesterday’s game against Stoke was compounded by basic errors, which highlighted the lack of confidence permeating the team at the moment.

Jonny Evans’ panicked unsuccessful clearance for the first goal, David de Gea’s feeble attempt to stop Marko Arnautovic’s free-kick for the second and Nani’s general performance were three indications that the players are feeling the pressure right now just as much as the manager.

2. Is Luis Suarez the third best player in the world?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have long been widely regarded as the two best players in the world, though both had below-par games (by their impeccably high standards) in yesterday evening’s El Clasico.

Luis Suarez, on the other hand, has been showing why Arsenal were so desperate to sign him in the summer, with some exceptional performances since coming back from an early-season suspension.

And against West Brom — a side who have posed problems for both United and Arsenal this season — was no exception, as the Uruguayan notched a phenomenal hat-trick.

Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among others may beg to differ, but there is certainly a case to be made for Suarez being the third best player in the world.

Given how many goals he scores for what is a flawed Liverpool side, just imagine how many he’d claim were he playing for Real Madrid or Barca.

3. Referee did Arsenal no favours with harsh sending off

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Arsenal were less than convincing in their 2-0 defeat of Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace, once again giving the impression that certain people have been somewhat premature in labelling them favourites for the title.

However, their task was not helped by the referee’s controversial decision to send off Mikel Arteta in the second half.

The official was right to penalise the Spaniard for taking down Marouane Chamakh, however to suggest he prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity seems fanciful.

Other defenders were running in line with Chamakh and surely would have challenged him, given that he would have had to cut in and still had a considerable distance to run to the goal.

Fortunately for Arsene Wenger though, justice ultimately prevailed despite this inept decision.

4. Is Gareth Barry the Premier League’s most underappreciated player?

Every time Barry has played this season, Everton have avoided defeat and the midfielder was unsurprisingly superb in their 2-0 win over Aston Villa this afternoon.

Barry looks one of the most astute signings of the season, as his performances have helped lift Everton to 4th in the table.

His vital defensive midfield play is just as invaluable as the creativity offered by the likes of James McCarthy and Ross Barkley, which Barry’s work facillitates.

So if the England international continues to perform in this manner, then City may well regret letting him go out on loan.

5. Can Southampton maintain their incredible form?

In helping a squad on a limited budget climb to third in the table, Mauricio Pochettino has shown an Arsene Wenger-esque ability to work miracles within strict confines.

Their current position — as is the case with most successful football teams — has been built on a strong defence, with the Saints conceding just three goals this season.

Their confidence was highlighted against Fulham on Saturday, beating the London club 2-0, and virtually having the game won by half-time.

Nevertheless, surely a team with such limited resources can’t stay in the top four — their highest position for over 24 years — for much longer, can they?

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