By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Following are talking points from the Premier League's first full weekend of action since the stoppage in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ANCELOTTI FRUSTRATES LIVERPOOL AGAIN
“It was not an open game because we did not want an open game," said Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti after Sunday's goalless Merseyside derby with leaders Liverpool.
Plenty of managers have gone into games with the same hope, knowing there is nothing Juergen Klopp's team love more than a match with plenty of space for them to exploit, but have been unable to translate that wish into reality.
Ancelotti's tactics nullified Liverpool. He is not the first manager to ask his back-line to play deeper than normal, to deny Liverpool's front three the space to exploit their pace, but the positioning was spot on.
Everton were helped by the absence of Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah, which reduced Liverpool's explosiveness but the approach also benefited from the tireless midfield work of Andre Gomes and Tom Davies, whose harrying forced Liverpool out wide.
Full backs Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman needed to be at their very best and they were. While Liverpool's left-side attack was weakened further when James Milner was replaced by Joe Gomez in the first half, Digne did a great job keeping Trent Alexander-Arnold quiet.
ARTETA HAS BUSY SUMMER AHEAD
Much was different about the return of football, behind closed-doors and with all manner of COVID-related changes, but for the first person in the Premier League to test positive for the virus, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, it was all too familiar.
Defeats at Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, served to highlight how much work he has to do in the short off-season to get the Gunners even close to the top four next term.
'PROJECT RESTART' PASSES THE TEST
The detailed protocols put in place for a safe resumption of action, without fans and with zoning, social distancing and all manner of procedures, appeared to work well, to the credit of the league and clubs who in March had feared this season may have to be scrapped.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)