LONDON (Reuters) – Talking points from the Premier League weekend: Both Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and his Liverpool counterpart Juergen Klopp chose to highlight the Premier League’s refusal to accept the temporary use of five substitutes following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium.
That was probably not a coincidence and it is likely that there will now be a push from the bigger clubs to persuade those teams which had opposed five subs to relent.
FIFA and UEFA have allowed a temporary expansion from three to five subs during the ‘COVID era’ to help clubs cope with the increased workload of compressed schedules.
The Premier League made use of the exemption for the resumed part of last season after the COVID enforced break but the smaller clubs voted against doing the same this term because of concerns that the extra subs gave the big teams, with greater strength in depth, and additional advantage.
Klopp argued that there is no such advantage while Guardiola’s striker Gabriel Jesus raised the prospect of increased injuries for players.
It may be that smaller clubs, whose squads may be showing signs of wear and tear, adopt a different stance if the matter is put back to a vote of the league’s 20 teams — something Klopp and Guardiola certainly seemed to be pushing for.
Strangely though, Guardiola only used one of three subs on Sunday and Klopp brought on just two.
ZIYECH PULLS STRINGS FOR CHELSEA
He was hardly a bargain at 33 million pounds ($43.4 million) yet Moroccan Hakim Ziyech was not regarded as Chelsea’s stand-out signing when he joined from Ajax Amsterdam during the transfer window.
But his performance in a 4-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday showed that he might just be the man to fire Frank Lampard’s side on a title chase.
With his cultured left foot, Ziyech was at the heart of Chelsea’s attacking threat, providing two assists and creating six other chances for his team mates, more than any other player in a Premier League match this season.
German striker Timo Werner will be licking his lips at the prospect of Ziyech providing his ammunition this season.
LEICESTER FLYING HIGH DESPITE MISSED SPOT KICK
Leicester scaled the top of the Premier League on Sunday thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty, and they could even afford the luxury of a missed spot kick by the striker as they started to show the kind of consistency that made them champions in 2016.
“Nine wins out of 11 shows the mentality of the team. Our football was outstanding against a very good side,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said following his side’s 1-0 win over Wolves, singling out his side’s defensive resilience for praise.
If the Foxes can keep this strong run of form going, a new fairytale season might just take shape.
REALITY CHECK FOR LEEDS
After an impressive start to their first top-flight campaign for 16 years Leeds have received something of a reality check after successive heavy beatings.
On Saturday they went down 4-1 to Crystal Palace, having also been beaten by that score against Leicester City on Monday.
Most worrying for manager Marcelo Bielsa will be his side’s defensive frailties. While they were again potent in attack against Palace and dominated at times, they have now leaked a joint-worst 17 goals in eight games.
Refreshing as they have been so far, they have dropped to 15th and some tightening up might be required if they are not to get sucked towards a relegation battle.