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5 talking points from Saturday's Premier League action

Seamus Coleman’s performance, Chelsea’s hard-fought win and more.

Everton's Seamus Coleman escapes from Arsenal's Nacho Monreal.
Everton's Seamus Coleman escapes from Arsenal's Nacho Monreal.

1. Wenger’s substitutions pay dividends

ARSENAL ARE OFTEN accused of having no plan B, but that certainly wasn’t the case against Everton at Goodison Park today.

Finding themselves 2-0 down at half-time against their stubborn and clinical opponents, the Gunners showed admirable resolve to fight back, as the Toffees let a lead slip late on for the second week running.

Much credit must consequently go to Arsene Wenger and his crucial game-changing substitutions. For instance, at half-time, he took off Alexis Sanchez and brought on Olivier Giroud, immediately giving the Gunners a greater attacking threat with his presence and ability to hold the ball up.

Moreover, the introduction of Santi Cazorla and Joel Campbell later in the game helped further swing the balance in the visitors’ favour, as a tired-looking Everton wilted.

It was Cazorla’s incisive cross that was met by a perfectly-timed Aaron Ramsey run for Arsenal’s first goal, while Giroud’s emphatic header in the dying moments ultimately secured his side an unlikely point.

2. Keane must learn to curb dominant tendencies

Today’s early kick-off between Aston Villa and Newcastle was a rather drab affair by most accounts, so it is only natural to look elsewhere for entertainment.

And entertainment was inevitably provided by the animated figure of Roy Keane on the touchline.

The Irish assistant boss is no stranger to showing fits of anger, and his impatient nature was frequently in evidence this afternoon, particularly when he hurled a water bottle at one point, appearing to accidentally hit boss Paul Lambert to boot.

Moreover, in another incident, Keane could be seen effectively brushing Paul Lambert aside to impart advice to a player.

The former Manchester United captain was once accused of taking too much control of the team by former boss Alex Ferguson, and both Keane and Lambert must ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. Otherwise, another stormy exit from the often unpredictable Corkonian could be very much on the cards.

3. Diego Costa proving doubters wrong

Diego Costa was widely considered one of the world’s best striker long before he made his £32 million move to Chelsea. Hence, he has come to the club with the type of heady expectations that are invariably associated with a big price tag.

Nevertheless, Costa was by no means a guaranteed success and there were even a few sceptics amid the general wave of approval that greeted his arrival in London. What if Costa was to repeat his poor World Cup form or deliver the type of inept performances that hampered his injury-ridden last few games at Atletico, they asked.

There were also concerns over how quickly he could adapt to life in the Premier League — after all, his Spanish international teammate Roberto Soldado also came to the Premier League with a big reputation, yet his first season in England was nothing short of a disaster, as the striker went several months without scoring a goal from open play.

Yet Costa has encountered no such issues so far anyway, with two goals in two games since making his league debut.

His goal against Leicester today was an important one, as Chelsea had struggled to break the deadlock beforehand. In addition, his finish showed typical poacher’s instincts, and suggested he is already warming to life outside of Spain.

4. West Ham start to loosen up

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Despite stopping the rot at West Ham and bringing the club back into the Premier League, there is still a sense of disillusionment among many of the club’s fans with regard to Sam Allardyce.

While often effective, Allardyce’s playing style isn’t always easy on the eye, so fans, who are already being forced to pay exorbitant fees to regularly see their team in action, feel entitled to express their disapproval and expect higher standards.

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Although the Hammers avoided relegation last year, the 59-year-old manager’s future remained in doubt, with several critics placing him as one of the favourites to be the first Premier League manager sacked this season.

Yet in their 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace this afternoon, there was a rare level of panache to complement the grittier aspects of their play, with Stewart Downing and debutant Mauro Zarate both scoring spectacular goals.

Allardyce has seemingly made a conscious attempt to add more flair to West Ham’s play with the recent appointment of Teddy Sheringham as attacking coach, and this new philosophy appears be yielding plenty of instantaneous rewards.

5. Coleman must not let standards of excellence drop defensively

There was much to admire about Seamus Coleman’s performance against Arsenal today. Going forward, the Donegal native was a constant thorn in the Gunners’ side, as his pace and skill helped him elude his marker in dangerous positions on a regular basis.

He took his goal extremely well, and generally did little wrong in an attacking sense, prompting Sky’s Martin Tyler to go so far as to call him the Premier League’s “best raiding right-back”. However, there is at least one area in which Coleman’s game could be better, despite the high plaudits he has been regularly receiving of late.

Defensively, the 25-year-old is prone to the occasional lapse in concentration and today’s match was no exception.

Early on, his sloppy clearance fell straight to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the box, with the England player’s ensuing strike going narrowly wide. Furthermore, he lost Olivier Giroud early in the second half, but like Chamberlain, the French striker’s volleyed finish from a lofted through pass was narrowly off target, while for Arsenal’s equaliser, both Coleman and Aiden McGeady were far too casual in their attempts to stop the cross, which allowed Giroud to head home, from reaching the box.

Therefore, Coleman is indisputably one of the best right-backs around going forward, but there remains definite room for improvement defensively.

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Paul Fennessy

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