theScore examines the most important developments and biggest talking points from Saturday’s slate of action in England’s top flight.
Leicester can’t change much
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers can take several positives from Saturday’s goalless draw with Crystal Palace. Though Leicester didn’t score, they also didn’t concede, keeping a clean sheet for just the second time this season. That’s something the Premier League’s most porous side can and should celebrate. They also managed to play some decent football, outshooting their opponents 14-8 while controlling the lion’s share of possession. The Foxes played with intent, if not necessarily cutting edge.
But it wasn’t enough to keep the crowd from booing the players off the field at full time. Supporters called for the board – led by club chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha – to make sweeping changes. After all, Leicester have only won once in 11 matches, and the point acquired Saturday barely lifted them off the foot of the Premier League standings.
But what more could they expect? Leicester were always going to struggle this season. They didn’t have the money to make significant signings, leaving Rodgers with a short squad and one of the oldest rosters in England’s top flight. Injuries to Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira, and Wilfred Ndidi have only made a difficult situation even tougher.
Performances like Saturday’s are all Leicester can demand. Solutions must come from within. Few managers would accept what Rodgers has accepted. Fewer still would walk into the mess midseason.
Fortunately, Leicester could benefit from the upcoming break. Only a handful of their players will travel to Qatar for the World Cup, and the ones who do may not even see the field. Rodgers will get several weeks to work with the bulk of his squad outside the spotlight. Until then, he’ll have to find a way to hold Leicester together and keep the boo-birds at bay.
Reborn Solanke gives Bournemouth hope
Bournemouth and Fulham engaged in an entertaining affair that ended in a draw at Craven Cottage on Saturday. The outcome aligned with their two games in the Championship last season, and the 2-2 result was fitting for a pair of overachieving promoted clubs that have surreptitiously climbed into the top half of the table.
Only a point separates the two sides 10 games into the season, a season in which they were both tipped to go right back down. But the gap between them could potentially widen now that the Cherries appear to have a competent forward. Dominic Solanke has flourished in recent weeks, evolving into an attacker capable of influencing results while making players around him better.
Success in the top flight has always been a problem for the 25-year-old. But it was a different story last season when Solanke helped Bournemouth seal promotion by scoring 29 goals in the Championship. Though his dip in goals against superior opponents this season was expected, Solanke has been playing with the freedom and confidence of a man reborn since the club fired former manager Scott Parker in August.
After setting up the winner last week against Leicester City, Solanke burst out of the gates Saturday with an early goal before playing a crucial role in Bournemouth’s second of the afternoon. Helping Bournemouth extend their unbeaten run to five games under interim boss Gary O’Neil, Solanke could emerge as a late consideration for Gareth Southgate should any injuries strike England’s attackers before the World Cup in November.
Forest already look doomed
It says everything about the state of affairs at Nottingham Forest that two of the executives involved in the club’s expensive 22-player signing spree are no longer with the team. Many of the players who arrived at City Ground haven’t made much impact – if any – in the first two months of Forest’s first Premier League campaign in 23 years. Jesse Lingard is earning nearly six figures each week to come off the bench, and the strikers Forest recruited in the summer have combined to score just three Premier League goals thus far.
Head coach Steve Cooper is still trying to put all the pieces together. That much is understandable. He’s confronting the biggest challenge of his coaching career. Many managers would experience the same struggle.
But fans can and should expect more from a team that cost more than £145 million to assemble. They’ve waited so long to return to the Premier League – only to watch their club concede 23 goals in its first 10 matches while falling to the bottom of the table.
The upcoming schedule isn’t kind, either, as Forest travel to Brighton before facing Liverpool and league leaders Arsenal in a 12-day span. Saturday’s match against fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers was their last winnable match this month. It came and went without three points.
Broken attack letting Everton down
Saturday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur was essentially over once Everton gave away a penalty in the second half.
Until that point, the visitors had mounted an admirable fight and looked worthy of leaving north London with at least a draw. Things looked positive for the Merseyside outfit thanks to a strong defensive effort against a Tottenham side that won 5-1 during last season’s trip south. But there wasn’t any hope after Harry Kane’s decisive penalty helped expose Everton’s dysfunctional attack.
It was the same old story – and the same miserable outcome – for a misfiring squad that fell to Manchester United last weekend. With Anthony Gordon missing through suspension, Neal Maupay and Demarai Gray were ineffective in the final third. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s return from injury, meanwhile, did little to invigorate a lifeless attack.
Everton top scorers
Beyond a pair of close opportunities in the first half, it was a largely discouraging display for Frank Lampard’s outfit as Tottenham added another goal to seal the win – and their best-ever start to a Premier League season. Everton will need to solve their issues quickly before a tricky midweek trip to face Newcastle United.