The big teams were in action this week as the Carabao Cup got underway for the major Premier League sides. Manchester United and Liverpool were the biggest casualties of the third round, as they were eliminated by Derby County and Chelsea respectively.
Here are five things we learned.
Is Hazard now the Premier League’s best player?
Since Eden Hazard arrived in the Premier League in 2012, he has flattered to deceive despite his obviously incredible talent. The unpredictability that makes him so dangerous has arguably robbed him of what appears to be his greatest desire – to become the very best in the Premier League, and ultimately in world football.
The arrival of Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea appears to have unlocked something in the Belgian, who now has six goals in seven matches for the Blues this season. The latest of those was a goal-of-the-season contender to secure the win against Liverpool last night. In this kind of form, it is hard to argue against his claim to be the best.
The end looms for Mourinho, Pogba at United
Paul Pogba was left out of the United squad as the Red Devils succumbed to a penalty shootout defeat to Frank Lampard’s resolute Derby side. Manager José Mourinho claimed that the Frenchman was rested alongside other first team stars David de Gea and Luke Shaw. The truth, however, appears to be more complicated than that. Mourinho confirmed that he had stripped Pogba of his role as the club’s vice captain, before a video emerged of the pair embroiled in a standoff in training yesterday.
It is looking increasingly unlikely that Pogba will remain at Old Trafford in the long term, and if results continue to tank for United, Mourinho’s days might also be numbered.
Phil Foden is the real deal
It’s been a while since Phil Foden burst into the spotlight at Manchester City. Nonetheless, he has not had as many chances as most people feel he deserves. He did get one when Pep Guardiola chose to play him from the start against Oxford United. The English youngster was imperious in midfield, as he scored his first goal for the club and won comparisons with Andrés Iniesta.
Guardiola warned against such pressure on the shoulders of the youngster, but Foden will only relish the limelight. He is after all a home-grown talent whose dream has always been to represent City.
Welbeck stakes first-team claim
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been the talk of the early days of the season at Arsenal. The team appears to have clicked into gear once Unai Emery started to play the two of them together. Danny Welbeck, the third striker at the club, has been somewhat forgotten in the whole conversation. Not content with that situation, he stepped up to score two goals for the Gunners as they beat Brentford 3-1. Welbeck might not be in the starting line-up for Saturday’s game against Watford, but he is likely to be first in line if it’s not working with either Lacazette or Aubameyang.
Fabinho is not yet ready
Fabinho’s situation at Livepool has been under discussion since the season began. Despite being one of Liverpool’s high profile arrivals in the summer transfer window, he had only played one minute of competitive football for the Reds before last night. Manager Jürgen Klopp handed the Brazilian his first start against Chelsea.
It would be unfair to blame Liverpool’s inability to stamp their authority in the match on Fabinho, but he still looks a far cry from the man who ran the show in midfield for Monaco. It might be a few months yet before we see the best of him.