It has been a familiar sight to see players influencing managers’ on-field decisions or transfer markets.
After a brief hiatus where Europe’s best tested the waters of the newly formed UEFA Nations League, the Premier League was back in full swing on Saturday.
Liverpool visited Tottenham with eyes on top spot, despite knowing full well Chelsea also looked likely winners against Cardiff.
The Reds did claim the three points, but only after a spirited effort from the Spurs, as the home side enjoyed possession dominance for much of the contest.
Class up front was the difference on the day and goals on either side of half-time to Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino effectively sealed the deal for the visitors.
A late strike in injury time to Erik Lamela brought the goal Tottenham probably deserved, yet Liverpool cruised comfortably in a high gear throughout the match.
Chelsea also did the business at Stamford Bridge, despite a stunning start for the visitors, as Cardiff took an early lead from the foot of Sol Bamba after 16 minutes.
Normal service resumed soon after and Eden Hazard continued his brilliant start to the season with two well-taken goals and a late penalty to build the lead for the Blues.
Willian topped off the statement for Chelsea with a glorious long-range strike in the 80th minute and Liverpool’s strong message had been well and truly matched with the 4-1 scoreline.
The day of statements continues as Manchester City made one of its own at Etihad against the hapless Fulham.
The home side enjoyed a dominance in possession and peppered the Fulham goal for much of the afternoon. It probably could have been more in the end, yet Leroy Sane, David Silva and Raheem Sterling did more than enough to secure the points and the match was effectively done and dusted after 47 minutes.
Manchester United finally produced something to encourage its doubting fans, concerned with recent form and the approach being taken by the manager.
Watford’s dreams of riding the coattails of the top two and staying in the rarefied air were dealt a blow with a much-improved display from the Red Devils. A late goal to Andre Gray left hope lingering for the home side after Romelu Lukaku’s fourth goal of the season and Chris Smalling’s strike gave the visitors a comfortable lead going into halftime.
In another bold performance, Bournemouth continued to make serious Premier League waves and it was Leicester City’s turn to suffer at the hands of the Cherries. With only five shots on target, the home side managed to find the net three times and added a penalty for good measure.
Despite statistical parity, two late goals from Leicester flattered, especially considering both were scored with Bournemouth down to ten men after Wes Morgan was marched in the 69th minute.
Huddersfield remained winless after a one-nil loss to Crystal Palace in a match both clubs would have slated as a must-win affair. The difference between a mid-table team and one mired in the relegation zone is the ability to consistently win matches against those in similar circumstances.
Palace has been doing that job well so far this season and sit mid-table after two wins.
Sunday’s action saw Wolverhampton continue its impressive start to the season with a 2-1 win over Burnley. With just the single loss from five matches, it’s precisely the season-opening which Nuno Espirito Santo would have wished for.
Contrastingly, West Ham United had begun the season like a slow-moving coelacanth and Sunday’s win against an unlucky Everton was desperately needed. The Toffees created enough chances and enjoyed a glut of possession at times, yet were unable to seize moments when they presented themselves.
The Hammers did and the five-place leap up the table will have West Ham fans breathing a little easier after such a poor start.
Matchday 6 action begins on Saturday afternoon English time when Fulham and Watford do battle. The weekend throws up some intriguing matches with Manchester United at home to Wolves and Arsenal hosting Everton as potentially the picks of the bunch.