Pep Guardiola debuted a new formation with Manchester City on Saturday, lining his team up in what can best be described in simple numerical formation notation as 3-2-2-3. It featured no wingbacks, with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane -- really just wingers -- being the closest thing to it. It worked wonders, and put Everton under considerable pressure. And yet, they only walked away with one point, thanks to a pair of saved penalties.
Poorly executed penalties and some poor refereeing decisions were the big stories of Saturday in the Premier League. Also, there were braces for both Joe Allen and Theo Walcott, while previously exiled Chelsea youngster Nathaniel Chalobah had a backheel assist. The Premier League rules right now.
Chelsea 3-0 Leicester City -- Recap
AFC Bournemouth 6-1 Hull City
Arsenal 3-2 Swansea City -- Recap
Manchester City 1-1 Everton -- Recap
Stoke City 2-0 Sunderland -- Recap
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur -- Recap
Crystal Palace 0-1 West Ham United -- Recap
Missed penalties cost Manchester City, Crystal Palace
Manchester City absolutely dominated Everton, but came away with just one point. How? Well, besides Romelu Lukaku's outstanding goal, there was the play of Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal. He had a few saves from open play, but his biggest stops were his two penalty saves.
Palace were hurt even worse by their inability to convert from the spot. Christian Benteke missed his effort from the spot against West Ham, pushing it wide of Adrian's left post, and his team never created a better chance to score. West Ham held on for a 1-0 win, moving the Hammers up from second-bottom to 15th.
Antonio Conte's getting the best out of his players with Chelsea's new 3-4-3
Following some seriously silly rumors that Conte was close to the sack, his team responded with a very emphatic 3-0 victory over Leicester on Saturday. We Ain't Got No History was happy with their team's all-around performance, not just the goals and the win.
- Starting in a 3-4-3, Chelsea finished in something closer to a 3-5-2. Either way, the defense and the midfield were active, pressing, and very good.
- Another clean sheet!
After the game, Conte was asked about the contribution of Victor Moses, who played right wingback and scored the last goal. He was thrilled with the Nigerian's performance.
"When I arrived at Chelsea I told the club I wanted to see Victor in pre-season because I knew him very well and I knew about his great potential. He played well as a winger when we were playing with a 4-2-4. He's a very good player, now he's playing as a wing-back and it's fantastic because he pays great attention in defence and can go one against one in attack. Alonso always played this role but Moses is a winger. His education is fantastic. I'm pleased for him."
If you haven't seen it, you should check out the Moses goal, with a spectacular backheel assist by Nathaniel Chalobah. Or if you have seen it, just watch it again. It's so good.
What's gotten into Joe Allen?
At no point in his career has Joe Allen been known as a goal-scorer. He's a central midfielder whose biggest strengths are ball retention, diagonal balls and work rate. But Allen's put on his shooting boots this season, scoring two in Stoke's victory against Sunderland, making it four on the season. He also scored a goal against Austria during the international break and forced another goal that was, unfortunately for him, changed to a Kevin Wimmer own goal.
This might not be sustainable -- Allen's four Premier League goals have come on just 10 shots -- but they haven't been lucky, speculative efforts. He's picking quality shots, placing the ball well from central areas between 15 and 20 yards out. Maybe Allen's just added an aspect to his game?
That sure would be helpful for Stoke, who got off to an awful start this year. They're still in the drop zone despite going undefeated over their last three games.
Wait, how did Bournemouth score six goals?
OK, "Hull is terrible, that's how." Ha ha ha. But seriously, what on earth is this?
xG map for Bournemouth - Hull. Think this underrates Bournemouth's chances and overrates Hull's defense, but a lot of finishing here too. pic.twitter.com/VkA6GLYVdr— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) October 15, 2016
That's some absolutely unbelievable finishing.
Toby Alderweireld looks seriously injured, which is awful
While everyone was fawning over Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, N'Golo Kante and Harry Kane, Alderweireld was somewhat quietly one of the best players in the Premier League last season. Ask any Tottenham supporter and they're likely to tell you that he's the team's MVP. He was stretchered off with a knee injury against West Brom, and it's anyone's guess how Spurs are going to replace him.
Eric Dier was the replacement for Toby in this match, but it remains to be seen whether Poche will see Dier as the natural replacement for Toby or if he'll turn to Kevin Wimmer or Cameron Carter-Vickers as the understudy in future games. This probably does open up a window of opportunity for Wimmer, though he's considered more of a replacement for Jan Vertonghen than Toby.
Mauricio Pochettino said it's too early to tell how severe the injury is, so Spurs fans will be hoping it's the month-or-two type of knee injury, and not a torn ACL.
Referees get it wrong on two red cards
One of the most controversial plays of the day was the sending off of Granit Xhaka. He made a cynical challenge on Modou Barrow during Arsenal's win over Swansea, but it wasn't particularly late or violent. It's the kind of foul that's usually given as a yellow, which is exactly why Xhaka did it, but Jon Moss wasn't having any of his tactical fouling. He just whipped out a straight red card.
That didn't hurt Arsenal's result in the end, but West Ham -- again, just like with the penalty -- did drop points in part because of this issue. Left back Aaron Cresswell was shown two yellow cards in just one minute for a couple of questionable fouls. And while West Ham might argue neither foul was worth a booking, Cresswell certainly wasn't smart to go in strong on a challenge immediately after being booked.
Theo Walcott is having his best season ever
During the 2013-14 campaign, Walcott looked like he was taking a step up in his career and becoming a superstar. He'd scored 21 goals in 43 appearances the season prior, and looked like an even more complete player the season after that. But he tore his ACL in January of 2014, and he hasn't been the same player since. He could only play half the season in 2014-15, then was fairly average for most of last season, leading Gunners supporters to speculate about whether Arsene Wenger might finally decide to cash in on Walcott and try to sign a superior player from overseas.
But, as he usually does, Wenger showed faith in the player he already had. That faith is paying off. Walcott has five Premier League goals after his two-goal effort against Swansea to go along with his fabulous two-goal game against Basel in his last Champions League match. And Walcott's become a more intelligent player too, moving well off the ball to create more space for Alexis Sanchez, Alex Iwobi and Mesut Özil.
If Walcott can keep up this form, Arsenal might really -- finally, truly, not even joking -- become title contenders.
Sunday and Monday's games
Middlesbrough takes on Watford in the early game on Sunday, then Southampton vs. Burnley wraps up the day. The big game everyone is waiting for is on Monday, when Liverpool faces off against Manchester United. All of those games are on NBCSN in the United States, as well as NBC Sports Live. You can find listings for your country at Live Soccer TV.