This Saturday's Premier League schedule was thin, with a lot of games getting pushed back to Sunday on the first week of European play. While Arsenal, Leicester City and Manchester City were in action, Tottenham Hotspur and all of the teams that played on Thursday had their games pushed back.
There wasn't a lack of action, though. Every one of the five Saturday games featured a lot of goals, and we got to learn something about everyone.
Leicester has righted the ship and looks top-half worthy
Club Brugge and Burnley are not world-beaters, but Leicester City posting very convincing wins over both of them back-to-back suggests that they are not going to fall off back into bottom-half mediocrity. Also suggesting that they're still good: Islam Slimani. The Foxes' new signing scored this goal on Saturday off a lovely assist by Jamie Vardy.
There was no chance that Leicester was going to repeat last season's heroics, but they look very capable of finishing top two in their Champions League group while keeping themselves in the top seven and making their way back to Europe next season as well.
Ross Barkley redeems himself
Last weekend, Barkley got hauled off after 45 minutes due to poor play. "He lost many balls and players of that quality can't lose those kinds of balls," said manager Ronald Koeman about Barkley's performance, while also noting that he went over tape of Barkley's errors with the midfielder. But Barkley was thrown back into the starting lineup to face Middlesbrough and he delivered in a 3-1 win.
Ross Barkley will need the 45 minutes of his life here.— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) September 17, 2016
Everton flying at the minute, none more so than Barkley, who is very much making his point. A goal would be nice for him.— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) September 17, 2016
Aside from Gareth Barry, my star man was easily Ross Barkley. Proved himself for me.— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) September 17, 2016
Barkley didn't record a goal or assist, but finished the game with four shots and two passes leading to shots, plus 92 percent of his passes completed. Challenge answered.
What's wrong with West Ham?
Last season, West Ham mounted a serious challenge for top four, mostly thanks to the heroics of Dimitri Payet. He's back in the starting lineup and assisted a goal for the second straight game on Saturday. Unfortunately, he's got a shaky defense behind him. The Hammers also did something else for the second straight game against West Brom -- conceded four goals.
They're down in 17th place with four losses and their 13 goals conceded is three goals worse than the next-worst team. It's not clear why this is happening. Defender James Tomkins left in the summer, but he wasn't first choice for most of last season. They have some injuries, but not crippling ones. Their central midfield partnership, center back partnership and goalkeeper are the same as last season.
With more games, a clear pattern might emerge. Or, alternatively, they could stop playing poorly. But for now, West Ham is a very ugly mystery.
Kevin De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League so far
No one's benefited from Pep Guardiola's arrival quite like Kevin De Bruyne. He had a goal and an assist in City's 4-0 win, including this stunning free kick.
But that hardly tells the story. De Bruyne also had the "hockey assists" on City's two other goals, playing the important passes to unlock the defense and create the chances. He had four shots -- all on target -- and three passes leading directly to shots to go along with all his other important link-up play. It was a masterful performance. Zidane-like, if it's not sacrilegious to say.
When Arsenal has more players fit and Alex Iwobi doesn't start, this might be why
It's possible that Alex Iwobi is the most talented young attacking player in the Premier League. He had two assists for Arsenal against Hull and has been impressive in all of his appearances this season. Unfortunately, he doesn't play any defense.
iwobi doesn’t track back, again, which leads to a wide open hull cross comfortably saved by cech.— The Short Fuse (@TheShortFuse) September 17, 2016
santi doesn’t need to make that challenge if iwobi bothers harrying elmohamady— The Short Fuse (@TheShortFuse) September 17, 2016
iwobi has had a very good game attacking, but no question his defensive work rate leaves much to be desired.— The Short Fuse (@TheShortFuse) September 17, 2016
Iwobi is a big prospect and he'll become a more complete player as he gets more experience. But if Arsenal has a full squad available and Arsene Wenger leaves Iwobi on the bench for big games, this is why.
It's a nice slate. Watford plays Manchester United in the early game. Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City and Southampton vs. Swansea City are both on just after 9 a.m. ET. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland closes the week. All games are streaming at NBC Sports Live, and you can find TV listings for your country at Live Soccer TV.