Nick Govier uses FourFourTwo's StatsZone app – now FREE – to assess the second round of the season's Premier League action
Roberto Mancini's Manchester City continued to experiment with three at the back - a tactic designed to match up against a front three and release the player who would otherwise be a spare centre back into a more effective position further up the pitch. It also allows the full backs to effectively play as wingers, but relies on the midfield being able to track runners from deep as all of the centre backs are typically occupied. In Sunday's game at Liverpool, Pablo Zabaleta and Kolo Toure were called on to play the left and right centre back positions, effectively matching up against Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling.
Despite conceding two goals, the tactic can perhaps still be considered a success as none of the Liverpool midfield or wide attackers managed a shot on target. Steven Gerrard and Jonjo Shelvey in particular would have expected to find space when bursting forward, but Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure tracked them well, limiting them to wayward attempts from distance.
In the centre, there was no appreciable increase in Suarez's contribution to this game in comparison to the same fixture last season, in which City played with a back four - he attempted more take-ons around the box, but had fewer shots on target. Suarez did get his goal, but as with Liverpool's opener through Martin Skrtel, it came from a set piece and did not reflect the change in system.
With Didier Drogba gone, Chelsea will have to move away from the target man approach which has worked so well over the past eight years, and edge towards a more intricate attacking game. At least, that's the theory. But it seems old habits die hard, as Chelsea looked long towards Fernando Torres regularly during Saturday evening's victory over Newcastle - and to the Spaniards' credit he was effective in the air, winning seven out of ten aerial duels. He was also effective at finishing; his single shot in the match was expertly driven into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Despite going a goal down early on, things soon looked more comfortable for Manchester United as they went in at half time 3-1 up having seen both Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa open their accounts after signing for the Old Trafford side this summer. However, anybody who thought it was a case of 'game over' was underestimating Fulham star Moussa Dembele, whose box-to-box performance included nine successful take-ons in attack and seven successful tackles in defence, and nearly dragged the Cottagers to an unlikely point.
On this performance, it's not hard to see why the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United are reportedly keen on securing his services before the transfer window closes on Friday.
Finally, it is still difficult to predict how Southampton's season will play out. A 2-0 loss at home to Wigan is far from encouraging; nor is the regularity with which they were dispossessed - Wigan made 24 successful tackles in the match. However Saints did create 16 chances, with 6 on target, suggesting that there is a considerable goal threat in the side, if they can keep possession better as the season continues.
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