Elliott horror injury will shine spotlight on more lenient refereeing

Leeds and Liverpool served up a ripsnorter at a crackling Elland Road. The speed of play, energy and technical ability in the first half of Liverpool's 3-0 win were beguiling so it only made what happened to Harvey Elliott in the second period all the more sickening. The horrific broken ankle injury sustained by the 18-year-old was not the fault of the Leeds defender Pascal Struijk – who saw red nonetheless – but the challenge was indicative of a general theme of feistiness during the preceding passages of play and, of the tenor of more lenient officiating so far this season.

Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been critical of the relaxed approach to tackling thus far and, while it seemed hollow in the United's manager's case as he complained about a perceived foul on Bruno Fernandes at Southampton, the German seemed to have a point in the aftermath of his side's win over Burnley when some of the challenges on his players were what might euphemistically be called agricultural, yet the tackle on Elliott was not one of those moments.

The more free-flowing football as a result of the greater tolerance to more physical challenges has been a positive feature of the start to the Premier League season but it will no doubt be under the microscope now. It must be hoped that Elliott's injury will be seen as the accident that it was.

Big English clubs continue to underestimate SPFL's best talent

Odsonne Edouard had plenty of suitors on transfer deadline day – and over the past 18 months for his goalscoring exploits at Celtic including interest from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – but when it came to pulling the trigger not one of the Premier League's top six opted to sign the Frenchman.

It became increasingly clear last season – and at the start of this – that Edouard had stayed a year too long at Parkhead and his dwindling form (he still finished the 2020-21 campaign as leading scorer with 18 goals) had no doubt scared off some of the bigger boys.

A blind man on a galloping horse could have told you that that which is visible to anyone who has ever watched Edouard was true: he is Premier League quality and maybe more. Tottenham, whom the 23-year-old put to the sword with two goals as a second-half substitute on Saturday, will likely be looking for a Harry Kane replacement next season and might just find that Edouard's price is a hell of a lot steeper than the £14m plus extras that Crystal Palace paid Celtic for him at the end of last month.

Perhaps one day, a big Premier League club will realise that they can save themselves a wedge of money by going direct to an SPFL Premiership outfit instead of waiting a couple of seasons to pay a fortune for a player who has cost a less sniffy side a fraction of the price. Don't count on it, though.

If the cap fits . . .

On that note, there was a debate about the quality of the Premier League's strikers on Match of the Day on Saturday evening which speculated on the relative merits of the collective. “Are they the best in the world?” asked Gary Lineker about Messrs Lukaku, Kane, Ronaldo, Salah et al. Never mind that it was possible to argue that the best set of strikers in the world might actually belong to just one club: Paris St-Germain or that the most prolific front men might be found in Germany, it was further proof of English football's obsession with positioning itself at the centre of the universe. What was an unmistakable conclusion from Saturday's matches – the first since the transfer window closed – was the depth of talent contained on the benches of the Premier League clubs within the biggest squads. Manchester United's included Donny Van de Beek, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Victor Lindelof while Chelsea had Ballon d'Or contender Jorginho, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount and Teemo Werner, to name but four, on theirs. The advent of a salary cap – as proposed in UEFA's latest attempts to implement an enforceable version of Financial Fair Play – cannot come some enough.

Will Kane repercussions haunt City?

One club whose options look threadbare in attack is Manchester City. It's remarkable that, while there appears to be an embarrassment of riches in forward areas at Old Trafford, across the city, Pep Guardiola has few options at No.9. The abortive attempts to bring Harry Kane to the Etihad have left City without a focal point up front and it is a deficiency that will cost them against the better teams – just as it did in the Champions League final against Chelsea back in May.

There may be a more insidious aspect to the failed Kane venture, too. Certainly, it was notable that matchwinner Bernardo Silva omitted to mention Guardiola when asked whether he had enjoyed himself in the 1-0 win over Leicester City.

“I love my team-mates, I love the club, I love the football here,” said the 27-year-old midfielder who was apparently one of a number City players offered up on the sacrificial altar in any number of putative deals speculated in the Kane saga.

By conservative measures, there were at least five players deemed expendable to Guardiola in the summer: Silva, Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez. It will be worth analysing their respective performances as the season unfolds and City face a test of their status as title holders.

Ronaldo's return

There was plenty of debate about whether Cristiano Ronaldo's advancing years would curtail his effectiveness on his return to the Premier League and he went some way to answering those concerns in his second debut for the club – the 4-1 win over Newcastle United. It must be pointed that his two goals in the victory were as much the fault of former Kilmarnock loanee Freddie Woodman's poor goalkeeping as any great striking play, but there was enough evidence of the latter to suggest Ronaldo – notably in his link-ups with Jadon Sancho – will be just fine. Suddenly, United have options all over their attack, yet they still look vulnerable enough on the break to raise questions about the validity of their claims for a sustained title challenge. Nevertheless, having Ronaldo in their ranks puts them in a strong position even with those question marks.