Premier League Roundup – Gameweek 4: Two’s company

On a weekend where three players scored a brace, the role of centre-forward showed all of its development, writes Shivam Pathak

The High Press Media can confirm that it will not be handing out any prize to anyone who can guess what the stand-out story from the most recent weekend of Premier League football was.

Two goals, wrapping up the points for his home side, in front of his own adoring supporters. He’d been away for a while, but after the money was forked out, he was on the next plane out of Italy, finding the net in his own true jersey once more. That’s Romelu Lukaku – one of the finest centre-forwards in the world.

That is, of course, a joke – but it is indeed easy to forget that three players notched a brace this weekend, not just one. Cristiano Ronaldo was joined by Lukaku and the Celtic import Odsonne Edouard in the at-the-double club, and while they all received their plaudits, only the former was really going to take the headlines.

Ronaldo’s return went perfectly according to the script. Score the opener and come up again when his side needed it, with Newcastle fighting back. The goalkeeping for both was questionable, let it be said: with Freddie Woodman parrying into the Portuguese’s path for 1-0 and allowing him to fire through his legs for 2-1 – but his positioning, movement and pace remained impeccable, demonstrating the blend of striker’s instinct and winger’s incisiveness which has made him, for many managers down the years, a cheat code.

There’s more to come from Ronaldo, who looked driven and hungry. Admitting that he felt “anxiety mixed with adrenaline” as took the turf on the Theatre of Dreams once more, one can reasonably expect him to rise to the challenge one mental level higher than playing for Juventus – he relishes any challenge, but particularly one that is close to his heart.

Edouard is some 13 years Ronaldo’s junior, and endeared himself to the Crystal Palace supporters in perfect fashion to kick off the weekend. Signing for £14 million, Edouard notched a pair against a Tottenham Hotspur side that looked a long way away from the races. Young defender Japhet Tanganga was sent off, and Harry Kane looked isolated. Both of the Frenchman’s finishes were impressive, wheeling away in celebration to secure an important victory for his fellow countryman Patrick Vieira, who is settling into the role nicely.

Lukaku sits somewhat between the two age wise, and demonstrates that there really is no “prime” when it comes to the centre-forward. Players like Erling Braut Haaland at his young age has already established himself as one of the finest number nines in the world, while Robert Lewandowski continues to age like a fine wine, despite moving through his early thirties. The goal-getting attribute and instinct isn’t one that can be forgotten, regardless of how much a player physically declines or adds other elements to their bow.

Indeed, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finally got himself onto the scoresheet, netting the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Norwich which saved the Gunners from getting off to their worst ever Premier League start. ‘Awkward’ is a word that could potentially summarise the way he has played, struggling to get himself into the right place at the right time and finishing without the sheer incision that earned him a lucrative contract many months back. The best of the Gabonese international will surely return – for the reasons aforementioned. Mikel Arteta will be counting on him to step up and break through any mental blockages, spearheading the attack that will need to simply gel if Arsenal are to push their way back to the top section of the League.

It’s been the weekend of the centre-forwards, including Hwang Hee Chan who came off the bench to get his first goal of the season. Raul Jimenez, who is returning to the forefront after a horrific head injury that cut his season short last time out, will require further assistance this year, with wingers like Trincao and Adama somewhat rough diamonds, full of technical ability but lacking in the department of providing goalscoring support to the centre-forward. New manager Bruno Lage will have been pleased with his side’s offensive output as they look to move to a position where they score regularly.

The weekend was completed with Everton stunning Burnley, after turning things around in Goodison Park to score three times in just seven minutes. Rafa Benitez demonstrated his tactical prowess, switching to a four-at-the-back formation when his side needed it most to overwhelm Sean Dyche’s side. Sweeping through the Clarets’ defense, Andros Townsend decided to run it back by delivering one of the goals of the season so far, cutting inside before dispatching beautifully into the top corner. In fact, without centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had broken his toe, Everton cleverly thought up ways to create without the presence of a bulky number nine, using the talented winger Demarai Gray as a catalyst.

For those young budding ballers who ply their trade as an out-and-out striker, this weekend was a beautiful template for how your play should be marked. Players of all different physical body types, playing styles, heights and strengths all found a common ground – know where the ball will fall and get there first. A football purist will be hoping that every single weekend is like this one.

This article was written by Shivam Pathak. To check out their other work click here or you can leave them a comment below.

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