Has something gone stale at Spurs? Where to begin with Man Utd?

Three games and three unconvincing performances. Is there a bigger issue at Tottenham? Plus, the troubles at Old Trafford have started to mount. It's all in the Premier League weekend review.

JUMP TO: Newcastle off the mark | Calamity for Man United | Perfection for Liverpool | Luiz a liability | Willock a find | Leicester's joy | Abraham stars | Watford woe | Andone sees red | VAR complaint

Concern of the weekend

At the time, it was easy to ascribe the collapse in Tottenham's league form at the end of last season to the stresses of the Champions League: They took just 11 points from their last available 36 as Europe became their priority and monopolised their emotional and physical energy.

Now though, it's equally easy to think that run was the start of a more serious problem, and rather than being the cause of their listlesness, the run to the Champions League final simply masked their deficiencies. The 1-0 defeat to Newcastle on Sunday was Tottenham's third unconvincing performance of the season: In the first they eventually salvaged a win against Aston Villa, in the second they somehow escaped with a draw against Manchester City, but in the third they couldn't break down a team who had been battered by newly-promoted Norwich last week.

Was their sluggish football and sideways passing just a part of a slow start to the season? Or is there a greater malaise here? The fear is that despite the new arrivals over the summer, something has gone stale at Tottenham.

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Good start (but no more) of the weekend

Hats off to Newcastle for their victory and Steve Bruce should be given due credit for a plan well executed. A couple of things to consider though: Steve Kean's Blackburn won a game at Old Trafford in 2011, so let's not think a win at a big ground makes a manager.

Also, Newcastle under Steve McClaren won at White Hart Lane in December 2015, but a week later dropped points against Aston Villa (who would finish stone bottom of the table) and would lose 11 of their last 14 games and get relegated anyway.

Critics of Bruce and his appointment might have to tone it down for a short spell, but they won't be persuaded until this sort of form is sustained.

Multi-faceted calamity of the weekend

Where to start with Manchester United's 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday?

No, seriously, where should we start?

In the worst way possible, it had absolutely everything: Defensive errors from the new £80 million signing; a missed penalty in a week when all have been talking about their confused penalty-taker policy; muscle injuries to Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial after a summer when the emphasis in preseason training was placed on hard fitness work; a bench where the best attacking option was 17-year-old Mason Greenwood; equalising only to concede another minutes later; one of those increasingly frequent rare mistakes by David De Gea.

We've probably missed a few, possibly including the sense that Daniel James, a 21-year-old with one season in the Championship to his name, is now one of their key attackers, or that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer waited until the 85th minute to bring on Juan Mata.

And among all of that, there's the fact it's become incredibly easy to plan how to beat United: Their midfield and attack isn't creative enough to consistently break down a solid defence, and their defence isn't strong enough to hold off a decent counter-attack. Two of those did for United against Palace, as against Cardiff last season. It's all so simple.

Perfectionism seekers of the weekend

While Jurgen Klopp was rightfully delighted with Liverpool's performance against Arsenal, it was notable that he seemed furious when they conceded the late goal, and also that in his post-match comments he highlighted the 10-15 minutes when they were not in complete control of the game.

Such is the perfection that Klopp knows Liverpool need this season if they're to beat Manchester City to the Premier League title, or even just challenge them to any real degree.

But they weren't far away on Saturday. It was also notable that Klopp said he was surprised by the formation Unai Emery chose, but Liverpool swept the Gunners aside anyway. Which is the central problem with facing Liverpool: try to combat one problem and another appears. It's tactical whack-a-mole, and tricky to work out how to keep them all smacked down.

It felt pretty weak when Emery said Arsenal were making progress because they had done better at Anfield than last season, but it's a great compliment to Liverpool that one of the six best sides in the country regards only losing 3-1 rather than 5-1 as a victory of sorts.

Liability of the weekend

David Luiz is not a bad defender: He's probably better than anything Arsenal had before and might be a decent enough stop-gap until William Saliba is ready. It's just there's a decent reason Chelsea happily waved him off in August.

Luiz was culpable for at least two of Liverpool's goals on Saturday, pulling Mo Salah's shirt for the penalty then recklessly diving into a challenge on the same man. The Brazilian has and will improve Arsenal's distribution from the back, but they will just have to live with the fact that these games will happen every now and then.

Silver lining of the weekend

On a more positive note for Arsenal, Joe Willock is turning out to be one of the unexpected success stories of their nascent season. Unai Emery's midfield diamond didn't really work, but then again not many things do against Liverpool, so given the tactical disadvantage and the opposition, Willock was terrific, smart and energetic, and an indication that not all of Arsenal's problems can or should be solved in the transfer market.

Goal, assist and celebration of the weekend

Busy old day at Bramall Lane on Saturday. "There are not too many players who can play that pass," said Brendan Rodgers after James Maddison produced a beautiful, outside of the foot through-ball for Jamie Vardy's opener in Leicester's 2-1 win over Sheffield United, a goal the Sheffield Wednesday fan celebrated with glee in front of some very irked Blades fans.

Leicester weren't done there. There's an England squad due in a few weeks, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Harvey Barnes join Maddison in Gareth Southgate's thinking, particularly after the perfectly-struck rocket the young winger sent into the roof of the net to confirm the points. They might not be living up to the preseason hype yet, but this win on top of two solid draws suggests they're on the way.

Striker of the weekend

You can't help feeling delighted for Tammy Abraham, a striker who has been given his chance by Chelsea's circumstances, but also one who may well have been promoted above his current ability by them. His two goals against Norwich were nicely taken, and will earn him a little time as he tries to establish himself as Chelsea's No. 9.

Speculation explanation of the weekend

That's three defeats in three for Watford this season, against teams they only lost once in six games to last season, scoring only one goal in the process, having shipped six goals at home. They also ended last season with three losses.

Reports that Javi Gracia's job is under threat seem harsh, and probably are harsh, but this is why they're around. Suddenly next weekend's trip to Newcastle is massive.

Luckiest moment of the weekend

The capacity of footballers to look absolutely astonished whenever any decision goes against them knows no bounds, so in that respect it wasn't that surprising when Brighton's Florin Andone claimed innocence after jumping and sticking his studs just below Yan Valery's knee, bringing most of his bodyweight down on the Southampton man. He wasn't unlucky to be sent off, he was lucky not to snap Valery's leg in half.

VAR complaint of the weekend

Who knew that the biggest flaw in VAR -- or at least the way VAR is being implemented in England -- would be when it didn't get involved, as opposed to when it did? To pick just a couple of examples from the weekend (and there were more -- oh there were more), Manchester City and Tottenham were not awarded clear penalties even after they were checked, apparently because there wasn't enough evidence that they were clear and obvious mistakes, and thus the subjective decisions couldn't be corrected.

If these weren't clear and obvious, it's becoming evident that VAR is just someone drawing lines on a screen to decide infinitesimally marginal offside calls.

VAR is a mistake, a system that shouldn't have been brought in, but as it's here it should at least ensure as many on-field mistakes as possible are rectified. But if it won't overturn these decisions, clear to virtually everyone, then it's pointless.

Unless things change, we've essentially got the worst of both worlds: the game has been fundamentally altered and changed as a live spectacle without actually making decisions more accurate. Well done everyone. Well done.