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Premier League hits and misses: Scott McTominay and Raheem Sterling produce match-winning performances to silence their doubters

Plus: Tottenham show they are in the conversation for the Premier League title with hard-fought win at Luton with 10 men; Sheffield United as poor as they are unlucky...

Forgotten man McTominay rescues Ten Hag with Man Utd spirit

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United's win against Brentford in the Premier League.

A line of Scott McTominay's post-match interview jumped out. In between him describing his two-goal injury-time match-winning magic as his "favourite moment on a football pitch" and how this could be a turning point for the struggling side, there was something of a statement.

"I'm just happy to contribute and show them that I can do it."

Does he mean boss Erik ten Hag and his coaching staff, who had left him on the bench during the defeats to Crystal Palace and Galatasaray over the past week? Or the Man Utd supporters who spent the summer hoping for the arrival of midfield solutions from the transfer market?

Whatever McTominay's motivation, it was also interesting to hear him crediting the Man Utd ethos of never giving up and how playing until the final whistle had been drilled into him since his journey began with United as a five-year-old.

The inevitability of a Fergie-time comeback win wasn't the foremost feeling as United laboured to break down Brentford on Saturday. Indeed, the Kristoffer Ajer disallowed own goal felt like it would be the final act in another damaging defeat.

But McTominay has quality, despite what his detractors say. And when it is combined with a belief, conviction and determination to fight for the win until the very last second, that can be a dangerous prospect for any opponent at Old Trafford.

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McTominay may just find himself with a more prominent role after the international break.
Peter Smith

Sterling responds to Southgate snub

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Burnley against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling didn't just send the message to Gareth Southgate. He grabbed the biro, wrote the words himself, popped it in an envelope, walked to Southgate's house, kicked open his front door and rammed it down the England manager's throat. This was a performance full of intent. And dripping with world-class ability.

Sterling, despite being one of Southgate's go-to guys and with 82 caps to his name, was overlooked for a second consecutive squad, with Jarrod Bowen and Eddie Nketiah now seemingly further ahead in the pecking order. This performance makes that decision look rather foolish.

Chelsea, a team so lacking with creativity for large chunks of recent football, turned to Sterling at every attack. His direct running and subsequent beating of his full-back was the driving force behind this latest classy Chelsea performance. He scored one and played major parts in all three other goals.

Sterling may have been ignored but he will not be forgotten.
Lewis Jones

Spurs should be taken seriously as title contenders

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Luton against Tottenham

The Tottenham players, in their all-grey changed strip, stood and applauded their fans in the Oak Road Stand at the final whistle. In many respects, Spurs had been off-colour for large spells of this frenetic encounter. But they found a way of winning, as they have done already on numerous occasions this term.

At home to Sheffield United and last weekend against Liverpool, they celebrated dramatic late wins. Even on the road, they have come from behind at Brentford, Burnley and Arsenal to claim points.

It can no longer be viewed as a fluke, but a trend under the charismatic Postecoglou. This should have been far more routine than it panned out given Richarlison's glaring early sitter which sparked a contest among the Tottenham players for worst misses of the season so far.

Such profligacy will get punished against better sides, but it was only after Bissouma's senseless dismissal for a blatant dive in front of referee Brooks, that we saw the streetwise Spurs which has them among the early-season pace-setters.

Prior to this round of fixtures, 10 teams had faced fewer shots and attempts on target against than Tottenham - and here Luton had 12 of their own - but with Maddison in the side, even down to 10, there is always a chance.

It was his quick thinking which earned all three points, and from that moment, Postecoglou set his side up to manage the remaining minutes expertly. Gary Neville claimed Tottenham are not title contenders, but the evidence against the viewpoint is becoming increasingly compelling.
Ben Grounds

Sheff Utd equally poor as unlucky

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Fulham against Sheffield United in the Premier League.

"The things that can go against us are going against us."

Paul Heckingbottom must have spent the summer walking under ladders and past black cats.

Sheffield United are rock-bottom of the Premier League with one point from eight games and not a sliver of good fortune in sight.

Fulham fans will argue the Blades' equaliser should never have come after the visitors opted to play on when Issa Diop pulled up with an injury and sacrificed possession deep inside his own half.

United had already lost captain Chris Basham to a horrific accidental injury before the hosts' lead was restored by a fluke own-goal off Wes Foderingham's back.

Fulham's Tom Cairney celebrates after Sheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham scores an own goal
Image: Fulham's Tom Cairney celebrates after Sheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham scores an own goal

But what is clear is that Sheffield United look massively underequipped to survive at this level. Fulham's victory may have seemed fortunate in the end, yet it was the least they deserved. Own goal is the joint top scorer for the Blades this season.

Basham's injury had nothing to do with Sheffield United not having a shot in the first half or the way Fulham were able to counter-attack with ease or consistently expose their right side.

"You get what you deserve and we're where we deserve to be," added Heckingbottom. And it is hard to argue with that.
David Richardson

Everton turn corner under Dyche

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Everton against Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Sean Dyche was in a chipper mood after Everton claimed their first home win of the season by beating Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday. They hadn't scored twice in a single game at Goodison at the last 17 attempts.

"Three wins out of four now - one is a cup game but when you're losing they mention those cups games don't they? So it's fair to mention them when you are winning."

"Three wins out of four is not easy at any level," the Everton boss added.

He's not wrong. The last time Everton managed a run like that was at the start of the 2021/22 season under Rafael Benitez. Back-to-back relegation battles have followed.

Everton have been a club in disarray for the past two years. Dyche, the fans hope, can be the steady hand on the tiller at a time of uncertainty above him. Despite only Luton spending less than Everton's £38m over the summer transfer window, he is working hard to improve the players at his disposal to make the team competitive again.

A defeat to Luton last weekend is a reminder of the fragility that remains at Goodison. Everton's troubles are far from over but they seemed to turn a corner against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Zinny Boswell

Murillo dazzles on second Forest appearance

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Highlights from Crystal Palace's match against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.

It's early days, but it's clear Nottingham Forest have a player on their hands in Brazilian Murillo. On an otherwise dour and drab evening of football in south London - in complete contrast to the unseasonal but welcome warm weather - the young defender was a shining light.

Murillo is clearly adept defensively, but it was actually in forward areas that the 21-year-old came alive. He fashioned a super first-half chance for Morgan Gibbs-White, which the latter lashed over the crossbar on the volley, and also embarked on a mazy run which nearly resulted in a wonder goal.

A Brazilian upbringing usually equates to class on the ball and Murillo looks to have that quality in spades. He's taken no time getting up to speed with the pace of the Premier League and will be a real asset for Steve Cooper as he attempts to bed-in other newcomers during this ongoing transition at the City Ground.
Laura Hunter

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