Five things we learned from the Premier League
Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane had a thrilling shoot-out in Liverpool’s dramatic draw with Tottenham.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola made a curious selection decision, while Arsene Wenger got a boost from Arsenal’s new boys.
Here are five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:
Salah edges Kane shootout
Kane had the last word as his 100th Premier League goal from a controversial stoppage-time penalty handed Spurs a share of the spoils at Anfield, but Liverpool’s Salah moved to within just one goal of the England striker in the battle to win the golden boot. The Egyptian showed a cool head to put Liverpool in front after just three minutes in what for so long looked like it might be the decisive goal. However, Salah had even better to come himself in stoppage time as he wriggled away from three Spurs defenders inside the area before dinking home his 20th league goal of the season.
Guardiola sends unsubtle sub message
The sight of the coach blessed with the most expensive squad in the Premier League pleading poverty by naming just six of a possible seven substitutes didn’t receive a huge amount of sympathy. Guardiola claimed he “didn’t have any players” to fill his bench after a series of injuries, in part caused by repeated nasty challenges that have irked the Catalan and his players. Guardiola may also have been sending a message to his superiors after a deadline day attempt to land Riyad Mahrez fell well short of Leicester’s valuation. However, his refusal to even just draft in a reinforcement from City’s hugely resourced academy drew stinging criticism with former England international Gary Neville among those labelling the decision “a joke”.
Is Lukaku a flat-track bully?
Manchester United splashed out on Romelu Lukaku last summer to ensure they finished more of the chances they created and based on the statistics alone he has delivered, with 19 goals in all competitions. But a closer look at the figures shows he has not produced the goods in the big games, leading to accusations he is a flat-track bully. The Belgium international scored again on Saturday in a 2-0 win against Huddersfield after failing to find the net against Tottenham in midweek — meaning he has yet to score in six matches against fellow members of the “big six” this season. Until he does his detractors will continue to point out he cannot deliver when it matters most.
Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan lift Arsenal
Just when Wenger needed it most, his new signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan provided a welcome boost to troubled Arsenal. A wretched January featuring poor league results and an embarrassing FA Cup exit at second-tier Nottingham Forest had Wenger’s critics sharpening their knives again and Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United hardly quelled the mounting questions at the Frenchman’s door. But fortunately for Wenger, Aubameyang, signed for a club-record £56 million from Borussia Dortmund, and Mkhitaryan, brought in from United as part of the Sanchez deal, quickly reestablished their telepathic relationship in a 5-1 thrashing of Everton. While Aaron Ramsey hit a hat-trick, it was the former Dortmund team-mates who stole the show. Mkhitaryan provided three assists, includes one for Aubameyang, who took advantage of a missed offside decision to mark his debut with a cool finish. For Wenger’s sake, it must be the first of many.
Mahrez absence unnerves Leicester
Leicester manager Claude Puel conceded his team lacked a cutting edge in their 1-1 draw against Swansea in the absence of unsettled star Mahrez. It was hard to escape the notion that Leicester are not the same side without the former PFA Player of the Year. Algeria winger Mahrez, who also missed the defeat at Everton, has not been seen by the club since his proposed move to Manchester City collapsed on Wednesday. “We created lots of chances. It was amazing but without the final clinical edge, that’s true,” Puel said. “I know in my mind the most important thing is just to consider my team. I am disappointed about it all.”
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