Five things we learned in the Premier League
Manchester City notched their eighth successive Premier League win to maintain their five-point cushion at the top of the table as Manchester United stayed in touch with a hard-fought win against Tottenham Hotspur.
The defeat for Mauricio Pochettino’s third-placed team means they are already eight points off the pace and have Chelsea and Arsenal breathing down their necks after their London rivals both won.
Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
City must guard against complacency
Manchester City have made the best ever start to a Premier League season after 10 games, collecting 28 points with a frightening goal difference of plus 29. They remain five points clear of the chasing pack after their 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion. Complacency could be their greatest enemy — sloppy defending for the second goal gave West Brom late hope, which better sides could take advantage of. Pep Guardiola will be well aware of the need to avoid such pitfalls after they fell away in the league last year and ended up trophyless. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has suggested City could have the title sewn up by January but Guardiola is not falling into the trap. “Have you ever known a team win the title in January? Me neither. No. Totally unrealistic? Definitely,” he said.
Mourinho’s case for the defence
Jose Mourinho came in for some scathing criticism after he set out his Man United side to contain Liverpool at Anfield earlier this month. Pundits suggested that he should have freed his attackers to probe Liverpool’s vulnerable defence but he was happy to come away with a 0-0 draw from the club’s fierce rivals. Needing to bounce back after a shock defeat by Huddersfield Town, Mourinho hosted Tottenham at Old Trafford on Saturday. United, who won 1-0 thanks to a late Anthony Martial strike, showed more ambition on their own turf but still struggled to create many goalscoring chances. But they have now kept a clean sheet in each of their opening five home league games for the first time since 2007-08. The United boss praised his players. “Today, every ball looked like the last ball of their careers,” he said.
Liverpool’s hard slog?
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool won 3-0 at home to Huddersfield but the result did little to allay fears that the club are treading water under the charismatic German as a title challenge looks a distant dream. For all his charm, Klopp talks a better game than his team can consistently deliver on the pitch. While blessed with attacking riches, the Anfield club have been found wanting defensively. With his team already 12 points adrift of Manchester City, even the upbeat Klopp realises there is disquiet on the terraces and with the likes of Carlo Ancelotti presently out of a job he knows a top-class replacement is available. “It’s a big relief to be honest because the pressure was there,” Klopp said after the Huddersfield win. “There is no doubt about that. The second one (goal) after a set-piece felt like Christmas.” He will hope for many more Christmases before December 25, otherwise his present may not be one he wished for.
Leicester turmoil reaps rewards
Who said stability breeds success? Leicester City had a poor start to the season under Craig Shakespeare, who earlier this month paid the price for the team’s struggles. Since then the side — under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and now new boss Claude Puel — have beaten Swansea City and Everton in the Premier League and cruised into the League Cup quarter-finals with victory against Leeds United. Leicester looked back to their title-winning best at home to Everton on Sunday, with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez linking up to devastating effect and Demarai Gray making life difficult for the beleaguered Merseyside club. Puel admitted it was a fairytale start. “I want to say thanks to our fantastic fans for their warm welcome. It was a day that was perfect but it’s just the beginning I hope of something,” he said.
Top six taking shape
The Premier League table is taking a familiar shape with 10 games gone for most sides. The two Manchester clubs got off to flying starts and look pretty established in the top two spots but unfamiliar interlopers such as Watford muscled onto the scene in the early weeks of the season as Liverpool and Arsenal faltered. However, normal service appears to have been resumed with all the “Big Six” now occupying the top six places. With City in the form they’re in, the other five might be fighting among themselves for the scraps.
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