Five things we learned in the Premier League
Manchester City were left eight points clear at the top of the table after they beat Arsenal 3-1 as second-placed Manchester United lost ground with a 1-0 loss away to reigning champions Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur maintained their title charge thanks to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley while Liverpool piled the pressure on West Ham manager Slaven Bilic with a 4-1 win away to the Hammers.
Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
Conte keeps axe-man Abramovich at bay
Given his record of ruthlessly disposing of managers perceived to be underachieving, the sight of demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich at the club’s training ground this week might have given Blues boss Antonio Conte cause for concern. Amid rumours that Chelsea’s players were beginning to resent Conte’s intense training regime, a midweek thrashing at Roma in the Champions League added to the feeling the Italian was in danger of becoming Abramovich’s latest victim. With the Premier League champions falling well behind leaders Manchester City and Conte not hiding his frustration at the club’s transfer market failings, he couldn’t afford a defeat against Manchester United on Sunday. That Chelsea won 1-0, thanks to Alvaro Morata’s 55th-minute header winner should calm talk about Conte’s future — for now.
Salah repays Klopp’s faith
When Jurgen Klopp persuaded Mohamed Salah to choose Liverpool ahead of several other suitors from Europe’s elite, even the Reds boss couldn’t have expected his signing to make such a superb start to life at Anfield. Salah’s previous taste of the Premier League had been a disappointing spell with Chelsea, but the Egypt winger was revitalised by a stint in Italy and his form for Roma was good enough to persuade Klopp to bring him back to England in a £34 million deal in the close-season. Salah has repaid Klopp’s faith by scoring 12 goals, including two in Saturday’s 4-1 win at West Ham.
Spurs showing stomach for title fight
It is more than 50 years since Tottenham Hotspur were last crowned champions of England. The intervening decades have witnessed plenty of entertaining football from the London club only for a lack of defensive solidity to prove their undoing. That they backed up their thrilling midweek Champions League win over Real Madrid with a scrappy 1-0 victory over Premier League basement club Crystal Palace suggests, however, that Spurs can produce the kind of grinding wins needed to sustain a title challenge.
Sanchez struggles sum up Arsenal plight
“He wants to be blue,” chanted Manchester City fans in regard to Alexis Sanchez as they recalled how the Arsenal star nearly joined their club during the last transfer window. Yet after a decisive win over the Gunners, with City 12 points clear of Arsene Wenger’s side, it was hard to see how Sanchez, who was not at his best, would get into the Etihad 1st XI even if a deal is revived in January.
Pulis record under threat
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis has never been in charge of a team relegated from the Premier League but his side are perilously close to the drop zone, with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Huddersfield meaning they’ve now gone nine games without a win. Pulis’s reputation and the fact there are still four sides below the Baggies is likely to buy him some time but he is under no illusions. “You can’t fault my players, who have worked incredibly hard,” Pulis said. “But we are in the results business and these results mean there’s some pressure on me.”
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