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Only Man City can stop Liverpool becoming invincible


Aubameyang’s absence for three games offers Gabriel Martinelli (left) a chance to impress<br />Photos:

It was the Premier League weekend that saw Liverpool clear another high hurdle on their march to title glory as they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.

We saw Sergio Aguero set new records, Marcus Rashford reaches a landmark and Watford climb out of the relegation zone at the expense of Aston Villa.

Sportsmail looks at 10 things learned from another entertaining weekend of action in the English top flight.
. Liverpool Nearly Home And Dry As Champions


Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool set another series of records as they overcame their traditional spoiler-in-chief Jose Mourinho and his wasteful Tottenham side to maintain their march to the title.

They have now made the best-ever start to a season in any of Europe’s big five leagues, with their record of 61 points (20 wins, one draw, zero defeats) from 21 matches surpassing the starts of both PSG and Juventus last season and that of Bayern Munich in 2013-14.

They have now taken 104 points from their last 38 league games, beating the season-length records of Manchester City in 2018 and Chelsea in 2005.

With a 14-point cushion to Manchester City in second place, it’s fair to say that Liverpool is pretty much home and dry when it comes to the title.

In terms of imitating Arsenal in 2003-04 and going the whole season unbeaten, you’d say the only real hurdle now is their visit to the Etihad Stadium on April 4.

There will be plenty of teams keen to wreck their ‘Invincibles bid’, not least Manchester United this Sunday, Everton on March 14 and Chelsea on May 9, but realistically Liverpool will be strong favourites in all their matches.

Of course it could get interesting if Klopp decides to rotate his squad should reigning champions Liverpool advance deep into the Champions League.

But lots of people said they’d slip up last month when competing in the FIFA Club World Cup and they just continued winning, so really there’s no cause to doubt them from here.


. Man City Have A Huge Job Replacing Aguero?
Pep Guardiola admitted last month that the challenge of replacing Sergio Aguero when he, as anticipated, leaves Manchester City in the summer of 2021 ‘will be one of the toughest asks of my career.’

On Sunday, we saw once again why we should all cherish watching the Argentine in the English top-flight while we can.

His treble in City’s 6-1 evisceration of Aston Villa saw Aguero overtake Alan Shearer as the scorer of the most Premier League hat-tricks (12).

And he is now the most prolific overseas goalscorer in English football after moving past Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (177 goals to 175).

Gabriel Jesus will take over the role of City’s main striker when Aguero, now 31, departs after next season but they’re certainly enormous shoes to fill.

After all, Aguero’s goal returns across all competitions since arriving at City in 2011 reads 30, 17, 28, 32, 29, 33, 30 and 32, with 18 and counting this season.

Finding someone to match those outstanding returns won’t be cheap and you wonder if Guardiola will still be around to take on the challenge.

After all, Aguero’s goal returns across all competitions since arriving at City in 2011 reads 30, 17, 28, 32, 29, 33, 30 and 32, with 18 and counting this season.

Finding someone to match those outstanding returns won’t be cheap and you wonder if Guardiola will still be around to take on the challenge.


. Greenwood On Course To Imitate Rashford
Mason Greenwood grew up honing his finishing skills with a size three football and one of those small semi-circle goals on the front lawn of his parents’ home near Bradford.

Perhaps the repetition of finding such a small target, from different angles and distances, explains how the 18-year-old Manchester United striker is such an accurate finisher.

The emergence of Greenwood from United’s academy to regular in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first team this season has brought happiness in what has often been a gloomy campaign.

His inch-perfect finish from the edge of the box to wrap up United’s 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, Greenwood’s ninth goal of the season, was another uplifting moment.

Greenwood has already shown what an accomplished finisher he is, with an ability to pick out the bottom corner despite crowds of bodies inside the penalty box.

On the day that Marcus Rashford, another deadly striker to come through the Old Trafford ranks, became the fourth-youngest United player to make 200 appearances, it appears Greenwood has everything he needs to imitate his success.

Happily, Solskjaer appears more than willing to keep giving him plenty of chances to shine.

. It’s Crunch Time For Howe And Bournemouth
Eddie Howe has never feared for his job at Bournemouth and understandably so. When you save the club from the oblivion of relegation to non-league football before leading them to the Premier League, you can expect to be cut a fair bit of slack.


But there’s no question that Howe is under serious pressure right now following a run of just one league win in 11 matches that saw the Cherries further drop into the relegation zone following Sunday’s sorry 3-0 loss to Watford.

“We are in a difficult moment and need to lift ourselves,’ said Howe after another damaging loss. He must retain the faith of the powers-that-be inside the club because there’s no doubt most other managers would have been sacked by now following such a torrid run.

Of course, there is the mitigation of an injury list that currently numbers 10 players, including Joshua King, Aaron Ramsdale, Jefferson Lerma, Charlie Daniels, and David Brooks.

Howe could do with some of those key men returning soon because what lies ahead is a set of fixtures that will decide whether Bournemouth’s five-season stay in the Premier League ends in May.

Four of their next five league games are against Norwich, Brighton, Aston Villa and Burnley, all sides in the bottom seven.

It certainly isn’t too early in the season to be throwing around the term ‘six-pointer’.

. Opportunity Knocks With Aubameyang Banned
Arsenal may well appeal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s red card against Crystal Palace after studying the report of referee Paul Tierney, who upgraded the striker’s punishment from a yellow card after VAR consultation.

But, realistically, the ankle bucking nature of Aubameyang’s challenge on Max Meyer means his three-game suspension is likely to be upheld.

One player’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, however, and it will be interesting to see who Mikel Arteta turns to in Arsenal’s upcoming games against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth.


Alexandre Lacazette will continue to lead the line, but Aubameyang’s place on the left side opens up a great chance for Gabriel Martinelli to impress.

The Brazilian has started just three Premier League games since his arrival at the Emirates Stadium last summer, playing mainly in the EFL Cup and the Europa League, where he has scored three times.

He’ll have to go some to compensate for the absence of 16-goal Aubameyang, however.

We may also see a chance for Reiss Nelson and potentially Eddie Nketiah, just returned from his loan at Leeds United but still likely to be sent out to another Championship club for the rest of the season.

. No Harm In Picking Ings For England’s March Friendlies
Top marks for remembering the details of Danny Ings’ one and only England cap.

It came in October 2015 in a dead rubber Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania in Vilnius, with Ings, then a Liverpool player, brought on by Roy Hodgson to replace Harry Kane for the final half-hour of a 3-0 England win.

It may have been a long time in coming, but the clamour is now so great that Southampton hotshot Ings must surely win his second international cap soon.

After earning the Saints an unexpected 2-1 win at Leicester on Saturday, Ings has now scored 10 goals in his last 12 Premier League outings and 16 this season.


Surely that form is too good for Gareth Southgate to ignore and Ings should be included in the England squad for the home friendlies against Italy and Denmark in late March.

Given that Southgate won’t be able to pick the injured Kane, Jamie Vardy continues to rule himself out of an international return and Callum Wilson is struggling for form, Ings definitely deserves his chance.

It doesn’t, of course, mean Ings should be in the Euro 2020 squad but he certainly deserves to have an audition.

. Chelsea Getting It Just Right For Years To Come
Slowly but surely, Frank Lampard continues to build the foundations of the Chelsea team for potentially years to come.

In their 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday, it was the right side of the team that really impressed as Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi combined to superb effect.

They came through the academy ranks together and the natural understanding of one another’s game was clear to see as they gave Burnley a real headache throughout.

Hudson-Odoi, 19, continues to play like a man making up for a lost time after missing the start of the season with an Achilles problem. He delivered eight crosses and scored the match-sealing third goal.

James, 20, also missed the opening weeks of the season with an ankle issue but has played himself into the right-back role. He delivered 10 crosses and set up Tammy Abraham for Chelsea’s second.

Their pinpoint deliveries into the box overlaps, and one-twos are set to become a familiar feature of Chelsea’s play.


. Almiron Finally Looks At Home In The Premier League
It may have taken Miguel Almiron 27 Premier League games and the greater part of a year to score his first Newcastle United goal, but he’s making up for lost time now.

The Paraguayan broke his duck in the win over Crystal Palace on the Saturday before Christmas and has since scored at Rochdale in the FA Cup and now in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.

His finish at Molineux was struck first-time and emphatic, and key in helping Newcastle’s walking wounded gain a point few expected them to get.

Delight for Miguel Almiron after scoring Newcastle United’s opener against Wolves
With 11 pre-existing absentees, Steve Bruce was dealt further injury blows when Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle went down with muscle injuries, further depleting the squad. Joelinton also soldiered on with a groin problem.

With Newcastle likely to have to promote a number of youth-team players into their squad for Tuesday’s FA Cup replay against Rochdale, in-form Almiron needs to be wrapped in cotton wool.

The South American is taking on a role of greater importance to Newcastle’s season with every passing week.

. Everton Rift Hasn’t Quite Healed
Any hopes that Carlo Ancelotti would lift spirits at Everton were blown away by last weekend’s abject performance against Liverpool reserves in the FA Cup.

That led to a group of furious supporters turning up at the training ground in the week with the aim of venting at the players.

And there was a subdued atmosphere inside Goodison Park during Saturday’s win over Brighton and Fabian Delph was booed by a section of fans after his unwise social media spat with a supporter last week.

It suggested that the Merseyside derby defeat left a scar that will take some time to heal.

Still, at least Everton won on Saturday, 1-0 against Brighton, and that is perhaps something that wouldn’t have happened without Ancelotti, who has now won three of his four league games in charge.


. Handball Law Should Have Been Better Explained
There was a lot of opprobrium directed at VAR after West Ham’s Robert Snodgrass was denied a late equaliser at Sheffield United on Friday night.

But for once the technology wasn’t to blame, instead, a change to the handball rules introduced before the start of the season that VAR was simply enforcing in this instance.

After quite a few goals were scored despite the accidental use of the hand last season, the rule was tightened up and clarified.

It now reads: ‘Any goal scored or created with the use of the hand or arm will be disallowed this season, even if it is accidental.’

Now fans can be excused for not spending their summer reading up on IFAB’s rule changes, but it should have been explained to the players and probably was.

Rice’s was far from the first example, too. Manchester City saw a Jesus injury-time winner against Tottenham disallowed back in August after Aymeric Laporte’s arm brushed the ball in the build-up.

Rice may actually be correct in saying that ‘pretty much every’ player doesn’t want VAR in the Premier League but he has picked the wrong target here.

Culled from


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