Three things we learned from the Premier League
Liverpool took another giant leap towards a first league title for three decades with a late winner at Wolves as Manchester United’s season sunk to a new low as they were beaten by Burnley.
AFP Sports looks at three things we learned from a midweek round of Premier League action.
Liverpool’s mark of champions
Lesser sides than the European champions would have wilted under Wolves pressure on a misty January night in the Midlands.
After taking an early lead through Jordan Henderson, Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury and conceded for the first time in eight league games when Raul Jimenez powered home Adama Traore’s cross.
Alisson Becker was then needed to make two more crucial saves from Jimenez and Traore, but late goals have been one of the hallmarks of a relentless run towards a first league title for 30 years.
When his side needed a moment of magic, Roberto Firmino produced it to open up a 16-point lead over Manchester City with a game in hand.
“You just have to find a way to win and have someone who makes the perfect decision and that was Bobby again,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
Solskjaer in the firing line
Rocked by Wednesday’s wretched 2-0 home defeat against Burnley, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces a fight to preserve his long-term future as Manchester United manager.
Although reports suggest United’s owners the Glazer family remain supportive of Solskjaer, it is fair to wonder how long that backing will last if results don’t improve quickly.
Solskjaer was ashen-faced as United capitulated against a Burnley team that last won at Old Trafford in 1962 and there was little evidence from that meek surrender that he can turn the tide any time soon.
United have made their worst start to a season since 1989-90 and trail fourth-placed Chelsea by six points, leaving Solskjaer in desperate need of some cup success over the next week.
Defeat in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at third-tier Tranmere would be another hammer blow for Solskjaer, especially with a likely League Cup semi-final exit looming at Manchester City on Wednesday after United lost the first leg against their rivals 3-1.
Arsenal have heart
Arsenal is still 10 points off the top four, still 10th and have now won just one of five league games under Mikel Arteta and yet there was plenty for the Spaniard to be proud of in a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.
The Gunners’ obvious defensive flaws should have cost them the game inside the first half-hour when Tammy Abraham pounced on Shkodran Mustafi’s short backpass and was barged over by David Luiz inside the box.
Luiz was sent-off on his return to Stamford Bridge and seconds later Arsenal was a goal down from Jorginho’s penalty.
But for a club that has been condemned for a lack of fight, character and personality over the past decade, they showed impressive resilience.
Twice the 10 men came back to equalise with 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli’s pace and poise after running nearly the full length of the field after a Chelsea corner to finish in particular offering hope of a brighter future for Arsenal.
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