Five things we learned in the Premier League
The death of Leicester’s Thai billionaire boss in a helicopter crash on Saturday totally overshadowed events on the pitch as Manchester City held onto first place in the Premier League.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who oversaw the club’s astonishing title triumph in 2016, was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed and burst into flames moments after taking off from the pitch at the King Power Stadium.
Champions City briefly knocked off the top by Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Cardiff on Saturday, regained pole position with a 1-0 victory at Tottenham.
On Sunday, Chelsea brushed Burnley aside 4-0 to stay in touch with the leaders, while Arsenal saw their long winning run ended as Crystal Palace scored late to earn a 2-2 draw.
AFP Sports looks at five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
‘Heartbroken’ Leicester pay tribute to tragic owner
Denmark international Kasper Schmeichel was among many Leicester players to pay warm tributes to Vichai after the shocking death of the 60-year-old following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against West Ham.
Schmeichel, who was reported to have witnessed the accident, thanked the late owner for making his football dreams come true in an emotional post on his Instagram account.
“You changed football. Forever! You gave hope to everyone that the impossible was possible. You literally made my dreams come true,” said Schmeichel, who was part of the 2016 Premier League-winning side.
Forward Jamie Vardy, whose goals fired Leicester to their title triumph, called Vichai “a legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club”.
Life’s a pitch for City
Forced to play on a Wembley pitch badly scarred by an NFL fixture held at the national stadium 24 hours earlier, Manchester City once again showed there is little that can knock Pep Guardiola’s team out of their stride. Riyad Mahrez’s sixth-minute goal settled any City concerns about the torn-up turf and they easily kept Tottenham at bay with a typically composed display. For once, it was City’s defenders who stole the show with a rock-solid showing, rather than their galaxy of attacking stars. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte laid the foundations at centre-back as City equalled the club’s record of six successive league clean-sheets. Back on top of the table, City’s gritty show was ominous for their title rivals.
‘Complete’ Barkley stars for Chelsea
What a month it’s been for Ross Barkley.
From being on the periphery of the Chelsea team just a few weeks ago, the midfielder now finds himself at the heart of Maurizio Sarri’s side and back in the England squad.
The former Everton man starred in Chelsea’s 4-0 win at Burnley, scoring for the third straight Premier League game and creating two other goals.
The Italian manager hailed the 24-year-old, whose 2017-18 season was blighted by injury.
“Ross is doing very well. He’s improved in the defensive phase and he’s improved very much in his physical condition because last season was difficult for him with a very serious injury,” he said.
“He is a very good player from a technical point of view. He’s a complete player.”
Is Martial now the main man for Manchester United?
Jose Mourinho finally lost patience with misfiring Romelu Lukaku, benching his misfiring star striker for Sunday’s match against Everton.
With Marcus Rashford also struggling in front of goal this season, Anthony Martial has picked the perfect time to step up, scoring his fourth goal in his past three Premier League games in Manchester United’s 2-1 home win.
Mourinho admitted Lukaku is low on confidence and will be frustrated that Rashford has not grabbed his chance to shine.
But the United boss, who has had a troubled relationship with Martial, praised the Frenchman.
“At the moment he is playing very well,” said Mourinho. “Even if he doesn’t score, to create what he is creating, it is a solid performance for the team.”
Mane finds scoring touch as Liverpool forwards click
Sadio Mane ended a frustrating spell, scoring his first Premier League goals for Liverpool since September 1 as Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying team thumped Cardiff 4-1 at home on Saturday.
Liverpool appears to be over their recent blip, during which they went four games without a win in all competitions, and are scoring freely again.
Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — who together terrorised defences last season — were all on the scoresheet in a 4-0 thumping of Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League last week.
Despite his mini-drought, two goals for Mane against Cardiff took him to six Premier League strikes for the season — one ahead of Salah.
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