Five things we learned in the Premier League
The Manchester clubs continued to lead the way in the Premier League, City and United both winning this weekend, while Tottenham kept pace by overpowering Huddersfield and Liverpool lost ground in a draw with Newcastle.
Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
Man City now look like a Guardiola team
Many English football fans struggled to suppress their glee last season when Pep Guardiola’s hugely anticipated first campaign as Manchester City manager ended with the damp squib of a third-place finish after heavy defeats against such relative underdogs as Everton and Leicester City. But the dominant nature of City’s 1-0 win at reigning champions Chelsea this weekend showed the Guardiola approach is now bearing fruit. The margin of victory was misleading, with City having pinned Chelsea inside their own half –- in classic Guardiola style –- and restricted them to a handful of half-chances. Guardiola spoke after the game about wanting to see his team impose their style at grounds like Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium and on Saturday’s evidence, they will not approach any away ground with trepidation.
Kane a joy and a worry for Spurs
England’s Harry Kane is scoring goals for fun for Tottenham Hotspur at the moment, with his double in a 4-0 win against Huddersfield taking his tally to 13 for September for club and country. However, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino must be terrified that injury will strike and leave him in desperate need of a replacement as his reserves are sparse, with Dutch signing Vincent Janssen having failed to sparkle last term. As Ronald Koeman is finding at Everton in the absence of Romelu Lukaku, a failure to replace a proven goalscorer can prove costly and Spurs will hope they can find a solid back-up for Kane in the January transfer window.
Magical Sanchez back in favour
With just hours left before the transfer deadline, it appeared certain Alexis Sanchez had played his last game for Arsenal. Sanchez was desperate to join Manchester City and, after refusing to sign a new contract, the Chile forward had finally forced Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to consider selling him. But the deal fell through, putting Sanchez in the difficult position of having to return to Arsenal. A section of Arsenal’s fans responded with boos for their star and Wenger initially left him on the bench. But Sanchez is too talented to stay in the dog-house for long, as he proved with a sublime back-heeled assist for Alex Iwobi’s goal in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Brighton. No wonder the jeers quickly turned to cheers.
Mourinho ethos taking hold at United
That Manchester United thrashed bottom-of-the-table Crystal Palace, a side who have lost all of their opening seven Premier League matches this season without scoring a goal, 4-0 at Old Trafford was no surprise. But United manager Jose Mourinho’s comments afterwards were revealing when he suggested having experienced players such as Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia in the side was beneficial as they understood the concept of the team. The cynical view is that the only star of a Mourinho side is the Portuguese manager himself. But if he and his squad are now on the same wavelength, that’s a concerning sign for the rest of the division.
Familiar failings still haunt Liverpool
Liverpool’s failure to be crowned champions of England since 1990 can in part be explained by the way they have dropped points against so-called ‘lesser’ clubs while performing well against title-contenders. A 5-0 defeat by Manchester City apart, the old routine seems to be in evidence again this season with Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle following frustrating stalemates with Watford (3-3) and Burnley 1-1. The one consolation for Reds manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side thrashed Arsenal 4-0, was that this latest draw was the result of Liverpool’s inability to take their chances rather than another lapse by his much-criticised defence.