The Premier League roundup – What were the main talking points from this weekend’s action?
With the Premier League finally returning after the international break, it appears that the two leading contenders haven’t skipped a beat.
Still remaining incredibly tight in the race for the title, Manchester City’s 4-0 win at West Ham, coupled with Liverpool’s 3-0 win across London at Vicarage Road means that Jurgen Klopp’s side remain two points adrift of the defending champions.
In a weekend that also saw Fulham begin life under Claudio Ranieri, Manchester United once again struggle at Old Trafford, and Tottenham make a statement in their top-four push, what were the major talking points across the Premier League?
Sterling and Sane shine
While Manchester City’s 4-0 win away at the London Stadium may have indicated another routine victory for the defending Premier League champions, Pep Guardiola believed his side were lucky to leave East London with their unbeaten record intact.
Although the former Barcelona boss will be disappointed with the number of chances West Ham created, the Spanish tactician will be very excited by the performances of his two young wide men.
With Leroy Sane netting a brace and Raheem Sterling grabbing his seventh of the season, Guardiola’s attacking duo appear to be forming a lethal partnership.
Only two players have scored 15+ goals and provided 15+ Premier League assists since the start of last season:
? Raheem Sterling (25 & 17)
? Leroy Sané (15 & 19)
A dynamic duo. pic.twitter.com/LCluXox9zd
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 24, 2018
Putting in yet another Man of the Match showing, Sterling has now been directly involved in more goals (13) than any other player in the Premier League.
Signing a contract extension that will see him stay at the Etihad until 2023 and also enjoying an international resurge under Gareth Southgate, Sterling remains firmly on course to set a personal best campaign.
As for Leroy Sane, while his omission from Germany’s World Cup squad and the summer arrival of Riyad Mahrez may have had many worried about the 22-year-old’s position in City’s side, last years PFA Young Player of the Year appears to have answered his critics.
Opening his international account by bagging two for Joachim Löw’s side over the international break, Sane now has two assists and three goals in as many Premier League games.
Also picking up the assist for Raheem Sterling’s goal, has Sane cemented his spot as the man to complete Guardiola’s attacking trio?
Lukaku’s drought continues
Despite making his first start for Manchester United since being dropped for their four Premier League games prior to the international break, it was another afternoon to forget for Romelu Lukaku.
With Jose Mourinho’s men held to a lackluster 0-0 draw with a struggling Crystal Palace side, United find themselves sat seventh in the table and their £90million striker has epitomized their problems.
Having just 10 touches in the first half, the lowest of any player at Old Trafford, Lukaku has now failed to find the net in Manchester since March.
Romelu Lukaku had 10 touches in the first half against Crystal Palace; Glen Murray (6) is the only player in the Premier League 3pm kick-offs with fewer.
Murray has scored a goal. pic.twitter.com/86p2WJ5T01
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 24, 2018
Often isolated and appearing ill-suited to Mourinho’s defensive approach, It’s now been 11 matches since he scored for United.
While the likes of Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero feature in a team that promises to produce plenty of chances, the 25-year-old doesn’t have that luxury and appears to be paying the price.
Losing possession nine times in Saturday’s draw and remarkably failing to regain it on one occasion, could Mourinho be tempted to give Alexis Sanchez a run in the number nine role?
Tottenham breeze past a drained Chelsea
Although Saturday’s London derby was billed as a game that was too close to call, few would have expected such one-way traffic at Wembley.
Putting in their best showing since their 3-0 win away at Old Trafford back in August, goals from Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-min mean that Spurs now sit just three points adrift of Liverpool.
With so much talk surrounding Tottenham’s need to claim their first piece of silverware under Mauricio Pochettino, ending Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season could be the momentum push they needed ahead of a must-win Champions League clash with Inter Milan on Wednesday.
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 24, 2018
In the same week that Maurizio Sarri ruled his side out of the Premier League title race, Chelsea put in undoubtedly their worst showing this season.
With Eden Hazard unable to find any foothold in the game, the Blues saw their 12-match unbeaten start come to a very abrupt end.
With Son breezing past both Jorginho and David Luiz before slotting home Tottenham’s third, the argument can be made that Chelsea’s hectic schedule has caught up with them.
Despite being renowned for their squad depth, Sarri has elected to make minimal changes both domestically and in the Europa League.
Overrun by Spurs for almost the whole 90 minutes and Saturday’s hosts looking like they could score from almost every attack, Jorginho epitomized Chelsea’s sluggish performance.
The former Napoli man completed just 43 passes, the lowest tally of his 13 Premier League matches so far this season.
Now almost universally ruled out of the title chase, Sarri and Chelsea must now turn their attentions to securing a top-four finish.
Claudio Ranieri gets off to a winning start
Arriving at Craven Cottage over the international break, Claudio Ranieri couldn’t have wished for a better start upon his return to England.
On his debut in what was being billed as an early-season six-pointer, the 67-year-old saw his new side come from behind to take three points off fellow strugglers Southampton.
Guiding the Cottagers to just their second win of the season, while they still sit bottom of the table, Fulham will be looking to build under a manager who lifted the Premier League title with Leicester just two years ago.
Ranieri’s back and @FulhamFC have come from a goal down to lead 2-1. Get your money on them to win the league. Put your pants on it.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 24, 2018
Although Ranieri will know the importance of improving on Fulham’s recent defensive issues, the veteran coach would have already worked out that in leading goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic he has a player who can push them up the table.
Despite failing to score in his previous six Premier League matches under former boss Slavisa Jokanovic, the Serbian international scored a brace in Saturday’s 3-2 win and has seven for the season.
Sat second in the goalscoring charts, Mitrovic is also the top scorer in the UEFA Nations League with six from four matches for Serbia.
For those of you wondering, the odds on Fulham to win the Premier League are 4500/1.
Arsenal make it 17 unbeaten
Although it would have been a much closer affair than Unai Emery would have hoped for, the former PSG boss watched his Arsenal side carry on what is becoming a very impressive resurge.
Picking up a 2-1 win away to Bournemouth on Sunday, the Gunners are now one point adrift of Chelsea and a return to the Champions League positions.
Clearly enjoying his early tenure in North London, it will be their form away from the Emirates pleasing Emery the most.
Arsenal’s victory on the South Coast means they have remarkably won as many away games as they could manage in the whole of the last campaign.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 25, 2018
While Emery’s decision to both alter Arsenal’s formation to a 3-4-3 and leave Mesut Ozil among the substitutes had people talking prior to kick off, it will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who left the Vitality Stadium with all the plaudits.
Even with his strike partner Alexandre Lacazette sidelined with an injury, the Gabon international scored Arsenal’s second-half winner and now sits level with Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.
The 29-year-old has 18 in his last 26 league appearances.
Ahead of next weekend’s North London derby, Emery and Arsenal will want their leading marksman to carry on his eye-catching start the season.
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