Sunday 25 August 2019

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table.

Paul Pogba could not find a way past Alisson Becker at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)
Paul Pogba could not find a way past Alisson Becker at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Press Association Sport staff

After all the hype, the big match between Manchester United and Liverpool ended in a goalless draw, short on quality if not on suspense.

The result puts the Reds back on top of the table by one point from Manchester City, with both sides having now played 27 games.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at what we learned from the latest round of top-flight fixtures.

Liverpool held again

Given the form Manchester United have been in under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a point at Old Trafford does not look like a bad result for Liverpool. But Jurgen Klopp said it clearly in his post-match interview – United were beatable after making three enforced substitutions in the first half while Marcus Rashford hobbled around, and Liverpool could not make it happen. In fact, they never actually tested David De Gea as they failed to score away from home for the first time in the league this season. It is now three draws in four league outings for Klopp’s side but, given they are back on top of the table, there is surely no need for panic. Once the Merseyside derby is out of the way, their biggest remaining fixtures – against Tottenham and Chelsea – are both at Anfield, so the title race is still in their hands.

Leicester start again. Again.

The writing was on the wall after they capitulated in the late stages of a frustrating match against Crystal Palace on Saturday, ending up 4-1 losers on home turf. But Sunday’s sacking of Claude Puel means that Leicester are seeking their fourth new permanent appointment in 23 months. The only constant since their shock Premier League title win in 2016 has been change. Brendan Rodgers is the bookies’ favourite to be the next man to take the job, having achieved all he realistically can with Celtic, but stability is surely the thing Leicester need more than anything else.

Tottenham surely out of title race

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, centre, was left fuming with the officials after defeat at Burnley (Martin Rickett/PA)

Tottenham have done an outstanding job of keeping themselves in the title race despite the ferocious pace being set at the top and their own lack of investment in their squad. But Saturday’s frustrating defeat at Burnley revealed a side who, in the final reckoning, lack the consistency to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the crown. Though they have won 20 matches in the league this season, they are yet to draw and their seven defeats is the most of any of the top six sides.

Almiron gives Benitez cause for confidence

The difficult conditions under which Rafael Benitez has fought to keep Newcastle in the Premier League do not need recounting here, but the Spaniard is on course to pull it off once again. Saturday’s 2-0 home win over sorry Huddersfield lifted them four points clear of the drop zone and gave fans reason for optimism. New record signing Miguel Almiron shone on his home debut, with only the post denying him a goal to cap it, and the Paraguayan showed why Benitez had been so determined to land him in January. The Magpies have now won three of their last five in the league, and will go into Tuesday’s meeting with Burnley in buoyant mood.

Gracia getting it done

Plenty has – rightly – been made of Wolves’ outstanding first season back in the top flight and the revival of West Ham after a poor start, but following a 5-1 rout of Cardiff on Friday night it is Watford who are leading the race to be the best of the rest in the Premier League. The decision to sack Marco Silva and appoint Javi Gracia just over a year ago was greeted with some surprise, but it is paying dividends at present.

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