Five things we learned in the English Premier League

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Chelsea stayed top, Manch­ester City reg­is­tered a gritty win at Burn­ley, Manch­ester United lost more ground fol­low­ing yet an­other home draw and Liver­pool were left sweat­ing on Philippe Coutinho. Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this week­end:

CHELSEA CAN MIX IT TOO

Chelsea stormed to the top of the Premier League with a run of six suc­ces­sive wins in which they gen­er­ally out­classed their op­po­nents. But Satur­day’s 2-1 come­back vic­tory over Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur showed they are also ca­pa­ble of go­ing toe-to-toe with teams who prove them­selves to be on the same level. Chris­tian Erik­sen gave Spurs an 11th-minute lead and Mauricio Po­chet­tino’s side were truly dom­i­nant in the first half, but goals ei­ther side of half-time by Pe­dro Ro­driguez and Vic­tor Moses turned the game on its head. Chelsea got to grips with Spurs’ high press and with­stood the vis­i­tors’ phys­i­cal­ity in mid­field to re­claim their place at the league sum­mit. They visit Pep Guardi­ola’s Manch­ester City next week­end look­ing to record an eighth suc­ces­sive league vic­tory for the first time since 2010.

MAN CITY HAVE DEPTH IN RE­SOURCES AND SPIRIT

Manch­ester City’s scruffy 2-1 win over Burn­ley on Satur­day might have scored low on style points, but for Pep Guardi­ola, the trip to Turf Moor un­der­lined the im­por­tance of his squad’s strength in depth. The City man­ager made five changes to his start­ing line-up fol­low­ing the mid-week Cham­pi­ons League draw against Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach as he wanted “fresh legs”. The switches in­cluded leav­ing out de­fender John Stones and putting key mid­fielder Kevin De Bruyne on the bench. Burn­ley took a 14th-minute lead through Dean Mar­ney’s vol­ley, but City hit back to win via a pair of scrappy Ser­gio Aguero goals ei­ther side of half-time. City showed char­ac­ter to sur­vive Burn­ley’s late pres­sure and record suc­ces­sive league wins for the first time since Septem­ber.

LIVER­POOL MUST LEARN TO LIVE WITH­OUT COUTINHO

Liver­pool’s 2-0 win over Sun­der­land came at the cost of an in­jury to Brazil­ian play­maker Philippe Coutinho, who could be out un­til the New Year with sus­pected an­kle lig­a­ment dam­age. The 24-year-old has been Liver­pool’s key at­tack­ing player to date this sea­son, sup­ply­ing five goals and six as­sists and re­port­edly at­tract­ing in­ter­est from Barcelona. With fel­low schemer Adam Lal­lana cur­rently nurs­ing a groin in­jury and Sa­dio Mane set for Africa Cup of Na­tions duty with Sene­gal in Jan­uary, man­ager Jur­gen Klopp finds him­self with­out Coutinho at a par­tic­u­larly un­for­tu­nate junc­ture.

MAN UNITED’S SCOR­ING PROB­LEMS ARE CHRONIC

They may boast one of the most star-stud­ded squads in world foot­ball, but Manch­ester United are cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a dam­ag­ing goal short­age in the Premier League. Their 1-1 draw with West Ham United on Sun­day was their fourth home league stale­mate in suc­ces­sion-some­thing they last ex­pe­ri­enced in 1980 — and in those games they have scored just three goals. United showed they know where the goal is in Thurs­day’s 4-0 Europa League win over Feyeno­ord, but their profli­gacy in the league is cost­ing them. They cur­rently stand in sixth place, a gap­ing 11 points be­low lead­ers Chelsea af­ter just 13 matches.

WALCOTT IS A HAPPY DAD

Theo Walcott might be in for a few sleepless nights af­ter the birth of his sec­ond child, but the Arsenal winger pro­duced a wel­come de­liv­ery of his own to put his side on course for a 31 win over Bournemouth. Walcott’s part­ner Me­lanie did the hard work in bring­ing baby Arlo into the world on Fri­day and the Eng­land in­ter­na­tional marked the oc­ca­sion with the cru­cial sec­ond goal at the Emi­rates Sta­dium on Sun­day. Cal­lum Wil­son can­celled out Alexis Sanchez’s opener for Arsenal with a con­tentious penalty, but Walcott pro­duced a rare header from Na­cho Mon­real’s 53rd-minute cross-cel­e­brat­ing with a ‘rock the baby’ ges­ture-to re­store the hosts’ lead. Sanchez’s sec­ond goal se­cured vic­tory as Arsenal ended a run of three straight draws. —AFP

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