Ma­jor talk­ing points of EPL

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Chelsea went top, Liver­pool slipped up at Southamp­ton, Yaya Toure made a tri­umphant re­turn for Manch­ester City and Arse­nal hit Jose Mour­inho’s Manch­ester United with a late­low are five things learnt from the Premier League this week­end:

Chelsea hard to stop Few would have pre­dicted Chelsea would be top of the ta­ble be­fore the end of Novem­ber af­ter a 3-0 de­feat at Arse­nal on Septem­ber 24 left them eight points off the pace in eighth place. But that is ex­actly where they are af­ter Sun­day’s 1-0 win at Mid­dles­brough gave An­to­nio Conte’s in­creas­ingly im­pres­sive side a sixth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory. Chelsea have not con­ceded a goal since switch­ing to a 3-4-3 for­ma­tion dur­ing the Arse­nal game and Diego Costa has re­dis­cov­ered his shoot­ing boots, net­ting for the 10th time to se­cure vic­tory at the River­side Sta­dium.

Man United are get­ting there The Premier League ta­ble makes un­com­fort­able view­ing for Manch­ester United fans, whose side are nine points be­low lead­ers Chelsea af­ter win­ning just two of their last nine league games.

Fail­ure to beat Arse­nal in Satur­day’s 1-1 draw means United have drawn three suc­ces­sive home league games for the first time since 1992. But the bare facts do not tell the whole story. Just as they had in their pre­vi­ous two draws — 0-0 against Stoke City and 1-1 against Burnley — United dom­i­nated the game, with Arse­nal equal­is­ing in the 89th minute, via Olivier Giroud, in their only at­tempt on tar­get.

United mus­tered 74 shots to their op­po­nents’ 19 in those three games. Had just three more of those gone in, they would be in the thick of the ti­tle pic­ture.

Giroud knock­ing on the door Giroud’s goal at Old Traf­ford, an imperious back-post header from Alex Oxlade-cham­ber­lain’s cross, was the 10th goal he has scored af­ter step­ping off the bench for Arse­nal, mak­ing the France in­ter­na­tional the club’s most pro­lific sub­sti­tute in the Premier League era. Man­ager Arsene Wenger has been us­ing Alexis Sanchez as a lone striker this sea- son, but with Arse­nal strug­gling to cre­ate chances in their last two games — the draw at United hav­ing been pre­ceded by a 1-1 stale­mate with Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur — the French­man con­ceded he was think­ing of restor­ing Giroud to his start­ing XI and drop­ping Sanchez into a deeper role. With four goals in four games, Giroud is stak­ing a strong claim to a start­ing berth.

Saints found value in van dijk Southamp­ton have seen a host of play­ers — in­clud­ing Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lal­lana, De­jan Lovren and Sa­dio Mane - leave for Liver­pool in re­cent sea­sons. But on Satur­day the Saints man­aged to hold Liver­pool, the Premier League’s top scor­ers, to a goal­less draw at St Mary’s. Much of the credit was due to cen­tre-back Vir­gil van Dijk, a £13m sign­ing from Celtic last year. The tow­er­ing Dutch in­ter­na­tional mar­shalled Southamp­ton’s de­fence im­pe­ri­ously, pro­duc­ing a bril­liant last­ditch block to thwart Mane in the first-half. — AFP

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