Major talking points of EPL
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 late sucker-punch.below 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