Ma­jor EPL talk­ing points

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Liver­pool sur­ren­dered ground on the lead­ers af­ter an in­cred­i­ble col­lapse at Bournemouth, while Alexis Sanchez kept Arse­nal firmly in the hunt.

Matip in­jury would be sig­nif­i­cant Hands have been wrung and doom pre­dicted about Philippe Coutinho’s in­jury, likely to keep him out of the Liver­pool team un­til next month. And to an ex­tent, rightly so: he has been their most im­pres­sive at­tack­ing threat this sea­son, and the sight of that front four dove­tail­ing has per­haps been the most pleas­ing in the divi­sion. How­ever, the 4-3 de­feat to Bournemouth on Sun­day sug­gested that another in­jury absence might be more sig­nif­i­cant, namely Joël Matip.

The Cameroo­nian cen­tre-half has been a quiet, calm ex­am­ple of con­sis­tency, ex­actly the sort of thing that Liver­pool missed against Bournemouth. The sim­ple score­line, plus a cur­sory view­ing of the game, in­di­cated Jür­gen Klopp’s men will be okay scor­ing goals with­out Coutinho, but pre­vent­ing them with­out Matip who has a mi­nor an­kle in­jury, could be more prob­lem­atic.

Mour­inho los­ing his touch The trou­bling thing about José Mour­inho in the past 18 months or so is that new weak­nesses keep emerg­ing in his teams. His ap­par­ent abil­ity to get play­ers to do any­thing for him went west, as did de­fen­sive so­lid­ity, and now there is ap­par­ently a lack of men­tal for­ti­tude. The late penalty con­ceded fairly clown­ishly by Marouane Fel­laini, then con­verted by Leighton Baines, was the fifth goal Manch­ester United have con­ceded in the last 10 min­utes of games this sea­son, cost­ing them eight points. Those points would have put them just one be­hind Manch­ester City and snap­ping around the Cham­pi­ons League places: as it is they are a fairly dis­tant sixth.

Mour­inho protested af­ter the game that in all his team’s six draws they have been the bet­ter side, but it’s not much use if they con­tin­u­ally throw re­sults and points away at the last.

Past could be Spurs’ guide Are Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur ready to make their move again? When Spurs lost at Chelsea on the Satur­day be­fore last, their Pre­mier League record stood at W6 D6 L1 and they sat fifth in the table, which was a mir­ror im­age of their num­bers from the cor­re­spond­ing point of last sea­son.

Last time out they then drew at home against Chelsea, whereas on Satur­day they ham­mered Swansea City. In other words, Spurs are sta­tis­ti­cally bet­ter off now than when com­pared with their su­perb sea­son of 201516.

What hap­pened last sea­son was they went on an ex­traor­di­nary run at around this time. Can Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s team fash­ion a re­peat? Their elim­i­na­tion from the Cham­pi­ons League was a blow but they could ben­e­fit from a clar­ity of do­mes­tic fo­cus. Harry Kane is back from in­jury and fir­ing and there were signs of greater col­lec­tive flu­ency against Swansea. Po­chet­tino’s play­ers have tended to en­joy a phys­i­cal div­i­dend from his con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme. He senses a turn­ing point. Wenger looks for con­sis­tency Even if he fa­mously banned Arse­nal’s play­ers from eat­ing choco­late, Arsène Wenger must have been re­lieved to crack open his ad­vent cal­en­dar on Thurs­day af­ter another dis­ap­point­ing Novem­ber. Their re­turn of 1.7 points per game in the Pre­mier League was a slight in­crease on pre­vi­ous years, but a costly Cham­pi­ons League draw against Paris Saint-ger­main and the tame de­feat of Wenger’s sec­ond string by Southamp­ton in the EFL Cup last week showed his side re­main vul­ner­a­ble. The dis­man­tling of a West Ham side in dis­ar­ray was the per­fect re­sponse, even if Arse­nal’s man­ager knows there will be much stiffer tests ahead with trips to Ever­ton and Manch­ester City to come this month.

“Re­cently, we lost a lit­tle bit the qual­ity of our game, and we started [to lose] a lit­tle bit with re­sults,” he said. “A draw here, a draw there, a draw against PSG that was not com­pletely con­vinc­ing, and to­day we found the flow again. So I think we just have to con­cen­trate on the qual­ity of our game and try to re­peat that week in, week out.”

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