We learned in the Pre­mier League

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

Mman­ager Jose Mour­inho have re­port­edly had a se­cret meet­ing with Gareth Bale’s agent fol­low­ing spec­u­la­tion the Welsh­man “is not en­joy­ing the lime­light at Real Madrid.” Mean­while, the Red Dev­ils have scouted Ben­fica de­fender Alex Grimaldo. Ac­cord­ing to Span­ish out­let Diario Gol, Bale’s agent, Jonathan Bar­nett, met with Mour­inho and United ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man Ed Wood­ward to dis­cuss the move. It’s also men­tioned Adi­das are “en­dors­ing Bale’s move” to Old Traf­ford, de­spite the fact they pro­vide shirt spon­sors for both United and Real, but Los Blan­cos are keen to ex­tend Bale’s stay in Madrid. Real are cur­rently joint-top of La Liga after stum­bling to a 1-1 draw at

With Jose Mour­inho ar­riv­ing at Manch­ester United, Manch­ester City snar­ing Pep Guardi­ola, An­to­nio Conte join­ing Chelsea and big-money sign­ings at Ar­se­nal and Liver­pool, there was lit­tle talk of the chal­lenge Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur might pose in the Pre­mier League prior to the start of the sea­son.

On Sun­day, Guardi­ola’s men could not han­dle Spurs’ as­phyx­i­at­ing high press – typ­i­fied by the in­dus­try of Son He­ung-Min, goal-scorer Dele Alli and Vic­tor Wanyama – and Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s (car­i­ca­ture) side woud have won more com­fort­ably had Erik Lamela not squan­dered a sec­ond-half penalty.

Spurs now pos­sess the last un­beaten record in the divi­sion and with City just a slen­der point above them, the sum­mit is within reach.

Three was the magic num­ber for An­to­nio Conte as the Chelsea man­ager was re­warded for chang­ing his de­fen­sive tac­tics in a 2-0 win over Hull on Satur­day. Shocked by the sloppy dis­plays given by his back four this sea­son – an alarm­ing se­quence that cul­mi­nated in last week­end’s 3-0 de­feat at Ar­se­nal – Conte opted to switch to a sys­tem that de­ployed three cen­tre backs at the KCOM Sta­dium. David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Ce­sar Azpilicueta made up the re­con­fig­ured back three and the trio quickly adapted to Conte’s switch as they kept only Chelsea’s sec­ond clean-sheet of the sea­son. The Ital­ian is likely to stick with it after see­ing Chelsea halt their run of nine goals con­ceded in four games. A match away to Burn­ley had all the hall­marks of be­ing the kind of fix­ture that has pre­vented Ar­se­nal win­ning the Pre­mier League ti­tle for more than a decade. But while their usual el­e­gance was miss­ing, they still man­aged to win 1-0 thanks to Lau­rent Ko­scielny’s goal in the third minute of stop­page time that might have been ruled out for both hand­ball and off­side.

Frustrated by Southamp­ton in a goal­less home draw on Sun­day, Leicester are dis­cov­er­ing the per­ils of de­fend­ing a ti­tle. The pre­sea­son depar­ture of France mid­fielder N’Golo Kante to Chelsea robbed Leicester of their driv­ing force and Ranieri has so far failed to come up with a suc­cess­ful Plan B.

Jur­gen Klopp’s Liver­pool have played some scin­til­lat­ing foot­ball this sea­son, crush­ing cham­pi­ons Leicester 4-1, putting five goals past Hull City and win­ning 4-3 at Ar­se­nal on the open­ing day. But they came un­stuck in un­ex­pected fash­ion in their sec­ond game at Burn­ley, los­ing 2-0 de­spite dom­i­nat­ing the match.

A sim­i­lar fate ap­peared to await them on Satur­day after they fell be­hind to an eighth­minute Leroy Fer goal at strug­gling Swansea City and saw Adam Lal­lana hob­ble off with a groin in­jury. But Klopp’s men dug deep, equal­is­ing through Roberto Firmino’s header and even­tu­ally pre­vail­ing cour­tesy of a late James Mil­ner penalty.

It was not pretty, and Klopp was fu­ri­ous about his team’s sloppy start, but it might just have been the stuff of cham­pi­ons.

Slick Spurs are ti­tle con­tenders

Conte stiff­ens Chelsea de­fence Lucky nal

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