We learnt from the EPL this week­end

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

FULL­BACK NICE’S MANCH­ESTER CITY mid­fielder Ilkay Gun­do­gan is con­fi­dent com­pa­triot Leroy Sane, 20, will be­come a vi­tal player for the club once he has fully adapted to English foot­ball.


The re­ac­tion to Liver­pool’s crush­ing 6-1 de­feat of Wat­ford has been split be­tween their fans who be­lieve the Pre­mier League ti­tle could be in their grasp, and ri­val sup­port­ers who claim a win over the Hor­nets is noth­ing to write home about.

But no mat­ter who the op­po­nent was – one that re­mains in the top half of the ta­ble and who have not con­ceded six goals since the 6-3 loss to Tot­ten­ham on 21 Septem­ber 1994 – it was the man­ner of Liver­pool’s vic­tory that was so im­pres­sive.

In Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sa­dio Mane, Jur­gen Klopp has him­self ar­guably the best at­tack-force in the league, and it won’t mat­ter too much that they can’t keep a clean sheet if they con­tinue to outscore their op­po­nents in every match.

An­other telling fac­tor is that in their four matches against their sup­posed ti­tle ri­vals so far this sea­son, Liver­pool have beaten Ar­se­nal and Chelsea and drawn with Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester United.

Un­for­tu­nately, we’ll have to wait un­til New Year’s Eve be­fore we find out how they shape up against Manch­ester City.

North Lon­don derby high on ex­cite­ment, low on qual­ity

The north Lon­don derby proved to be an end-to-end af­fair on Sun­day af­ter­noon that pro­vided as much en­ter­tain­ment as it did for both sets of fans.

Ei­ther side could have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and taken all three points, but in the end there was a dis­tinct lack of qual­ity in front of goal.

Alex Iwobi saw two chances to score go beg­ging, while some last­ditch de­fend­ing kept Olivier Giroud at bay to­wards the end of the match. Spurs mean­while saw Chris­tian Erik­sen’s free­kick rat­tle the post and could well have nicked vic­tory late on through a closerange ef­fort from Erik­sen that was bril­liantly saved by Petr Cech.

It was Cech’s slip that nearly gifted Son He­ung-min a chance to run through un­op­posed on goal, but he couldn’t take the op­por­tu­nity and in the end, ev­ery­one left the Emi­rates Sta­dium feel­ing a touch dis­ap­pointed.

Is Haz­ard a con­fi­dence player or is there more to it?

What’s changed in Eden Haz­ard this sea­son com­pared to last? The Chelsea man­ager, ob­vi­ously, with An­to­nio Conte clearly get­ting more out of Haz­ard than Jose Mour­inho was able to in 2015/16.

But that can’t be the com­plete story/ Haz­ard did strug­gle with in­jury last sea­son, but he looks like he has the con­fi­dence back this term and that shone through his de­sire to take play­ers on in the 5-0 de­mo­li­tion of Ever­ton on Satur­day.

With Diego Costa ton­ing down the ag­gres­sion this sea­son to con­cen­trate on scor­ing goals, Haz­ard’s resur­gence has helped throw Chelsea right into the mid­dle of the ti­tle pic­ture. Be­fore his dra­matic slump in form, Haz­ard was talk­ing of him­self ri­valling Lionel Messi and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo as the world’s best player.

Per­haps it went to his head, and when his form dropped it hit him harder than it would have done oth­ers.

But now that the Bel­gian is back to his best, who knows how far can he push Chelsea on this sea­son.

Pogba and Ibrahi­movic will only jus­tify out­lay if they keep up form

It’s only nat­u­ral to ex­pect a healthy re­turn on the £89m (RM454m) Manch­ester United spent on Paul Pogba, so to see him score twice in 10 Pre­mier League matches was cer­tainly a dis­ap­point­ment to those who sanc­tioned his world record trans­fer in the sum­mer.

How­ever, the France in­ter­na­tional pro­vided a timely re­minder of his class on Sun­day when he struck home a fierce half-vol­ley in the 3-1 vic­tory over Swansea.

Even though Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic ar­rived on a free trans­fer, there’s a still an ex­pec­ta­tion on him to de­liver given that he is earn­ing a re­ported £200,000a-week (RM1.02m) at Old Traf­ford.

Hav­ing not scored in his last seven league out­ings, there was a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief at the Lib­erty Sta­dium from the away fans when he struck twice, but that goals on Sun­day are not enough to pla­cate the sense of un­der­achieve­ment this sea­son.

Sun­der­land show met­tle to keep sur­vival hopes alive

Bot­tom of the Pre­mier League ta­ble, down to 10 men af­ter hav­ing Steven Pien­aar sent-off for two book­ings and hav­ing al­ready fought back from a goal down, Sun­der­land had no right to beat Bournemouth on Satur­day.

Yet the ral­lied, and with man­ager David Moyes bark­ing or­ders from the stands due to his touch­line sus­pen­sion, a resur­gent Victor Anichebe won a penalty that al­lowed strike part­ner Jer­main De­foe to land their first win­ning goal of the sea­son.

If Sun­der­land are to per­form their great­est mir­a­cle and stay up this sea­son, they need more steely per­for­mances like the one at The Vi­tal­ity Sta­dium.

They re­main bot­tom of the pile, but a few more re­sults like this one can drag teams like Bournemouth, Crys­tal Palace and West Brom to­wards the wrong end of the ta­ble. There’s still enough time to per­form the un­think­able.

Burn­ley learn from the er­ror of their ways

Two years ago dur­ing their last spell in the Pre­mier League, Burn­ley led Crys­tal Palace 2-0 only to con­cede twice and see a later win­ner go in favour of their op­po­nents to suf­fer a 32 de­feat.

It must have felt like déjà vu for Sean Dy­che on Satur­day when, af­ter Sam Vokes and Jo­hann Berg Gud­munds­son goals, Con­nor Wick­ham and Chris­tian Ben­teke dragged the Ea­gles level.

It looked like there would be only one win­ner, yet Ash­ley Barnes struck deep into in­jury-timeto clinch an un­likely vic­tory and main­tain Burn­ley’s run in the top half.

Dy­che’s side look far bet­ter equipped to han­dle the Pre­mier League this time around, but for Palace, they sit two places above the rel­e­ga­tion zone and face a test­ing re­turn to ac­tion af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break when Manch­ester City travel to Sel­hurst Park.

will face a fight to keep striker Romelu Lukaku as Paris St-Ger­main are ready to make a big-money of­fer for the 23-year-old.

are ex­pected to ap­point for­mer Tot­ten­ham and As­ton Villa boss Tim Sher­wood, 47, as their new man­ager.

Ar­se­nal mid­fielder Robert Pires, 43, hopes to one day be­come the club’s sport­ing di­rec­tor. Liver­pool’s Roberto Firmino (left) cel­e­brates with team­mate Philippe Coutinho dur­ing their English Pre­mier League match against Wat­ford at An­field on Sun­day. –

d r a z H Manch­ester United’s Paul Pogba (left) shoots to score his team’s open­ing goal dur­ing their English Pre­mier League match against Swansea City at The Lib­erty Sta­dium on Sun­day. –

Sun­der­land’s Steven Pien­aar (2nd right) sent-off for two book­ings by Mike Dean (left).

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