What we learned over the week­end

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

PRE­MIER League lead­ers Manch­ester City main­tained their per­fect start un­der Pep Guardi­ola as Manch­ester United re­turned to win­ning ways against cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter City. Here are five things we learned this week­end:

No Rooney, no prob­lem for Man United

The Manch­ester United team sheet for their Septem­ber 24 home game with Le­ices­ter City caused a stir af­ter man­ager Jose Mour­inho elected to drop cap­tain Wayne Rooney, who has been strug­gling for form. The out­come did not make pleas­ant view­ing for United’s num­ber 10, who looked on from the bench as his team­mates pro­duced their most con­vinc­ing dis­play of the sea­son with a classy 4-1 vic­tory over the cham­pi­ons. Juan Mata slot­ted in for Rooney in the num­ber 10 role and proved a far live­lier pres­ence, slam­ming home United’s sec­ond goal af­ter a de­light­ful team move in­volv­ing a chipped pass from Paul Pogba and a volleyed lay-off from Jesse Lin­gard. Pogba seemed to rel­ish the greater space af­forded him by Rooney’s ab­sence and turned in his best United per­for­mance to date, open­ing his ac­count for the club with a 42nd-minute header. With Mar­cus Rash­ford and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic also im­press­ing in at­tack and An­der Her­rera set­ting the tempo in mid­field, Rooney has a fight on his hands to get his place back.

Conte has press­ing is­sues in de­fence

Chelsea pro­duced a de­fen­sive hor­ror show in their 3-0 de­feat at Ar­se­nal as Arsene Wenger’s men ended a sixgame league scor­ing drought against their Lon­don ri­vals with three goals in the first 40 min­utes. Chelsea’s back four seemed un­com­fort­able with man­ager An­to­nio Conte’s high de­fen­sive line and strug­gled to play the ball through Ar­se­nal’s press. Gary Cahill was par­tic­u­larly poor, gift­ing the ball to Alexis Sanchez prior to Ar­se­nal’s first goal, and right-back Branislav Ivanovic en­dured a tor­rid evening. Cap­tain John Terry and young cen­tre-back Kurt Zouma are ex­pected to re­turn to fit­ness next month, and hav­ing seen his team con­cede nine goals in their last four league and cup out­ings, Conte will be ea­ger to get them back.

Aguero still the man

As if any­one was in any doubt, Ser­gio Aguero took just nine min­utes to un­der­line why he re­mains Manch­ester City’s most valu­able player.

Re­turn­ing from a three-match sus­pen­sion for el­bow­ing West Ham’s Win­ston Reid, Aguero was a con­stant men­ace for the Swansea de­fence at the Lib­erty Sta­dium on Septem­ber 24.

He opened the scor­ing in the ninth minute with a typ­i­cally preda­tory fin­ish, turn­ing in­side the penalty area and driv­ing his shot un­der Swansea goal­keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski.

Af­ter Swansea equalised, Aguero scored again, cheek­ily send­ing Fabi­an­ski the wrong way with a clipped penalty in the 65th minute.

Aguero’s 11th goal in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son en­sured City would re­main on top of the Pre­mier League and ex­tended Guardi­ola’s per­fect start.

Reds un­der­line ti­tle bid

Liver­pool have not been crowned cham­pi­ons of Eng­land since 1990 and a match against Hull was ex­actly the kind of fix­ture that has of­ten proved their un­do­ing in re­cent ti­tle bids. Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp had writ­ten in his pro­gram notes that de­scrib­ing Hull as “just hard to beat” was do­ing them a dis­ser­vice but that didn’t stop his side win­ning 5-1, with play­maker Philipp Coutinho im­pres­sive again. Ham­mers’ de­fen­sive woes Just when Slaven Bilic thought things couldn’t get any worse for West Ham’s creaky de­fence, the Croa­t­ian coach had to watch Southamp­ton run his back-four ragged in their Septem­ber 25 3-0 vic­tory for the vis­i­tors at the Lon­don Sta­dium.

Af­ter a promis­ing first sea­son in charge of the Ham­mers, Bilic ap­pears stuck in a re­cur­ring night­mare this term as every Pre­mier League match brings a fresh set of in­dig­ni­ties for his be­lea­guered rear­guard.

Con­ced­ing three at ta­ble-top­ping Manch­ester City is un­der­stand­able, but in the fol­low­ing two matches, West Ham shipped four goals in de­feats against the less star-stud­ded at­tacks of Wat­ford and West Bromwich Al­bion.

Char­lie Austin opened the scor­ing for Southamp­ton be­fore half-time and fur­ther goals from Du­san Tadic and James Ward-Prowse left West Ham cap­tain Mark No­ble ad­mit­ting his side could eas­ily have lost by six.

Photo: AFP

Manch­ester City’s Ar­gen­tinian striker Ser­gio Aguero (cen­tre) takes on Swansea City’s Dutch de­fender Mike van der Hoorn (right) and Swansea City’s Span­ish de­fender An­gel Ran­gel (left) at The Lib­erty Sta­dium in Swansea on Septem­ber 24.

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