5 things we learned from the weekend’s Premier League action
City get back to winning ways but no slips from Liverpool.
Liverpool coped impressively with their new tag as title favourites but Manchester City got back to winning ways to set up an intriguing clash with the leaders. Here, Press Association Sport looks at these and some other things we learned from the Premier League this weekend.
Going top has brought confidence, not nerves, to Anfield
The title picture has changed dramatically in recent weeks with champions Manchester City slipping up and ceding the initiative to Liverpool. After going six points clear at the top with their Boxing Day win over Newcastle, Liverpool – for the first time – were being talked of as favourites, rather than as a side clinging on to the coat tails of City. From then on, games would become as much a test of nerve as ability. Yet far from shrinking under the pressure of their new status, the Reds appear to be revelling in it. Arsenal were expected to provide a stern test but Jurgen Klopp’s men ruthlessly swept them aside, playing with a swagger of potential champions. Klopp continues to play down the situation, but the Merseysiders are now in a strong position.
Onus on City next Thursday
The eagerly-anticipated clash between City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on January 3 now has a completely different feel from how it seemed a month ago. A draw might have suited both sides had they played then and both could have tried to cancel each other out as they did at Anfield in October. But now, if they are to have hope of getting back into the chase and create doubts in the minds of Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s City really need to take the game to the visitors. Considering Liverpool enjoyed success against City last season when they met fire with fire, they might also look to attack. It sets up a potentially compelling clash.
Tottenham fluff their lines
While Liverpool might not be showing signs of nerves, Tottenham stuttered as Wolves came from behind to beat them 3-1 at Wembley. Spurs had propelled themselves into the title picture by thrashing Everton and Bournemouth 6-2 and 5-0 respectively to move above City. Yet almost as soon as they were being touted as having an outside chance, they missed the chance to put any pressure on a Liverpool side playing after them on Saturday. Wolves are a dangerous side, but Spurs cannot afford to squander winning positions like this if they are to challenge.
Pogba looking like a World Cup winner again
It is not difficult to pinpoint the start of Paul Pogba’s recent resurgence – the Frenchman having excelled in Manchester United’s three successive wins since the departure of Jose Mourinho. Against Bournemouth on Sunday, the midfielder looked like the dominant force that helped France to World Cup glory last summer as he scored two goals for a second game in succession. It hardly seems a coincidence that Pogba looks liberated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management, after the earlier part of his season had been overshadowed by reports of a rift with Mourinho.
Huddersfield in big trouble
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez recently suggested it might take a miracle to keep his side up, but if any side really does require such a thing it is Huddersfield. The Terriers certainly seemed down on their luck as they were sunk by a very late strike from Aleksandar Mitrovic in their bottom-of-the-table clash with Fulham. Having thought they might have escaped with a point after Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara made a mess of a penalty moments earlier, it was a confidence-shattering blow. After seven defeats in a row, David Wagner’s side need an urgent lift.