Eden Hazard shows signs of return to form in Chelsea’s win; Liverpool’s gegenpressing destroys Manchester City, Arsenal’s brittle streak rears its head and United continue their march up the table. These and more in the 5 things we learned from last weekend’s English Premier League action.
1. Liverpool and Klopp gradually coming together
Eight games into his reign as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp’s much fabled gegenpressing’ is already making an impact with the Reds as evidence of Saturday’s rout of Man City proves. The high pressing game employed by Klopp’s men totally flummoxed City, forcing the Etihad outfit into producing a performance club manager, Manuel Pellegrini dubbed a ‘Disaster’. The quick closing of space by Adam Lallana, Emre Can and ex-City boy James Milner prevented City from playing out of the defence as they were outgunned in midfield by an energetic Liverpool side. Roberto Firmino and Phil Coutinho wrecked havoc on City’s much changed centre-back pairing of Martin Demichelis & Eliaquim Mangala-the latter scoring an own goal. Still early days but Liverpool seems to buying into Klopp’s method.
2. Arsenal fail to profit from City’s defeat
Arsene Wenger must rue his luck with injuries at this crucial end of the season. Francis Coquelin can be added to the list of absentees including Theo Walcott & Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain in the treatment room, after picking up a knock during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at West Brom. Wenger must hope he gets some of his most trusted players soon enough, as Mikel Arteta showed he can’t be relied upon to cover for Coquelin with a performance that smacked of rustiness, scoring an own goal 26 minutes after replacing Coquelin. With the defeat, Arsenal missed the chance to move above City on the table.
3. Chelsea gain a little reprieve
The performance might not have been world-class but Chelsea got the most important thing on offer-three points. Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Norwich City was hard-fought, and also with a lot of positives for Jose Mourinho. Diego Costa broke his scoring duck, Nemanja Matic played with his usual drive while Eden Hazard showed signs of why he was voted the best player in England last season with his usual repertoire of tricks & flicks. The win moves Chelsea one place up the table from 16th to 15th position, not quite there Jose!
4. Vardy and Ranieri deserve the plaudits coming their way
Claudio Ranieri was sacked by the Greek FA after losing a Euro 2016 qualifier against minnows Faroe Island early this year; and his subsequent appointment to replace Nigel Pearson as Leicester City manager in the summer was widely mocked, what a way to prove his detractors wrong, Leicester City atop the Premier League table and deservedly so. The Italian has brought out the best from a side that at this stage last season was tipped for relegation and in Jamie Vardy, he’s got the most in-form striker in England right now. Vardy scored in his 10th successive game to equal the feat set by Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Amazing achievement for the club, manager and player.
5. Manchester United continue solid unspectacular run
The ‘Louis van Gaal way’ won’t keep you on the edge of your seat but would most likely give you the points. United moved to second on the log after a 2-1 win at Watford. A late own-goal by Troy Deeney handing the three points to the visitors. In a season dogged by inconsistency, the Red Devils have built a knack of winning games without necessarily playing well, a quality that puts them in good stead to compete for the Premiership title.