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Monday, November 27, 2017

Manchester City succeed where United failed, Tottenham stutter and struggle and the Romelu Lukaku problem

City continue to lead the way as Crystal Palace's win muddles the relegation battle
A quieter weekend in the Premier League saw all of the top six struggle to find the net as often as they have so far this season as Manchester United just about kept the five-point gap with Manchester City after narrow victories for both sides.
Arsenal also sneaked a late, late win, while Tottenham Hotspurwere surprisingly held at home to managerless West Bromwich Albion to drop out of the top four.
Liverpool FC and Chelsea F.c. shared the points at Anfield on Saturday night, while Crystal Palace FC secured only their second win of the season against Stoke City.

Here are seven things we learned from the Premier League this weekend…

City learn how to win ugly

For the second time this season, a Manchester club came to the John Smith’s Stadium and struggled, but unlike when United played Huddersfield Town, City came home with the three points. Huddersfield had their chances but City were dominant, especially in the second half when they found themselves coming in at the break a goal down.
Pep Guardiola celebrates Raheem Sterling's winning goal (Getty)
City came back strongly though and didn’t panic in what was perhaps their hardest fought win of the season so far – one they were really made to work for. So far City have blown away all those in front of them and Huddersfield were expected to be caught up in that same whirlwind. What do they say about the mark of champions again?

United have Lukaku problem

If City won ugly then United won grotesque at Old Trafford on Sunday. Their first half was probably their worst performance of the season and the second half wasn’t much better. Only a heavily deflected Ashley Young shot – later given as a Lewis Dunk own goal – was enough to snatch three points. But the biggest problem is at the top of the pitch, with Romelu Lukaku.
Mourinho says he remains pleased with Lukaku's mentality (Getty)
The fire he started the season with looks like it’s been well and truly extinguished and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back, for the first time he is in real danger of being dropped. And perhaps he should be. Jose Mourinho needs to do something to reignite the flame and playing him alongside Ibrahimovic has only so far served to give him less of the ball.

Salah and Hazard prove their worth

Eden Hazard has taken some time to get going but the class is still there as he showed at Anfield on Saturday evening with some fantastic touches and dangerous runs at Liverpool’s shaky defence. But despite his brilliance, it is the surprising consistency of the man he was facing which again got Liverpool the point.
Mohamed Salah scored again – his 10th in 13 Premier League games – to give Liverpool the lead and confirm his status as the signing of the season. His lightening quick movement was never in doubt but his end product was but he has seemingly overcome that since his move from Roma. In these two players Chelsea and Liverpool have two of the most exciting stars in the league.

Spurs stuttering

What is happening with Tottenham? After a slow start, they overcame the ‘Wembley Curse’ and looked as though they would be the main challengers to City’s dominance, until the lost at Old Trafford. And that has seemingly completely derailed them.
While they are going from strength to strength in the Champions League, the Premier League has only returned one win in their last four – an unconvincing 1-0 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Crystal Palace. After the draw with struggling West Brom, which they deserved to lose, they have lost their top-four slot, with Mauricio Pochettino conceding they are out of the title race already.

Everton must banish lingering doubt

It has been 34 days since Everton sacked Ronald Koeman and yet it is still no clearer who will replace him. The Goodison Park hierarchy have had a whole international break to bring in a new man and while it initially looked like Sam Allardyce would take the reins, before their approaches for Marco Silva were all rebuffed, they are still no closer to hiring a new man than they were on 23rdOctober.
Wayne Rooney will captain Everton if Phil Jagielka is unavailable (Getty)
But it is really affecting the team’s performances now, with the Toffees going down 4-1 to Southampton to hand them their seventh defeat of the season already. To put that in context, they only suffered their seventh defeat last season in March. David Unsworth called for the board to make a decision following the game and he is right to do so as he, his coaching staff, the players and the fans need some sort of stability.

Watford challenging for best of the rest

What makes is worse for Everton is seeing what they tried to get as Watford put in another impressive performance during a 3-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park. The Hornets have been terribly impressive away from home this season, scoring at least two goals in all seven of their games on the road.
Will Hughes scored again for Watford (Getty)
Those results have pushed them up to eighth in the league, only four points off the top four. While Burnley have had a great start to the season and should have already secured themselves another season in the top flight, it is Watford who look the best suited to taking over Everton’s mantle as the ‘best of the rest’ as the top six battle amongst themselves.

Hope for Palace

Finally, Palace have another three points. After a few weeks of getting draws when they deserved wins, Roy Hodgson’s side got their second win of the season, with Mamadou Sakho nabbing a winner in the 92nd minute against Stoke City.
James McArthur and Mame Biram Diouf tussle for possession (Getty)
Momentum is finally building at Selhurst Park and just at the right time as the club are now only one win away from getting out of the relegation zone for the first time since the opening day of the season. With sides such as Everton and West Brom dropping around them and the bottom 13 all within eight points of each other, Palace’s fate does not look as sealed as it did before

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