Manchester United’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF
Manchester City and Manchester United sit atop the table with exactly the same statistics but the former ahead by dint of C coming before U in the alphabet.
City demolished Watford 6-0 on Saturday and United tore apart Everton in the final 10 minutes of their encounter to prevail 4-0 on Sunday.
Champions Chelsea are three points adrift of the duo after they were held 0-0 at home by Arsenal for whom it was the first time in six visits they even garnered a point.
Pochettino can’t solve Wembley woes
Having dispatched Borussia Dortmund with a swaggering display in the Champions League on Wednesday, it seemed Tottenham had finally vanished their Wembley curse. Mauricio Pochettino’s side had struggled badly at the national stadium, which is their home while White Hart Lane is rebuilt, but the victory over Dortmund was expected to trigger a resumption of the home form that saw them win 17 of 19 league games last term. Swansea had other ideas however. Defending resolutely, they frustrated Spurs in Saturday’s 0-0 draw, with Harry Kane hitting the woodwork for the hosts, who also had three penalty appeals turned down. Even Pochettino, who has tried to play down the Wembley jinx, admitted he was at a loss to explain how his side failed to turn 26 shots into three points.
Klopp has little defence
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s botched attempt to prise Virgil van Dijk away from Southampton looks even more of a blooper with every game. Burnley’s early season away form is showing a marked improvement from last season but nevertheless it was another Liverpool defensive error that gifted the visitors’ Scott Arfield the goal. Klopp for all his urbanity and attractive attacking football could well fall if he doesn’t fix the defensive malaise as it is proving costly. “A little block here, we miss Arfield, or forget him, and he can score,” said Klopp. “It was a disciplined performance but just that one goal. This is where we have to improve.”
Aguero inspired by Jesus
Sergio Aguero has reacted in the manner Pep Guardiola must have only dreamed of when he signed young Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus who arrived last January. Some thought the 29-year-old Argentinian might be sold on or leave of his own volition but he has stayed and with his sixth Premier League hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of Watford is within three goals of becoming City’s all-time leading scorer — Eric Crook’s mark of 177 goals which has stood since 1939. Jesus also got on the scoresheet as City made it 15 goals scored and none conceded in their last three matches but it is Aguero who is giving the lead. “He’s very special, just a goal machine,” purred City team-mate Ilkay Gundogan.
Arsenal show fight at last
After years of misery at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal finally showed some much-needed fighting spirit to earn a gritty 0-0 draw against 10-man Chelsea on Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s side had endured a series of humiliating losses in west London, beaten on their last five visits, but for once they were up to the task. Matching the Premier League champions tackle for tackle, the Gunners frustrated Chelsea so completely that Blues defender David Luiz lost his composure in the 87th minute. Launching into a crude two-footed lunge on Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac, the Brazilian earned a red card from referee Michael Oliver. The dismissal came too late to swing the balance of power in Arsenal’s favour, but at least the north Londoners departed with their confidence enhanced by a first clean-sheet at the Bridge since 2005. For Chelsea, a third red card in their last three matches with Arsenal added to the angst of a spluttering display.
Everton had taken the upper hand in the second-half of their game with Manchester United but paid for not taking their chances. United showed they can soak up pressure and make their opponents pay as they scored three times in the final 10 minutes of the match with former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku creating one and scoring another — all this without the injured Paul Pogba. The signs are that United have the extra firepower — Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still to return — this season to sustain a serious challenge for the title.