Premier League talking points: a dose of reality from Man City for Man United
Erik ten Hag’s side are shaken out of their rising optimism
London — Manager Erik ten Hag and his Manchester United team were brought back to earth with a huge bump by their cross-town neighbours on Sunday. Manchester City rode roughshod over United at Old Trafford, highlighting the problems facing Ten Hag — in defence, midfield and attack.
These and other talking points from the 10th round of the Premier League season.
Reality bites for Manchester United: Cautious optimism had returned to Manchester United after three successive wins in all competitions but reality hit home hard as Manchester City outclassed them in a 3-0 win on Sunday.
Those victories against Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen were hardly convincing and United’s glaring weaknesses were cruelly exposed by Pep Guardiola’s champions. Defeat left them eight points off the top four and 10 points from the bottom three and that pretty much illustrates where the 20-time English champions are — midtable mediocrity.
It is the first time since 1986 that United have lost five of their opening 10 league games and, while it seems unlikely that Erik ten Hag will suffer the same fate as Ron Atkinson did back then and get sacked, the Dutchman is again under pressure.
Back to the drawing board for misfiring Chelsea: Chelsea had enjoyed two away wins followed by a draw at home to Arsenal but manager Mauricio Pochettino was back at square one on Saturday after they dominated Brentford but lost 2-0.
Pochettino nodded when a reporter highlighted the lack of goal-scoring threat in the expensively assembled team which has netted only 13 times in 10 Premier League games so far, seven of which were against strugglers Luton Town and Burnley. “We need to be clinical and score more goals. This is what is missing,” Pochettino said. “We need to keep believing.”
Hat-trick hero Nketiah rewards Arteta’s faith: Some Arsenal fans have had a hard time being convinced that Eddie Nketiah is the sort of top-notch striker capable of scoring goals to sustain a title push. But manager Mikel Arteta’s faith in the local boy is deep and he was richly rewarded as Nketiah grabbed a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday.
Nketiah started the bulk of Arsenal’s 10 Premier League games this season and although he lost his place the week before after a lean spell, he returned because of an injury to Gabriel Jesus and showed he is a potent force in front of goal. With Jesus facing a few weeks out with a hamstring injury, Nketiah will get more chances to win over the doubters.
Liverpool’s canny attack starting to purr: Liverpool may not have faced the sternest test of the season from Nottingham Forest on Sunday but their attack passed it with flying colours, scoring two fine team goals in an easy 3-0 win.
The opening goals for the Reds had plenty in common as they won the ball in a dangerous position and worked it down the right — in the first instance a deflected Darwin Nunez shot fell for Diego Jota to score and in the second Nunez netted himself.
The top teams are often presented with five players strung across the back and a compact defence, and not all of them have managed to solve the problem the way Liverpool did. A combination of selfless running and passing set them up for success against Forest at Anfield. If Liverpool can keep that up they may find it just a little easier to break down the massed ranks of opposition defences in the future.
Dyche’s improving Everton learning to win away: A feature of Everton’s struggles in the past few seasons has been their away form, which has been dismal, but there are signs that it is starting to change under Sean Dyche. The Merseysiders had won only four of their previous 40 away Premier League matches before their 1-0 win at West Ham United on Sunday, secured by striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
That victory follows success at Brentford in the league earlier in October and a win at high-flying Aston Villa in the League Cup, meaning it is three wins in four away games in all competitions — and all at very difficult places to get a result. The odd one out was a 2-0 loss to Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Anfield, but even that showing was a good one in which they possibly deserved more from the game.
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