Premier League talking points: United players answer critics
Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes redeem themselves and Red Devils in much-needed win
Most of the Manchester United squad has come in for a truckload of criticism recently for their appalling performances and results, but the weekend’s win over Fulham eased the pressure a little.
And two United players to receive the most flak over the past few weeks were at the centre of the 1-0 win at Craven Cottage, with Harry Maguire hardly putting a foot wrong and Bruno Fernandes scoring the winner in an all-round excellent outing.
On the blue side of Manchester, City manager Pep Guardiola would have been content on two fronts ... his team’s brushing aside of Bournemouth and the performance of wing Jeremy Doku who scored one goal and set up four more in the 6-1 win.
These and other talking points from the 11th round of the Premier League season.
Maguire and Fernandes answer critics: Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes have come in for more than their fair share of criticism this season, but both stood up to be counted in a vital 1-0 win at Fulham on Saturday.
Maguire, who has been given a first-team reprieve largely because of injuries to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, was a rock at the heart of United’s defence, repelling numerous Fulham attacks and showing composure on the ball.
Manager Erik Ten Hag described Maguire’s display as huge, but the question will be now whether the England defender can cement a first-team spot.
Fernandes responded to stinging criticism about his suitability as captain with a display full of focus and hard work, and provided a rare piece of United quality to score a late winner and secure a morale-boosting three points.
Doku yet another puzzle for Man City’s opponents to solve: Winger Jeremy Doku ran riot in Manchester City’s 6-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, confirming his status as yet another problem for opposing defences to deal with as they try to put one over on the champions.
Doku scored one goal and had a hand in four more in a brilliant individual display that still stayed comfortably within Pep Guardiola’s footballing framework of intelligent passing and collective movement.
The 21-year-old Belgian displayed his ability to make mature decisions in one-on-one situations and had Erling Haaland not gone off injured at halftime he would surely have benefited from Doku’s quick thinking.
It made no difference to Doku, who teed up Haaland’s replacement Phil Foden to score instead, and the inevitable focus on Doku will undoubtedly open up for his teammates as City bring the full force of their attacking talent to bear.
VAR under attack again: VAR had another difficult weekend as the technology, and the way it is used, came under the microscope yet again.
Nowhere more than at St James’ Park where Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta labelled the officiating a disgrace and embarrassing in a remarkable outburst after his side lost 1-0 to a controversial goal.
The referees’ body (PGMOL) has been under increasing pressure this season after several VAR decisions caused uproars, the most high-profile being the human error which led to a legitimate Liverpool goal against Tottenham Hotspur being chalked off.
Arteta delivered another scathing assessment after Newcastle’s goal was allowed to stand after a triple VAR check to determine whether the ball went out of bounds, whether there was a foul, or whether it was offside.
Arsenal said they supported their manager, and implored the PGMOL to review the standards of refereeing.
Bleak outlook for Burnley: Home form usually dictates the chances of a promoted team avoiding a swift return to the second tier so the outlook is increasingly bleak for Vincent Kompany’s Burnley.
Saturday's 2-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace earned them an unwanted place in the record books as they became the first club in Premier League history to lose their first six home games.
Kompany’s side play neat and tidy football but seem to lack the basic ingredients in both penalty areas and the Belgian may have to rethink his tactics before it is too late. However, he appears ready to stick to Plan A
“I won’t deviate and take myself into anything other than making sure that we stay on plan, we stay ready to get the best out of our team,” he said.
Mbeumo leading crippled Brentford’s charge: Brentford have had rotten luck this season with a long list of absentees, but Thomas Frank has managed to keep them in the top half with most of the attacking burden falling on Bryan Mbeumo.
With striker Ivan Toney still suspended and speedy forward Kevin Schade needing surgery, Mbeumo has risen to the occasion to drag Brentford out of a rut, guiding them to three straight league victories after they went six games without a win.
The Cameroon international has played as a striker and wide forward to grab six goals and two assists so far and the 24-year-old was the liveliest player on a rain-sodden pitch as Brentford came from behind to beat West Ham United 3-2. Reuters
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