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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. Picture: CATHERINE IVILL/GETTY IMAGES
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. Picture: CATHERINE IVILL/GETTY IMAGES

London — Clouds are gathering over Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, not only after Sunday’s defeat to neighbours Man City, but the fact United have lost 11 games so far this season … two more than the whole of last season.

The following are talking points from the Premier League weekend.

Pressure intensifies on Ten Hag: For about 45 minutes on Sunday it seemed possible that a Marcus Rashford wonder-goal might earn Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag one of his best results since taking charge.

It proved an illusion though as Manchester City turned their superior class into a 3-1 victory that illustrated the gulf in quality between the two teams.

United were comprehensively outplayed as they suffered an 11th defeat of the league season — two more than they suffered in the whole of last season.

While losing to City away is no disgrace, that and the previous week’s loss against Fulham, have punctured the optimism of Jim Ratcliffe becoming a co-owner of the club.

United sit sixth in the table, 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, and there is a feeling that the next three months will be pivotal in Ten Hag’s future at Old Trafford.

Can Werner prove inspired signing for Spurs? Timo Werner has hardly set the world on fire since joining Tottenham Hotspur on loan from RB Leipzig in January and it looked like being another day of frustration for the German forward against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

His lack of confidence was summed up when he went through with only Palace’s keeper to beat in the first half, but he lacked conviction and the chance went begging.

To his credit, the former Chelsea player kept plugging away and his hard work was rewarded when he equalised from Brennan Johnson’s pass — his first goal for the club.

Tottenham ended up winning 3-1 and with forward Richarlison sidelined, Werner now has the perfect opportunity to show why not that long ago he was one of Europe’s most prolific marksmen.

A return to something like his best could be pivotal in Tottenham’s quest for a top-four finish.

Chelsea’s Pochettino feels the heat: Mauricio Pochettino didn’t have the best 52nd birthday when he saw his Chelsea side struggle to a 2-2 draw against injury-hit, relegation-threatened Brentford on Saturday, and he had to endure crude chanting from some Blues fans too.

Asked about the abuse, Pochettino said it was natural for fans to turn frustration into criticism, but he vowed to stick to the job of building a coherent side from the expensively overhauled squad of young players who still sit in mid-table.

At least Chelsea can have a bit of a rest after a hectic six days that included 120 minutes in a 1-0 League Cup final defeat against Liverpool, a last-gasp 3-2 FA Cup win over Leeds United and the draw at Brentford. Their next game is on March 11 at home to Newcastle United in the Premier League.

“We have now one week to prepare [for] Newcastle. I’m trying to win and I keep moving and pushing,” Pochettino said.

Everton have to find edge in final third: Everton fans were given some relief last week when they regained four points on appeal from their first Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) charge this season, but were left frustrated and furious at the final whistle after Saturday’s capitulation at home to West Ham United.

A chorus of boos rang out about Goodison Park on the final whistle after Everton wasted numerous opportunities, including a penalty, and conceded twice in injury time to lose 3-1.

That is now 10 Premier League matches without a win, five of those defeats, and they look a team short on confidence and quality in the final third, and unless they can find a way to score goals, it could be third time unlucky for the side after successful relegation battles.

With a second PSR charge still looming, they have no idea how many points they need to be clear of the bottom three come the final reckoning. This remains a club in crisis.

Champions League on the horizon as Villa find a way again: Pinned in their own half after having their two-goal advantage pegged back by Luton Town, there was little to suggest that Aston Villa would emerge with a point, never mind three, but yet again they found a way to win.

Unai Emery’s side have been superb all season without ever looking unbeatable, but their ability to take a punch and recover has proved invaluable as the 1982 European Cup winners set their sights on next season’s Champions League.

Luton must bear some of the blame after an anaemic first-half display that finished with Villa two goals to the good thanks to Ollie Watkins, but the Hatters’ second-half comeback was thwarted as Villa refused to capitulate.

Five points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur is a decent cushion, but Emery will take more comfort from his side’s never-say-die attitude. If that persists they may well be headed for next season’s premier European competition.


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