Premier League weekend talking points: CITY PLAY LIVERPOOL AT THEIR OWN GAME
Sunday’s 2-2 draw at the top of the table between Manchester City and Liverpool lived up to expectations in many ways, but there was an unexpected twist in the tactical approach to the game. Under Pep Guardiola City are known for a more patient and shorter approach to possession but, particularly in the first half, they came up against Liverpool at their own game.
The choice of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in attack, ahead of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish, gave City more pace and candor and it was clear that Guardiola had told his team to play slightly differently. So City looked to send balls over the top much more than usual, they also pressed relentlessly on Liverpool’s back line and when they attacked they did so with real candor, invading the visitors.
It’s the sort of approach Liverpool’s front three have become well known for and manager Juergen Klopp has suggested he was flattered by the imitation. “We don’t own the style, so that’s fine. It’s just smart. Who cares? City are allowed to play balls behind the line,” said the German.
“It’s about winning football games and not about showing what style you want to convey. Yes, there were times that were not as usual, but I thought it was a good idea,” he added. Guardiola found the suggestion that he had copied Liverpool’s usual style a little amusing.
“I try to imitate the best, I learn!” he joked. WERNER’S MISTAKES CANNOT GO UNKNOWN DESPITE DOUBLE
Chelsea striker Timo Werner celebrated his first Premier League goals in six months with a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Southampton on Saturday, but the first half of the game summed up the German’s tenure in London as he was hitting the woodwork three times. While manager Thomas Tuchel will be delighted the 26-year-old can atone for his mistakes against a side that barely stood up, he will be aware that Real Madrid could make Chelsea pay for any lapses in the Champions League.
With striker Romelu Lukaku nursing a minor injury ahead of the trip to Spain, Tuchel will hope his fellow German can quickly correct the flaws in his game as Chelsea look to overturn a 3-1 quarter-final first leg deficit on Tuesday. . ARTETA MAKES MISTAKE IN TEAM SELECTION AS ARSENAL SLIDES
Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four suffered a blow with a second straight loss, but their 2-1 home loss to Brighton & Hove Albion was more or less self-inflicted as manager Mikel Arteta made a mistake in his team selection. With left-back Kieran Tierney and midfielder Thomas Partey injured, Arteta deployed midfielder Granit Xhaka at left-back in place of Nuno Tavares, throwing the inexperienced Sambi Lokonga into the lion’s den which was Brighton’s crowded midfield.
Arsenal lacked cohesion in the first half and Xhaka’s adventurous romp eventually left a gap at the back which was exploited by Brighton in their opener. By the time Arteta changed formation for the second half, it was too late. MANCHESTER UNITED ON COURSE FOR WORST SEASON SINCE 1991
As Manchester United’s arch-rivals Manchester City and Liverpool put on a football spectacle at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it capped another miserable weekend for Ralf Rangnick’s side. United limped to a 1-0 loss to lowly Everton on Saturday, after putting up another inane performance that left the most successful side in the English top flight seventh and likely to miss out on Champions League qualification for the season next.
When United finished seventh in 2013-14 under David Moyes it was as bad as their fans thought it could be, but the current crop is on course for a lower result, given their average per game this season. and the worst total since 1991. A new permanent manager has yet to be named, but whoever succeeds Rangnick will have his work cut out to turn things around. (Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar, Rohith Nair and Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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