Saturday’s list of Premier League fixtures saw some of the heavyweight sides hit their opposition for four, as Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal all scored four times against their respective opponents. There was further frustration for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United; they took 37 shots, ultimately in vain, at Tom Heaton’s goal in a 0-0 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, a draw between Champions League sides Leicester and Tottenham was sandwiched in-between victories for Watford and Middlesbrough. Here are five key points from Saturday’s action, with much more still to come.
1. Defiant Burnley refuses to be broken down
Manchester United dominated the game at home to Burnley, having 72% possession and taking 37 shots (12 of which were from Zlatan Ibrahimovic) only to be denied by the undisputed man of the match: Tom Heaton. The Burnley keeper collected his third clean sheet of the season in an eye-catching display full of reflex saves sometimes bordering on the heroic; his save from a thunderous Ibrahimovic volley was one he claimed ‘nearly broke his arm’. The effort will be worth if for Sean Dyche’s men, picking up an invaluable point away at Old Trafford to boost their confidence as the Christmas period approaches.
2. The Liverpool rollercoaster continues
There was fast-paced, fluid attacking play, defensive gaffes, set-pieces goals (though not from the side you might have expected) and a Brazilian touch of magic in Liverpool’s yoyo-like 4-2 win away at Crystal Palace; The Reds are quickly becoming one of the league’s most entertaining sides to watch, at least for neutral viewers. Emre Can, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino applied the finishing touches, though their woes at the other end of the ground are concerning if one considers them genuine title challengers. Lady luck was surely behind Liverpool in their victory; Alan Pardew had a case in at least one out of the three penalty claims for Palace following some routine clumsiness in Liverpool’s defending. Either way, it’s three points for Liverpool as they approach a run of fixtures that suggests they should be in contention for the title when the new year rolls around.
3. Olivier Giroud plays super-sub role as Arsenal continue their hot streak
Critics of Arsene Wenger seem to have quietly dispersed following a run of form that finds Arsenal undefeated since the defeat to Liverpool on the opening day. Arsenal are now joint-top with Manchester City, separated by goal difference only, after a 4-1 defeat of the lowly Sunderland. The result didn’t come without a scare, though, as Sunderland had found an equalizer from the penalty spot after Petr Cech had brought down the on-rushing Duncan Watmore, with veteran striker Jermain Defoe restoring hope for the Black Cats with a composed finish from 12 yards. But the optimism was short lived as Olivier Giroud scored a brace in what might have been his first two touches since coming on in the 69th minute; a truly game changing impact from the Frenchman. Sanchez completed the days work with a crafty finish, collecting his brace, as Arsenal turn their attention to topping Group A in the Champions League.
4. Manchester City’s ‘crisis’ ends
Ridiculous sentiments of Pep Guardiola’s ‘crisis’ at Manchester City were swept aside in an assured performance that saw Sergio Aguero return to goal scoring ways. City were clinical with their finishing, pouncing upon any errors made by the West Brom backline, Aguero’s second goal displaying how lethal and ruthless the Argentinian is at the height of his powers. Ilkay Gundogan displayed his scoring touch also, grabbing a brace himself, as Guardiola’s men now prepare to avenge their 4-0 loss to Barcelona when they welcome the Catalonians to the Etihad in the mid-week Champions League fixture.
5. Leicester City earn their first point on the road in White Hart Lane stalemate
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City laboured for their first away point of the season in a game that also saw Tottenham concede from open play for the first time this season. The defending champions did well to hold off a Tottenham side lacking that creative spark in front of goal, perhaps still missing their talisman Harry Kane, and were decent value for a point even if they did only manage three attempts on Spurs goal (Musa’s goal the only shot on target). Mauricio Pochettino was left disappointed with the result while Ranieri was rightly satisfied, but both must now turn their attentions to Champions League ties in mid-week.