Five things we learned in the Premier League
English football came together to join Leicester in mourning the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash while Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 6-1 rout of Southampton.
City are two points clear of Chelsea, now second following a 3-1 win at home to London rivals Crystal Palace.
But the latest round of matches also highlighted some potential weaknesses in Liverpool’s title challenge after they were held to a draw by Arsenal.
Below AFP Sport looks at five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
Leicester start healing process
Football was a side issue when Leicester returned to action on Saturday but it felt appropriate that Claude Puel’s side emerged as 1-0 winners at Cardiff, a week after the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash.
Demarai Gray, a member of the Leicester squad that won the Premier League in 2016, scored the only goal of the game, revealing a T-shirt that read “For Khun Vichai” before he was mobbed by his teammates.
Following the match, players and staff flew to Bangkok to attend a mourning rite for Vichai.
“It was a difficult game, they did their best,” said Puel. “We deserved to win and it is for the chairman.”
Liverpool lose ground
Still unbeaten after 11 league games, Liverpool picked up what in normal circumstances would be a valuable point from an enthralling 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.
Yet, this is no ordinary season with three unbeaten teams at the top of the table and Manchester City showing no signs of a drop in standard from their record-breaking 100 point campaign last term.
Victories for City and Chelsea on Sunday saw Liverpool slip to third place, two points behind the champions.
All six of Liverpool’s dropped points so far this season have come in draws against top-six sides.
Yet, with so little margin for error, wins are now required from even the toughest tests to keep pace with City.
Morata makes his mark
Eden Hazard’s fine early season form had masked an obvious flaw in Chelsea’s unbeaten start under Maurizio Sarri — the lack of a goalscoring centre-forward.
Alvaro Morata, signed for a then club record £60 million from Real Madrid last summer, was meant to be that man.
However, the Spanish international had scored just twice in 20 Premier League games before netting late on in a routine win at Southampton last month.
That goal, though, has seen Morata’s confidence come back and his double against Crystal Palace took his tally to four goals in his last four league games.
Spurs’ squad strength put to test
With a crucial period in Tottenham Hotspur’s season looming large, the last thing manager Mauricio Pochettino needed was more injury worries.
But that is exactly what he got from a 3-2 win at Wolves that raised more questions about his team’s ability to challenge for the title after they almost squandered a three-goal lead.
With crucial Champions League ties against PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan in November, as well as London derbies against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, Pochettino was forced to do without Eric Dier who was declared unfit, while Mousa Dembele limped off in the first half.
Game of two halves for United
Who are the real Manchester United? The nervy first-half version at Bournemouth or the more assured team that completed a 2-1 win after the break?
Jose Mourinho’s team once again needed to dig deep after falling behind on Saturday—the third time in four Premier League matches they have shown their curious Jekyll and Hyde character.
United looked nervy at the back from the whistle and Bournemouth could have been out of sight before Anthony Martial scored the equaliser in the 35th minute.
But after the break they were a different team and a late Marcus Rashford winner means they have now taken 10 points from their past 12 in the Premier League.
Things are looking brighter at Old Trafford but Mourinho must sort out the conundrum.
© Agence France-Presse