LONDON: Manchester United ignited the Premier League title race with a victory over leaders Chelsea, who are starting to feel the heat from red-hot Tottenham. Liverpool and Manchester City remain on course for top four finishes.
Here are five things we learned:
Mourinho hasn’t lost his touch
Amid Manchester United’s travails this season, a common refrain has been that manager Jose Mourinho has lost the magic touch that once made him the most coveted manager in world football. His side’s stunning 2-0 victory over leaders Chelsea, his former club, showed that reports of his demise have been exaggerated. Mourinho pulled off a tactical masterstroke at Old Trafford, deploying Ander Herrera and Matteo Darmian to man-mark Eden Hazard and Pedro and picking Marcus Rashford as a lone striker to exploit the space behind the Chelsea defence. Both Rashford and Herrera excelled, scoring early in each half to leave Chelsea just four points clear of in-form pursuers Tottenham Hotspur. United, meanwhile, closed to within four points of fourth-place Manchester City, on whom they retain a game in hand and who welcome them to the Etihad Stadium a week on Thursday.
Kane is no one-season wonder
Arsenal fans were sceptical when home-grown striker Harry Kane broke into the Tottenham Hotspur first team during the 2014-15 season and started banging in goals at an arresting rate. Kane had had a succession of unconvincing loan spells and was slower than most top-level strikers. His critics decided he was a ‘one-season wonder’. But having followed up his 31-goal haul that season with 28 goals last season, he took his tally for the current campaign to 25 by netting in Spurs’ 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday. In doing so, he became the first Spurs player to score at least 20 league goals in three successive seasons since Jimmy Greaves in the late 1960s. Some one-season wonder.
City back in good Kompany
The sublime performance of Vincent Kompany must make Pep Guardiola weep at what might have been if the Belgian international had stayed fit and has been restricted to nine appearances. Kompany scored on his return but it was his calming influence on what has been City’s weakest unit this season the defence which augurs well both for finishing in the top four and also for the FA Cup and maintaining Guardiola’s proud record of winning a trophy every season he has managed a club. However such has been his injury jinx that Guardiola will need to put him in mothballs in between games.
Mignolet main man at last?
It may still be some time before Liverpool fans speak of Simon Mignolet with the same respect they reserve for such Anfield greats as Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar but it looks as if the Belgian could be winning round his sternest critics at last after he helped ensure Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. Mignolet’s position appeared in danger when Reds manager Jurgen Klopp signed Loris Karius last year. But Mignolet has re-established himself as Liverpool’s No 1 and maintained that form with a crucial point-blank save from West Brom’s Matt Phillips. Even former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, one of Mignolet’s loudest detractors, admitted the keeper deserved plaudits for helping the Merseysiders go third in the Premier League table. “Has he earned praise? Without a doubt, ” Carragher told Sky Sports.
Meltdown sounds Euro alarm
With the decisive second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid looming on Tuesday, Leicester were on course for a morale-boosting victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday. But instead a second half collapse exposed the soft centre at the heart of Leicester’s defence which could lead to the end of their European adventure. Leicester trail 1-0 from the first leg in Spain and their chances of extending their remarkable run into the semi-finals will depend largely on how their defence fares at the King Power Stadium. So with Robert Huth suspended for the rematch and Wes Morgan struggling with a back injury that forced him to miss the Palace game, Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare will be alarmed by the way his team crumbled at the back and allowed Palace to snatch a 2-2 draw.