Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless | Football | Sport

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Premier League talking points: Man Utd


Man Utd: Solskjaer insists title race isn’t over yet

Express Sport reporter Matthew Dunn gives his take on the Premier League’s biggest talking points from the weekend after Liverpool and Tottenham’s struggles continued with losses to Everton and West Ham respectively, while Manchester United battled to victory against Newcastle. Elsewhere, runaway leaders Manchester City saw off Arsenal to stay 10 points clear at the top.

WRONG SAID FRED

Thankfully a dose of Dan James was able eventually to provide the cure.

However, another European hangover for Manchester United showed up once again why Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer is struggling to keep up with Manchester City.

His squad is too Fred-bare.

This season, minus David Silva and with or without Kevin De Bruyne, City have been strong enough to bound from Champions League clash back to the Premier League with a seldom faltering stride.

MUST READ: Scholes claims Man Utd star is becoming ‘a real problem’ for Solskjaer

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden have stepped up to be the leaders the team needs to drive them forwards.

Newcastle was the first time Manchester United have scored the opening goal of their next Premier League game after a European clash in nine attempts stetching back almost a year – but it was far from convincing.

And with Paul Pogba absent, Bruno Fernandes struggles to carry the team twice a week and Fred, quite simply, is not up to the task of consistently keeping United up with their neighbours.

TIME TO SAY FIRMI-NO!

Jurgen Klopp has already said so – now the facts back him up. Liverpool will not be champions this year.

No team has finished top of the pile in a 38-game season after losing seven games and this century the smallest number of points to be crowned champions has been 80. Liverpool at best can claim 79.

Virgil van Dijk looked miserable in the stands watching Jordan Henderson limp off in what has undoubtedly been an injury-plagued season for the Reds.

Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

But Roy Keane is wrong to say Liverpool were not good champions, they were just not good spenders.

The previous teams to defend their titles invested first on Riyadh Mahrez, Dimitar Berbatov, and Michael Essien and Shaun Wright-Phillips – all some of the most potent bells and whistles of their day.

Diego Jota being fit might have helped but even that may not have been enough. Because this summer, it is not a tinker that is required, but an overhaul – starting with breaking up that front three.

And in the unmistakably Merseyside tones of Anne Robinson, “Roberto Firmino – you are the weakest link… goodbye”.

His eye for a pass is no longer matched by his appetite for a goal.

Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

ARSENAL BOARD HAVE NOT GOT A SCOOBY

It was touching to hear the respect being poured out towards Arsenal by Pep Guardiola on Sunday, a team his side could have thrashed out of sight.

It is now more than a year since Mikel Arteta made his bow from under the shadows of his mentor at City to take over at Arsenal and it was amusing to see the pair on the edge of their respective technical areas.

Guardiola barking the occasional authoritative instruction to his players; Arteta yapping away excitedly at his own players, telling them what to do with every ball.

As I mentioned in my newspaper article, it was like watching Scooby against Scrappy Doo.

But while it is heart-warming to see Arteta build so clearly in the manner preached by the older dog, on Sunday it was clear the young pup is already four years behind in the development process.

And yet the Arsenal board expect the club to compete for top-four places with a team that also invests so much more money it might just as well be in doggy-dollars.

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BALE OUT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

The rasping shot that clattered against the West Ham crossbar in the second half shows it is in there somewhere.

And perhaps it could have been eked out of Gareth Bale sooner with a more empathetic manager.

Having tried to bully him back to his best amid clashes over fitness concerns, Jose Mourinho finally put his arm around Bale’s shoulder at half-time and told him to go out and save the game for Spurs.

He very nearly did.

Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

Football is a lot about patience after all. Imagine, for example, that after five years’ incredible service, Mauricio Pochettino has been given three extra weeks instead of being rushed out of the door to anoint the Special One.

By then, a certain Carlo Ancelotti would have been relieved of his position at Napoli – a man who lives and breathes Tottenham’s “to dare is to do” philosophy.

Where might Spurs be now if Ancelotti and not Mourinho had taken over the reins in late 2019?

ODE TO MOYES

Words alone don’t do justice to what David Moyes is doing at West Ham this season.

So maybe it is time to change I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles to something more in keeping with the Hammers’ refusal under Moyes to fade and die.

With all due apologies to John Sullivan (no relation to David, unfortunately)…

Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless

Premier League talking points: Man Utd’s Fred problem, Firmino finished, Arsenal clueless (Image: GETTY)

Moyes stuck Lingard in the pocket

Coufal, Soucek, his Czech mates

They can’t buy the best ‘uns

But the board don’t ask questions

When paying Moyesie rates.

Where they all come from

Is a mystery

Brentford, Spain and FC Basel

Even one from Hull City

But here’s the one that’s driving Spurs beserk

Why do Moyesie’s top four Hammers work?

La la la la – la la la la la (etc)





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