Premier League Talking Points: Lethal Lukaku, poor Palace & more
Another action-packed weekend of drama
There was plenty to discuss on the back of the latest weekend of Premier League action.
Saturday burst into life with impressive displays from the hosts at Anfield and the AMEX Stadium, and Sunday ended with a crucial goal against familiar foes for Manchester United’s Belgian hitman.
The Coral News Team look back over the weekend’s major incidents, as the fight for top-four spots and the battle against relegation continue to hot up…
Lukaku silences critics by helping down Chelsea
He may have scored 21 goals in all competitions ahead of Sunday’s meeting with the Blues, but Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku was still enduring criticism. Ahead of kick-off, the Belgian had failed to net against any of the club’s top-six rivals.
However, the former Chelsea man rectified that stat against his previous employers. With United 1-0 down, the 24-year-old started the move with his battling play, and eventually finished it off with a lovely touch and finish under pressure.
But it wasn’t just about Lukaku’s ability in front of goal. The powerful forward also produced an inch-perfect cross to set up Jesse Lingard’s headed winner. The Old Trafford faithful will hope it’s a sign of things to come.
Brighton bouncing as Seagulls find home groove
Swansea City made their trip to the AMEX Stadium looking for an 11th successive unbeaten game in all competitions. But Carlos Carvalhal’s men were routed 4-1 by a Brighton & Hove Albion side who are making their home a fortress.
Glenn Murray’s coolly-taken penalty opened the scoring, and the in-form striker came close again, before finishing off a superb team move for the second. Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia then netted either side of a Lewis Dunk own goal.
The scoreline was impressive, but the hosts’ all-round play was even more so. Jose Izquierdo, Locadia and Knockaert tore the Swans’ defence apart with their intricate passing and smart deliveries, while the lively Murray was unlucky not to score more.
Baggies revival needs to start now
Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Huddersfield Town saw West Bromwich Albion fall seven points away from safety. With 10 games left it isn’t an insurmountable gap, but they need to fix the faults which were visible on Saturday…and fast.
The hosts had 10 shots over the course of their game against the Terriers, and dominated possession. But the likes of James McClean and Chris Brunt couldn’t make good opportunities count at key moments.
For Huddersfield’s part, they played well. But David Wagner’s men found it too easy to get through the hosts’ backline. The fact West Brom rallied from 2-0 down to grab a goal back will give fans a little hope. But time is fast running out for a 2005-esque ‘Great Escape’.
Hodgson’s Eagles must rediscover their creative spark
Rewind six weeks, and Crystal Palace appeared to have extricated themselves from the Premier League relegation battle altogether. The Eagles had lost one and won four of their previous 12 Prem games, including a 3-0 victory over Leicester City.
But since then, everything has begun to fall apart. Sunday’s home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur meant Roy Hodgson’s men have taken just two points from five games.
While Spurs left it late, Palace didn’t deserve more than they got. The hosts mustered just 24% of possession and five shots to the visitors 14. A large injury list has admittedly taken its toll at Selhurst Park, but there’s also little doubt that those who are fit and available have been seriously underperforming.
Klopp’s men aren’t struggling without Coutinho
It’s almost two months since the Anfield faithful saw the last of Philippe Coutinho in a Liverpool shirt. But the collapse many expected on Merseyside hasn’t happened. If anything, Jurgen Klopp’s men look better than ever right now.
They dominated Sunday’s meeting with West Ham United from the off. Mohamed Salah hit the post inside three minutes, after a neat move. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Reds registered a 4-1 win, and the range of goals they bagged speaks to their quality.
Emre Can nodded home neatly from a corner, before Salah finished off after a mazy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain run to make it 2-0. Roberto Firmino added an impudent third, before a Sadio Mane tap-in for the fourth. A truly virtuoso team performance.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing