Five things we learned in the Premier League

first_img0Shares0000The much-anticipated Liverpool-Manchester City Premier League match at Anfield finished 0-0 © AFP / Paul ELLISLONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 8 – Manchester City are locked with Chelsea and Liverpool on 20 points at the top of the Premier League after Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty in a 0-0 draw at Anfield.Chelsea brushed aside Southampton 3-0 while Arsenal hammered Fulham 5-1 to record their sixth Premier League victory on the bounce. Elsewhere, Tottenham stayed in the title hunt with a 1-0 win at bottom club Cardiff while Manchester United stormed back from two goals down to beat Newcastle and give manager Jose Mourinho some breathing space.AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:– Mahrez’s missed opportunity –Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola consoles Riyad Mahrez after his missed penalty against LiverpoolThe only new addition to the Manchester City squad that amassed a record 100 Premier League points last season had the chance to lay down an early marker that the champions remain the team to beat in the title race.However, Riyad Mahrez blasted a late penalty well over the bar as City had to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw at Anfield and a share of the lead with Liverpool and Chelsea.A wayward finish from City’s club-record £60 million ($79 million) signing summed up an afternoon to forget in attacking areas for both sides.At the other end, Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also held scoreless for a fourth straight game.As a result, Jurgen Klopp’s men have failed to win any of their past four matches in all competitions.– Mata, from outcast to saviour? –Manchester United’s Juan Mata inspired his team’s comeback against Newcastle © AFP/File / Paul ELLISJuan Mata, peripheral to Mourinho’s plans since the start of the season, was instrumental in Manchester United’s dramatic fightback against Newcastle.The Spaniard was left out of the starting line-up but brought on in the 19th minute in place of defender Eric Bailly with the home side already 2-0 down and Mourinho’s job on the line.Mata’s 70th-minute free kick infused United with fresh belief and further goals from Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez completed the turnaround.The 30-year-old does not possess the physical strength of Paul Pogba or Nemanja Matic but he has the tools to unlock defences and could be the creative force to get United ticking.– Lacazette seizes his chance –Alexandre Lacazette scored 17 times in his debut season with Arsenal but the French forward finished last term in danger of becoming an expensive flop.Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette (centre) celebrates after scoring against Fulham © AFP / Adrian DENNISLacazette’s intermittent goal bursts could not mask the undeniable truth that his move from Lyon for a then club record fee was far from a success.The successful January arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had pushed Lacazette to the fringes in Arsene Wenger’s final season and when he started the current campaign on the bench under new boss Unai Emery, he might have feared for his future.Yet Lacazette has responded superbly, displacing Aubameyang as Arsenal’s central striker and scoring twice in Sunday’s 5-1 rout of Fulham to make it five goals for the season. More importantly, his muscular, committed display shows he has finally adapted to the Premier League.– Barkley celebrates England recall –Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley justified Gareth Southgate’s decision to call him up to the England squad, scoring his first goal for Chelsea against Southampton on Sunday.Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley scores his team’s second goal against Southampton © AFP / Glyn KIRKBarkley has been in and out of the team under Maurizio Sarri but started on Sunday alongside Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.The former Everton man, who missed out on the World Cup in Russia, set up Eden Hazard’s opening goal on Sunday and scored their second himself.“Ross Barkley is playing well,” Hazard told Sky Sports. “He scored and made an assist. He is doing well and working hard on the training ground.”– Short-handed Spurs hanging around –An injury crisis, homeless due to an unfinished new stadium and headed for an early Champions League exit… it has not been the easiest start to the season for Tottenham Hotspur.Tottenham’s Eric Dier against Cardiff © AFP / Adrian DENNISYet in the Premier League, Spurs have so far largely overcome that mountain of difficulties to match their best-ever start under Mauricio Pochettino, with six wins from eight games.Saturday’s scrappy 1-0 win over bottom of the table Cardiff will not live long in the memory, much like a 2-0 victory at Huddersfield the week before.But Pochettino’s men are managing to grind out wins to keep themselves in the chasing pack while they await the return of a host of injured stars and the keys to their new White Hart Lane home.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

French Open: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal drawn into same half

first_imgDefending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to put up a highly-anticipated semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal as they were drawn into the bottom half in men’ singles of the 2017 French Open.Five Chinese girls faced mixed drawing fate here on Friday, 32nd-seeded Zhang Shuai possibly got the chance of beating her previous personal best in Roland Garros, while Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai had an uphill challenge in the first round, reports Xinhua news agency.Djokovic, who swept all Grand Slam tournament trophies with success last year, will meet Spanish Marcel Granollers in his opening title defence match. The Serbian suffered an early second-round exit in Australian Open early this year, while improving his performance into the clay season, from quarterfinal in Monte Carlo, semifinal in Madrid and final in Rome.Nadal will kick off his campaign against local favorite Benoit Paire, and is likely to face fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarter-final if everything goes well in his way.Djokovic and Nadal had their last duel in the semi-finals in Madrid, where Nadal won in two sets and continued his in-form performance to take away the title. The “King of Clay” also tasted victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, while snapping his winning streak in front of Austrian promising star Dominic Thiem in Rome.For Djokovic, Nadal still remained the favourite in clinching his 10th title in Roland Garros.”I definitely see him as probably No. 1 favourite for this title,” commented the titleholder.World number one Andy Murray, positioned in the top half, expected a real challenge in as early as the third round, where he may face Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.advertisementOn the way to a possible semi-final with the 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, the top seed could expect number 13 seed Tomas Berdych, German youngster Alexander Zverev or Japanese Kei Nishikori ahead.In anticipation of breaking her previous record of second round in Roland Garros, Chinese top-ranked girl Zhang Shuai will face Donna Vekic of Croatia in the first round, and next meet the winner between Viktorija Golubic and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with number eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova looming ahead in the third round.Peng Shuai, who was still involved in Strasbourg Open as a warm-up for the French Open, will have a first-round clash with Sorana Cirstea of Romania, with Tatjana Maria of Germany as Duan Yingying’s first-round opponent.However, the draw went pretty against Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai, as the former will meet number 10 seed Venus Williams and the latter will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova.Reigning champion Garbine Muguruza will open her campaign in women’s singles against the 2011 finalist Francesca Schiavone.The 2017 French Open, with a total prize of 35,981,500 euros, will run from May 28 until June 11.last_img read more