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Five things from the Premier League this weekend

London (AFP) – Premier League leaders Liverpool showed they can scrap their way to victory, edging past Brighton to maintain their four-point lead over Manchester City, who brushed aside 10-man Wolves with a 3-0 win.

Tottenham lost ground on the Premier League pacesetters after being beaten at home by a rejuvenated Manchester United, who won their fifth straight league game under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Chelsea ground out a win against Newcastle but Arsenal’s long unbeaten run is a fading memory after they slipped to defeat against West Ham.

AFP Sports looks at the five key points from the Premier League this weekend.

– Jesus goal glut –

Gabriel Jesus has scored seven goals in just nine days after his double in their stroll against Wolves, a huge confidence boost for a player who has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City this season. 

The first of the 21-year-old’s strikes came in a 7-0 hammering of Rotherham in the FA Cup and he netted four against lowly Burton in last week’s 9-0 thrashing in the League Cup semi-final first leg before scoring the first two against Wolves in a 3-0 victory. He has turned up the pressure on Sergio Aguero, which will be music to coach Pep Guardiola’s ears.

– Liverpool bounce back at Brighton –

Jurgen Klopp’s men bounced back from their first league defeat of the season — against Manchester City — with a hard-earned 1-0 win at Brighton earned thanks to Mohamed Salah’s penalty early in the second half.

The Liverpool manager admitted afterwards that his side’s performance “wasn’t an opera, but still it was a nice song”. The league leaders dominated possession but rarely had the speed of foot or thought to trouble the Seagulls’ massed defence until Salah created some space for himself inside the area before being pulled down by Pascal Gross.

Klopp hailed the new-found maturity of his side in comfortably seeing the game out with their 13th clean sheet in 22 Premier League matches. Liverpool are seeking to end an agonising 29-year wait for the league title and it is often unremarkable wins like this that are the mark of champions.

– Does Lukaku have a future under Solskjaer? –

Romelu Lukaku has scored three times since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford as interim manager but has yet to start under the Norwegian in the Premier League.

Fleet-footed Marcus Rashford is clearly Solskjaer’s first-choice striker and on Sunday he justified his manager’s faith by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory against Tottenham.

Former United defender Gary Neville, now a pundit for Sky Sports, does not believe Lukaku offers the pace or movement that Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard do. It is early days in Solskjaer’s reign but the Belgium number nine will be wondering where he fits in to his new manager’s plans.

– Rice on the boil –

Declan Rice gave himself an early present ahead of his 20th birthday by scoring his first Premier League goal as West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0.

Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini lauded the youngster, who can play in either defence or midfield, as a “complete” player. Two questions loom large for Rice, over his best position — holding midfielder or defender? — and to which country he will pledge his allegiance. 

He played in three internationals for Ireland last year but as they were all friendlies London-born Rice has the option to represent England.

– Sarri’s wake-up call –

As the jeers rose to a crescendo around Stamford Bridge, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stood stern-faced on the touchline. 

If the Italian manager was feeling the heat after that frustrated reaction from Chelsea’s fans to another spluttering attacking display during their 2-1 win over lowly Newcastle then he did not let it show. 

In fact, Sarri might have been tempted to join the chorus of disapproval, judging by his scathing post-match assessment. Chelsea remain fourth but the manager is clearly unhappy with the way his team are struggling to break down opponents at home. 

He urged them to change their mentality after claiming they had “slept” for 25 minutes against Newcastle. Sarri must quickly find a remedy for their dozy displays.

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