Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Romelu Lukaku is weighing in with some key contributions, Christian Benteke is not and Tottenham are showing how much weaker they are without Christian Eriksen Sergio Agüero has had a curiosity of a campaign. He has been injured, benched and below par at times. He has been outscored by Raheem Sterling for much of the season. Yet his hat-trick on Saturday meant he has scored 20 goals for a fifth successive campaign. Further milestones await: Agüero is nine away from becoming the first man to score 200 for City. He is 11 behind his career-best tally of 33 and, with successive cup ties against Championship opponents, Bristol City and Cardiff, he has the chance to make further inroads before Gabriel Jesus is fit again. Besides the numbers, the encouraging element for City is that, after an autumnal slump, Agüero looks to have regained his sharpness. He produced purposeful, elusive dribbling, Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Leicester and Kelechi Iheanacho benefit from VAR to end Fleetwood’s FA Cup dream

In years to come, this might be considered the first success of a football revolution. Or, the beginning of the machines taking over and removing the joy from football. For the first time in the English game, VAR was used to reverse a decision, awarding Kelechi Iheanacho a goal in Leicester’s third-round replay win. Iheanacho grabbed both goals on what was at first a tricky night for Leicester and the closing stages could have been pretty nerve-racking had his second not been allowed, an erroneous linesman’s flag corrected by TV replays. Continue reading...

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Arsenal have hit an all-time low under Arsène Wenger, Chelsea could go for Andy Carroll and Sam Allardyce needs a result Chelsea have endured three successive goalless draws for the first time and it is inconceivable the scouting department is not exploring forward options. Something has clearly put them off the pursuit of Alexis Sánchez, whom they courted in the summer. Perhaps they believe he is set upon a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Maybe they feel they cannot compete with the financial package Manchester United could offer. Possibly they deem the costs excessive. Yet, if that avenue is blocked, and with Crystal Palace unlikely to entertain offers for Christian Benteke, there remains the possibility Chelsea will explore Andy Carroll’s availability. Antonio Conte had hoped to secure a targetman over the summer and is apparently an admirer of Carroll, for all the 29-year-old’s patchy injury record. Such a Continue reading "Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action"

Riyad Mahrez will not leave Leicester City in January, says Claude Puel

• Liverpool and Arsenal linked with moves for in-form playmaker
• ‘He is happy with us. It’s important we keep our best players’Leicester City will resist selling Riyad Mahrez in the January transfer window, with the club’s manager, Claude Puel, impressed by the Algerian’s progress under his stewardship. Liverpool and Arsenal have been credited with an interest in Mahrez, as a potential replacement for Philippe Coutinho or Alexis Sánchez respectively. The winger, who had been granted leave from the Algeria squad on deadline day in August in anticipation of a possible move, has been rejuvenated of late with eight goals and seven assists this season, and was excellent again at Chelsea in the goalless draw on Saturday. Continue reading...

Kasper Schmeichel and 10-man Leicester stand firm to deny Chelsea win

Chelsea heaved in search of a winner deep into stoppage time here, the locals howling in exasperation as Kasper Schmeichel turned Marcos Alonso’s stoppage time free-kick round the post, but plucking a victory from this mess of a display would have been an injustice. Too much of this was inadequate. Discontent is welling in these parts and, for the first time, some of it is being directed at the dug-out. There were boos when Eden Hazard, for the fourth time in as many starts, did not see out the game, and another disgruntled chorus at the final whistle. A third successive goalless draw reflects the reality that this team’s domestic campaign has rather run aground. The champions have become too predictable, over-reliant upon their Belgian forward and with too few team-mates contributing at his side. Álvaro Morata was anonymous against Leicester City team until booked three minutes from time, but Continue reading "Kasper Schmeichel and 10-man Leicester stand firm to deny Chelsea win"