Manchester City’s eighth win in a row kept them clear at the top of the Premier League as teams around them dropped points over the weekend.
At the other end of the division there was a timely win for Newcastle and a stalemate between West Brom and Fulham.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action.
Blue Moon rising to the top
Manchester City are looking ominously good after posting an eighth Premier League win in a row – and 12th in all competitions – by seeing off Sheffield United 1-0. Gabriel Jesus scored the decisive goal and Pep Guardiola’s side had to show a different side of their game to get past the battling Blades. Jesus gave them an early lead, but Chris Wilder’s men matched City for much of the game and almost snatched a late leveller through John Fleck. City have been very good at cruising past teams in recent weeks, but finding a way to win – without Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne – will please Guardiola, whose side end the weekend three points clear at the summit.
Tuchel up and running but Werner’s drought goes on
Thomas Tuchel registered his first win as Chelsea boss with a 2-0 victory over Burnley at Stamford Bridge. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso scored the goals, but it was another frustrating afternoon for Timo Werner. The 24-year-old, who cost almost £50million in the summer, registered another blank, meaning he has scored just once in his last 17 games. Tuchel admitted that Werner is struggling with his confidence but is backing him to come good.
Bruce eases the pressure
Newcastle were in free fall ahead of the trip to Everton, losing their last five and having won none of their previous nine. The vultures appeared to be circling around Steve Bruce, with the club’s supporters turning on the boss. Not many people would have fancied the Magpies to go to Goodison Park and end their drought, but they did just that with a counter-attacking style rarely seen by Newcastle. Callum Wilson ended a six-game barren run of his own, with two goals in the final 17 minutes to give his side a first away win since November. It eased the pressure on Bruce, who admitted that one win does not mean he has turned things around, and moved Newcastle eight points above the drop zone after West Brom and Fulham’s draw.
Salah reveals his feelings on VAR
For Mohamed Salah six Premier League games without a goal is considered a drought, so he was relieved to end it in style in a 3-1 win at West Ham. The Egyptian scored two trademark goals in the second half to send Liverpool into the top three and get their season back on track. But Salah was not backwards in coming forwards in giving a reason why he had struggled for goals. In an interview with Sky Sports after the match Salah, unprompted, laid into VAR. He said: “I don’t like VAR, it kills the game off. That joy of football. In the Champions League and other countries they give the striker more space but here, I don’t want to complain about it or get fined, it is just my opinion about VAR. I don’t like it.”
Problems mounting for Spurs
If losing Harry Kane during Thursday’s defeat to Liverpool was not bad enough, the manner of Tottenham’s performance in the 1-0 loss at Brighton suggests the problems are much worse than that. In the middle of December Jose Mourinho’s men were top of the league, yet a run of two wins from the following nine games has seen them slip to a staggering 11 points off leaders Manchester City. Not only has any title challenge crumbled away, they are not certainties in a top four race that is still wide open after Leicester, West Ham and Everton also lost over the weekend. Mourinho’s tactics have come in for criticism all season but the pragmatism that made him one of the best managers in the world is scrutinised even more when his side do not win.