REIGNING champions Manchester City briefly took top spot after disposing of Everton in the early kick-off, but were leapfrogged by Liverpool late on. With Arsenal playing later today, things are heating up at the top end of the table.
FocusM looks at the talking points of the games played thus far.
Manchester City 2 v Everton 0
The reigning champions were well below par in the early kickoff; much of their attacking play dealt with Everton’s pragmatic lowblock approach. Cometh the hour, cometh the superstar as Pep Guardiola unleashed Kevin de Bruyne from the bench who galvanised an up-until-then lethargic City.
Up step the Norwegian goal machine – Eerling Haaland – who neatly slotted two past Jordan Pickford to pick up maximum points and pile the pressure on title rivals.
Tottenham Hotspurs 2 v Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Roberto De Zerbi will be bitterly disappointed to have lost this after leading for the majority of the match only to concede with literally the final kick of the match. Spurs welcomed back talismanic striker and captain Son Heung-min from Asian Cup duty and the South Korean played a pivotal role in the winner by providing the key assist.
It was a great spectacle for neutrals as both sides attacked with abandon, and it is this commitment to entertaining football that has made managers of both teams such hot properties.
Liverpool 3 v Burnley 1
Liverpool had a record attendance for the visit of Burnley as its new Anfield Road Stand was finally opened to welcome more supporters. Majority of those in the stadium were probably hoping to see a backlash against relegation fodder after the home side’s woeful performance against Arsenal last weekend. But it was the visitors who had the brighter start and played better football.
Burnley went in at level 1-1 which was the least their efforts deserved. Ultimately, Burnley were left to rue missed chances when Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez struck to give Liverpool maximum points.
Luton Town 1 v Sheffield United 3
A relegation six-pointer neither side could afford to lose. Sheffield United pulled off possibly their most important victory to date, there have been precious few, with a steely performance that will give everyone at the club belief that a great escape is indeed possible.
Goals from Cameron Archer, James McAtee and Costa Souza secured a vital win on the road and Chris Wilder will hope to see more of the same in the remaining 14 games. The Blades are still seven points from safety, but this will give their escape bid huge impetus.
Nottingham Forest 2 v Newcastle 3
A hugely entertaining encounter was settled by a Bruno Guimares goal that condemned Nottingham Forest to a certainty of being sucked into a relegation dogfight. The home side now sits just two points off the drop zone and there is the added threat of points deductions for alleged financial impropriety.
Nuno Espirito Sanchez was fuming at the non-award of a penalty with the score tied at 2-2 when Newcastle goalie Martin Dubravka fouled Taiwo Awoniyi. The fact that VAR did not intervene will be a sore point with the Forest faithful, especially as the Magpies scored the winner shortly after that.
Fulham 3 v Bournemouth 1
Fulham rediscovered their scoring boots to register a much-needed win that moved them above the visitors in the table. A brace from Carvalho Muniz and a goal from Bobby Cordova-Reid gave manager Marco Silva plenty of reasons to smile as Fulham put the recent disappointment of being dumped out of both domestic cups behind them.
Adnoi Iraola will bemoan the lack of intensity from his players and will be hoping the Cherries continue their recent upward trajectory to ensure another comfortable midtable finish.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 v Brentford 2
Since returning from a lengthy ban for breaching gambling rules, Ivan Toney has been the subject of much transfer speculation. With Arsenal and Newcastle sniffing around for his services, Toney has been keen to underline his credentials as an elite marksman worth the purported £100 million asking price.
Although the transfer window closed with him still a Brentford player, his motivation to show his worth remains. His win at the Molineux Stadium will have highlighted his value and further strengthened his claim for a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad. – Feb 11, 2024
All photos credited to The Guardian