English Premiership

Three talking points from the Premier League

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Brendan Rodgers.
Brendan Rodgers.
(Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

The Premier League leadership chopped and changed over the weekend but when the dust settled Leicester were top of the pile, one point clear of Tottenham and Liverpool.

Southampton started Sunday in pole position but were leapfrogged first by Spurs, then the Foxes before Liverpool and Manchester City played out a 1-1 draw.

It means just six points separate the 2016 champions from Manchester City all the way down in 10th.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the weekend's Premier League action.

Man City's goal rush dries up

Even as City finished a distant second to Liverpool last season, Pep Guardiola's men still comfortably outscored the Reds by 17 goals.

City have racked up 303 league goals in the past three seasons, but an early season lack of fluency in the final third showed again against Liverpool.

They have now found the net just once in each of their past five league games.

An improvement at the other end of the pitch since Ruben Dias was paired with Aymeric Laporte in central defence means they remain within striking distance of the top of the table, six points adrift with a game in hand.

But the fact they have dropped points in four of their opening seven league games shows they are not the force that stormed to back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, winning 198 points over two seasons.

Guardiola has had to cope without a natural striker for much of the season and Gabriel Jesus showed the difference that can make, with an instinctive finish for his side's equaliser.

Sergio Aguero is also expected back after the international break and the club's all-time top-scorer's prowess in front of goal is what City's title challenge has been badly missing.

Can Pogba find a role at Man Utd?

Paul Pogba remains a square peg in a round hole at Manchester United despite occasional flashes of brilliance.

In Saturday's must-win game against Everton, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to start with Scott McTominay and Fred at the base of his midfield, with Bruno Fernandes higher up the pitch.

It worked a treat as man-of-the-match Fernandes scored twice in a 3-1 victory, with Pogba, 27, again reduced to a bit-part role as a late substitute.

Solskjaer came to the defence of the Frenchman after he conceded a costly penalty against Arsenal last week, saying he was working his way back to full fitness after an ankle injury last season and a coronavirus infection earlier this campaign.

But it is telling that he did not pick him in the starting line-up against Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek or at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The richly gifted World Cup winner recently ramped up speculation over his future again by admitting it would be a dream to play for Real Madrid but he is tied to United until 2022.

It is difficult to know whether either party sees a long-term relationship the way things currently stand.

Can Kane catch Shearer?

Alan Shearer has long enjoyed the view from the top of the mountain as the Premier League's all-time record goalscorer but he will now be looking over his shoulder.

Former Blackburn and Newcastle striker Shearer scored 260 Premier League goals in his career, 52 more than former Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.

But Harry Kane scored the winner in Tottenham's 1-0 victory against West Brom on Sunday to reach the 150-mark in fewer games (218) than anybody except Shearer and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero.

"To win and score my 150th Premier League goal... perfect afternoon," tweeted the England captain.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his leading man, who is now joint ninth on the all-time list alongside Michael Owen.

The England captain is still just 27 and has time on his side. It would take a brave man to bet against him.

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Fixtures
Sat 23 Jan 21 22:00 PM (SAST)
Aston Villa
Newcastle United
Villa Park
Tue 26 Jan 21 20:00 PM (SAST)
Crystal Palace
West Ham United
Selhurst Park
Tue 26 Jan 21 20:00 PM (SAST)
Newcastle United
Leeds United
St. James' Park
Results
Thu 21 Jan 21
Liverpool 0
Burnley 1
Wed 20 Jan 21
Fulham 1
Manchester United 2
Wed 20 Jan 21
Manchester City 2
Aston Villa 0
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
1. Manchester United
19
12
40
2. Manchester City
18
11
38
3. Leicester City
19
12
38
4. Liverpool
19
9
34