English Premier League leaders Leicester City’s title challenge have reached unprecedented heights as they went six points clear at the top after beating Manchester City 3-1.
It was Manchester City’s first defeat in seven Premier League games as frailties in their back-line were once again miserably exposed this time by the scintillating Foxes attack.
Robert Huth turned in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to give the Foxes an early lead.
Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero’s late consolation.
Riyad Mahrez ended a personal goal drought and was the first player this season to achieve a significant goals mark.
It was also the second time in his Barclays Premier League career that Huth has scored more than once in a match, last scoring a brace in February 2011 for Stoke against Sunderland.
Sergio Aguero’s late consolation for Man City was his first Barclays Premier League goal against Leicester and as a result the striker has scored against 26 of the 28 different opponents he has faced in the competition (Bolton and Burnley are the exceptions).
The defeat was Man City’s third at home this season as they continued their run of failing to beat any opponent in the top six in 2015/16.
Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal’s “relentless” attack earned them a hard-fought victory against Watford.
The Gunners scored three times in 12 minutes as Alexis, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were on target in the 3-0 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Arsenal have found the back of the net 13 times in their last four games and Wenger is encouraged by that.
“I like that we continued to attack relentlessly until the end and to finish with it was a convincing win,” he told Arsenal Player.
“We scored five at Leicester, we scored three against Watford today, who had only conceded one [at home], so that tells you we can score goals and we can be dangerous against anybody.
“We faced a team that was very well organised, very strong in their challenges and very direct as well. It took us a while to adjust to that level of commitment and when we did it in the second half we dominated the game and after the first goal you could see that mentally and physically they got the blow.
“Sometimes the first goal changes the game. When they had to come out it was much easier for us. We know once we are in full power, we are quick in transition and we can kill teams off with our pace and that is what happened.”
Louis van Gaal says every Manchester United fan deserves to enjoy the derby victory over City, insisting he is delighted the supporters can “walk through the streets without being embarrassed.”
The Reds boss hailed the Old Trafford faithful for their unbroken backing through his first season in charge, citing the great support given to the team in both the good times and bad.
Over 75,000 fans inside the stadium witnessed a superb come-from-behind victory over the Blues and van Gaal was in buoyant mood when he spoke exclusively to MUTV after the win.
“We have showed that [strength of character] often,” he said, after being asked about United’s powers of recovery, having gone behind to an early goal from Sergio Aguero. “I have more than once given compliments to my players about that because, in all the matches, we are going until the end with a great spirit and we have shown that against City.
“I am very pleased for the fans of course, because they have supported us when the results were not so good and now they are very good. I’m very happy for the fans that they can walk through the streets without being embarrassed! They can go on the streets, hat up, and they can say now ‘we are, this year, the better team’ because goal difference is in our favour.”
Van Gaal took time to praise Sky Sports’ Man of the Match, Ashley Young, after he netted the equaliser and set up two of United’s other three goals, and had a special mention for another goalscorer in Marouane Fellaini.
“Ashley was Man of the Match and I think that was right. If I had to choose, I would have chosen him,” he revealed. “Also Fellaini is very important in our game-plan and I’m very pleased that he plays for Manchester United and no-one else.
“At Liverpool, it was about the first half but we didn’t start so well, Manchester City had the better start,” added van Gaal as he continued his assessment of the match. “But then we came back into the game because of the assist of David De Gea, more or less, for the first goal for Ashley Young. Then we gained confidence and we performed our game-plan much more. In the second half, we played very well with a lot of pace in our game. I was very pleased with the second half.”
Arsenal manager; Arsene Wenger believes that the Gunners can have a go at the English Premier League title this season and this can be determined by the outcome of their performance against EPL title holders Manchester City next weekend.
So far, in the new season Arsenal has been impressive in terms of performance in four leagues matches played, proudly displaying a steely defensive edge to their attacking prowess and this tough performance has notched the Gunners to third in the EPL table. However, their steely defence and sharp attack will undergo further test this weekend and the next with Roberto Mancini’s boys while they play hosts to Chelsea.
Wenger concedes Sunday’s match at the Etihad Stadium will show their true worth, but is quietly confident with the way his side is performing but above all playing 10 games into the season will further determine their chances of clinching the title.
It may be early in the campaign but Arsenal has already shaken off the ‘one-man band’ tag after last season was dominated by Robin van Persie.
The Holland striker was the heartbeat of the side last season up until his acrimonious summer departure to Manchester United and Wenger admits his side are now setting out differently.
While Arsenal will be hoping to continue their fine start, Southampton’s season starts now – certainly as far as manager Nigel Adkins is concerned.
Saints have attracted plaudits for their performances against the two Manchester sides, but the reality is they are bottom of the table without a point from the opening four games.
Aston Villa, another side expected to struggle this season, are up next and Adkins knows they need to get a point if not three on the board.
Arsene Wenger said he is used to winning games as he loves to win all the time so he will definitely find a way to keep the tempo up for Gunners.
Yaya Toure’s deflected equaliser gave Manchester City a 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Saturday to reclaim top spot in the Premier League but two more away dropped points handed the advantage to Manchester United in the title race. Toure’s long-range blast, which deceived keeper Asmir Begovic after flicking off Ryan Shawcross, rescued his side after Peter Crouch’s magnificent volley had given Stoke a 59th-minute advantage at the Britannia Stadium.
Manchester City joined United on 70 points but edged top on goal difference although the champions will go three points clear if they beat Fulham at Old Trafford on Monday.
Chelsea drew 0-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur – a result that left the Stamford Bridge club five points behind their fourth-placed opponents and eight shy of Arsenal who consolidated third spot with a 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa.
Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta secured a seventh consecutive league win for Arsenal.
At the other end of the table, Wigan Athletic gave their survival prospects a boost with a shock 2-1 win at Liverpool who have now won only twice in 11 league games.
Gary Caldwell’s 63rd-minute strike handed Wigan their maiden victory at Anfield.
Bolton Wanderers earned an emotional 2-1 triumph over fellow relegation candidates Blackburn Rovers in their first match since midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham in the FA Cup last Saturday.
Victory for Bolton, secured with two goals from defender David Wheater, lifted them out of the relegation zone above Queens Park Rangers who had striker Djibril Cisse sent off in a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland.
Wolverhampton Wanderers remained bottom after a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City while Swansea City lost 2-0 at home to Everton.
Manchester City have won all 15 home league games this season but their mediocre away form is threatening to deny them a first top-flight title since 1968.
GOAL OF SEASON
They have won only two of their last nine on the road and it could have been even worse on Saturday after Crouch stunned them with a contender for goal of the season.
Cushioning a dropping ball on his left foot 30 metres from goal, the out of favour England striker dispatched an unstoppable volley high over the diving Joe Hart.
Manager Roberto Mancini introduced Carlos Tevez from the bench after 73 minutes but it was Toure three minutes later who brought the visitors level when he let fly from 25 metres, his shot glancing off the head of Shawcross before evading Begovic.
Crouch, who scored for Spurs in 2010 to deprive Manchester City of Champions League football the following season, said he hoped his goal would nudge him towards selection for England’s Euro 2012 squad.
“It’s probably the best goal I’ve ever scored,” he told ESPN. “I always enjoy a volley but they don’t normally fly in like that.
“When I joined Stoke I said if I’m scoring goals then I’d have a chance to play for England again. I hope I get a chance and I’d grab it with both hands.”
In the lunchtime derby at an unseasonally warm Stamford Bridge, Chelsea wasted a chance to cut the gap on Tottenham to two points.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was Juan Mata’s free kick against the post while Tottenham would have claimed a first win in the fixture since 1990 if they had taken their opportunities.
Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor should have scored for the visitors while Gareth Bale thumped a header against the crossbar and also forced a fine save from Petr Cech.
“It was a big point for us and it keeps them five points behind us,” said Redknapp whose side have picked up just two points from the last 15. “We had some great chances and their keeper made some great saves.”
Counterpart Roberto Di Matteo argued Chelsea could have been awarded a couple of penalties.
“There was a clear penalty shout for us when (Benoit Assou) Ekotto pulled down Ramires at the far post,” he said. “But we didn’t create enough clear chances to get the goal we needed.
“It won’t be easy (to reach the top four) but we’ll try until the end.”
Manchester City have lodged a complaint with European soccer’s governing body UEFA about what they said was racist abuse directed towards striker Mario Balotelli during a Europa League match against Porto. British media reported the Italian was subjected to monkey chants during the English Premier League leader’s 2-1 victory in the first leg of their last 32 tie in Portugal on Thursday. A City representative said on Friday the club had brought the matter to the attention of UEFA officials. “I heard something,” City’s Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure told Sky Sports News. “That’s why we like the Premier League because it never happens there… maybe in a different country they don’t expect black players.” Manager Roberto Mancini had said after the final whistle that he had not heard anything during the match. “I didn’t hear this because I was concentrating on the game,” local media quoted the Italian as saying. “But I think the players are strong. Mario did very well. He was calm and it is important he contributed. “He knows these kinds of things can happen every game. This is the reason I spoke to Mario before the game and said you should think only about football.” Racism is a hot topic in English soccer at present with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez having served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and Chelsea captain John Terry facing criminal charges over alleged comments he made to Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.