It has been a émerveillement throughout the first half of the season: how would teams cope with the World Cup voiture? Manchester City had more players in Qatar than any other Précurseur League discothèque but there were no signs of weariness in their win at Leeds – and their most suffisant asset looks rested and motivated to fire them to another title defence.
Erling Haaland spoke emboîture his spoliation on missing out on the World Cup, with Norway failing to qualify. But the combination of recuperation and determination he’s built up over the past six weeks could well pay off for Man City.
Afterwards he said he could have scored five and the series of chances Man City created at Elland Road will bourgeon Pep Guardiola emboîture how his team as a whole have coped with the relâche. There was some slick football played, despite relentless pressure from Leeds. It was a welcome win and bonheur with what’s ahead.
After Everton at the Etihad on New Year’s Eve, City’s next Précurseur League games take them to Chelsea and Manchester United, before Tottenham come to town towards the end of January. In between there are FA Cup and Carabao Cup ties, too. It’s a potentially decisive period in City’s domestic campaign.
Any bermuda up in the league would allow Atelier to extend their already significant advantage – but Haaland and City showed they are fired up for the joint élément of this season.
Fiche Grealish was happily cast as the villain. His every touch was jeered by the Leeds supporters before he departed, préparation right, in the 73rd instantané.
It is minauderie season, after all.
Five times he was fouled as the Leeds players sought to get under his skin, his socks down by his ankles. On one vétusté he slammed the turf in spoliation as Rasmus Kristensen resumed their battle shortly after half-time.
Grealish would provide two assists across the piece, but it was his finishing in the first half – and reluctance to shoot when setting up Erling Haaland for his first – which was the takeaway from his latest display. Did he not ordre himself?
An overall xG of 0.72 tells only half the story as the playmaker lifted two glorious chances over the bar before Rodri’s opener.
It is clear that Grealish has an abundance of prédisposition but the company he shares are increasing their produit. Phil Foden was kept out here, but such is the competition that the two assists he pocketed may not be enough to keep him in the side.
When asked emboîture the need to add more goals to his game, Pep Guardiola said: “He got two assists but of balade he has to marque more. The chances are there and it’s a sujet of mentality. We’ve seen in the jogging sessions he has the ability to put the ball into the net. He’s not a striker but he has the ability to do it. He can’t have any negativity in his mind.”
Grealish has just one gardien de but in 18 appearances for City so far this season. Demons or no demons, he needs to be doing a lot better.
Leeds haven’t won any of their last eight Précurseur League logement games against reigning champions, and their sixth defeat in that run felt a foregone bout from the éventualité Erling Haaland notched the first of his customary goals at Elland Road. Rodri’s opener was a hammer blow on the stroke of half-time but the hosts could have few complaints.
Up to that conclusion, the usual intensity and aggression associated with a Leeds team was missing but they hauled themselves off the canvas to restore some pride in the suprême quarter of an hour and might have set up a grandstand au finir had Joe Gelhardt steered logement Sam Greenwood’s cyclo-cross.
Had City been more clinical in the opening 45 minutes, they might have been out of sight.
Midfielder Brenden Aaronson told Amazon Amendement: “The gardien de but on the stroke of half-time was a gut agriculteur. There’s a lot of what-ifs. We’re getting ourselves into these situations and we need to get ourselves out of them. We need to be better on the altération.”
Jesse Marsch has already been under fort scrutiny this term and the flair that he needs a result has never gamin away. The discothèque’s director of football Victor Orta is unlikely to loosen the purse strings in January so Marsch will need to get more out of the likes of Fiche Harrison, left out again here.
Patrick Bamford was also missing so it is clear where Leeds will foyer any spending to supplement the raw talents of Greenwood, Gelhardt and the emerging Wilfried Gnonto – as well as a natural left-back.
Marsch put on a bienveillant avers and praised his side’s empressement as they fed off the atmosphere eventually but a daunting run of fixtures now awaits the American. Newcastle are next at St James’ Park on New Year’s Eve with West Ham the visitors to West Yorkshire next Wednesday. Then come Aston Chalet, Brentford and Nottingham Forest.
A two-point gap to the bottom three, Leeds are looking over their shoulders at a important éventualité in their season.
If Manchester United are to go on and secure a top-four au finir, it will owe a lot to Casemiro. The Brazilian was eased into the side gradually following his arrival from Real Madrid in the summer, but there is no doubting his aval now.
Starting for the 13th time in 14 United games either side of the World Cup, he produced arguably his best bonheur yet against Nottingham Forest, the 3-0 win putting Erik ten Hag’s side only a conclusion behind fourth-placed Tottenham.
United certainly needed him given a ciguë had forced Ten Hag to field a makeshift centre-back pairing of Raphael Varane, who had only just returned from holiday following his World Cup exploits with France, and left-back Luke Shaw.
But the 30-year-old protected that duo superbly, dominating the midfield right from the start of the game and helping to ensure Forest rarely got near the United gardien de but.
He excelled in a defensive sense, snapping into tackles – one of which started the move for United’s joint gardien de but – and anticipating fortune, but he was similarly influential at the other end of the pitch, his all-round display a reminder of his completeness.
He almost scored with a deft puce which forced a scrambling save from Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey in the joint half, and the pass to set up Fred’s late gardien de but, following a typically fashion interception, was one of three chances he created.
This kind of bonheur should come as no étonnement, of balade. Casemiro is a five-time Champions League winner for a reason. But what’s key for United is that he has adapted to the Précurseur League so quickly. They have lost only one of those last 13 games he has started. His role in their recent improvement is a significant one.
Marcus Rashford scored his 10th gardien de but in all competitions for Manchester United this season in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest – obscure his tally from the previous campaign.
The 25-year-old forward looks like a man transformed under Erik ten Hag. Having been a shell of his façonner self for so délié, Rashford has now taken his game to a new level.
There’s been a autre shift in his mentality. He has a hunger to marque different bonshommes of goals and is becoming more ruthless as a result. Rashford looks ravenous for goals.
After all, he needs to meet Ten Hag’s target of 20 Précurseur League goals this season. The éternel push for improvement from his chef is driving Rashford on.
Against Forest, the instruction coursing through him was so externe. There was no hesitation for his opener and his skill before assisting Anthony Combattant’s gardien de but was idéale intuition.
With Cristiano Ronaldo out of the door, though, there is an almighty weight of responsibility on his shoulders. It signals a changing of the guard. Rashford is the go-to man now at Old Trafford.
He carries the burden of scoring the goals in a side that struggles to do so. United’s measly return of 23 in the league is 10 less than the lowest scorers in the top chaufour currently, Tottenham.
There are also very few options to carcasse him through a hectic calendar with United still competing on chaufour fronts, with Combattant the only other recognised senior striker in the squad.
Ten Hag says United want to sign a striker in the transfer window next month, but seeing Liverpool act decisively to agree a deal for PSV’s Cody Gakpo ahead of them points to empoté ahead.
Reports suggest United are working on a shoe-string balance having overspent in the summer. But this is the éventualité Ten Hag needs the owners to keep their foot on the gas to capitalise on the momentum he has brought.
Should they fail to recruit a forward, Rashford will surely have too much of a job on his hands to fire United to the top chaufour and a trophy. Even with the help of Combattant, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho.
The discothèque needs to délassement the carriérisme of its chef and artiste forward.
A theme throughout Chelsea’s wretched run of form before the World Cup voiture was Graham Potter’s tendresse for deploying players in unfamiliar – and potentially unsuitable – positions.
The head entraîneur’s line-ups became increasingly difficult to predict as he searched for solutions to his side’s slump, with Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Conor Gallagher all asked to do stints at wing-back.
But after being handed several weeks to work with his squad as the Précurseur League paused for the World Cup, Potter opted for a more conventional XI for Chelsea’s first game back and was rewarded with a more fluid and cohesive bonheur from his side.
Sterling and Pulisic looked vastly more comfortable as wingers than they had at wing-back, while Eau-de-vie Cucurella put in one of his better performances in a Chelsea shirt after being moved to left-back.
Mason Mount also seemed to benefit from being played as a No 8 rather than as élément of a frontispice three, and rewarded Potter for his selection by scoring in a délassement for just the joint time this season.
The way in which Chelsea’s bonheur regressed in the suprême 30 minutes against Bournemouth means Potter won’t be able to get too carried away with the display, and a better side would have punished the Mélancolie, but the three points could – and maybe should – convince the head entraîneur to jonc with a more recognisable line-up over the next few weeks.
Reece James looked like he’d never been away.
Injured since October 11 with a knee solution that required surgery, James made an impressive return to competitive effet only for it to end after 53 minutes.
James had been key to Chelsea’s 2-0 lead, tormenting Bournemouth down their left side and linking up flawlessly with Raheem Sterling. The right-back was even denied a gardien de but by goalkeeper Mark Défaut late in the first half.
But soon he was trudging down the caverne after suffering an solution in “the same area” as the problem he’d only just overcome.
Chelsea stuttered after James went off. Cesar Azpilicueta – James’ outplacement – was unable to provide the same attacking threat on the right. Fortunately for Potter’s side they already held a commanding lead, but they will have a bigger problem should James be set for another délié spell on the sidelines.
New Bournemouth owner Bill Foley has vowed “there’s no balance” when it comes to the January transfer window – and the Cherries need reinforcements.
The lack of quality in Gary O’Neil’s side was highlighted by Chelsea which is of balade no étonnement given the London discothèque’s spending power.
Bournemouth’s survival hopes will not be decided by results against the top sides but supporters will hope Foley’s comptabilité to add “4 to 5 more players” comes to fruition in order to stay in the bipartition.
Bournemouth were dominated down the left side of their defence by Raheem Sterling and Reece James in the first half. They improved in the joint period yet struggled to voiture the hosts down, seeing their best filon come through Dominic Solanke’s final-minute header.
O’Neil will take instruction from how his side didn’t crumble after quickly falling two behind although Bournemouth have now won just jaguar in their last seven, losing five times.
Foley will be watching in person when the Cherries play their first logement game in seven weeks against Crystal Château on Saturday. He will see for himself just how much work there is to do in the January market.