By Niall Clarke

  • Five lessons learned from Premier League match-week nine
  • Full results
Huddersfield Town shocked Manchester United as Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points. Here are our five lessons learned from match-week nine.

 

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Manchester City are the team to beat

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With Manchester United’s 2-1 loss to Huddersfield, Manchester City had the chance to move five points clear of their neighbours when they welcomed Burnley to the Etihad stadium.

It was hardly the dazzling Citizens that we have seen over the past few weeks, but Pep Guardiola’s side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table.

From the get-go it looked like Burnley would be a much sterner test than Stoke were last week and that proved to be the case. It took a 30th minute penalty from Sergio Aguero, who matched the all-time club goalscoring record, to give them the lead.

Burnley were not much of an attacking threat, but at 1-0 it still looked like they could get something from the game. Therefore it was a relief when Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane scored within two minutes of each other to secure the points.

City are now the only side in the league that have not lost a game, and on current form that does not look like changing soon. The Citizens have established themselves as the team to beat this season and it will take a lot to overtake them.

 

Manchester United’s form has dipped

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After a near perfect start to the season, it seems like Manchester United’s form has started to dip in recent weeks. Whether it is down to injuries, confidence or another factor, there is cause for concern for Jose Mourinho.

It started with their 0-0 draw against Liverpool where compared to previous weeks, United looked rather toothless up front. They managed to respond with a 1-0 win at Benfica mid-week, but the performance was not great and they were rather fortunate with the goal.

The Red Devils had a chance to re-establish themselves as a leading force in the title race when they travelled to Huddersfield on Saturday, but what we got was one of the shocks of the season. United were once again poor and they paid the price as Huddersfield went 2-0 up before half time.

Marcus Rashford got one back for the visitors but it was not enough to spur a comeback. United have been lacklustre in their past three games, and Mourinho needs to turn it around fast or City might run away from them.

 

Watford are good, but they need to fix their defence

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For a period in the second half of Watford’s visit to Chelsea, Marco Silva’s side could have been 4-1 up and out of sight. After going 1-0 down thanks to Pedro’s curling effort, Watford responded on the brink of half time through Abdoulaye Doucouré.

Early in the second half Richarlison missed an open goal from close range before setting up Roberto Pereyra who gave Watford the lead. The Brazilian then missed another golden chance with a close range header as the Chelsea defence was all at sea.

Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to equalise for the Blues and from there Watford fell apart. César Azpilicueta headed home to once again give Chelsea the lead, before Batshuayi put the game beyond any doubt in stoppage time.

To be frank, Watford deserved at least a point from this game. They were dominant at the start of the second half and paid the price for missed opportunities. For the rest of the game they more than matched the Champions, but once again their defence let them down.

The Hornets have conceded 17 goals so far this season, which is not a good number when you compare with the teams at the bottom of the table. Luckily they have had enough going forward to make up for it.

As for Chelsea, it was a much needed win after failing to pick a victory in their last three matches. It will have undoubtedly lifted the pressure off Antonio Conte who may have been in the firing line if they had lost their third straight league game.

 

Koeman or Bilic will be next in the sack race

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Further pressure has mounted on both Slaven Bilic and Ronald Koeman as West Ham and Everton were subjected to three goal defeats over the weekend.

West Ham were toothless once again and were beaten convincingly by newly promoted Brighton 3-0 at the London Stadium. It was a match the Hammers would have expected to win, and post-match, Bilic sounded like a man who knew his time could be up.

With the players West Ham have at their disposal, they should not be struggling, and more to the point losing 3-0 at home to Brighton. They may be in need for a change in direction to boost morale.

Everton are in a much similar situation themselves. After being thrashed 5-2 at home to Arsenal on Sunday they sit in the bottom three after nine games. With the money they have spent in the summer, you would expect the Toffees to be competing for the top six, but right now they look like they could be in for a long season unless something changes and fast.

Craig Shakespeare got the boot earlier on this week, and it would be a shock to nobody if Bilic or Koeman were to follow.

 

Spurs look like title contenders again

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After getting their first Premier League win at Wembley last week, Spurs made it two in as many games as they thrashed Liverpool 4-1 on Sunday.

Harry Kane was on the scoresheet as he scored the first and last goals of the romp, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son were the other two scorers for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino’s side took full advantage of Liverpool’s lackluster defending during the match and benefited from errors at the back from the visitors.

Tottenham have been awesome away all season, but their home form has let them down. Having now won their last two matches at Wembley, their home form might improve and that is frightening for the rest of the league. If Spurs can match their away from at home then we might have some serious competition for Manchester City in the title race.

 

Predictions round-up

Niall (57)
Actual Score Neil (55)
West Ham 2-1 Brighton West Ham 0-3 Brighton West Ham 2-1 Brighton
Chelsea 2-0 Watford (1) Chelsea 4-2 Watford Chelsea 2-2 Watford
Huddersfield 0-4 Man United Huddersfield 2-1 Man United Huddersfield 0-3 Man United
Man City 3-1 Burnley (1) Man City 3-0 Burnley Man City 3-1 Burnley (1)
Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace Newcastle 1-0 Crystal Palace Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace
Stoke 0-0 Bournemouth Stoke 1-2 Bournemouth Stoke 1-0 Bournemouth
Swansea 2-1 Leicester Swansea 1-2 Leicester Swansea 0-0 Leicester
Southampton 0-1 West Brom Southampton 1-0 West Brom Southampton 1-1 West Brom
Everton 1-2 Arsenal (1) Everton 2-5 Arsenal Everton 1-2 Arsenal (1)
Tottenham 2-2 Liverpool Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool Tottenham 2-3 Liverpool

With their relatively similar predictions this week, there was not much to separate Niall and Neil this week, in fact there was only one point between them.

Overall it was a poor week for both, but Niall’s prediction of Chelsea beating Watford turned out to be the difference. If only it was not for a bad finish for the Hornets, then Neil would have won the match-week and possibly gone ahead overall.

For now however, Niall has extended his lead by a further point. Can Neil respond next time out?

The Premier League returns on October 28th

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