There was a thrilling weekend of Premier League action, which included odds-defying upsets, resurgent strikers and East End woes for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
With the dust settled on the action, we take a look at the big talking points from the weekend.
Lukaku quietens doubters with Burnley double
Romelu Lukaku has had plenty of critics in recent weeks, not least after a dismal display in the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. But the Manchester United ace proved his goalscoring instinct at Burnley on Sunday.
His opener was deftly nodded home from a beautiful Alexis Sanchez ball, before the Belgian pounced on a loose ball to snaffle up his second just before the break.
A real handful for the Clarets defence throughout, the 25-year-old consistently got himself into dangerous positions and could well have bagged a hat-trick on another day.
Whether or not United can truly get back on course remains to be seen. As it stands, they’re 11/8 for a top-four finish.
Pressure grows on Pellegrini’s hapless Hammers
There’s no question that, on paper at least, West Ham United should have more than enough quality to avoid a relegation battle. But Saturday’s display against Wolverhampton Wanderers has sounded the alarm bells at the London Stadium.
Pellegrini’s side struggled for any cohesion and barely threatened to score. But not only did the visitors dominate possession, they also managed 21 shots to West Ham’s 16.
Wolves’ injury-time winner came courtesy of a Carlos Sanchez error – one which summed up the Irons’ malaise. And with West Ham currently pointless, the pressure is on Pellegrini, who is 7/2 second-favourite to be the next Prem boss out the door.
Tale of two strikers at the Amex
Brighton & Hove Albion and Fulham played out an exciting 2-2 draw at the Amex Stadium on Saturday. And it was an encounter which highlighted the importance of one striker on each side – Glenn Murray and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The robust Murray was at the heart of the Seagulls’ second-half comeback. For the first, he linked up excellently with Anthony Knockaert. His second was a coolly-taken penalty. But his link-up play and hassling of the defence throughout was superb.
Andre Schurrle coolly bagged the Cottagers’ opener, but Mitro was the star of their display. Powerful, energetic and clinical – he bullied Lewis Dunk for Fulham’s second goal, and was a nightmare for the Brighton defence for the whole 90 minutes.
If both men can stay fit and in form, it’s hard to see either side being part of this season’s relegation battle.
Hornets proving the season’s surprise package
Even the most optimistic Watford fan wouldn’t have had their side amongst the early season pace-setters. But Javi Gracia’s men defied the odds once again on Saturday to record a first victory over Tottenham Hotspur since 1987.
Despite going behind, they fought back superbly. Gracia’s side showed their well-honed set piece skills with Troy Deeney’s headed equaliser and Craig Cathcart’s winner.
Happy to sit deep for much of the game, the hosts soaked up the pressure without really letting Spurs in behind them. And they struck with devastating effect, for a fourth win in as many Prem games this term.
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