Premier League highlights: 10 talking points from the weekend

The points were shared in the heavyweight clash at the Etihad as Manchester City and Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw.

That allowed Leicester to finish the weekend on top after they saw off Wolves at the King Power thanks to Jamie Vardy’s penalty.

They were one of three teams to spend a period at the summit of the Premier League as first Southampton went top following their Friday night win over Newcastle.

Tottenham replaced them thanks to Harry Kane’s late winner against struggling West Brom.

Elsewhere, Manchester United are back to winning ways after coming from behind to see off Everton on Merseyside.

But Arsenal were unable to back up their impressive win at Old Trafford last week as they were blown away by Aston Villa.

Elsewhere Crystal Palace and West Ham both earned three points against newly promoted sides and Brighton shared the points with Burnley.

Here are our 10 talking points from the weekend of Premier League action…

Man City and Liverpool shared the points

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1. Klopp’s brave call

After days of debate over whether Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota would start Sunday’s game, Klopp surprised many by playing them both in a highly offensive 4-2-4 formation.

It was a risk which certainly paid off initially, with Liverpool looking much more inventive, threatening and dangerous than City throughout the vast majority of the first half.

The change of formation did leave them open and vulnerable to City counters from time to time, but that only added to what was a fascinating spectacle.

There is no doubt that the attacking quadruple of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Firmino and Jota is one which could well tear apart weaker sides than City, and Reds fans got a tantalising glimpse of what could be to come in the future.

Kyle Walker’s early error saw Man City go behind

2. City need Walker upgrade

City right-back Walker looked very much a man past his best on Sunday.

Despite starting the season fairly well, the 30-year-old was run ragged by Mane at the Etihad, and was clumsy in giving away a penalty early on.

Roy Keane blasted Walker as an “idiot” and a “car crash” on Sky Sports at half-time, and while this seems a touch on the harsh side, it is not the first time the England international’s decision-making has come into question.

Walker is not getting any younger, and will surely continue to struggle against pacy forwards such as Mane even more as time goes on.

Guardiola has continued to stay loyal to Walker despite his errors in the past, but the time may have come to look for another option in the full-back position.

It will be intriguing to see whether City get their chequebook out in January.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains a man under pressure

3. Where does this leave Solskjaer?

With Manchester United behind in the first half, the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to be reaching a critical point.

With defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir fresh in the memory, the trip to Goodison Park was billed as a must-win fixture for the Red Devils.

And after falling behind, they showed the character they have been missing in recent weeks to dig deep and lead by the interval.

As well as reversing the scoreline, United sucked the life out of Everton and showed control and dominance scarcely seen this season.

With Harry Maguire steadfast in defence, United weathered a late flurry of Everton attacks and held on for a vital win which propelled them to 13th in the league.

The victory ensures United head into the international break on a positive note and with home ties against West Brom and Istanbul Basaksehir after the break, the Red Devils have the chance to put together a run of wins.

It could be a defining run for United’s season and Solskjaer’s future.

Jordan Pickford’s challenge on Harry Maguire went to VAR

4. Pickford escapes punishment

Another match, another incredible decision by Jordan Pickford from a set piece.

Having been dropped for Robin Olsen in the previous match, Pickford was recalled by Carlo Ancelotti for the visit of the Red Devils.

With his status as England No. 1 reaffirmed by Gareth Southgate in midweek, this was the chance for Pickford to put his shaky form behind him.

Granted, there was little he could have done for either goal; Bruno Fernandes’ header nestled in the top corner and he was fortunate to see his cross go in off the post.

But Pickford produced another jaw-dropping moment in the second half, dropping a free kick on the byline and proceeding to clatter Harry Maguire as he tried to pounce on the loose ball.

The goalkeeper avoided punishment for the challenge and rallied well, making a good save to deny Marcus Rashford and claiming a dangerous cross.

But the error will lead to more scrutiny of his status at club and country.

Ollie Watkins scored a second-half brace

5. Wonderful Villa upset form guide

Southampton and Leeds had both put Villa to the sword at Villa Park in recent weeks so they must’ve feared the worst en route to the Emirates.

Arsenal looked a million dollars as they dominated the Red Devils last Sunday and they then smashed in four goals in Europe on Thursday.

A formality? Think again.

Villa were fantastic from minute one and looked every bit the side who won four on the bounce earlier this season.

Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish especially caused Arsenal all kinds of problems and matched their quality with plenty of graft.

And having a man like Watkins to finish off their good work certainly makes life easier.

Alexandre Lacazette hasn’t scored since September

6. Lacazette’s struggles

It might seem strange to suggest that Arsenal’s top goalscorer is a man under pressure, but Lacazette has not scored since September.

There are increasing calls for youngster Eddie Nketiah to replace the Frenchman in the front three.

And they will have gathered further momentum when Lacazette headed over from close range in the first-half with the Gunners seeking an equaliser. 

Arteta has demanded more goals from the 29-year-old and bought him off for Nketiah on the hour.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is indispensable despite his form and Willian received a glowing review from his manager this week so if they opt for a change in attack, odds are Lacazette will be the man sacrificed going forward.

Ademola Lookman fluffed his lines late on

7. Lookman look away

It already looks as if Fulham will be battling for survival come the end of the season which means every point matters, even at this early stage.

So when you get a penalty in injury time which allows you to snatch a point you take it.

West Ham and taken a late lead at the London Stadium but Fulham were awarded a penalty in the 97th minute after a VAR check.

Lookman stepped up and rather than hammering it home with conviction he did the unthinkable and tried to be clever.

He wandered up and attempted to Panenka it down the middle, but Lukasz Fabianski was able to stick a hand out and save.

Fulham left empty handed – just how costly could that be.

Harry Kane came up with the goods

8. Jose and Tottenham going under the radar

Tottenham’s late show at the Hawthorns had that feel about it – that feeling that Jose Mourinho may still have some magic left.

The Portuguese boss has been questioned in recent years and has taken charge of a side that are by no means seen as genuine title challengers.

But maybe that is why they’re so dangerous, because they can go under the radar.

Mourinho was allowed to bring in some of his own faces in the summer and started with Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min for the first time.

It was Kane who scored with three minutes remaining to bag his 150th Premier League goal.

Tottenham sat top at full-time, only for a few hours, but it might not be the only time we see them topping the pile.

Patrick Bamford’s VAR offside for pointing has caused a stir

9. Bamford’s VAR nightmare

VAR was again a big part of weekend’s fixture list awarding several penalties for contentious handballs at the King Power and then the Etihad.

But without a doubt it produced one of its most ludicrous decisions when it ruled out Patrick Bamford’s goal for Leeds against Crystal Palace.

The Whites were 1-0 down at Selhurst Park when the striker pointed to where he wanted the ball played.

He was clearly onside when he slotted home, but he didn’t account for his outstretched arm, signalling where he wanted the ball, counting against him.

His left shoulder was marginally in front of last Palace defender once the lines had been drawn.

Fair to say the decision was not well received by the footballing universe.

10. Leicester flying high despite missed spot kick

Leicester scaled the top of the Premier League on Sunday thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty.

They could even afford the luxury of a missed spot kick by the striker as they started to show the kind of consistency that made them champions in 2016.

“Nine wins out of 11 shows the mentality of the team. Our football was outstanding against a very good side,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said following his side’s 1-0 win over Wolves, singling out his side’s defensive resilience for praise.

If the Foxes can keep this strong run of form going, a new fairytale season might just take shape.

Who will finish in the top four this season? Have your say here.

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