MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – The following are talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action:
SOLSKJAER NEEDS MORE TO REACH GOALS
Manchester United’s 2-0 win in their derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford on Sunday, was proof that the Norwegian’s rebuilding project is heading in the right direction.
United are now 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and have kept clean sheets in eight of those games as they have risen up the table to be in position for a real push for Champions League qualification.
The back-line looks solid, the midfield has been transformed by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January and the often-frustrating Anthony Martial is becoming a real threat in attack.
What is even more impressive is that United have hit this form without their best striker, the injured Marcus Rashford, and with their record signing Paul Pogba also sidelined.
Tactically, United have proved to be an unpredictable opponent — still strong on the counter-attack, they have shown themselves capable of more dominant possession football at times as their first half display in last week’s draw at Everton proved.
But amidst the euphoria on Sunday, Solskjaer was right to offer a reminder that there is still a long way to go before United can be viewed as genuine title rivals to Liverpool and City.
A creative midfielder and another attacking option would give United greater potential with the ball whilst it would not be a surprise to see Solskjaer look to add another central defender to challenge Victor Lindelof for the role alongside skipper Harry Maguire.
MOURINHO’S MOANING DOES SPURS NO FAVOURS
Solskjaer’s upbeat approach contrasts starkly with the reign of his predecessor Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford and despite talk of a new approach from the Portuguese manager the same negativity seems to have followed him to Tottenham.
After Spurs fought back to get a point at Burnley in Saturday’s 1-1 draw, Mourinho not only singled out club record signing Tanguy Ndombele for criticism but he lamented the absence of injured striker Harry Kane.
It’s hardly positive thinking.
DE BRUYNE ABSENCE FELT
Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne missed around half of Manchester City’s games last season due to injuries but Pep Guardiola’s side still managed to win the title.
On Sunday though his absence appeared to weaken the side significantly with Bernardo Silva struggling in the playmaker role and David Silva left on the bench.
Guardiola will be praying the talented Belgian is fit for the Champions League last 16 return with Real Madrid on March 17.