Premier League takeaways: Klopp concerns, Manchester spot of bother, Arsenal title boost

We pick out the talking points from the latest round of English top-flight fixtures

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Major concerns for Klopp at Liverpool

Testing times for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. The Merseysiders were comprehensively outplayed by Brighton on Saturday, a defeat that now leaves them a mammoth 19 points behind leaders Arsenal.

They have already dropped 26 points in the league this season and, after 18 games, Liverpool have scored fewer goals, conceded more, won fewer points and have a worse goal difference than at this stage of any previous full top-flight campaign since Klopp arrived in 2017.

“Bad. Really bad. I can't remember a worse game,” admitted the German coach. “Yeah, how can you not be [concerned] after a game like this? I cannot stand here and say it didn't happen. Of course, we have to be very concerned about it.”

Atmosphere at Everton takes sinister twist

Across Stanley Park, the simmering atmosphere at Goodison Park boiled over into something far more sinister this weekend.

Everton's board of directors were told to stay away from the home game against Southampton because of a “real and credible threat to their safety”.

Relations between fans and owners has hit a new low and a 2-1 defeat against the bottom club on Saturday only added to the toxicity, with thousands of supporters staging a sit-in at the ground after the match.

“I am fortunate in the fact I have been in the game a long time and you become quite tough to these things. It becomes your life,” manager Frank Lampard said after a defeat that leaves them ahead of Southampton only on goal difference.

Everton fans make their feelings clear at Goodison Park. PA

City pay penalty in Manchester derby

The big talking point of the weekend emerged at Old Trafford as United overcame a one-goal deficit to beat City 2-1 in the Manchester derby.

It was United's leveller that caused the furore when Bruno Fernandes cancelled out Jack Grealish's opener, with Marcus Rashford clearly in an offside position but deemed not to be interfering with play by officials as he did not touch the ball.

“Rashford distracted our keeper and centre defenders,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, while even his United counterpart Erik ten Hag admitted he “wouldn't be happy if we conceded a goal like this”.

City defender Manuel Akanji called the decision “a joke”, adding “I saw Rashford, he was clearly offside, so I played him offside”. Unsurprisingly, Rashford felt “it should have stood” while Fernandes insisted his teammate's position “didn't make any influence on the defenders”.

Similar divisions appeared in the television commentary boxes. Former England striker Gary Lineker said on Match of the Day: “I don't understand how you can possibly say that Rashford isn't interfering.”

In stark contrast, ex-Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes donned his Red Devil-tinted sunglasses on BT Sport when he insisted that Rashford was “interfering with nobody” and that the goal was simply “good communication” between the pair.

Potter, Moyes and Lampard: Sack race hots up

The race to become the next winner in the Premier League manager sack race is building up nicely.

Despite receiving a vote of confidence from beleaguered Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, Lampard must be in the firing line having lost 20 of the 37 league games he has been in charge since taking over in January last year. They have also just lost four in a row on home soil in the top-flight for the first time since 1958.

Down at West Ham, David Moyes is fully aware that despite having guided the team to to sixth and seventh place finishes in his last two campaigns, one point from their last seven games pushes him fully into the danger zone.

Gary O'Neil was only appointed full-time manager of Bournemouth during the World Cup but has lost all six matches since, while Chelsea's narrow victory over Crystal Palace at least eased some of the pressure on Graham Potter.

But Chelsea remain marooned down in 10th and, after forking out another £62 million on Ukraine winger Mykhailo Mudryk, the Blues' owners will be looking for some instant signs of improvement.

Arsenal make title statement with derby win

After Manchester City's Old Trafford defeat, the spotlight shifted back to Arsenal to see whether they could come through their own derby battle on enemy turf.

And Mikel Arteta's side did exactly that with two first-half goals securing an impressive 2-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points.

Even the unseemly scenes at the end, when Gunners goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was involved in an altercation with home supporters, could not dampen Arteta's delight.

“I loved the way we played and the courage we showed to come here and play,” said the Spaniard. “Doing our job we can make a lot of people happy, and I'm sure we've made Arsenal fans very happy.”

Updated: January 16, 2023, 6:25 AM
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