Saturday Night Takeaways: Pressure ramps up on Mark Hughes and is Manchester United's future Rooney-less?
Some of the talking points from a busy day in Premier League action19:44 Saturday 24 September 2016, 19:44 24 Sep 2016
Manchester United thumped champions Leicester City in the day's early game, while neighbours City maintained their 100 per cent start to the season.
Arsenal beat Chelsea in the league for the first time since 2011 and Liverpool made light work of 10-man Hull City. After a busy day of action in the Premier League, here are some of the day's talking points.
1) Does Jose Mourinho press forward without Wayne Rooney?
Needless to say, Manchester United had a point to prove today. Welcoming Leicester City - a team who Mourinho admitted were "easy to analyse" but difficult to deal with - may have been a perfect fixture for him.
It was a statement of intent from the Portuguese manager and his decision to drop captain Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini for the gamely was certainly vindicated. United looked at their scintillating best and four goals in 20 minutes (three of which came in a five minute period) meant the game was over by half time.
Mourinho's side played with a freedom and fluidity that hasn't been there in the last two weeks and the boss will have been relieved to see Marcus Rashford get on the scoresheet after giving him a starting berth.
Paul Pogba also notched his first goal for United and his presence today in the starting XI can not be underrated.
Their performance for the most part was vintage United and now begs the question whether or not they should press ahead without Rooney?
Mourinho said after the game: "Wayne is a big player for me, this club and this country. I’ve nothing to say, I trust him and he’s happy as I am."
If performances like these continue without Rooney in the squad, it will difficult to imagine a situation where he he regains a starting berth.
Rooney was dropped from the starting XI for the visit of champiosn Leicester City this afternoon. Image: Richard Sellers / EMPICS Sport
2) Liverpool show bare their teeth to rip apart hapless Tigers
Things are looking mighty rosy at Liverpool these days. Four wins on the bounce, unbeaten in six in all competitions. Jurgen Klopp looks to have turned this team of underachievers into a serious outfit.
Today they kept up their devastating good form, with Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and James Milner all looking razor sharp. Blending the experience that is already there with new signings like Sadio Mane and Joël Matip has worked a charm for the German coach.
Since their 2-0 defeat to Burnley last month, they have looked a considerably improved side and have hit form at an important time.
Manchester City found Swansea difficult to break down for large periods this afternoon, where Klopp's side will have to travel to next before they face a considerably more difficult fixture against Manchester United.
The team has shown a renewed focus since that chastening defeated to Sean Dyche's side and if recent performances are anything to go by, a tilt at the top four and beyond doesn't seem as far fetched as it has done in previous seasons - excluding, of course, the 2013/14 season.
And Klopp was so pleased with his side's performance today he went as far as saying: "That's how football should be".
Klopp: "The first half was how football should be!" 👏 pic.twitter.com/04F3zEmpTe— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 24, 2016
3) Pressure ramps up on Mark Hughes as Stoke let valuable victory slip
It seems Mark Hughes just can't buy a win. The Stoke City boss looked on course to pick up his first win of the season, but a stoppage time equaliser from West Brom's Salomon Rondon spoiled the party.
Tony Pulis sides have a tendency to do that - see most notably: Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool 2013/14 and Tottenham 1-1 West Brom 2015/16.
In any case, the pressure will no doubt be ramped up on Hughes after the defeat, considering they have only picked up two points from their opening six games. On Friday, the Welshman was forced too deny reports of dressing room unrest and new signings not bedding into the club.
"Unfortunately at the moment we're a little bit of fair game for some in your area of work that think they can get easy headlines," he told reporters. "It's all very, very predictable. Player unrest, problems in the dressing room.. They all come up in this situation."
He does have a point, in that once a run of results goes against a team, the pressure is increased on a manager. The shelf live of coaches are getting shorter and shorter, but that's just modern football.
A win would have lifted them level on points with Burnley and Swansea today, but they move just to 19th because of Sunderland's defeat.
In reality, Hughes really needed that win today. It would have alleviated a great deal of pressure on him and left him on a stable base heading into next week's clash with Manchester United. If Mourinho's men are in the form they showed today and deliver a thumping against the Potters, things could get a whole lot worse for Hughes.
A stoppage time equaliser denied Hughes a massively important three points. Image: Tim Goode / PA Wire/Press Association Images
4) Alexis Sanchez's new role gives Wenger options
This season isn't the first time Arsene Wenger has made a point of trying to play Alexis Sanchez as his main striker.
But it's the first time that the Chilean has had such a consistent run in the position.
The pace he brings to a role he is still getting accustomed to was of huge benefit in a 3-0 victory over Chelsea in which he scored one and made another.
While he can be described as fulfilling the False 9 role, the fact that Sanchez can play in that role means Wenger has options depending on the opposition.
His replacement for the final minutes against Chelsea, Olivier Giroud, provides the standard target man option if the match so requires it, while new summer signing Lucas Perez announced himself with two goals against Nottingham Forest in midweek EFL Cup action.
Certainly against sides with high lines, Sanchez is especially dangerous in comparison to the less pacey Giroud.
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