De Futebol Liverpool is finally off the Schnid

Liverpool hangs on beat Leicester City 3-2 for the Reds first win in four matches.

The Guardians Paul Doyle wrote:” Matches like this are what the Premier League does best, fast-paced blockbusters with breathtaking attacking and thigh-slapping clangers. Leicester and, especially, Liverpool are among the leading exponents of an intoxicating genre.

Jürgen Klopp’s men scored three splendid goals here but still needed Simon Mignolet to save a late penalty from Jamie Vardy to secure a much-needed win. Mignolet, almost inevitably, had conceded the penalty himself, rushing off his line in an attempt to intercept the ball, which he touched before clattering into Vardy. The goalkeeper also bore some blame for earlier goals by Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, even if he was not helped on those occasions by questionable refereeing.

In the end, however, Liverpool banked three points because their vibrancy going forward more than offset their problems at the rear, earning reward in the form of goals by Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.

It would be wrong to claim the German came into this game with many Liverpool supporters calling for his head, but it is true that a lot were questioning what goes through it. In particular, the failure to shore up a persistently leaky defence remained a vexing puzzle. After losing here in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday Klopp had said he was sick of conceding preventable goals. He would have been well advised to pack anti-nausea tablets this time, even though he was able to deploy his preferred centre-backs with Dejan Lovren and Joël Matip having regained fitness.

That duo, along with several other Liverpool players, could do with silencing a growing number of sceptics. They also had to subdue Vardy and Okazaki, who set about testing them early on. In the fifth minute Okazaki released his strike partner, who sprinted past Matip and into the box. Mignolet blocked his shot at the near post and, with Lovren hesitant, Riyad Mahrez pounced on the rebound but whacked the bouncing ball over from seven yards.

Then Liverpool found their attacking groove. Coutinho and Salah, both thrumming dangerously, combined slickly to create their first chance, although Emre Can still had plenty to do. The German almost did it perfectly but his drive from 25 yards bounced off the base of a post. Salah swatted the rebound wide from close range but turned out to be offside.

Salah was sharper three minutes later when he opened the scoring. The Egyptian sneaked behind Ben Chilwell to meet a lovely cross by Coutinho and send a powerful header into the net from an acute angle. Kasper Schmeichel seemed to be taken by surprise.

The same could be said of Mignolet moments later when the Belgian goalkeeper, as too often, was caught dozing. As he took his sweet time to kick clear outside his area, Vardy darted in to dispossess him. The ball squirted out to Okazaki, whose attempt to fire into the net from 25 yards was deflected wide.

As if reminded that they would probably need to score more than once to win, Liverpool hurtled quickly down the other end. Alberto Moreno was tripped outside the area and Coutinho curled a sumptuous free-kick into the net. The Brazilian was excellent throughout, showing why Barcelona covet him and Liverpool cherish the 25-year-old.

Leicester halved the deficit before half-time, with Liverpool complaining of injustice. First Matip was booked when Vardy went to ground, then Mahrez swung over a corner, which Mignolet came for and missed after interference by Okazaki. Joe Gomez, jostled by Harry Maguire, was unable to prevent Wilfred Ndidi’s header from bouncing off him and towards the net. Okazaki nudged the ball over the line despite being pulled back by Mignolet.

There are managers who in such situations would shut the game down to complete a 2-1 away win. Klopp is no such manager, at least not with these players. He can tweak his approach but really has only one setting: frenetic. So the spectacle remained thrilling, the outcome unknowable. “We would have loved to control it but it was a little hectic,” said Klopp of the period just after half-time.

Leicester played their part well. The breakneck pace suited most of their players, too, but not Mahrez, who was mostly a drifter before being replaced by Demarai Gray. Matip blocked a shot by Vardy before, in the 68th minute, Liverpool broke fast to increase their lead. The substitute Daniel Sturridge unselfishly fed Henderson, who slotted past Schmeichel from the middle of the penalty area.

Still Liverpool were not safe. Leicester hit back one minute later, Mignolet parrying a shot by Gray into the path of Vardy, who accepted the invitation to score.

Two minutes later Mignolet conceded the penalty. Vardy blasted it down the middle and the goalkeeper stood up to it to ensure the last laugh was his, this time.

De Futebol- Arsenal starts off with a bang in The Europa League- a 4-2 win over Bate.

Arsenal picks a up a huge 4-2 win over Bate in the Europa League Group play on the road at Borisov Arena in Belarus.

The Guardians Amy Lawrence wrote:” To butcher a phrase Arsène Wenger coined many years ago, if you eat caviar every day, sometimes it is not so bad to return to sausages. After all those seasons of Champions League, Arsenal have rather taken to life in the Europa League. It is not always easy to get the blend right with a reshuffled team, a mix of older pros who are perhaps not getting as much football as they want, and kids desperate for opportunities. But Arsenal got stuck into their sausages, established enough “cohesion” to please the manager, and ended up having the better of a rollicking, bundles of chances, blast in Belarus.

There was always going to be a question of how seriously Arsenal take the group stage of this competition and it is to the credit of the senior players chosen for this trip, who did not take this game lightly, that they are coasting Group H without being wholly convincing. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are two of the club’s longest-serving players and they created the platform to help Arsenal secure maximum points from their European outings so far. Olivier Giroud, another of the senior performers, slotted in his 100th goal for the club. Walcott was on a hat-trick when a penalty was awarded early in the second half but stood aside to let his team-mate join a grand list of centurions. The Frenchman coolly placed his shot and enjoyed the moment.

Wenger went straight to Giroud after the game to congratulate him on his milestone. “It is a remarkable achievement,” he said. “He is in good company. When you play football the most difficult thing is to score goals and he scored 100 for us.”

The Arsenal manager was also particularly complimentary about Wilshere, who continues to improve and catch the eye with each performance since his latest injury, bringing even greater authority. Playing a more advanced role than central midfield, he was influential. “He had an outstanding first half, did fight until the end, and is on a good way back to his best,” noted Wenger. “He is at an age where a player normally gets to the best of his career. He has only been stopped by a series of injuries. I just pray he is not hampered any more by any problems. He will get stronger and stronger. He has shown tonight he has not lost any football

With a host of first-teamers left in London and spared the 2,500-mile trip, Arsenal’s team leaned on the knowhow of players with abundant experience. Across a starting XI that included three youngsters they still had a combined 400 international caps. With Wilshere excelling and Walcott darting around just behind Giroud, Arsenal created enough of a lead that even when Bate burst into life the result was not in serious danger. It was just as well Wenger’s front men produced as the defenders had numerous ragged moments of their own in a very open game.

Part of the character of the Europa League experience is the chance to go off the beaten track and Arsenal’s first away trip took them to Borisov, the ninth-largest place in Belarus. Nestled in the woods just on the outskirts a spaceship stadium is parked, full of rainbow colour, which is home to its nation’s perennial champions.

They were soon behind as Arsenal started sharply. Wilshere’s vision shone and when his creative finery picked out Walcott, the forward finished with a neat header. Arsenal added another couple in a three-minute burst midway through the first half. Bate’s last line of defence, Denis Scherbitski, dropped an exceptional clanger, popping the ball straight to Walcott who drilled in past the stricken keeper. Arsenal turned the screw and Rob Holding looked ecstatic to shin in the third from a corner.

Leading with confidence made the occasion one to relish for the youngsters given a chance to pick up the experience of a European away match. Wenger’s faith in youth was interesting, especially as all three rookies played in midfield – the heartland packed in this case with inexperienced promise. At 18 years old, Joe Willock had presence in the centre alongside Mohammed Elneny, with the 17-year-old Reiss Nelson and 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles showing flashes of ability from the wider wing-back roles.

Mirko Ivanic took advantage of some soft Arsenal defending to head in a goal acclaimed joyously by the home crowd. Bate scored another to cherish in the second half when Mikhail Gordeichuk rifled in from close range. Ospina had to be alert to punch away moments later. Somehow Arsenal were in danger of snatching anxiety from the jaws of a comfortable victory.

They saw out the game, and headed home and back to the Premier League. A difficult week to manage has so far been handled well.

De Futebol Man U tore CSKA Moscow a new one 4-1 in Champions League Play

Man U kicked major ass and took names in a major 4-1 win over Russian side CSKA Moscow in Champions League Group action.

The Guardians Jamie Jackson wrote:” Manchester United have maximum points from their two Champions League outings and return home from Moscow in buoyant mood. From first to last whistle they coasted to a win that means José Mourinho’s side have now scored 28 goals in nine outings this season.

They owed this victory to the superb Anthony Martial, who created both Romelu Lukaku’s goals, scored a penalty and generally terrorised CSKA Moscow whenever he took possession.

Mourinho had made five changes from Saturday’s 1-0 win at Southampton. Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia did not travel because of injury and Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata were dropped to the bench. In came Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof to a three-man defence, while Mourinho also drafted in Blind as left wing-back, Ander Herrera into midfield, and Martial to attack.

United made an excellent start and would return a fine first half of their second Group A game. Their opening goal came as early as the fourth minute and was started and finished by the ever-excellent Lukaku. The No9 drifted deep and spun a pass out left and in behind the CSKA defence, perfectly weighted into Martial’s path. The Frenchman cut inside and with his right boot dropped the ball on to the head of Lukaku, who beat Igor Akinfeev to the goalkeeper’s left from a few yards out.

Mourinho turned away from the technical area unmoved but surely content inside and he had reason to be pleased with what happened next, too, as David De Gea ensured the lead was not conceded within a few seconds. CSKA attacked and an Aleksandr Golovin mis-kick became a pass that rolled to Alan Dzagoev. The No10 pulled the trigger but De Gea dived superbly to his right to steer the ball out for a corner.

CSKA gained nothing from this and United then pinned them back for virtually all of the period’s remainder. The home defence had to work to stop Martial after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had won a corner and United should have gone two up shortly afterwards. Daley Blind advanced up the CSKA right and slipped the ball in to Mkhitaryan but he failed to beat Akinfeev from short range.

Mourinho wheeled away with a hand in the air showing his disappointment but moments later Mkhitaryan was upended by Georgi Schennikov in the area and Jonas Eriksson pointed to the spot. The referee was booed and so too was Martial but the Frenchman coolly rolled the ball to Akinfeev’s left as he dived right.

Despite this awful start from their side the crowd continued to roar their team on, though it was quietened by United’s third. This came too easily for this level of football as CSKA again succumbed to the Martial-Lukaku combination. The No11 bounced a cross in, Vasili Berezutski air-kicked the ball, and there was Lukaku for a 14th goal in 11 appearances this season, his 10th in nine for United. He was close to a first United hat-trick when later taking aim from 25 yards, Akinfeev scrambling to his left to beat the ball out.

De Gea’s class is such that when called upon after all of this he could still react expertly to keep out a Fedor Chalov effort and at the break it remained 3-0, with the contest surely over.

CSKA’s sole hope appeared to be to try to nick one back early in the second half and see where this might take them. They swept forward in search of this in a move that ended with Golovin firing over De Gea’s bar from outside United’s area. Yet this was a brief respite as the Martial-Lukaku axis came close to breaching CSKA again when some razor-sharp play ended with the former snapping a pass to the latter right in front of Akinfeev and the Belgian should have hit the net rather than the goalkeeper.

Next up Ashley Young, the right wing-back and United’s captain for the night, swung a rare cross in from his side and Blind rose, though he failed to direct his header. When Mkhitaryan smashed home United’s fourth after Martial’s attempt was repelled by Akinfeev the match became the proverbial stroll for United.

This proved the Armenian’s last act as Jesse Lingard replaced him. From here United toyed with Russia’s second-placed side of last year, though there was some disappointment for United when Konstantin Kuchaev scored with a low shot from a narrow angle near the close.

De Futebol Flamengo Kicks Butt and takes names in a big win in the Copa Sul-Americana

Flamengo blew away Chapecoense 4-0 in the Copa Sudamericana.

Globo Esportes:” Éverton Ribeiro foi o destaque individual no setor ofensivo do Flamengo na classificação para as quartas de final da Sul-Americana, diante da Chapecoense. A atuação na vitória por 3 a 0 não teve gol, mas participação efetiva em um deles e movimentação e criação de jogadas constante. Diferentemente de Diego, que teve participação mais burocrática e acabou substituído pelo técnico Reinaldo Rueda no segundo tempo.

O problema é que o primeiro não está à disposição para a final da Copa do Brasil, diante do Cruzeiro, no dia 27. Só Diego, que deixou o campo aplaudido pela torcida na Ilha do Urubu, e também recebeu os cumprimentos dos líderes do time em campo, como os zagueiros Réver e Juan.

Ribeiro ficou até o fim da partida e se mostrou a principal arma rubro-negra na fase decisiva da competição. No início do jogo, caiu pela ponta esquerda, armando o lance do segundo gol. Depois, se manteve aberto no segundo tempo, mas buscou jogo e carregou da defesa para o ataque.

Diego jogou centralizado o tempo todo. Apesar de toda dedicação, não conseguiu criar jogadas nem com os pontas e nem com Guerrero. Limitou-se a conduzir a bola no meio, às vezes demorando para dar a dinâmica certa nos lances. Mesmo assim saiu aplaudido, por ser a esperança para que repita a boa atuação na semifinal da Copa do Brasil contra o Botafogo. Se não tem Ribeiro, vai com Diego. Mesmo longe da melhor fase no Flamengo.

De Futebol Arsenal wins. The guys are now in seventh place with ten points.

The guys pick up a 2-0 win over West Brom. The win puts the guys in seventh place with ten points.

This is a big win for my Gunners.

EPL Match Report:” Alexandre Lacazette became the first Arsenal player to score in his opening three home Premier League matches, claiming both goals in the 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

After Jay Rodriguez had hit a post for West Brom, Arsenal took the lead as Lacazette reacted first to an Alexis Sanchez free-kick that came off the bar to head home on 20 minutes.

West Brom, for whom Gareth Barry became the leading PL appearance maker with 633, responded well and Rodriguez was denied again by a goalline clearance from Nacho Monreal.

Arsenal controlled the second period and doubled their lead on 67 minutes, Lacazette converting a penalty after Aaron Ramsey was fouled by Allan Nyom.

Arsene Wenger’s side, unbeaten in three matches, move up to seventh while West Brom slip to 12th.”

De Futebol Newcastle Blows a Chance to Leap Frog into Third Place

Newcastle had a chance to leap into third place with a win over Brighton Hove and Albion instead the Seagulls took a 1-0 win at their house Amex Stadium.

The win liberates Brighton Hove and Albion out of the voce vai zone into thirteenth place with seven points.

Toons are parked in ninth place with nine points. This could all change when Arsenal and West Brom hook up later today.

The Guardians Paul MacInnes wrote:” If Brighton and Hove Albion get relegated this season it won’t be for a lack of valour, focus or determination. This narrowest of home wins against a team who were technically their better will be celebrated on the south coast, though probably only briefly. The next test, away at Arsenal next Sunday, is only around the corner.

Rafael Benítez’s visitors played their part in this match and could well have had a goal as reward for the way they controlled the first half. But there’s a difference between deserving a result and earning it and Albion certainly did the latter here.

These two sides know each other well of course, having contested a two-horse race for the title in the Championship last season. But this fixture saw just 10 players who started their last encounter – a late 2-1 win at the Amex for Newcastlein February – selected again. There has been much recruitment over the summer for both teams but also a changing of the guard; Glenn Murray and Jonjo Shelvey were key players for Brighton and Newcastle last season but were both consigned to the bench here.

Instead of Murray, Chris Hughton opted for the similarly muscular but more mobile Tomer Hemed. Alongside him was German Pascal Gross who has been the Seagulls’ attacking bright spot in an opening run of three defeats in five matches, with just four goals scored. Gross has two of them and it should really have been three in the opening quarter of an hour.

The home side had been happy to play on the break even during the opening exchanges but that was where the space was and Solly March earned enough room on the left in the 11th minute to whip the ball across the face of goal. It eventually came out to Gross on the edge of the box. The German advanced on to it, and with the goal at his mercy, drove his shot hard into the back of team-mate Anthony Knockaert.

Ten minutes later and Newcastle had contrived an even more glaring miss. It was a sweet move, flowing all the way from their own box with Mikel Merino robbing Knockaert, then advancing the ball to Christian Atsu who drove inside and out at the Brighton defence before slipping in Ayoze Pérez for the cross. Pérez found his fellow Spaniard on the edge of the six-yard box. Joselu, who contrived a series of glaring misses against Stoke last week, rolled his marker cleverly, spun on the ball and pushed his shot well wide of the far post.

From that point the first half declined. Gross put paid to a well-worked counter with a six-yard pass straight to Ciaran Clark. Pérez shot over from close range when teed up by Chancel Mbemba. When the half-time whistle went, Hughton had a face like thunder.

Within five minutes of the restart however, the Seagulls had the all-important opening goal. It came from a setpiece on the left-hand side of the Newcastle box, driven deep by Gross. Dale Stephens met the ball unmarked at the back post and nodded it back across goal where it skewed through a defender’s legs and up to chest height. With barely any time to react, Hemed managed to meet the ball both on the turn and on the volley and flashed it into the roof of the net.

Newcastle didn’t look like their gameplan had been thrown out of the window, they remained calm and composed. But they were lacking the alacrity to penetrate a Brighton rearguard that had been happy to invite them on to them in the first place. For their part, Brighton’s counterattacks – even with half an hour remaining – were now largely seen as opportunities to run the ball into the corner.

Shelvey duly came off the bench for Newcastle, as did last season’s top-scorer Dwight Gayle. For Brighton, meanwhile, the Championship player of the year Knockaert was withdrawn after another performance that fell short of the effectiveness he achieved so consistently last year. Shelvey had one free-kick that he drove over the bar from 25 yards out but, even as Newcastle roused themselves in the final 10 minutes, that was all they could muster.

De Futebol- Shitty and Man U are level on points with 16 apiece. Man Shitty is in the Catbird seat with a plus 19 while The Red Devils are second with a plus 15

Spurs defeated West Ham 3-2.

Spurs gave up two late goals to make this puppy a close one.

Tottenham has eleven points.

Man U hangs on for 1-0 win over Southampton.

Man Shitty blows out Crystal Palace 5-0.

Chelsea destroys Stoke City 4-0.

Man Shitty stays ahead of the Red Devils on goal difference. Shitty and Man U each have 16 points however Man Shitty is a plus nineteen while the Red Devils are a plus fifteen.

The Blues are third with 13 points.

Spurs are fourth with 11 points.

Watford defeated Swansea City 2-1. The Hornets have eleven points.

Everton defeated Bournemouth 2-0.

The wins lifts the Toffees out of the voce vai zone into thirteenth place with seven points.

Huddersfield and Burnley tied nil-nil.

EPL Match Report on the Man U win.” Romelu Lukaku equalled a Manchester United Premier League record with the only goal in a 1-0 win at Southampton.

The striker’s close-range finish on 20 minutes means no player has scored more goals in their first six appearances for the club than Lukaku’s six, level with Louis Saha.

Man Utd nearly had a second before the break but Marcus Rashford’s 25-yard free-kick flew narrowly wide of Fraser Forster’s post.

Southampton could not find an equaliser despite an improved second half, with Oriol Romeu’s dragged effort the closest Mauricio Pellegrino’s side came.

United are still unbeaten but are behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference. Saints drop to 11th. “

Liverpool held on for dear life to beat Leicester City 3-2.

With the win, the Reds are in fifth place with eleven points. Liverpool is a plus one.

Watford is sixth with eleven points a minus one.

Toons could jump into fourth place with a win over West Brom later today.

Newcastle has nine points.

De Futebol- Arsenal struggled against Lower Division side Doncaster

Arsenal barely got by Doncaster 1-0 in the fourth round of the Carabo Cup.

The Guardians Amy Lawrence wrote:” The circumstances might have been low-key compared to Wenger-Ferguson duels of old, but the second generation of a legendary footballing family did his upmost to ensure it was an edgy, vehemently competed affair as Arsenal squeaked past Doncaster Rovers. Darren Ferguson’s team gave Arsenal a fright as a contest that looked relatively comfortable in the first half turned into a nail-biter.

The Carabao Cup might not be a priority – the lowest recorded crowd since Arsenal moved to the Emirates of 44,064 attested to a certain lack of enthusiasm in north London – but Doncaster and their merry followers were able to admire a battling performance that belied their position in the lower reaches of League One.

Arsenal did enough thanks to Theo Walcott’s neatly taken dink of a match-winning goal. But the real boon belonged to the man who walked off the pitch with his shirt off and a big thumbs-up for the crowd. Jack Wilshere completed 90 minutes for Arsenal for the first time in almost three years. That is a meaningful statistic for a player who has had more than his fair share of setbacks.

Wilshere’s creative performance shone a light on the qualities he is capable of bringing to his team from the heart of midfield. Against opponents where there was space to look and think, he relished the opportunity to orchestrate, to spray passes with elan and to direct traffic with quick thinking and clear vision. He was not in a situation where he had to overstretch and over-compete, which suited him well. It was a positive stride along the road to recovery at his boyhood club that has had plenty of potholes.

Arsène Wenger felt the opportunity was perfect for Wilshere. “I wanted to leave him on to give him 90 minutes. Overall it was the ideal game for him to gain confidence and fitness,” he said. “We will see how he responds now. He is available now to play – the decision is when to play him. He needs 90 minutes of intensity repeated. He will soon be back. Everyone is looking at him. Everyone expects him to come back to his best. I wish that as well.”

Even though Wenger tends to favour what he calls a “mixed” line-up in these less significant challenges on the season’s wish-list, it was a surprise to see Alexis Sánchez in the starting XI. Any kind of injury picked up in a game like this would have opened up a supersized can of worms. But from Wenger’s perspective the Chilean, who had an extended summer holiday, still needed minutes in his legs to regain full sharpness. This was another useful 90-minute workout.

Some players who warrant the Champions League platform might coast through a Carabao Cup run-out but not Sánchez. His motivation was fully charged. His hunger to play manifested itself in a display full of chasing causes, darting runs and a willingness to shoot.

It was his instinct for a raking attacking pass that provided Arsenal with the decisive goal, which invited Walcott to finish past the goalkeeper Ian Lawlor. The home team had the chances to open up a comfortable lead and Olivier Giroud will wonder how he did not manage to claim his 100th Arsenal goal after a series of decent efforts, while Walcott ought to have added more.

Doncaster were satisfied to go in at half-time still in contention, with enough encouraging moments of their own to give them hope. As the game wore on Arsenal became more ragged and Doncaster’s determined attitude as they chased an equaliser won the hearts of the massed visiting support in the Clock end.

By the end Arsenal’s strangely imbalanced defensive line-up was on the rocks and Rovers went agonisingly close. Ben Whiteman had a free run at goal. Liam Mandeville’s clever cut-back and shot was deflected. Matty Blair’s header hit the crossbar. Despite their valiant efforts, it was not to be.

“I am proud of the players,” Ferguson said. “They did a lot of the things asked. It was a fantastic learning curve in terms of concentration levels.” Arsenal ticked this off and will host Norwich City in the next round.

De Futebol Can Man U and Man Shitty keep up this pace for the entire season?

It sure looks like Man U and Man Shitty are heads above the rest of the EPL. It is too early to make any pronouncements.

Let’s see how the season shakes out first.

The Daily Mail is floating this story. “Five games in and it is only alphabetical order separating the two Manchester clubs, City and United, at the top of the Premier League title.

The much-anticipated showdown between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho appears to have dawned at long last. After five assignments, the record is identical: four wins, one draw, sixteen goals scored, two conceded.

It is early days, of course, and Chelsea are within one victory of the two Manchester clubs while Tottenham also lie in wait but there is an unmistakable sense that the major players in the title race this season will come from the North West.

Here Sportsmail outlines the respective strengths and potential weaknesses of Guardiola’s City and Mourinho’s United…

The squads

Both sides are now blessed with a staggering depth of quality in attacking positions. The creative forces such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Kevin De Bruyne are glistening early on, while Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero are punishing opponents in brutal fashion.

Guardiola was able to introduce Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan from the bench at Watford while Anthony Martial, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard influenced the flow of the game for Mourinho as United ran riot late on at Old Trafford.

The two teams take their opponents apart in different manners. City want complete dominance and on the days it all comes together, it is truly magnificent – perhaps the highest level of football we have seen in this league since Arsenal’s Invincibles.

United, meanwhile, are more pragmatic. They are prepared to bide their time before pulling away late on, as they have done against West Ham, Swansea, Leicester and again on Sunday against Everton.

The remaining question mark about City is whether their defence will hold out and if Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones can forge a strong partnership.

Vincent Kompany, sadly, is back on the treatment table. Over the past week, which has seen City score 15 and concede 0 in three games against Liverpool, Feyenoord and Watford, the pair have been strong, allowing City’s opponents a total of  five shots on target.

Yet many opponents will feel a vulnerability is there to be exposed, particularly in behind Otamendi. Some City fans may also be concerned by the dependence on Fernandinho, whose role in front of the back four is so essential to offer some semblance of balance to this top-heavy City side. Much will depend on Gundogan’s return, particularly as Yaya Toure appears to have a reduced role this season.

United’s concern will be in the left back position, where Mourinho has now trialled Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young. All three have their own virtues but none appears capable of making the position their own. Luke Shaw is close to a return and Mourinho must hope he finally discovers a degree of consistency after a hellish period of injuries.

Upcoming fixtures

United will be hopeful of ending this period of fixtures top of the pile ahead of the international break. United travel to Southampton next week, who are finding goals hard to come by at their own ground, before hosting Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

City, for their part, have Palace at home next week before visiting Chelsea. Guardiola spoke on Saturday of his side having taken ‘forward steps’ at the start of this season but also insisted a visit to Stamford Bridge would prove the acid test of their credentials.

Title-winning experience

We know that Mourinho is the master of navigating a title race. It usually follows the pattern of a fast start and every time a Mourinho team has been top at Christmas, they have gone to win the title. It’s happened seven times.

Guardiola, of course, has lifted La Liga titles and the Bundesliga but the Premier League has its unique quirks late on in a season and Mourinho’s experience of three titles with Chelsea may help United over the line.

Seven United players have previously won a Premier League title compared to five at City but there is no shortage of domestic title winners abroad in either squad. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return will give United further high-pressure know-how.

What about the challengers?

Some caution is needed for both United and City. United were top of the league after three games last season but slumming it in sixth place by December.

City, meanwhile, won their first six but then only three of their next nine in the top-flight, including defeats by Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham as teams came to terms with their way of playing.

This offers hope for the chasing pack and Antonio Conte will remember that his side made a sluggish start last season before embarking on a storming run of form in the autumn months to pull clear of their rivals. Tottenham will also feel they can match the top three but must correct their Wembley anxiety.

Arsenal, however, do not appear equipped for a title race and it would be a surprise to see them level on points with City or United at any stage this season. Liverpool have not fixed the defensive issues that derailed last season and Everton’s aspirations of significant forward steps appear doomed already.

De Futebol

Let the war of words begin. Jose Mourinho is back at it again. This time with Ronald Koeman,

The Guardians Jamie Jackson wrote:” Ronald Koeman told José Mourinho to “get realistic” after the Manchester Unitedmanager claimed before his side’s 4-0 win that Everton should be aiming for a top-four finish “at least” having spent £140m in the summer transfer window.

Goals from Antonio Valencia on two minutes, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on 83, Romelu Lukaku, on 89, and an Anthony Martial penalty in added time put United joint-top with Manchester City, both teams having 13 points and 16 goals with two conceded after five matches.

Koeman’s side have lost their last four matches in all competitions and are in the relegation zone. His frustration was evident when discussing Mourinho’s comments. “I read the United programme and my colleague told me about Everton spending £140m and so they need to go for the top four,” the Dutchman said. “If there’s anybody in this room and outside and sees this as something realistic for us, please comment. Be realistic. I’m not happy how we started the season, but please be a bit realistic about Everton. We need time, but it’s difficult in football.”

Mourinho had written: “We are up against a team that has spent £140m. Obviously we are playing a team that wants to at least secure a top-four position.”

Afterwards, the Portuguese said of his side’s win: “The performance was very good, especially in the first 30-35 minutes, it was probably our best performance of the season. We pressed them and they did not have a chance to get out, they did not have a shot, it was very impressive. I think if the result was two- or three-nil after 30 minutes I would say a clear reflection of fantastic football we played in the first 30-35 minutes. The second goal went in, then game over.”

Asked about City, who beat Watford 6-0 on Saturday, Mourinho said: “Today I didn’t think one single second about Man City. I thought about Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool. They didn’t win their matches and it was a chance for us to get two points like they got last week when we drew against Stoke. I was just thinking about them, not City. City won their game, they did their job.”

Regarding Paul Pogba and reports he may be out for 12 weeks because of his hamstring injury, Mourinho said: “I don’t know if it is 12 weeks or 12 days, honestly. Any comment, any views, any rumour, is totally wrong, because we do not know if it is 12 weeks or 12 days.

“The player was diagnosed initially after the match because of the conditions of the muscle and bleeding, was one more week to wait and see clearly in the scans and nobody in this club spoke about 12 days or 12 weeks. It’s a muscular injury in the hamstring but we have a normal procedure and wait a few more days. It’s completely nonsense information.”