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Incessant rain on a typical October Saturday afternoon in Manchester might have brought a little misery to those mooching down Market Street, but to the season-ticket holders at the Etihad there was little to dampen spirits. The old ditty of ‘Singing the Blues’ as ‘City win and United lose’, was belted out by the home fans following news their closest rivals had been beaten away at Huddersfield. Pep Guardiola’s side had just overcome Burnley 3-0, while Jose Mourinho’s men had tasted defeat at the John Smith’s Stadium (insert your own ‘who’s bitter now’ gag).
United Bitten By Terriers
The result in Manchester was rarely in doubt, but coupled with the scoreline from across the Pennines, it could perhaps be pivotal in the Premier League title race. The bookmakers certainly think so, with 1/4 the price on offer about City finishing in top spot next May. I can’t remember the last time any team was as short in the betting to win the English top flight before clocks go back. City’s performances are making most managers wish for more than just an extra hour in bed, and I suspect the curtains may have been drawn for longer than usual in the Mourinho household on Sunday morning as his United side, now 14/1 to win the league, failed to justify odds of 2/5 to win in Yorkshire.
A frank assessment of today’s result from Ander Herrera… pic.twitter.com/S8ucttuZCw
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 21, 2017
The Portuguese manager seemed to be condemned and congratulated in equal measure after battening down the hatches at Anfield a week earlier, but after an uninspiring, if winning, display at Benfica in midweek, much more was expected against Huddersfield. The loss has dented United’s league ambition, but given David Wagner’s side a real shot in the arm.
Leicester Doubtful To Pick Appleton
There was no relief for either Crystal Palace (17/20) or Swansea (evens), who have both shortened for the drop after defeats – the latter to Leicester at the Liberty Stadium. What is it with the Foxes and caretaker managers? Another bounce off the back of a sacking, but it seems Michael Appleton is unlikely to be given the reins permanently. The former Oxford boss is 9/1 to wear the coaching crown at the King Power – the third favourite behind Manuel Pellegrini and Chris Coleman.
Huddersfield Town have beaten Manchester United in a league game for the first time in 65 years.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 21, 2017
Mersey Beat Out Of Tune
Sunday’s Merseyside-North London mash-up saw the capital clubs come out on top, 9-3 on aggregate. Definitive displays from first Arsenal, who heaped the pressure on Ronald Koeman with a 5-2 success at Goodison Park, and then Tottenham, whose counter-attacking nous was too good for Liverpool, heaped misery on both Reds and Blues across the globe.
Arsenal, who started Alex Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez together for the first time, found some of their old swashbuckling style, overcoming an early set back to put their hosts to the sword. The Gunners managed 30 shots all told and 14 on target – their highest away total since records began. Arsene Wenger, who celebrated his 68th birthday on Sunday, has seen his team cut to 6/4 to finish in the top four, while Everton have halved to 12/1 to be relegated.
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 23, 2017
At Wembley, Dejan Lovren was withdrawn just past the half-hour mark, and it could take the rest of the season for Jurgen Klopp to restore the Croatian’s confidence. The hosts enjoyed just 36 per cent possession – less than half than they had against Bournemouth a week earlier – but struck on the break ruthlessly. If Manchester United fans were watching, they would have been right to wonder how their team didn’t cause Liverpool at least some problems in their recent Anfield clash. This sets up Spurs’ trip to Old Trafford next week perfectly (Mauricio Pochettino’s team are hugely tempting 5/2 outsiders). Liverpool are now 7/5 to finish in the top four, while Spurs have been clipped to 9/1 to win the title.
Make Diary Space For December Date
It was a weekend that saw Tottenham emerge as Manchester City’s closest rivals for the title. Their Wembley malaise over, and with Harry Kane atop the Golden Boot standings, Spurs are five points behind the league leaders. Should they both remain in such devastating form, their mid-December meeting at the Etihad will be monumental.