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United injuries add to Mourinho’s woes in Premier League

Premier League leaders Chelsea were left four points out in front with four games to play as second-placed Tottenham Hotspur maintained their title charge with victory over Arsenal in the last North London derby at White Hart Lane.

Both Manchester clubs dropped points in their race for a Champions League place after United and City were each involved in frustrating draws, while Sunderland had their relegation confirmed.

Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend.

Pedro underlines Chelsea strength

Pedro may not make headlines in quite the same way as Diego Costa but the way in which he opened the scoring in an eventual 3-0 win away to an obdurate Everton said much about the strength in depth that has left Chelsea eyeing the Premier League title.

Antonio Conte’s side initially found it impossible to impose their high tempo game as Everton matched them blow for blow in a bruising first half. But Pedro broke the deadlock with a bolt from the blue, the impish Spanish winger blasting home from 20 yards before goals from Gary Cahill and Willian completed the victory.
Arsenal no longer lord it over Spurs

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger asserted prior to his side’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur that talk of a north London power shift was premature, but Spurs’ devastating 2-0 victory in the last derby match at White Hart Lane suggested he may come to eat his words.

Second-half goals from Dele Alli and Harry Kane ensured Spurs will finish above Arsenal in the table for the first time since 1995. Defeat left Arsenal six points off the Champions League places, albeit with a game in hand. As Champions League perennials with a massive global fanbase, the Gunners are still the dominant club in north London. But with a young, hungry team steered by one of the most dynamic coaches in world football, and with a spectacular new stadium to move into next year, Spurs are closing the gap.

United injuries add to Mourinho’s woes

Jose Mourinho has never been shy of criticising his players in public but the Manchester United manager may need to adopt a different approach as he tries to inspire his injury-hit side in the closing weeks of the season. Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Swansea was made worse for United by the sight of Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw going off to join an already extensive list of sidelined defenders. With a tough domestic run-in, United’s best hope of Champions League qualification could lie in winning the Europa League, where they face Celta Vigo in a two-legged semi-final.
Battling Boro sum up Guardiola grief

If ever a match demonstrated why Pep Guardiola will end this season without a major trophy for the first time in his managerial career it was surely his Manchester City side’s 2-2 draw away to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough on Sunday. A comparable La Liga or Bundesliga clash when the Spaniard was in charge of either Barcelona or Bayern Munich would most times have ended in a comfortable win for one of the European football giants. But the Premier League, for all the questions regarding its quality, is generally more competitive, with City twice having to come from behind in a match where Gabriel Jesus’s equaliser five minutes from time rescued a point for Guardiola’s men.

Sunderland pay the price for inaction

As the relegation picture began to take shape over the English winter, several club owners near the foot of the table sacked their managers. Crystal Palace, Swansea City, Hull City and, most strikingly, Leicester City pressed the panic button and all have since witnessed upturns in their fortunes. Only Sunderland and Middlesbrough kept faith with their managers, Boro eventually sacking Aitor Karanka, by which time it was effectively too late. David Moyes’s Sunderland sank into the Championship after losing 1-0 to Bournemouth on Saturday and Middlesbrough are poised to follow them. Sometimes it pays to change.


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