Premier League weekend talking points

(Reuters) – Talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action:


Once again Manchester United put in a below-par performance. Once again they needed David de Gea saves to bail them out, and once again Cristiano Ronaldo came to the rescue with a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Norwich City on Saturday.

The evergreen forward scored the 60th hat-trick of his professional career for club and country (50th at club level), and has now scored 20 or more goals in all competitions in each of his last 16 seasons at club level, a run starting back in 2006-07 with United.Ronaldo’s exploits, however, masked more United difficulties on a day when fans voiced their discontent when protesting against the club’s owners pre-match, and during the game itself, booing the players and singing “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.

“I don’t think we need to talk about Cristiano’s performance today, another hat-trick made the difference once again,” United coach Ralf Rangnick said.

“But we need to raise our own level and standard.”


A victory for Arsenal against Southampton would have moved them level on points with rivals Tottenham Hotspur but they fell to a 1-0 defeat at St Mary’s Stadium and allowed Manchester United back into the race for the final Champions League spot.

Following similarly lacklustre displays at Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, Arteta’s side have slipped to sixth after losing three games on the bounce, scoring only once. They had lost only two of their previous 13.

Arsenal still have a game in hand over Spurs but with tough games against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham United coming up in the next fortnight, Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Southampton will go down as a missed opportunity.


Relegation-threatened Watford were seconds away from sealing a point against Brentford after a much-improved second half only to crash to their 10th straight league defeat at home thanks to Pontus Jansson’s 95th minute strike.

The late goal was especially hard to digest for Watford, who had shaken off the cobwebs following a poor first 45 minutes and went close to scoring their own winner through Joshua King and then Imran Louza seconds before Brentford struck.

The result means Roy Hodgson’s 19th-placed side — who are six points adrift of the safety zone — are running out of time to save their season and avoid a drop to the Championship, with little to suggest that they have the quality to return immediately.


Burnley were left to rue a missed penalty by Maxwel Cornet in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at West Ham United but the managerless side had Nick Pope to thank for ensuring a point in caretaker Mike Jackson’s first game following the sacking of Sean Dyche.

The goalkeeper produced two excellent second-half saves to deny Michail Antonio after leaping to keep out Issa Diop’s low header, ensuring that top-flight teams will be out for his signature even if his current side avoids relegation.

“That’s why he is in that England group. They are terrific saves but they are the standards he sets himself,” Jackson said of Pope, who has eight caps with the national team and has been attracting the interest of promotion-chasing Fulham.