Romelu Lukaku can score against top teams and other talking points from Premier League weekend

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Goalscorers and goalkeepers were among the talking points on a weekend which saw plenty of drama at both ends of the Premier League table.

Here, we take a look back at this weekend’s top-flight fixtures.

Lukaku can score against the top teams

The talk before the Manchester UnitedChelsea showdown at Old Trafford was mostly centred on the bad blood between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. But Romelu Lukaku stole the post-match headlines with his first goal against a top-six rival in a United shirt, his first-half equaliser all the sweeter as it came against his former club.

Lukaku also set up the winner for substitute Jesse Lingard as Chelsea dropped points for the first time this season from a winning position. Paul Pogba was also back in favour as United regained second spot from Liverpool and secured a six-point cushion over Chelsea, who now find themselves out of the Champions League places after Tottenham’s win at Crystal Palace.

Lukaku 3

England’s World Cup goalkeeper blues

It is less than four months to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and England have goalkeeping concerns. Joe Hart and Fraser Forster continue to sit on the bench at West Ham and Southampton respectively, while Burnley’s Tom Heaton has not played a senior game since September through injury.

Stoke’s Jack Butland blotted his copybook on Saturday with his clanger gifting Leicester an equaliser, an error brought into sharp focus by the presence of Peter Shilton, England’s most capped player, in the stand.

Add the regularity with which Jordan Pickford has been beaten at Everton this season and England manager Gareth Southgate has a real conundrum to solve in deciding his World Cup number one.

Joe Hart of West Ham United

Strong Ox pulling up trees

There were plenty of eyebrows raised when Liverpool spent £35million to take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal last August, especially with defensive issues to resolve at Anfield. Oxlade-Chamberlain chose Liverpool over Chelsea with the England international believing Jurgen Klopp would improve his game.

It was a slow start for the ‘Ox’ who did not start a Premier League game for the Reds until the start of November. But he has now fully integrated himself into Liverpool’s high-intensity game and his strength on the ball in a midfield role, as well as his passing and dribbling ability, has boosted his hopes of making a World Cup impact with England this summer.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool

Silva change paying off for Watford

Watford caused a shock when they sacked Marco Silva in January. The Portuguese received plenty of plaudits in the opening weeks of the season until his flirtation with Everton saw the Hornets tumble down the table.

Watford acted after one win in 11 league games and Silva’s replacement Javi Gracia has since steadied the ship at Vicarage Road. Gracia has taken seven points from 12 and Saturday’s 1-0 win against Everton gave them a six-point cushion from the relegation zone.

They also had the added boost of Troy Deeney scoring his first league goal this season in open play, and beating bottom-placed West Brom at home next week would all but secure their top-flight status.

Watford

Palace in peril without Zaha

After starting the season without a goal or a point in their first seven games, Roy Hodgson managed to breathe life into Crystal Palace. But the Eagles are at serious risk of going down if star man Wilfried Zaha does not return from injury any time soon.

The 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham means Palace have now lost all 10 Premier League games Zaha has been absent from since September 2016, scoring only once in that sequence.

Although there was no shortage of fight against Spurs, who were indebted to Harry Kane’s late strike, the truth was they were fortunate to avoid a thrashing and, worryingly, three of their next four games are against Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Wilfried Zaha 1

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Manchester United and Chelsea player ratings as Romelu Lukaku shines for hosts in 2-1 win

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Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard were on target for Manchester United as Jose Mourinho’s men steered themselves to a 2-1 win against Chelsea.

Here we take a look at the player ratings from what was an entertaining Premier League clash.

MANCHESTER UNIED

David de Gea: Disappointed to be beaten by Willian’s powerful first-half effort. The goalkeeper was not his sturdy self. 6

Antonio Valencia: Normally an exciting, marauding option, he was not at his best and his crossing was a little off. 6

Victor Lindelof: Guilty of the odd clumsy moment but a largely solid display. 6

Chris Smalling: A few hairy moments such as missed challenge on Alvaro Morata but held it together when it counted. 6

Ashley Young: Trusted for another big match ahead of Luke Shaw, he did well up against Victor Moses. 7

Nemanja Matic: The former Chelsea defensive midfielder was guilty of some clumsy early play and irked Jose Mourinho with his passing. He was brighter after the break. 6

Nemanja Matic (C)

Scott McTominay: Improved as it went on having initially veered from sturdy to rudderless when trying to keep tabs on Eden Hazard. 6

Paul Pogba: Back in the team and beaten in the air at the start of the move that saw Willian score. Showed quick feet and got better. 6

Anthony Martial: Did well on the left and got an assist, yet Mourinho took him off in search of victory. 6

Alexis Sanchez: Still trying to be too much to too many at United. Worked hard and tracked back. 6

Romelu Lukaku: Smart strike drew United level and provided a lovely cross for Jesse Lingard’s winner. Highly encouraging. 8

SUBSTITUTES 

Jesse Lingard (for Martial, 64): Added intent and guile, turning home Lukaku’s cross with a decent header. 7

Eric Bailly (for Sanchez, 81): Helped steady the ship and get the three points. 6

Jesse Lingard of Manchester United

CHELSEA

Thibaut Courtois: Given no chance with either goal and produced a fine stop to keep out Lukaku’s volley from United’s only other serious effort on target. 7

Cesar Azpilicueta: Chelsea’s defence were on top for much of the game but became exposed as United grew in dominance in the second half. 6

Andreas Christensen: Impressive in the centre of Chelsea’s defence for most of the match but beaten for both goals. 6

Antonio Rudiger: A solid display from the defender but he might have done better as Lukaku crossed for the winner. 6

Victor Moses: So at home at wing-back these days, this was another decent performance from Moses. 6

Marcos Alonso: An important figure for Chelsea at both ends of the pitch. His brilliant volleyed cross from which Alvaro Morata struck the bar early on deserved a goal. 7

N’Golo Kante: Chelsea dominated the midfield for the first hour, with Kante a central figure, but was unable to stop United taking control late on. 7

N'Golo Kante 1

Danny Drinkwater: A boost for the former Leicester man to start such an important game. Did not let Antonio Conte down but perhaps did not impose himself enough. 6

Willian: The Brazilian clearly did not deserve to be on the losing side. Started and finished a brilliant counter-attack for Chelsea’s goal and was the stand-out player for an hour before fading. 8

Eden Hazard: Played a superb defence-splitting pass for Chelsea’s goal. Looked to have picked up a knock and was substituted early. 7

Alvaro Morata: Back in the starting line-up, the Spaniard should have scored early on when he volleyed against the bar. Comprehensively outshone by Lukaku. 6

SUBSTITUTES 

Pedro (for Hazard, 73′): Came on just before United scored and could not affect the game. 5

Olivier Giroud (for Moses, 78′): Sent on to try to find an equaliser but Chelsea could not apply enough pressure.

Cesc Fabregas (for Drinkwater, 81′): Made no real impact. 5

Olivier Giroud 4

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Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard guide Man United to 2-1 win against Chelsea

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Romelu Lukaku broke his barren run against top six Premier League opposition and provided the winner for Jesse Lingard as Manchester United came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Victory against his former club was particularly sweet for Jose Mourinho as he got one over on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but more importantly moves United back above Liverpool into second place in the Premier League.

Defeat allied to Tottenham Hotspur‘s late win earlier in the day at Crystal Palace sees Chelsea slip to fifth.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the first period but failed to build on Willian’s 32nd minute opener.

Lukaku levelled seven minutes later from close range and then crossed for substitute Lingard to head home as a ruthless United took full advantage of their limited chances.

The spectre of another fiery clash between Mourinho and Conte, who have publicly bickered in recent months, hogged the headlines before kick-off, but there was a peace offering when the pair shook hands before the action got underway.

Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba to his starting XI after dropping the £89 million (100 million euros, $124 million) midfielder for Wednesday’s stalemate at Sevilla in the Champions League.

But it was one of Conte’s two changes from his side’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona in midweek who nearly made an immediate impact.

Alvaro Morata started for the first time in six weeks, but saw his side-footed volley from Marcos Alonso’s driven cross come back off the bar just four minutes in.

Chelsea dominated possession in the opening quarter, but much like they did to Barcelona on Tuesday with limited time on the ball, United restricted them to few other clear-cut chances.

United had offered little going forward themselves until Anthony Martial’s low cross picked out Alexis Sanchez inside the area.

However, the Chilean is still waiting for his first big moment since joining United last month as he poked the ball tamely into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.

United caught out

Willian 1

Moments later, the hosts were caught by a blistering Chelsea counter-attack to open the scoring.

Willian picked up the ball just outside his own area and drove through the United midfield before exchanging passes with Eden Hazard.

The Brazilian then unleashed a shot too powerful even for David de Gea to register his fourth goal in three games.

The lead lasted just seven minutes, though, as for the first time in a United shirt, Lukaku netted against one of their top six rivals – at the seventh time of asking.

Sanchez fed Martial and his clever reverse pass was slotted home by Lukaku to muted celebrations against his former club.

Lukaku nearly had a spectacular second 22 minutes from time when he caught a Sanchez cross flush with an acrobatic volley, only to be denied by a finger tip save from Courtois.

However, the Belgian did make a decisive contribution when he dropped deep and his in-swinging cross was met by a perfectly timed run by Lingard.

Conte had surprisingly removed Hazard just before conceding and that decision looked all the more puzzling as Chelsea searched in vain for an equaliser.

Willian saw another effort smothered by De Gea at the second attempt at his near post as United held out for just a second win over Chelsea in 15 meetings.

Provided by AFP Sport

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