Premier League talking points: Alisson lesson, Ole’s wheel falls off, Harry Kane returns

Man City: Premier League lead extended with win

Express Sport reporter Matthew Dunn gives his take on the Premier League’s biggest talkings points as Manchester City opened up a 10-point gap over defending champions Liverpool. Man Utd threw away a two-goal lead at home to Everton and Tottenham striker Harry Kane made a surprise return from injury to score against West Brom.

CITY ALWAYS KEANE TO THE FINISH

Many are putting a ring around Sunday as the day when Manchester City won the title back from Liverpool.

In fact, their destiny in what has been the strangest of seasons was decided on April 15, 2018.

That was the day Pep Guardiola won the title after United lost 1-0 to West Brom – then immediately set his players the target of getting to 100 points.

Even though they were tired and had an excuse to take their foot off the pedal, Guardiola demanded that they churn out result after result. That is something no other side has been able to for long enough this season.

It is that relentlessness buried deep in the City boss’s psyche that has seen him ride an uncharacteristically bad start to sit five points clear with a game in hand all of a sudden.

Liverpool have not been ruthless enough – and compare the way they limped into port having won the title in the summer.

It’s not, as Roy Keane would have it, that Liverpool are “bad champions”. It’s more that City are very good ones.

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A LESSON FROM A-LISSON

And we were brought up being taught how Brazilians were all natural footballers… No wonder, then, that Alisson was always stuck in net growing up.

Of course, he is better than his two horrendous blunders that cost Liverpool any chance of closing the gap with City on Sunday.

But it throws into question why goalkeepers are still being encouraged to bring such pressure on themselves.

Retention of possession is important, but really that important so deep? A good old-fashioned hoik up the field may concede the ball to the other side, but it is also an immediate opportunity to win it back high up the field, which these teams also hold so much store by.

Once nervous fans are back in stadiums and shrieking their dismay at the ball being knocked about a team’s own penalty area, I predict the practice will die out fairly quickly.

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TITLE LOST WITHIN FEELING OF ENTITLEMENT

Manchester United were two goals to the good against Everton and cruising on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the wheel, but the wheel fell off.

The same thing happened on Boxing Day against Leicester. Those four points dropped would have kept United right on the coat-tails of their Manchester rivals, now they seem too distant again to catch them. Again.

It was almost as if at half-time on Saturday, United felt they had done enough. And no amount of steering is going to help if the foot is off the pedal below.

TOTTENHAM WITHOUT KANE NEED TO ESCAPE DEAD-END ALLI

Internationals all, including some with over 100 caps and having worn the armband for their country.

And yet Tottenham seem incapable of standing up and being counted when Harry Kane is not playing.

Except perhaps for Dele Alli, who always used to get the goals when the main man was away.

Twice now Mourinho has dropped hints that the England international’s exile is over after the window slammed shut with him still on the books at White Hart Lane.

Perhaps, seeing the lack of inspiration elsewhere, Mourinho is less prepared to constrain him. With Tottenham still fighting on four fronts, there are plenty of games left for Alli to show what he is made of.

But now, unquestionably, it is up to him. He needs to get that devilment and sparkle back.

CHELSEA GOING TUCHEL FOR LEATHER

That boundless energy is bound to rub off on players so it is no surprise that Frank Lampard’s replacement by Thomas Tuchel right now looks like a masterstroke.

But you get a sense just from his zany demeanour that some of the descents can be just as dramatic in the German’s world.

Chelsea are embarking on a roller coaster which will probably be more fun than the ride they were headed on under level-headed Lampard, but it is only when the ride finally stops that fans will be able to make any kind of judgement over whether they are higher or lower than they would have been if they had persevered with Lampard’s evolution-paced dependence on youth.

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