Premier League Round-Up: Salah sensational while Solskjaer slips into sack race

Solskjaer-Man Utd
Man Utd fell at the first hurdle of a potentially defining run of fixtures for Solskjaer, writes Ryan Baldi

Mohamed Salah shone as Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea continued to set the pace at the top, while Man Utd fell to Leicester. Is Solskjaer's time running out? asks Ryan Baldi...

"United have largely been within touching distance of the Premier League's frontrunners so far this season, but they have the fixture-generating computer to thank for that, handing them a soft start to the campaign that has allowed them to get away with several poor performances."

It won't happen often in Roberto Firmino's career that he will plunder a hat-trick yet be completely overshadowed by a team-mate, but that was certainly the case in Liverpool's 5-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The Brazilian bagged a treble, Sadio Mane scored his fifth league goal of the season and 35-year-old James Milner wound back the clock with a gut-busting all-round midfield performance. But it was, unquestionably, Mohamed Salah who once again stole the show.

The Egyptian wizard conjured the opening goal with an outrageous, Lionel Messi-esque outside-of-the-boot through-ball for Mane, sweeping a defence-splitting pass centrally from the right flank to leave his colleague with a simple finish.

And suggestions that Salah has eclipsed Messi as the greatest player on the planet on current form were given ballast by his magical goal, Liverpool's fourth, in the 54th minute.

The 29-year-old collected the ball on the edge of the Watford penalty area, jinked away from two attendant defenders and sent another for a hotdog as he cut back on to his left foot, before finishing emphatically beyond Ben Foster.

It was the Liverpool superstar's seventh Premier League goal of the season so far - a tally only Jamie Vardy can match - while he also boasts four assists. Salah can be backed at 2.77/4 on the Exchange to be named PFA Player of the Year for 2021-22.

Liverpool perhaps lack the squad depth of some of their title rivals, but their starting XI - especially with Salah in such form - is second to none. Jurgen Klopp's side are available to back at 4.84/1 in the Betfair Exchange Premier League Winner market.

That the Reds are only third favourites to be crowned champions owes to the fact that their primary rivals for the title have also hit their ruthless stride already this term.

Chelsea rode their luck for a hard-fought 1-0 win over Brentford on Saturday afternoon to cling to top spot, and Thomas Tuchel's men can be backed at 4.03/1 in the Exchange's Premier League Winner market. Manchester City, who scored a routine 2-0 victory over Burnley at the Etihad, can be backed at 2.01/1

Solskjaer for the sack?

Coming out of the most recent international break, Manchester United's run of fixtures up until the end of November looked ominous for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United have largely been within touching distance of the Premier League's frontrunners so far this season, but they have the fixture-generating computer to thank for that, handing them a soft start to the campaign that has allowed them to get away with several poor performances.

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From now until the end of next month, however, that changes. They face Atalanta (twice) and Villarreal in the Champions League, and Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea domestically. And Solskjaer's side fell at the first hurdle of their unenviable schedule on Saturday, losing 4-2 to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

United took the lead through a Mason Greenwood 25-yard rocket in the first half. In the end, though, the away side were fortunate to have limited Leicester to only four goals, with goalkeeper David de Gea by far their best performer of the afternoon as Caglar Soyuncu, Youri Tielemans, Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka all found the net.

Solskjaer picked a side packed with attacking talent - Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Pogba all started. But, in stark contrast to their hosts, United failed to make even a token effort in pressing their opponents. They were cut through easily when out of possession and lacked ideas and cohesiveness in attack.

The defeat leaves United sixth in the table, now five points behind leaders Chelsea, and they are now out to 42.041/1 in the Betfair Exchange Premier League Winner market.

On Saturday morning, Solskjaer, who is at the outset of a defining spate of matches over the next month and a half, was 33/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post. He can now be backed at just 12/1.

New dawn? Same story

Despite Manchester United's form and fearsome future fixtures, though, Solskjaer is by no means the favourite to be the next gaffer rendered jobless. That distinction belongs to Steve Bruce, who is available to back at 1/20 on the Sportsbook to be the second Premier League manager to leave their club.

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Bruce oversaw the 1,000th match of his managerial career on Sunday afternoon, after Newcastle's new Saudi Arabian owners allowed 60-year-old to keep hold of the St. James' Park reins for at least one more game, with Tottenham the visitors to the North East.

Despite optimism among Magpies fans that the dark days under Mike Ashley are over and that the eye-watering wealth of the new regime means they're on a fast track to the Champions League, any delusions that success will be instant were laid to rest by Spurs' 3-2 victory.

Newcastle are almost certain to soon make a headline-grabbing managerial change, but they will have to wait until January to refresh their under-resourced squad. Having finished the weekend second from bottom, they could be facing an uphill battle just to remain in the top flight by then.

They might well be the Premier League's next super club, but Newcastle, in their current state, are available to back at just 3.185/40 in the Exchange's Relegation market.

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Friday 13 August, 8.00pm

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