Ronaldo casts shadow over Man Utd, Nunez lifts Liverpool

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London (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent irritation has eclipsed Manchester United ahead of their tough Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Tottenham are yet to prove they truly belong among the league’s elite, while Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez is repaying Jurgen Klopp’s faith.

AFP Sport looks at three key talking points in this weekend’s action:

Ten Hag proves Ronaldo right

No matter what Erik ten Hag does to help Manchester United achieve respectable success in their first season, the Dutchman has yet to escape the long shadow cast by Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s latest disdain for Ten Hag’s authority was evident in the closing minutes of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham, when he walked through the Old Trafford tunnel during the game.

The 37-year-old reportedly refused to wait for the final whistle after telling Ten Hag he didn’t want to come as a late substitute.

Ronaldo’s tantrum was not his first tantrum of the season and after his failed attempt to arrange a transfer last season, the Portuguese striker is clearly frustrated at being left in limbo.

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In response to Ronaldo’s antics, Ten Hag has finally resigned from the law and the star, who has scored just two goals in 12 games this season, has been left out of the squad set to travel to Chelsea on Saturday.

United will certainly look to end Ronaldo’s tumultuous second spell at the club by selling him in the January transfer window, but until then Ten Hag will have to grapple with the malcontent’s presence in the background.

Nunez revival lifts Liverpool off

Nunez is on form at just the right time for Liverpool as the Uruguayan striker rewards Klopp for his patience.

Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez
Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez Nigel Roddis AFP/Files

Nunez was sent off in his first Premier League game at Anfield against Crystal Palace in August and then went five games without a goal, drawing unflattering comparisons with Manchester City’s prolific striker Erling Haaland.

But with Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz out through injury, Liverpool boss Klopp needed Nunez to show why he paid £64million to sign him from Benfica in the final season.

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And the 23-year-old rose to the challenge. His winner in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over West Ham earned him five goals for the Reds, including three in his last four games.

“That’s important. He’s scored a couple of times in the last few games. He’s arrived 100 per cent, now with numbers too, that’s fine,” said Klopp.

Liverpool have recorded only their second straight league wins this season and enter struggling Nottingham Forest on Saturday to close the gap in the top four.

Spurs believe in the top 4 problems

Declassified by Manchester United in a 2-0 defeat that could have been far more severe, Tottenham are yet to silence critics questioning their poor record against the other top four contenders .

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris Oli SCHAL AFP

Antonio Conte’s side fell well short of their best at Old Trafford in a move reminiscent of the recent 3-1 North London Derby defeat at Arsenal.

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Tottenham also needed a controversial injury-time equalizer from Harry Kane to salvage a 2-2 draw at Chelsea in August.

That string of stunning performances when the stakes were at their highest has led some to doubt Tottenham’s right to be ranked as title contenders despite their current lofty third place finish.

However, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris insists it is too early to panic.

“It’s not all dark and all light, it was in between,” Lloris said ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Newcastle.

“It’s too early for analysis because I know you’re going to tell Chelsea, Arsenal and now Manchester United, we also have to see what it’s going to be like when they come to our stadium. But yeah it’s frustrating, a tough one losing game.” “

fixtures

Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Nottingham Forest – Liverpool (1130), Everton – Crystal Palace, Manchester City – Brighton, Chelsea – Manchester United (1630)

Sunday

Aston Villa – Brentford, Leeds – Fulham, Southampton – Arsenal, Wolves – Leicester, Tottenham – Newcastle (1530)

Monday

West Ham v Bournemouth (1900)

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