City roll; Serie A set for fight to finish: Five talking points from the weekend

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There are always lessons to learn, notes to ponder, words to think on, even amidst chaos and madness. And this weekend brought that in abundance, defying logic and normalcy, but still leaves much to point out:

City show ability to grind out results

It looked inevitable, as when West Ham sat back and defended stoutly with the clock ticking on, there was just that feeling that seemed only a matter of time until Manchester City scored, and eight minutes from it, David Silva found the net, to make the fourth game in a row that Pep Guardiola’s side have had to wait until inside the final ten minutes to snatch a winner, this one even came a bit early.

City started the season by breezing past teams with their swash and buckle football, but they are proving they have the mettle to nick the win even if things don’t go smoothly. Their past three games have seen them score a handful of scrappy goals, demonstrating their ability to get down and be dirty if need be, a quality associated with champions.

Victor Moses shows why he’s been missed

It was a first game for Chelsea for Victor Moses since October, and on Saturday against Newcastle he provided two goals for the Blues in their win against Newcastle. For all of Davide Zappacosta’s qualities, the man who deputised for Moses all this time lacked one key attribute, incisiveness.

That ability to get at players, something Moses has been displaying at the Bridge, and was on show again on Saturday, is an aspect that Zappacosta doesn’t quite possess. That willingness to always take on players was what resulted in Moses winning that penalty for Chelsea’s third, as well as his cross for the second.

There’s different and more direct approach Moses offers isn’t without its risks, as a team who are likely to defend extra deep will leave Moses with barely any room to manoeuvre, and as last season’s FA Cup final showed, there might be the temptation to dive when in a promising position. But at the weekend, Moses displayed the pros of his strengths, and proved his return to be worth the wait.

Serie A primed for a gigantic title race

It was a decisive weekend in Italy, Juventus win over Napoli saw the champions close the gap on the hitherto leaders, whose loss was pounced on by Inter Milan. With only five points separating first placed Nerazzurri from fourth placed Roma, who have a game in hand, as do surprise package Lazio, only two further points back in fifth, this could be the season of a largely dramatic title race, and after six years of a monopoly, it would be welcome.

 

Atletico and Griezmann may be finding their feet

Four goals in three games now for Antoine Griezmann, and Atletico have capitalised on two Barcelona slip-ups to haul themselves back into the title race. Maybe it’s the new haircut, but Griezmann appears to have regained his groove, with his predatory ability to be in the right place at the right time. And for all the sniggers that Atletico have faced this season, they’re still unbeaten in La Liga, a run which- going back to last season- spreads to 18 games, a club record. They’re now three points above their city rivals – Real Madrid.

How many slips can Real afford?

After Barcelona were held by Celta Vigo at the weekend, it all looked set for Real Madrid to go on, see off Athletic Bilbao, and close the gap once more. Certainly one didn’t expect a goalless draw, as once again Los Blancos looked shorn of ideas, shorn of creativity, and unable to muster the kind of spirit that saw them claim wins even when all looked lost last season. They haven’t scored in successive away games, a cause for alarm by their standards.

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