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5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend
© Reuters
Manchester United impressed against Spurs and Liverpool got back to winning ways.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passed his biggest Manchester United test yet, while Liverpool put their title bid back on track.

Here, Press Association Sport examines five key lessons learned from the weekend's Premier League action.

Solskjaer makes United history and long-term Old Trafford case

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer extended the dream start to his interim managerial stint still further in Sunday's 1-0 win at Tottenham. United's clash against Spurs at Wembley was billed as the big audition for the long-term United manager's job, with Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino linked with the full-time Old Trafford helm. Former Norway and Red Devils striker Solskjaer grabbed the edge on the day however, with the visitors emerging victorious thanks to Marcus Rashford's fine finish. David De Gea's inspired goalkeeping thwarted Tottenham at every turn, while Paul Pogba laid on Rashford's goal to make it four goals and four assists in the Premier League since Solskjaer took temporary control. Solskjaer now holds the outright record for winning his first six matches as United boss, and continues to push the case to take over full-time in the summer.

Liverpool ready to win ugly in title pursuit

An unconvincing Liverpool ground past Brighton 1-0 at the Amex Stadium, to set their Premier League bid back on track. Defeat at chief title rivals Manchester City turned into a bigger wobble with an FA Cup loss at Wolves. Mohamed Salah's penalty settled some frayed Reds nerves though, amid a curiously lacklustre south-coast showing. Midfielder Fabinho impressed out of position at centre-back and Virgil Van Dijk was once again imperious too. Liverpool had to provide an immediate reaction to that City defeat, which ended their unbeaten league start. Jurgen Klopp's men never got going, but still found a way to win, leaving the German boss pleased with a "mature" performance. A first league title since 1990 might just end up founded on victories like this.

Rice comes of age in midfield

Gifted youngster Declan Rice bagged his first Premier League goal as West Ham saw off Arsenal 1-0, leaving boss Manuel Pellegrini purring. The former Manchester City chief branded Rice the "complete" player, lauding his abilities in both defence and now midfield. And Rice's long-term future surely appears in a central holding role given just the rarity of genuine top-class defensive midfielders.

Southampton display steel for the relegation dogfight

Derby County v Southampton – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Pride Park
Ralph Hasenhuttl, pictured, has had an instant impact at Southampton (Mike Egerton/PA)

New boss Ralph Hasenhuttl talks as directly as he has his Southampton team playing right now. The Austrian's no-nonsense approach has had an immediate effect at St Mary's, so much so that the south coast club can now rightly hope to step clear of the relegation scrap. Saturday's 2-1 win at Leicester – playing half the match with 10 men after Yan Valery's red card – proved a study in the renewed backbone instilled by Hasenhuttl.

A gripping but low-quality relegation battle awaits

Cardiff's goalless draw with Huddersfield did enough on its own to encapsulate this year's dearth of quality at the table's foot. But then Fulham leaked two own goals to surrender a lead at Burnley that came courtesy of Andre Schurrle's stunning strike. Germany midfielder Schurrle's effort would have been worthy of winning most matches, and definitely deserved more than it received at Turf Moor. Joe Bryan and Denis Odoi put through their own net for a Fulham side lacking confidence and resolve. However the table eventually ends up, one or two sides of low quality could well avoid the drop.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds during the FA Cup third-round game between Manchester United and Reading on January 5, 2019
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Solskjaer makes it six in a row to stand alone in Manchester United history
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416

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