Football: Talking points from the Premier League weekend

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson (left) and Mohamed Salah celebrate during the match against West Ham in London on Jan 31, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (REUTERS) - Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League over the weekend as they won 1-0 at home to Sheffield United while Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw away to Arsenal. Here are the other key takeaways.

1. Liverpool back in groove

Liverpool will say goodbye to January with momentum building after two wins in a week revived hopes their title defence is far from a lost cause despite Manchester City's form.

The way they played in the second half of Sunday's (Jan 31) 3-1 win at West Ham United was reminiscent of the free-flowing football they produced for most of last season.

It was achieved without Sadio Mane who was injured but Mohamed Salah scored two sublime goals to suggest the Egyptian is over his mini league drought.

2. Gloom descending on Tottenham

Jose Mourinho said his players were "too sad" to play well in the first half of their 1-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion, suggesting they reacted badly to going behind and perhaps were missing injured talisman Harry Kane.

While the absence of Kane, injured in the defeat by Liverpool on Thursday, was a factor for a tepid display, it cannot be used to explain a dreadful slump in form.

Tottenham topped the table in December but have since won only twice in nine league games and fans are questioning a style of football that, while initially getting results, is now both hard on the eye and not especially effective.

With Chelsea up next for Spurs, Mourinho needs to find some reason for happiness for fans of the north London club.

3. Tuchel shakes things up at Stamford Bridge

New Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel surprised many Blues fans with his line-up for Sunday's game against Burnley.

Marcos Alonso, who was out of favour under Frank Lampard, made his first appearance since September, at the expense of England's Ben Chilwell. Cesar Azpilicueta was again favoured over Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi started for the second time while former Ajax star Hakim Ziyech did not make the bench.

After opening the scoring in Chelsea's comfortable 2-0 win, Azpilicueta said the new coach was giving everyone a chance.

"We started from zero with the new manager and we have to keep the competition because it's healthy," he told BT Sport. "I think it gives everybody the opportunity and everybody to give the maximum to be in the team."

4. Southampton struggle again as goal drought continues

It's hard to believe that it's only three months since Southampton topped the table for the first time in the Premier League era; since then the goals have dried up, and they struggled again in their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday.

Admittedly, two key VAR decisions went against them but all too often their shots were either blocked or flew harmlessly wide, and once Villa went ahead they seemed to lose their way completely.

As a season that promised so much continues to unravel, Ralph Hasenhuettl faces an uphill task to get them firing on all cylinders again.

5. Wolves looking over their shoulder

Wolverhampton Wanderers' longest winless run under Nuno Espirito Santo has seen the club slide from seventh to 14th after an eighth game without victory and they now sit nine points above the relegation zone.

Wolves look a shadow of the exciting team that was characterised by creativity and speed, with their sharp counter-attacks now replaced by slow build-up play.

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