Manchester United goes on top of the Premier League

The Red Devils have made a remarkable recovery from winning just two games from their opening six matches.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watches on during his club’s goalless draw with Liverpool on January 17. Solskjaer’s men equalled the club record of 17 top-flight away games without defeat.   -  Reuters

Many thought the wheels of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s bus had come off, but it turns out the tyres just needed some air. Manchester United has ascended to the top of the Premier League to lead the table at the halfway stage for the first time in eight years as the Red Devils push for a record-extending 21st league title.

A midweek win over Fulham saw Solskjaer’s men equal the club record of 17 top-flight away games without defeat, catapulting them two points over Manchester City. United has made a remarkable recovery from winning just two games from its opening six matches.

The club is also undefeated on the road this season and played a goalless draw with Liverpool on January 17. The defending champion could have displaced United had it won, but a string of injuries, as has been the case for large parts of the season, saw it drop points for the fourth game running. This is Liverpool’s longest run without a win in the league since 2017. It is also the first time in 16 years that the Reds, now fourth in the table, have gone without scoring in three consecutive league games.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is in close pursuit of United, beating Aston Villa to earn its sixth successive win. The result sees City, which has a game in hand, sneak past Leicester City on goal difference and trail United by two points.

Third-placed Leicester beat Chelsea to leave Liverpool stranded at fourth, while Tottenham Hotspur defeated Sheffield United to climb to fifth.

Bayern Munich banked on Robert Lewandowski’s penalty to beat Augsburg. The Polish striker, who was recently named the FIFA men's player of the year, made history (yet again!) as he became the first player in Bundesliga history to score 22 goals after just 17 games.   -  Reuters

 

Bundesliga

Bayern Munich opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a 1-0 win over Augsburg. Making a strong comeback by winning twice in succession after losing to Borussia Monchengladbach, which was only its second loss of the season, Bayern banked on Robert Lewandowski’s penalty to beat Augsburg.

Lewandowski, who was recently named the FIFA men's player of the year, made history (yet again!) as he became the first player in Bundesliga history to score 22 goals after just 17 games.

Borussia Dortmund missed a chance to close the gap to Bayern as it lost to Bayer Leverkusen after it drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Mainz. Dortmund is fourth with 29 points from 17 games, while Leverkusen is three points ahead it. RB Leipzig won for the first time in three games to beat Union Berlin and hold on to its second spot.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid’s win over Sevilla, its fourth straight league victory, powered it to a four-point lead over Real Madrid. Diego Simeone’s Atletico has a chance to pull further ahead as it has two games in hand and could potentially leap to a 10-point lead.

Real Madrid was held to a frustrating goalless draw by Osasuna a day after the club was forced to spend four hours on the tarmac due to a snowstorm. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann struck a brace each in Barcelona’s 4-0 triumph over Granada, which was another stepping stone in the side’s remarkable turnaround campaign. Languishing in ninth only over a month ago, Barca has gone undefeated in eight league games to be placed third, trailing second-placed Real Madrid by just three points. Villarreal slotted into fourth place after it hammered four unanswered goals past Celta Vigo.

Italian youngster Nicolo Barella scored the opener and set up Arturo Vidal for the second as Inter Milan drew level with AC Milan at the top of the Serie A table.   -  Reuters

 

Serie A

Juventus’ chances of winning a 10th successive Serie A title took a beating as it lost 2-0 to Inter Milan. Despite the game featuring the league’s most talked-about strikers in Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku, it was Italian youngster Nicolo Barella who stole the show. The 23-year-old scored the opener and set up Arturo Vidal for the second as Inter drew level with AC Milan at the top of the table. The defeat leaves Andrea Pirlo’s side in fifth place, trailing AC Milan by a massive 10 points. Napoli moved to third after thrashing Fiorentina 6-0, and fourth-placed AS Roma lost 3-0 to Lazio.