MANCHESTER “It has been a very good day for Manchester United, whose renaissance under Erik ten Hag is really taking shape.
As if victory over Manchester City the 189th Manchester derby wasn’t enough for fans cheering at Old Trafford on Saturday, more news broke hours later as Liverpool were stunned 3-0 by Brighton in the English Premier League.
The 2-1 win over City bolstered the growing belief that Ten Hag is changing the fortunes of the 20-time English champion.
It may be too early for the Dutchman to claim the league title this season, but it’s clear that United have won nine in a row in all competitions.
United are third in the table, one point behind City and six behind leaders Arsenal, who take on Tottenham on Sunday.
“We’ve gotten better, that’s obvious,” Ten Hag said. “We still have a long way to go… We need to improve many aspects of our game, but we are progressing.”
City took the lead in the second half thanks to substitute Jack Grealish, but Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford gave the hosts a win from behind.
United were 10 points clear of strongest rivals Liverpool, who suffered their sixth league loss to Brighton and their first since 1961.
Solly March scored twice and substitute Danny Welbeck added a third goal for Brighton.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will be in the fight for Champions League qualification after this latest blow that saw Liverpool seven points behind fourth-placed Newcastle.
“Everything went wrong from start to finish. Brighton was better than us in every way. This is really a low point for the team,” said Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. “This is a difficult moment, but we need to come together, stay together and try to quickly change something. We have to try to learn and show a reaction.”
At the bottom of the table, Southampton, after beating City in the League Cup midweek, beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park.
Nottingham Forest improved their survival chances by beating Leicester 2-0, while Wolverhampton Wanderers beat West Ham 1-0 to exit the relegation zone.
RUSHFORD IS HARDENING
Marcus Rashford scored his 16th goal of the season and his eighth in the last seven games, but Ten Hag chose to praise his physical toughness rather than finishing after the win over City.
“He knows that in football you have to suffer, sacrifice and go through painful moments, especially a player like him,” said Ten Hag. “He’s unstoppable and opponents will be tough on him, but he keeps going and he got the award and the team got the award.”
Praise DE ZERBY
Solly March, who scored two goals, credited Brighton manager Roberto de Zerby for his performance in a brilliant match against Liverpool.
“I love playing for Roberto de Zerbi. He’s great. He hugs you and says you’re a good player and maybe that’s what I need,” said March.
EVERTON’S PROBLEMS GROWING
On a day when Everton’s board of directors were instructed not to attend the home match against Southampton due to a “real and real threat to their safety”, the team’s hopes of survival in the Championship were further hit after a 2-1 defeat.
“We have to take responsibility, me first. We have to play better,” said Everton manager Frank Lampard.
THE FOREST IS FLYING
Nottingham Forest have only lost one of their last six league games and are five points clear of the relegation zone after thrashing Leicester.
“This is a big win. It’s a local derby and you always want the fans to do well,” said Forest manager Steve Cooper.
West Ham sinking
West Ham fell into the bottom three after a 1-0 loss to fellow relegation contestant Wolverhampton.
“What we’ve found this year is that we can’t convert when we have them,” West Ham manager David Moyes said.
Tony strikes again
Ivan Toni scored his 14th goal of the season in Brentford’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth. The striker converted the first half-penalty, which continued his perfect penalty record for the “bees”: 21 goals from 21 attempts.
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