Shock for Spurs, respite for Mourinho
ROMELU Lukaku's first-half double gave an improved Manchester United a 2-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday. Only a second-half penalty miss from Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford's sending off shortly after, prevented United from producing the margin of victory its dominant performance merited.
But considering the media spotlight on United and manager Jose Mourinho's future after the previous round of fixtures, Rashford's red card being the biggest drama represents a form of respite for the club.
United had entered the match under intense scrutiny after successive defeats to Brighton and Tottenham contributed to the club's worst Premier League start in 26 seasons.
After a promising opening, Lukaku settled any remaining nerves by heading in Alexis Sanchez's cross in the 27th minute.
The Belgium forward should have scored again soon after as Sanchez teed him up once more, but this time Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart saved his chipped effort.
However, Lukaku was ruthless with the next opportunity that came his way. Jesse Lingard's shot was blocked and fell kindly for Lukaku to turn home from close range.
Pogba should have put United out of sight in the 70th but had his spot kick saved by Hart after Rashford, who looked lively after being introduced from the bench, was fouled.
Moment later, Rashford reacted angrily to a kick from Phil Bardsley by pushing his forehead into the face of the Burnley defender.
Referee Jonathan Moss deemed the incident violent conduct and showed Rashford a straight red card, just 11 minutes after the striker had entered the match.
Despite being a man down, United gave as good as it got in the final stages. Lukaku should have completed his hat trick - after earlier being denied the chance to take the penalty - when Pogba played him through on goal. United now has six points from its first four games. Burnley is still looking for its first league win of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino admitted Tottenham's 2-1 defeat at Watford was a wake-up call and conceded his side must improve if they are to win the Premier League.
Pochettino was critical of his players' failure to hold on to the lead given to them by Abdoulaye Doucoure's 53rd-minute own goal.
Watford scored from two set pieces, leaving Tottenham manager Pochettino to question his side's approach in the wake of last Monday's impressive 3-0 victory at Manchester United.
"I think it's a very good wake-up call for everyone and we can listen more when people talk about the reality and not the perception," he said.
"Today, it's good to compare. Sometimes people talk about the perception but the reality was on the pitch and the reality is if you want to be a contender, today you need to win."
Pochettino admitted defeat was hard to take and having seen his side challenge at the head of the table in recent seasons, he hinted his side might have underestimated Watford.
"We need to show more respect to this competition. You need to compete much better," he said.
"It's difficult for me to understand after four years of us being contenders. You need to show respect, to compete to win, it's not easy."
Pochettino questioned whether his side had shown sufficient aggression, and the way in which Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart were able to head home unhindered from a free-kick and corner respectively supported the Argentine's view.
"Today from the beginning we needed to go there like a lion and try to score in every single action," he said.
"The second half we scored and then they showed more strength (and were) more aggressive in the situation.
"In every single game you're going to find this type of situation. If you want to win you need to show that character, you need to defend well.
"Maybe you can not play so well but you need to win this type of game if you want to be a contender at the end." Pochettino, though, was keen to offer perspective at the start of the season and believes Tottenham's first defeat of the campaign can help them improve.
"It's a chance for everyone to say 'come on we need to compete'. We need to talk about how to improve," he said.
"And in March and April and the beginning of May if we are there, then OK, now we are contenders.
"But before we talk, we need to show that we are contenders, and how (do) you show? Winning. And the only way to win a game is to give your best." It was Watford's fourth successive win and left Javi Gracia's third-placed side level on points with leaders Liverpool and second placed Chelsea.
"Everybody is happy because to get four wins in a row is not easy and we are enjoying it, the players, the supporters," Gracia said.
"It's a big moment for us. But we know it's only the beginning."
Unai Emery praised Arsenal's character after they gave a glimpse of their potential in a thrilling 3-2 victory at Cardiff on Sunday.
Emery was rewarded for a bold selection after partnering Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his two main forwards, together from the start for the first time in the Premier League.
Both scored as Emery's men collected the second victory of his reign. The Spaniard saw his side make hard work of seeing off the newly-promoted Welsh club with old defensive failings twice allowing Cardiff to equalise.
But Emery was impressed with the way Arsenal responded to each of those setbacks.
"The reaction is very important. The reaction was very good. We were calm," Emery said.
"The most important thing is to be calm and to continue working. "We controlled the match for 70 per cent of the 90 minutes." Emery got a crash course in both the strengths and weaknesses of the squad he inherited from Arsene Wenger.
His decision to field two forwards paid handsome dividends as first Aubameyang and then Lacazette scored excellent goals to finally kill off Cardiff.
The Bluebirds had equalised through Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward after Shkodran Mustafi headed the Gunners ahead.
"They are playing minutes each match and today they started (together)," said Emery of his strikers.
"We are continuing to work on the combinations. Today I think the two players scored goals and helped us. "We can continue to work to find the best performance with each player."
There is, however, plenty for Emery to ponder during the international break after the familiar failings that dogged the end of Wenger's reign reared their heads again.
After Mustafi's powerful header from Granit Xhaka's corner had put his visitors ahead in the Welsh capital, they failed to see the game out to halftime.
In stoppage-time a poor Xhaka pass was intercepted, Nacho Monreal failed to deal with a Joe Bennett cross and Camarasa fired home.
Then, after Aubameyang had bent home a superb shot to restore their lead after clever work from Mesut Ozil and Lacazette, the Gunners switched off again and allowed Ward a free header to equalise again.
"We need to continue improving on our defence," admitted Emery, who also saw further teething problems for Petr Cech in the veteran goalkeeper's efforts to play from the back.
Twice in the opening eight minutes Cech made a mess of dealing with back-passes and, on the second occasion, Harry Arter fired over when he should have opened the scoring.
"He has experience," said Emery. "He is intelligent. He is doing what we want. "It's very important for me to continue doing this and to keep improving. "We take a little risk, but when you break this risk and their pressing you can find space. We need to continue with this personality." There was a sighting, too, of Ozil, who played a decent hand in victory having missed last week's win at West Ham amid rumours of a row on the training ground with his manager.
"Ozil with his quality, I think we need him to give us his moments in the match," said Emery.
"I think today in the second half he played a good match, he worked every minute he was on the pitch.
"Maybe in the second half with his position on the pitch I think he feels better."