Premier League grades: Top marks for history-making Manchester United
By Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 14/01/19 12:32pm
It's top marks for history-making Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Man Utd team as we grade every Premier League team this weekend.
Man Utd have won all six Premier League games under their caretaker manager, winning 1-0 against Tottenham on Sunday. Liverpool also maintained their lead at the top with a 1-0 win against Brighton.
Arsenal lost 1-0 to West Ham as the cracks start to show under Unai Emery, while Chelsea, Everton and Southampton also won. Here, we give each team a grade based on their performance this weekend.
Manchester United - A+
History for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer! Manchester United's win at Tottenham has seen him equal Matt Busby's all-time record of winning his first five league games in charge of Manchester United. A sixth straight win in all competitions also sees Solskjaer confirm the best start of any manager in Manchester United's history.
And Gary Neville, speaking on the Gary Neville podcast, was full of praise for his former team-mate. "At Wembley, it was the acid test [for Solskjaer]. It was the moment where people said could he live in a big game and could he live against the big managers.
"Second-half I thought it was about spirit, desire and hanging on a little bit. The players were playing for the manager. But in the first half, he caught Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham out. There's no doubt about that."
The United players also deserve a lot of credit, especially goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spain international made 11 saves in the match - only against Arsenal in December 2017 has he ever made more in a Premier League match (14).
This was the most saves he's ever made in a top five European league game while also keeping a clean sheet, helping United to a victory which moved them to within six points of the top four. (Oliver Yew)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: David de Gea (17 points)
LISTEN: The Gary Neville podcast
Head here to listen to the Gary Neville podcast following Man Utd's 1-0 win against Tottenham.
Liverpool - A-
"It's not opera football but it's still a really nice song," was how Jurgen Klopp summed up Liverpool's win over Brighton.
They only scored once - from the penalty spot - but they controlled the game and produced an assured performance after back-to-back defeats to start the new year. Liverpool's defensive improvement has been one of the features of this season and this victory was again built on a solid foundation, with Fabinho impressing as a makeshift centre-back alongside Virgil van Dijk. (James Walker-Roberts)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Roberto Firmino (31 points)
West Ham - A-
West Ham are starting to look like a real team. They throttled Arsenal in midfield and cut off supply to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for the majority of the game, with Declan Rice tireless in midfield. With new boy Samir Nasri slightly rusty but clearly still possessing a touch of class, it could be a bright end to the season for the Hammers. (Ron Walker)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Declan Rice (19 points)
Southampton - B+
This was a tale of two halves where Southampton showed two different styles to walk away from Leicester with maximum points. For the first 45 minutes, they pressed the life out of the opposition and - with Shane Long at the forefront - caused all sorts of problems for the Leicester backline.
And then when they were down to 10 men after 19-year-old Yan Valery was dismissed for two bookable offences, Ralph Hasenhuttl switched it up and instructed his team to defend deep and narrow. It worked a charm. Leicester were repelled for large parts of the half and Hasenhuttl bagged the third win of his reign. (Lewis Jones)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Maya Yoshida (12 points)
Burnley - B+
Burnley beat Fulham without registering a single shot on target in a match where it was their defensive display which arguably saw them over the line.
Sean Dyche's side were resolute off the ball and were able to alleviate the pressure on their backline thanks to the industry of Jeff Hendrick and Dwight McNeil on the flanks.
Dyche said post-match that James Tarkowski's goal-line block secured them the victory and it was certainly a moment which encapsulated their hard-working performance. (James Kilpatrick)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Dwight McNeill (20 points)
Chelsea - B
Chelsea picked up an extremely positive result against Newcastle to strengthen their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
However, not everything is rosy at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were far from their best against Newcastle with head coach Mauricio Sarri once again bemoaning his side's mentality.
"We slept for 20, 25 minutes, so at the end of the first half we were in trouble," he said. "We need to improve in the mental reaction because after the first goal something happened. We stopped playing for 20 minutes. But it was really very important to gain points today. That was enough."
Sarri is also not happy with the options at his disposal in terms of his squad. He admitted he wants to sign a replacement for Cesc Fabregas and the club have been linked with a move for Argentian striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Will Sarri get what he wants? The final 18 days of the transfer window could prove to be crucial in Chelsea's season. (Oliver Yew)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Willian (13 points)
Everton - B
A good grade didn't look likely after 40 minutes of their eventual win over Bournemouth. They looked a nervous team, scared of their own shadow and were lucky to still be in the game. However, things improved after the break and although they didn't create chance-after-chance, a goal did look likely. It came via a wonderful cross from Lucas Digne - a player that continues to impress. This was a big result for Marco Silva. (Lewis Jones)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Lucas Digne (17 points)
Tottenham - B-
Tottenham will be wondering how they didn't come away with a positive result against Manchester United.
But for David de Gea's outstanding performance, Harry Kane and Dele Alii could have had two goals apiece as Spurs put in what Mauricio Pochettino described as 'the best performance' of his tenure.
"I am so pleased and I'm proud," Pochettino told Sky Sports. "After four-and-a-half-years, the second half was the best performance I have seen Tottenham play.
That will surely be no consolation though to Pochettino as he ponders a second straight defeat in the league at Wembley. Throw in an injury concern for Kane, an injury to Moussa Sissoko and Heung-min Son's departure to the Asia Cup - Pochettino will have a few sleepless nights in the coming days. (Oliver Yew)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld (5 points)
Watford - C+
Although it was an even encounter between Crystal Palace and Watford at Selhurst Park, the Hornets just edge ahead in the ratings after two goals of real quality. Craig Cathcart atoned for his earlier own goal - despite not knowing much about it - with a fine header before Tom Cleverley sealed the 2-1 win with a superb volley as he continues his return from injury.
They also had the better of the chances but they could arguably have had a few more if Jose Holebas had been better with his set-piece delivery. He improved as the game went on and was a catalyst for their two goals, but it could have cost them. However, they showed great character to come back for the win and are now four away games unbeaten in the Premier League. (Charlotte Marsh)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Troy Deeney (15 points)
Huddersfield - C+
David Wagner said as much after seeing his side held to a draw at Cardiff. It was the latest example of Huddersfield producing a perfectly acceptable performance, with the right attitude on show, but they contrive to find new ways of not winning football matches.
The Terriers have struggled to keep clean sheets this season, adding to the pressure at the other end to find the net, but on the rare occasion of an away shut-out, Steve Mounie, Elias Kachunga were unable to muster a clear opportunity.
It wasn't until the late introduction of Laurent Depoitre that Neil Etheridge was unduly troubled, and Wagner knows a lot more creativity will be needed if they are to drag themselves out of trouble. (Ben Grounds)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Jonas Lossl (10 points)
Arsenal - C
Not only were Arsenal poor at the back again against West Ham, they offered precious little going forward. It was all too predictable, too safe. Unai Emery has to instil some confidence back into his beleaguered side who have now won only one of seven on the road. The answer is bigger than Mesut Ozil's return, but some zip and creativity in midfield is certainly a must. (Ron Walker)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Laurent Koscielny (5 points)
Cardiff - C
When you have as many bookings as you have shots at home to Huddersfield (three) when a win can create clear daylight with your relegation rivals, you're not going to finish top of the class.
Neil Warnock admitted his side were undercooked with Victor Camarasa and Callum Paterson visibly playing through injuries, but Cardiff's shortcomings were evident throughout a turgid affair.
A sixth clean sheet of the season provides a crumb of comfort, but the Bluebirds are desperately short of goals in their side, with Jonas Lossl largely a spectator as Huddersfield were denied a penalty. (Ben Grounds)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Neil Etheridge (16 points)
Newcastle - C
Newcastle put in a spirited display at Stamford Bridge but in the end, they once again came up short against a 'big six' side.
The club's total of 18 points from their opening 22 matches is their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since the 1988-89 campaign (17 points), with the Magpies going on to be relegated under manager Jim Smith.
Despite dropping into the relegation zone following defeat to Chelsea, Rafael Benitez is putting a brave face on things, saying he is confident his side can beat the drop.
However, with the Spaniard admitting after the defeat in west London that he is still unsure as to whether there will be any incomings during the January transfer, there will be some real concern amongst the Newcastle fans. (Oliver Yew)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Ciaran Clark (8 points)
Fulham - C
Fulham will feel they deserved more from their defeat at Burnley as they prevented their opponents from registering a single shot on target.
After Andre Schurrle's screamer got Claudio Ranieri's side off to the perfect start, they failed to profit from opportunities they created in the first half with Calum Chambers and Ryan Sessegnon missing gilt-edged chances.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was also uncharacteristically quiet, but he was starved of service for long periods of the match. (James Kilpatrick)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Denis Odoi (14 points)
Crystal Palace - C
It was hard to separate Crystal Palace and Watford on Saturday in what was quite a scrappy game in all fairness. Roy Hodgson's side got a big slice of luck with their goal - a scramble in the area and an unwitting own goal from Craig Cathcart - but two moments of quality saw them pipped for the points.
Hodgson told Sky Sports after the game that a loss was 'tough to take' and that is probably fair based on the balance of play. However, one good thing for Crystal Palace is the return of Christian Benteke, who got his first minutes in 20 games after suffering with injury. With six points continuing to separate them from the bottom three, Hodgson said he hoped Benteke and his fellow striker Connor Wickham can hit a purple patch in the final 16 games of the season. (Charlotte Marsh)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Patrick Van Aanholt and Jordan Ayew (12 points)
Brighton - C
Brighton restricted Liverpool well in the first half, holding their shape and not allowing any clear chances. However, after Pascal Gross' clumsy foul on Mohamed Salah gave the visitors the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 50th minute, the Seagulls never really looked like getting back into the game. Still, a tight 1-0 defeat to the Premier League leaders is no disgrace and Jurgen Locadia again showed some encouraging signs as he appears to be settling into the team a year after joining from PSV. (James Walker-Roberts)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Shane Duffy (15 points)
Bournemouth - D
It's now six away defeats in a row for Eddie Howe's men and that includes conceding 11 goals in their last three games. It's the Cherries worst ever run of successive away defeats in the top two tiers of English football. They've also lost nine of last 12 Premier League games. Eddie Howe will have taken positives from this showing as they ran all over Everton for the first 40 minutes but didn't take their chances. Improvement needed. (Lewis Jones)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Nathaniel Clyne (3 points)
Leicester City - D-
It was all too predictable from Claude Puel's men for large parts of their defeat to Southampton. Despite playing against 10-men for just over 45 minutes, they not only failed to stage a comeback they also managed to concede. The second half especially was a tough watch for the home faithful.
Leicester had over 85 per cent possession after the break but their attacking play lacked that creative edge. After beating Manchester City at the King Power, Puel's men have since lost to Cardiff, Southampton and Newport County in the FA Cup. The pressure is growing on the manager. (Lewis Jones)
Sky Sports Fantasy Football top points scorer: Ricardo Pereira (14 points)