Alexis Sanchez row at Arsenal splits opinion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings need to be dealt with separately

Seven things we learned this weekend: Kane and Lukaku in the player of the year mix, Clement lifts Swansea, goals galore at Watford, Sunderland go down swinging and Palace need momentum

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Sanchez row splits opinion

Arsene Wenger was castigated for his admission that Alexis Sanchez had been dropped for Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat by Liverpool because he wanted his team to be more direct, and rightly so. No one drops their best player for the biggest games due to tactical reasons. But then it emerged that a training ground spat had caused Wenger to make the decision on disciplinary reasons.

For this, he should be commended. No player is bigger than the club, and the fact that Wenger was bold enough to drop Sanchez given his misdemeanour displayed a ruthlessness that his side rarely shows. However, a number of leading football writers criticised the move, claiming that Sanchez was showing the aggression and fight that Arsenal have lacked for too long.

It’s a topic that clearly divides opinion, and depends where you sit on the subject of Sanchez’s absence costing Arsenal dear. If he’d been in the starting line-up, would Arsenal have been 2-0 down at half-time? Given the team’s performance in that first half, the answer would probably have been yes. Wenger and Sanchez may have been shaking hands on Monday morning for the cameras, but the Chilean’s exit in the summer looks inevitable now.

Kane and Lukaku prove why they’re so hard to split

The build-up to Sunday’s clash between Tottenham and Everton saw comparisons between Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku, two of the Premier League’s best young talents at 23 years old, in the argument of who was the better player. If it was difficult to split them before Spurs’ 3-2 victory, it’s even harder now.

Kane seized his first chance early to put Spurs ahead with a fiercely hit effort from outside the Everton area, but by all accounts Gareth Barry should have closed him down quicker and goalkeeper Joel Robles should have made a better effort to save the shot. His second goal displayed his composure in front of goal, something that has been at the forefront of his brilliant form over the last three seasons, but Lukaku would hit back.

The Belgium international single-handedly dragged Everton back into the game as he left Jan Vertonghen for dead, outmuscling his compatriot to the ball before breaking away and firing the ball beyond Hugo Lloris’s reach. That Everton couldn’t spot Dele Alli’s smart run to kill the game off in the dying minutes was no fault of the striker, and by full-time, both Lukaku and Kane had proven why they deserve to be in the argument for who is the best player in the Premier League this season.

Ibrahimovic and Mings deserve bans but incidents should be treated separately

The physical battle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings at Old Trafford was everything that the Premier League likes to boast, until the pair let their emotions overcome them. Mings’s stamp on the Manchester United striker’s head, no matter how unintentional he claims it to be, was sickening, and he should face a long ban for his actions.

Video footage suggests that he meant it, given he glances at Ibrahimovic before jumping over him and makes no attempt to look where he is placing his feet – as you would when hurdling another human being – and the Swede was lucky not to be seriously hurt.

Ibrahimovic’s elbow was also a disgraceful act, as was his claim afterwards that Mings had “jumped into my elbow”. However, an elbow to the face when contesting a header, while outside of the rules, is not on the same level as Mings’ stamp.

Ibrahimovic should face the usual retrospective three-match ban for violent conduct, but the FA should make an example of Mings in order to stamp out such disgraceful actions.

Swansea show resolve as Clement makes his presence felt

The sight of Paul Clement parading around the Liberty Stadium after Swansea’s 3-2 victory over Burnley must have been a joy to behold for the Welsh club. After Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley dragged the club down the league with results that met the relegation form criteria, Clement has guided Swansea to five wins in eight Premier League matches.

The remarkable turnaround has taken the Swans five points clear of the drop zone, and with their next three matches against relegation rivals Hull and Middlesbrough as well as struggling Bournemouth, there’s a good argument to claim that Clement’s side will be safe long before the end of the season.

Given Clement’s reputation among other coaches, it’s great to see him come good on his potential after the disappointing stint with Derby County.

Sunderland go down swinging but it’s starting to look bleak for Moyes

Credit where credit is due, Sunderland took the fight to Manchester City, and were unlucky not to lead Pep Guardiola’s side in their 2-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light. Jermain Defoe hit the post, and Fabio Borini’s follow-up header somehow nearly went out for a throw-in despite having the goal at him mercy. The Black Cats had other first-half chances too, with Adnan Januzaj showing signs of his potential once again, though lacked the final pass to release Defoe and Fabio Borini.

But the crushing blow came minutes before half-time, when Sergio Aguero tapped the ball past the impressive Jordan Pickford to destroy Sunderland’s belief and pave the way for Leroy Sane’s goal shortly after the break to kill off the game. There’s nothing wrong with the fight that Sunderland are showing, but given Palace, Swansea and Leicester all picked up important wins at the weekend, the six-point gap to safety suddenly looks very large.

Mid-table tussle proves the most entertaining viewing

A look down the weekend fixture list would not have suggested that the best viewing would have been at Vicarage Road. Two sides who look to be safe from relegation – though they could do with a strong run of form to confirm that – provided a seven-goal thriller that saw the scoring open within four minutes and end in the 94th minute.

Southampton look like they’ve signed a gem in Manolo Gabbiadini, who notched his sixth goal in four matches, while Watford displayed a goalscoring threat that they have rarely shown this season, with their goal tally still fewer than Bournemouth, Swansea and Palace who sit below them in the table.

Palace must take momentum to pull themselves clear

Back-to-back wins for just the second time this season is exactly what the doctor will have ordered for Sam Allardyce, and for the first time since arriving at Selhurst Park, he spoke like a manager who knew his side will stay up this season. Allardyce has bragged of his record against relegation, has laid into his players for not trying hard enough, and to be fair to him, he’s got a response.

Now, Palace need to take the momentum from these two victories over Middlesbrough last week and West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to take the fight to Watford next week, given they do not play this weekend. The only danger is that with 14 days between matches, the momentum generated from these wins may have disappeared by the time Watford travel to Selhurst Park, and it’s up to Allardyce to make sure the feel-good factor remains among the Eagles.

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