Premier League winners and losers: Aguero can’t be stopped

Watch as Sergio Aguero strikes from long range with a beautiful goal.

Through 26 matchdays, the Premier League title race remains too close to call. Both Liverpool and Manchester City were victorious over the weekend, which keeps them level on 65 points atop the table.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are still knocking on the door, Manchester United are back in the top four and Chelsea continue to spiral.

Here are four winners and four losers from Matchday 26.

WINNERS

Sergio Aguero

Make that 11 Premier League hat tricks for Sergio Aguero, who received the match ball after a humongous 6-0 win for Manchester City over Chelsea on Sunday.

In netting his 11th league treble, Aguero is level with Alan Shearer for the most hat-tricks in the Premier League era.

That wasn’t the only feat for Aguero on the day, either. He’s also Man City’s all-time leading scorer in the league with 160 goals in just 229 appearances.

Of those 160 strikes, 43 of them were scored against the other “big six” clubs. It’s an incredible record for one of the best modern forwards to grace the English top flight.

Naby Keita

On Matchday 26, Naby Keita was among the losers. One week later, he’s in the winners column.

It can’t be a coincidence that with Georginio Wijnaldum in the side, plus Keita earning his longest run of starts to date with Liverpool, he’s shown remarkable improvement.

Keita registered more touches (120) than any other player in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth and it showed. He was stringing passes together, bombing forward and registering several tackles along the way.

But make no mistake, it’s noteworthy that Wijnaldum and Fabinho freed up the Guinean on Saturday. This was the Keita we saw at RB Leipzig and Liverpool fans caught a glimpse. Maybe this is the start of a strong finish to the season.

Harry Winks

Mauricio Pochettino had one eye on Tottenham’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund in midweek, so he rotated his side accordingly. In doing so, Harry Winks partnered academy graduate Oliver Skipp and Moussa Sissoko in midfield versus Leicester City on Sunday.

Winks has struggled defensively this season, but he was fantastic all around in Spurs’ 3-1 win. He orchestrated the midfield brilliantly and got stuck in, too. The 23-year-old finished the match with nine ball recoveries, six tackles and four interceptions.

This is exactly the kind of performance Pochettino will need from Winks on Wednesday versus Dortmund.

Watford

The Marco Silva derby was one of the most highly anticipated fixtures of the season for Watford. Not only did they defeat Everton and their former manager, but the Hornets are four points above Silva’s side with a game in hand.

And in case you were wondering if the Watford fans still resented Silva, wonder no more.

To top it off, Watford hadn’t won any of their last three Premier League matches. Figures that they snapped that skid against their former gaffer.

LOSERS

All 11 Chelsea players

To say Sunday was a disaster for Chelsea would be putting it lightly.

Not one player was decent in the crushing loss to Man City and manager Maurizio Sarri deserves some blame as well. Despite nailing his tactics in December’s match, Sarri failed to replicate a similar plan and it severely crippled the side.

However, these issues are far more deep-rooted than the manager. The club’s recruitment is a far cry to a few years ago and the squad is not capable of playing Sarri’s style.

Chelsea knew what they were getting when hiring the Italian and they’ve set him up to fail.

Claude Puel

Leicester City could’ve actually nicked a result at Wembley versus Tottenham. Unfortunately, one decision likely cost manager Claude Puel.

Opting to leave Jamie Vardy on the bench – especially when Leicester created several chances – was a dastardly gamble. James Maddison and Youri Tielemans dominated in the final third, yet no one was able to convert the chances they created.

When looking at the expected goals map, Leicester out-chanced Tottenham yet struggled to convert.

The difference in the match was Son Heung-min was more clinical than Demarai Gray. Vardy eventually scored after his missed penalty but it was too little, too late.

Claudio Ranieri

Manchester United eventually cruised to a 3-0 victory, although it was pretty rough for the opening 10 minutes. Aleksandar Mitrovic missed two clear-cut chances, then Paul Pogba took over and United cruised to a win.

But the attack isn’t the main issue. Claudio Ranieri was hired to fix the defence and has failed to do so. Fulham only have two clean sheets in 15 matches and have conceded 27 goals in that span. That is relegation material.

One quick glance at ex-manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s Twitter mentions, and you’ll see Fulham fans clamouring for his return. The old saying is true: Sometimes you don’t know what you had until it’s gone.

Crystal Palace attack

Somehow, Crystal Palace mustered 26 shots against West Ham United, only conceded six, and walked out with a 1-1 draw.

It also took 76 minutes to find an equalizer after Mark Noble’s first-half penalty.

Surely West Ham players owe goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski a fancy steak dinner after that effort on Saturday.

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