BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Careless finishing costs Citizens again
Manchester City dropped points at relegation-threatened Middlesbrough and only four of their 22 attempts on goal were on target, compared with six out of 14 for Boro.

When Pep Guardiola’s forwards are in full flight they look capable of scoring with virtually every attack yet their goal tally of 65 means they are behind Chelsea (72), Liverpool (70) and Tottenham (71).

Even troubled Arsenal have scored 64 league goals in one game fewer than City, who were left to rue missed chances in recent meetings with the Gunners in the league (2-2) and FA Cup (a 2-1 defeat after extra-time).

Gabriel Jesus scored a late equaliser for City at Boro and perhaps he is the man to make them more clinical in front of goal. It’s a small sample size, but Jesus has four goals in 297 minutes of top-flight action – as well as a couple ruled out for offside.

2 Sigurdsson sparkles in Swans’ big games
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s superb free kick earned Swansea a point at Manchester United and the Iceland international scored at Old Trafford for the third season in a row.

Sigurdsson is well worth following in goalscorer markets when the Swans take on the big boys – his nine league goals this term include strikes against United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool.

Sigurdsson’s final goal of 2015-16 was the winner at home to Chelsea and in 2014-15 he notched against Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City, in addition to the Swans’ second goal in their 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

3 Promoted pair not likely to be also-rans
Sky Bet League One champions Sheffield United brought up a century of points on the final day and Bolton sealed promotion with a 3-0 victory over Peterborough.

The Trotters still have financial issues hanging over them but in footballing terms both them and the Blades look capable of competing well in the Sky Bet Championship.

Sheffield United lost three of their first four games, including a 1-0 defeat at Bolton, but they suffered only three losses in their next 42 league matches, scoring 92 goals on their way to the title.

The runners-up were far less prolific but a defence marshalled by David Wheater and Mark Beevers – both of whom made the division’s PFA team of the year – conceded just 36 times in 46 matches.

4 Florian flourishing in front of goal
Florian Thauvin didn’t have a great impact at Newcastle, failing to score in 13 league appearances, but the  24-year-old winger is relishing a loan spell back at Marseille.

Thauvin’s hat-trick in the 5-1 weekend win at Caen made it 15 goals for the season and nine in his last ten games so OM are eager to make his move from Newcastle permanent.

5 Happy ending in store for Magpies
Lying 16th in Sky Bet League Two isn’t usually
cause for wild celebrations but Notts County fans should be content after a testing season.

Only promoted pair Plymouth and Portsmouth are above County in the division’s eight-match form table and Saturday’s 1-0 win over Blackpool was their tenth victory in their last 18 matches.

Things looked far bleaker for the Magpies during November, December and January, when they endured a run of ten straight defeats before the appointment of Kevin Nolan stopped the rot.

Six of Notts County’s last seven wins have come against teams above them and with the right investment over the summer they should be competitive next season.

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Match in Focus

20:00 We 20Sep SKY

Man Utd v Burton

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • United have conceded in just one of five league games
Expert verdict
Holders Manchester United have started the season in excellent form and the title-chasing Red Devils should have little trouble overcoming poor-travelling Burton in the third round of the League Cup at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team throughout last term’s competition, which saw his side oust Northampton, rivals Manchester City, West Ham, Hull and Southampton on their way to silverware. Burton have won just two of their last 12 league away games.