Another weekend of Premier League action has come and gone with Jermaine Jenas somehow still being paid more than the living wage for providing “analysis” to the masses – was Hugo Lloris “unprofessional” for suddenly panicking, thinking he could perform a Cruyff turn and get away from Danny Ings? No, of course he wasn’t – he was still paid handsomely for his error, one would imagine. And he still came out and held his hands up to the error, which is more than many others do, eh Jermaine?
There must have been something in the isotonic sports drinks on Saturday as goalkeeper howlers were almost as frequent as incorrect VAR decisions.
Up at Bramall Lane, Premier League new-boys Sheffield United (and yes, I can continue to call them new-boys until the next international break) went toe-to-toe with runaway leaders Liverpool and looked like they might come out with at least a point – Virgil van Dijk hasn’t looked so rocked since seeing David James attempt the paso doble on Strictly, and Adrian strengthened his claim to be the best Spanish keeper in the league. Mo Salah was having one of those afternoons where, shall we say, the wet surface must have been affecting his ability to stand up – it was awfully slippy out there.
Yet a strong rearguard performance and the occasional threat on the counter are a little bit worthless when Dean Henderson managed to let Gino Wijnaldum’s effort from distance go through his legs for the eventual winner. Watching the mistake unfold in slow motion, I was instantly transferred back to school where the virtues of cricket’s long-barrier was drilled into me by Mr Murden, our geography teaching cricket nut, and I cannot help but feel that Hendo could have benefited from some of the same advice.
Still, he’s a young, talented goalkeeper who will win Sheff Utd more points than he gives away so his manager was always going to come out and back him public, wasn’t he? Well, yeah – about that. Chris Wilder is quickly developing a reputation for calling it how he sees it but surely it was obvious that the kid was distraught after the goal so hanging him out to dry in your post-match presser might not be the best thing for his confidence? These British managers, eh? I mean, you wouldn’t catch Jose Mourinho doing such a thing. Sheffield United’s relegation odds were not affected on sportsbetting24 following the defeat, you’ll be delighted to learn.
Jumping to the evening game, King Kloppo’s side had opened up a rather substantial eight-point lead over Manchester City as Peppy G’s men rolled up at Goodison Park, one of the view grounds in England where they sometimes struggle.
When Dominic Calvert-Lewin bundled in Everton’s equaliser, some Liverpool fans on social media were already planning where they should go that evening for their Premier League 2019/20 winners celebration party, but it was never going to be that simple – Marco Silva has never beaten Pep Guardiola after all and, being blunt, Marco Silva probably isn’t going to beat too many more managers before they play managerial musical chairs once again at Everton.
City sorted themselves out well enough to leave Merseyside with a 3-1 win and those Anfield title celebrations might have to be put on ice – you know, until at least Halloween.
Down at London’s latest NFL stadium, it was a curious case of a game that really was not that entertaining actually having a bit of everything.
Take Serge Aurier, for example. One thing Serge has proven in his rare outings in the Poch’s starting eleven is that he loves a tackle and he loves a yellow card. So once he launched himself at Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand for the first one, a second one was as inevitable as Hugo making a prat of himself with the ball at his feet at some point.
However, for Aurier’s second yellow – moments after the first one – he can feel a little hard done by. Not for the foul, not at all – if you are on a yellow and then you tug the shirt of the player sprinting past you then it’s reasonable to expect the kitman to be running the bath for you. The bigger issue was the fact that moments before Southampton knocked it into the space Serge insisted on vacating, the ball was at least two yards out of play and the lino was standing right there.
Let’s be honest here – with the advent of VAR the linesman doesn’t have a great deal to do now and even less to get right. Seeing whether the ball is in our out of play is a basic requirement and this one was a proper booboo.
That said, none of this explains Spurs’ apparent desire to shoot themselves in the foot with the whole “let’s play it out from the back no matter what” approach – if there is one thing that needs to be looked at this season, it’s sides that think it is a good idea to start playing rondos in their own area just because there is a new goal-kick rule that they want to have fun with. Lloris hesitated, took a touch and saw Danny Ings bundle it over the line – and then, better still, proceeded to boot every goal-kick from thereon in up the pitch to Harry Kane. Why not just do that from the start? The horse has already bolted on the “this is probably safer as Southampton press pretty well” thinking, Hugo.
Harry Kane saved the day for Spurs, as per.
Chelsea are in serious danger of becoming the darlings of England which feels wrong on more levels than I can even count. These young whipper-snappers are taking some of us older football followers back to the days where Paul Scholes was seen and not heard, David Beckham had never heard of the Spice Girls and Gary Neville wasn’t even the best player at his breakfast table.
Mason Mount is leading the way, and it was he that pounced on more daft tippy-tappy in Brighton’s own area to win the penalty that was dispatched by Jorginho. Brighton should feel like they won’t get relegated this season, mainly because Tammy Abraham didn’t score against them and he only scores against Championship level teams.
Leicester City (good to watch) and Newcastle United (terrible to watch) went up against each other on Sunday and Leicester had to take to the field without last week’s match-winner and current social media winner, James Maddison. The bit of rain that has the UK on severe weather warnings made the King Power surface nice and slick which suited the side with the ability to pass it to players in the same colour shirts (Leicester, in case there was any confusion). The very same slick surface probably had something to do with Isaac Hayden smashing into Dennis Praet and picking up a well-deserved red card.
Dubravka then added to the goalkeeping shame of the weekend before Brentan was able to smugly watch the Foxes eat the Magpies for a late Sunday afternoon lunch.
Bournemouth and West Ham normally put on an entertaining feast and their match on the South Coast was not lacking in ingredients. VAR is only used in Premier League grounds (and Dean Court) and it was in full swing here. On Saturday night, West Ham were third – their fans haven’t had such nose-bleeds since seeing how high and far away from the pitch their seats were in the Athletics Stadium. But, and this feels as odd as complimenting Chelsea, they have a fun team to watch right now – in Yarmalenko they have a match-winner who would not look out of place in an actual top-six side and Felipe Anderson’s little cushion header for Aaron Cresswell’s late equaliser was delightful. What’s happening to the world I know? Bournemouth were decent too and even managed to upset the normally super-calm Pellegrini.
Aston Villa might want to consider turning some of these winning positions into three points once in a while. Dean Smith’s men are leading the table for “throwing it all away when winning” and that’s normally the kind of table that leads to relegation. As for Sean Dyche, he never misses a moment to talk up his side’s “never say die” spirit and the fact they “never give up”. Surely that should be a given, Sean, no?
Is anyone else thinking that Norwich beating City the other week was the worst thing that could have happened to them, or do you just not care? Crystal Palace had that rare feeling of winning a game of football at home and they treated their fans to a whole two goals as well. More importantly for Roy Hodgson was the fact that someone has remembered the password to Wilfried Zaha and he put on his best performance of the season so far.