Tired legs, eh Danny? Tired legs? Hamza Choudhury had been on the pitch three minutes when he chopped Mohamed Salah down around the shins at Anfield. Not that I care about the foul, more Match of the Day’s Danny Murphy and his utter disregard for doing the very basic level of research. I mean, even we do more fact-checking for this daft prose and trust me – we don’t check the facts.
One thing that is obviously a fact is that the Premier League title race is over before Halloween (again). Liverpool lead Man City by eight points, so shall we just cancel the rest of it now? Or are we potentially missing out on seven or so months of Liverpool fans getting squeaky bums as they get near the actual finishing line? Equally, cancelling the rest of the Premier League would probably deny the rest of us neutrals pointing and laughing at Spurs. And Arsenal. And, yes, United.
This was definitely a weekend that will be remembered as a turning point if Liverpool do find enough bottle to win their first title in thirty years.
With Mo Salah limping off due to the tackle mentioned above from Choudhury, it was left to Sadio Mane to assume the duties normally associated with the Egyptian. No, no – not weaving past three players and planting it top bins. No, I mean falling over in the area after the gentlest of breathing in his vicinity.
Football is a contact sport and you are allowed to make contact in the penalty area – it doesn’t immediately mean that the player who has felt some legal contact means he needs to go down as if entering the pool in Benidorm.
As Brendan said afterwards, once it has been given it’s very hard for VAR to overrule it – but you know for sure that had it not been given then there is no way VAR are then deciding to give it. Leicester can feel pretty hard done by.
The best bit of the match for me was King Klopp giving it the ‘behind the ears’ celebration to the Liverpool fans that were getting a little bit vocal with the shock that Liverpool might not make it eight wins from eight and extend that Premier League winning run to the 18 matches it now stands at (someone should probably check that fact for me, it might not be 18). Don’t forget, Kloppo also won a Champions League in there, so he did well to only put his hands behind his ears as an answer to those fools.
Also, those rival fans getting excited that Jamie Vardy was going to rinse Dejan Lovren, called up for the match to teach young Joe Gomez a lesson for a very poor second half against Salzburg. That didn’t really happen now, did it?
Liverpool getting an eight-point-lead after a mere eight matches isn’t all their own doing, though. No, Man City have been very willing accomplices, and their 2-0 defeat at the Etihad to Wolves was one of Pep’s own making.
When you are typically allowed to go and buy any player you want, it still seems somewhat curious that City didn’t cook the books enough to allow Peppy G to go out and procure another central defender – you know, just in case there was an injury crisis and they’d end up playing Fernandinho and Otamendi at the back.
That, coupled with the fact he didn’t rate Adama Traore enough at Barcelona to give him a game meaning that Traore had a few points to finally be able to prove here, are the real reasons why City have suddenly fallen way off the pace – it’s either that or they were finding it too easy and want to make this Premier League defence a little more challenging, a bit like a handicap in golf I suppose. Still, “#PepOut” was trending on Twitter, so it makes me wonder whether City fans even deserve another title.
As for Tottenham, well. After seeing seven go in against Bayern, you could assume that they might have wanted to put on a show at Brighton. Well, they certainly put on a show and I’ll let you insert your own adjective ahead of the word ‘show’.
What you really need 90 seconds into the first game back on the horse is for your captain and keeper to throw one into the back of the net – genuinely, if I’d had the last week that Lloris has had, I’d have probably dislocated my own elbow just to get the hell out of there too.
It’s a curious time at Spurs – them getting to a Champions League final has done a fine job of covering up the fact that they have been terrible for most of 2019. Losing away from home in the Premier League is not an uncommon thing for the Poch’s men at all. If nothing else, Palace fans must be wondering how on earth they managed to lose 4-0 to this lot. Take Eric Dier, for example. He was once considered one of the best English finds in years – intelligent and capable of moving between defence and midfield at will. Now, he looks like an average guy who has woken up in the middle of a Premier League field and there are lots of things passing him by.
There was another black eye for Jan Vertonghen which will, no doubt, kickstart another round of social media speculation around his similarities to John Terry, but even that could not overshadow the Premier League debut of Brighton’s Aaron Connelly. Given that Gareth Southgate managed to pinch the last decent young Irish prospect to break through, he might do well to see what’s going on in Connelly’s heritage.
Chelsea really are everything Manchester United should be right now. A young manager who is a legend of the club leading a team packed full of Academy graduates playing attacking football, the Blues are worryingly close to becoming the darlings of English football – and that just feels wrong, very very wrong.
Sure, they are going to let in a few more daft goals between now and the end of the season but they are a team that should only improve as the season goes on. Mason Mount was pulling the strings and scoring the kind of goal that will have made his boss wonder if he was ever like that, and leading the line was Tammy Abraham who, one week at a time, is convincing me that he is more than a Championship bully. Southampton, though – well they are in proper trouble. You probably need someone other than Shane Long up top if you want to do semi-well in this league.
As for United, they were turgid once again away at Newcastle – but given the levels of the two sides, did we really expect much entertainment at St James’ Park? Sure, it was lovely to see the two Longstaffs get a start together for the home side but they weren’t exactly going up against Premier League legends in Scott McTominay and Fred. See how many better midfield duos you can name playing this season – go on. I bet you can get to at least 15. I’d even take Arsenal’s midfield over what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to pick from.
Granted, Mr Ed tried to do something about United’s midfield by going after Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff. But he didn’t even get that right as United were interested in the wrong Longstaff brother.
Solskjaer has spent a lot of time giving backroom roles to ex-players – right now, he’d do well to get some of them back on the pitch. There is no way that Carrick would be worse in midfield than Fred and I’d still back Ole himself to pose more of a threat down the middle than Marcus Rashford right now. The defeat means United head into the international break two points off the relegation zone. The sat nav is well and truly knackered on that bus Ole’s apparently at the wheel of.
Arsenal were also bang average at the Emirates against Bournemouth. David Luiz headed home the only goal of the game within ten minutes, but Bournemouth did have one key chance to get level. Callum Wilson rounded the keeper but chose not to shoot – but why? The answer is easy – he’s been linked to Manchester United in January so he’s making the sensible decision to dial down his form a little. United will soon look elsewhere.
Now, I am no opposition analyst but if I was working for Everton I reckon I’d have noticed that Burnley are pretty dangerous from set-pieces and that Everton are pretty rubbish at defending them. There was no great shock when Jeff Hendrick scored Burnley’s winner – yes, from a corner.
VAR actually did some giving rather than taking this weekend, and it happened at the Athletics Stadium. West Ham were peak West Ham against Crystal Palace. They went into the game allegedly in form, confident of pushing on. They came out of the game having gifted Uncle Roy his first away Premier League win against West Ham. Remember who you are West Ham, remember who you are. There’s some way to go yet before you can break into that top six.
The only thing worth noting from Sheffield United’s visit to Watford was Andre Gray’s miss from three yards – Quique Sanchez Flores instantly aged another three years.