It was a tragic weekend for football and I’d like to start this column by sending my deepest sympathies to all at Leicester City football club after the events of Saturday evening. I’d also like to wish Glenn Hoddle a speedy recovery, it’s all pretty scary and the football family must pull together in times like these.
Welcome to Team of the Weekend, where I’ll look for the best and worst of the weekend’s action. I’ve found a new reason to give a player automatic entry to the team and not in a good way but there’s also the usual mix of direct free kicks and eye catching finishes.
Jordan Pickford – Penalty saver AGAIN. Two weeks in a row but the talk will be about Paul Pogba’s stupid run up. What this does prove though is if England had made the World Cup final they would definitely have beaten France on penalties. No questions asked.
Bruno Saltor – Brighton defend so well as a unit, it must be a manager’s dream to watch. Bodies strewn everywhere as they stop at nothing to ensure their sheet remains clean. However, as great as that is, Bruno is in the team this week for becoming the oldest man to assist a goal in the Premier League since Jussi Jaaskelainen in 2014. Firstly – how did Jussi manage to nab an assist? Secondly, he’s 38 and is fitter than I was at 18 so fair play to Bruno, continue to prove age is just a number.
Daniel Amartey – Words can’t sum up how painful that injury for looked for Amartey. You could see it happen in real time and I was practically hiding behind the sofa. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.
Granit Xhaka – Yes, I know he’s a midfielder but he’s playing at left back right now so he’s in this team as a defender. For the second time this season, Xhaka makes the grade for scoring direct from a free kick. What a hit this was, from an angle not necessarily made for scoring from. It found what is affectionately referred to as “the postage stamp” area of the goal which is just a fancy way of saying the top corner. Ignore the fact he later gave away a penalty.
Roberto Pereyra – Was it Messi? Ricky Villa? No, it was Watford’s Argentine superstar Roberto Pereyra. A mazy dribble saw 4 or 5 Huddersfield defenders wave an apologetic leg in his direction as he set Watford on their way to a second successive win. Okay, the defending was worse than apologetic. It was atrocious. But you can only beat what’s put in front of you and Pereyra is making a bit of a habit of this.
Sadio Mane – Thumbs up from Sadio. Cardiff put up a reasonable fight against Liverpool but could do very little to stop an absolute thunderbolt from Sadio Mane’s left foot. He added a delightful chipped finish later on to seal the win but Liverpool’s front 3 are clicking once again and that is ominous for everybody else.
Ross Barkley – What’s got into Ross Barkley? A goal and two assists on Sunday to go with his goal last weekend, mix that all in with a good showing for England a few weeks ago and it looks like he is finally starting to realise his potential. All it took was the guiding hand of Sarri-ball. There were serious question marks over whether Chelsea could do it without Eden Hazard and it turns out they absolutely can. Against Burnley. Tougher tests lie ahead.
Luka Milivojevic – After a poor penalty last weekend cost his team against Everton, it would take some bottle to step up again just 6 days later. To step up twice however…that is some big bottle. He converted both spot kicks to well and truly prove that last weekend was just a one off and get Palace’s home season off and running.
Glen Murray – I was severely worried about Glen Murray after watching him get carried off the St James’ Park pitch last week but thankfully it was “just” a concussion. Happily, Glen had recovered in time to face Wolves and what’s more, he scored the winner as an impressive rearguard action saw Brighton claim a backs to the wall win. Murray continues to trouble the goal-scoring charts and that is three wins on the spin for Brighton.
Aboubakar Kamara – It’s our diver of the week! In a new feature I totally haven’t just made up, Kamara took to falling over a non-existent challenge from Asmir Begovic to be our inaugural loser. Will I remember to name and shame sombeody next week? Possibly not. A special mention to our silver medallist Wilfried Zaha, I’m sure he’ll be back next week for another attempt at the gong.
Callum Wilson – Bournemouth’s attacking pace claims yet another victim. Poor old Fulham were the latest, though with their defensive record it is hardly a surprise. Wilson was in lethal form, converting a penalty but also a late second to round off a convincing 3-0 win. I’ve said it before but Wilson should be at least under consideration for England.
Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool are top of the table so I’m giving the management job this week to Jurgen Klopp. It’s hardly a shock appointment and their win over Cardiff was routine rather than incredible but he’s given Liverpool their best chance of winning the league since Brendan Rodgers. Errm. We’ll work on the comparisons.
That’s all from me this week but I’ll be back later in the week with more. Look after each other.