Dear reader, I need to make something very clear. Liverpool are not too nervous to win this Premier League title, OK? Bottling it is not on their mind. It is the media trying to create something that doesn’t exist. After all, two draws do not make a crisis; not even at Anfield.
If you were to believe many football outlets, probably including this one, Liverpool’s squeaky bum time had started far earlier than Sir Alex Ferguson ever suggested. So much so, in fact, that Gini Wijnaldum spent most of Friday night in the bathroom being, er, nervous.
It turned out that Wijnaldum was actually ill, not worried about the fact that Liverpool had seen their seven-point lead over Man City disappear in a puff of smoke. He wasn’t that ill though, as the Dutchman was crucial to Jurgen Klopp’s team seeing off Bournemouth 4-0.
Once again, Bournemouth proved themselves to be the perfect team to play when you need to get things back on track. Eddie Howe pointed out, rightly, that Sadio Mane was offside for Liverpool’s opener and that would not have been allowed to stand next season when VAR is finally introduced. True, but what about the other three goals, Eddie?
They say you need a bit of good fortune to win silverware and Liverpool have certainly benefited from a couple of dodgy decisions by assistant referees in the last seven days.
Talking of dodgy decisions involving Liverpool. Have you seen Mohamed Salah’s new look? Salah has taken the brave decision to shave off his beard. Being of a somewhat superstitious persuasion myself, there is no way I’d have changed my socks let alone my face in the middle of a title race.
If Liverpool do fail to win the title and Salah’s goals dry up, I think we know the reason.
Incredibly though, Liverpool actually ended the weekend worse off than they started. How so? Sarriball. Or, well, the lack of it.
I’ll openly admit I stepped away for the first 25 minutes of City versus Chelsea to walk one of the dogs. Did I expect to see a 4-0 scoreline when I returned? What do you think?
To be fair to Chelsea, upon my return they played pretty well for a team what was already four goals down. Maybe it was the taunts from the City fans of ‘you need Mourinho’ that woke them up? You can’t see Maurizio Sarri seeing the season out.
Chelsea had conceded four league goals away from home in consecutive matches for the first time since 1990, which is a shocking stat in itself. It’s shocking because Sky couldn’t tell us that, could they? You know. Because football didn’t exist before the Premier League. Sky were delighted when the fifth went in as they could tell us all that this was only the third time Chelsea had EVER let in FIVE (in the Premier League). I think even they stopped caring by six.
Worse still, Kepa had conceded from eight consecutive shots on his goal away from home. That is slightly more worrying.
The half time highlights showed me that it probably should have been five, what with Sergio Aguero missing an open goal too. The half time highlights also made me laugh out loud at Marcos Alonso and how he had absolutely no interest in defending for City’s opener. As for Ross Barkley’s assist, well I guess he was brought into the Chelsea midfield to add a bit of a creative spark.
We’ve been here before with Chelsea, though. It’s what they do. I would not be surprised to see Bobby Di Matteo return with John Terry as the official assistant this time and Chelsea lift the Europa League title. It won’t be Bobby though. Or Guus. Or Rafa. Mind you, Guus is coaching China’s U18 side right now so you could say he’d be tempted.
It was Mike Dean I felt sorry for. He ended the day stuck on 99 red cards dished out in the Premier League. How unkind of City and Chelsea to steal his limelight. Mind you, he did his best to claw it back when awarding City’s penalty. Hold the pose, Mike. Hold the pose.
Sergio Aguero now has 11 Premier League hat-tricks bringing him level with Alan Shearer. He’s done it in just over half the games it took Shearer.
Is there anything Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot do? If a manager wins the Manager of the Month award it normally guarantees a dip in form and the sack not too long after. Not for Solskjaer, though. Oh, no. Solskjaer continues to put Manchester United’s powers that be in a tricky situation by continuing to win football matches.
If he keeps winning them how can they let him return to Molde at the end of the season?
According to Rio Ferdinand, Solskjaer has given him his ‘United back’. When he turned up to replace Jose Mourinho, United were a massive 11 points off the Champions League places. And now look where they are. Look! Actually, don’t look. I’ll tell you. They are in 4th place. They are ahead of Chelsea who started the season unbeaten for as long as it took Mourinho to start self-combusting.
But, have we overlooked Jose’s role in United’s revival? I mean, does he deserve some credit for leaving Solskjaer at least some decent foundations to build upon? Sure, his way of doing it was slightly unconventional but maybe Jose was working to some kind of masterplan. If he was, and even if he wasn’t, I am sure he will be on some TV station soon telling us all about it.
United beat Fulham whilst protecting themselves for the visit of PSG on Tuesday night. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were the star men once more, Pogba moving into double figures for goals this season for the first time in his career. Imagine being the man that was trying to sell the two Frenchmen. Really.
The talking point at Wembley was Jamie Vardy being on Leicester City’s bench for the game against Tottenham. No matter, when Leicester were awarded a slightly dubious chance to equalise from the spot who was given the ball? That’s right, Jamie Vardy who had just come on to the pitch as a sub.
Vardy’s first touch in the match was to smash the ball to Hugo Lloris’ right and then watch, aghast, as the goalkeeper saved it.
I’d have given Claude Puel double points had he immediately subbed Vardy back off again.
Of course, Spurs went up the other end and doubled their lead two minutes later.
Had Whispering Claude removed Vardy instantly he’d have denied him getting on the end of one of the best team moves in Premier League history. Had Manchester City scored Leicester’s goal at Wembley it would have been further proof that Peppy G is a genius etc etc etc and so on. But, because it was Leicester, it will be forgotten oh so quickly as we all choose to remember the day Vardy came on and missed a pen with his first touch of the ball.
How many Tottenham fans were thinking, “not a short one, we never score from short ones” as the ball was rolled back to Christian Eriksen at Wembley? The Danish international swung in a pinpoint cross which was headed home by Davinson Sanchez against Leicester showing yet again that football fans don’t know everything about football.
Heung-min Son picked up a yellow card for diving in the first half. To me, it looked like a clear foul by England defender Harry Maguire but credit to Maguire for doing what every central defender known to man would also do in Sunday football; he immediately suggested he won the ball and his opponent and dived. And they say the Premier League is like a different game in this day and age.
Hugo Lloris was talking prematch about how ‘Tottenham need more time’. Whether he meant to finish the new stadium or to actually win something remains unclear, but with this win over Leicester, Spurs remain in third place for now.
You could say that it was very, very Arsenal to deny themselves a clean sheet for the first time away from home this season by scoring an own goal in injury time. Huddersfield had failed to score in all competitions for eight hours and 57 minutes heading into their match against Unai Emery’s men, so it was kind of expected.
In fact, Huddersfield outpassed Arsenal for the match but it’s not possession statistics that win points. Emery insisted that the ‘character was good’ for Arsenal and that the top-four is still on for them.
Anyone else who actually watched the match would beg to differ.
Burnley have not lost in the Premier League since they sent Jonah Hart packing to the substitute’s bench and recalled Tom Heaton to the side. They beat Brighton 3-1 to move further away from a relegation battle and were indebted to some fantastic keeping from Heaton and some incompetent officiating from the referee and his assistant. Moments after having the clearest penalty of the day turned down, Brighton found themselves giving one away at the other end and going 3-0 down.
After the match, Sean Dyche said he ‘smells’ the mental strength returning in his team. Personally, I smell something else as Dyche is talking rubbish again.
It’s fair to say Watford skipper Troy Deeney isn’t a closet Everton fan, eh? And that probably includes Marco Silva. But then, who is? Certainly not the Watford fans who helped local sellers of fake snakes have their best week’s takings for many a year. And certainly not the Everton fans who are somewhat bemused at how utterly rubbish their team has become under his stewardship.
Silva rested most of his players for the loss to Man City during the week, clearly focusing on Watford as the more winnable of the two matches. It’s always a risk when you play that game and it looks like Marco is kicking off a race to the sack with Claude Puel and Maurizio Sarri. I think he’ll win.
With Wilf Zaha almost not being allowed to play against West Ham it was always likely that he was going to have a major say in the distribution of the points. Zaha scored Palace’s equaliser after West Ham had led through a Mark Noble penalty.
It’s been a tough few weeks for Cardiff City but they went some way to getting life back to normal with a drama-packed win at Southampton. Having allowed Southampton to get level in injury-time, Cardiff went up the other end and nicked the winner, gaining three points in Neil Warnock’s 100th match as a Premier League manager. Cardiff find themselves 16th and could well still be there after Newcastle’s match against Wolves.
And there we have it. Jose still has a house in London, right?