Dear reader, I am sure we can all agree that Manchester City don’t really need any extra help winning the Premier League title. After all, they’ve already seen Liverpool give up their 10 point (or whatever it was) lead at the top of the table in the space of a few weeks. They’ve watched Tottenham do what Tottenham do and fade the moment someone suggested they might be in the title race. And even though Sarriball made an unbeaten start, City can watch the chaos at Chelsea with a grin on their face knowing that they won’t be the team stopping them getting back-to-back titles for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson managed it with United in 2009.
So why, oh why did the referee on Saturday night decide that he would interpret the rules in his own special way and ignore the advice of his assistant?
For those that have not seen it, Raheem Sterling was offside after Sergio Aguero flicked the ball on in the match against Watford. Granted, Sterling is not technically offside until he makes a move to the ball, which he did. That move to said ball meant that the Watford defender felt overwhelmingly compelled to do what he is paid to do; try and defend. He touched the ball before Sterling meaning the last touch before Sterling got the ball came off a Watford player. And Sterling scored.
Now, I’m not going to recite the laws of the game here. There is no point. They are as clear as mud. But the simple fact is that Sterling being there meant that the defender had to do something. Otherwise, what? Stand there and hope that the linesman is good enough to see Sterling is offside? Hang around doing nothing thinking, ‘oh well, VAR will sort this out next season’ and watch the City player tuck it away? Of course not. He has to do his job, for which he then got stupidly punished.
Yes, City were better than Watford on the day. We know that. But, the score was 0-0 at the time and you just never know. City would have probably still won, but maybe not added a +2 to their goal difference. Maybe they would not have won. Maybe, just maybe, Watford would have nicked a goal of their very own. The fact is, nobody really knows anything other than that decision was wrong and it changed the game.
It had been a tricky week for Peppy G and City, what with UEFA starting to sniff around the books sensing that there might have been a bit of Financial Unfair Play.
On top of that, news broke (albeit probably fake news) that Guardiola had signed a contract with Juventus to take over as their manager next season. Guardiola denied this after the match but it was announced by the guy who said, three months before it happened when everyone was denying it, that Cristiano Ronaldo was going to Juventus. So, you never know.
I have a plan for Jurgen Klopp to make it easier for Liverpool to win the league. Relocate. I mean, anyone who saw their victory over Burnley will agree that it is far too windy in Liverpool to win the league. Goodness knows how Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish managed to do it.
Ashley Westwood’s corner must have got caught in a gust as it sailed over Alisson’s head and into the far corner. Mind you, the Liverpool keeper was clearly being pinned to the floor by the Burnley centre-back at the time but as we already know, you cannot rely on a Premier League referee to spot the bleeding obvious.
Liverpool recovered and sorted the situation out and, with City being in FA Cup action next weekend, could return to the top of the table if they collect three points in their next match.
Klopp was in, er, red mist mode in the post-match presser, suggesting that people wouldn’t realise how well Mohamed Salah had played because he didn’t score. To be fair, with all that wind, I’m amazed Salah didn’t go over in the box more often. Jurgey-lad also claimed, ‘nobody gets rid of us’. Oh, Jurgen. That’s going to bite you.
All good runs end eventually and Romelu Lukaku clearly used up all his goals in midweek against PSG. There wasn’t a lot between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates other than Arsenal scored a freak goal and a soft penalty.
If United had taken just one of their numerous chances, they’d have won. But, they didn’t and like when they lost to PSG a few weeks ago in Europe, it will be interesting to see how they bounce back. As for Arsenal, given their shambles of a performance in France on Thursday night, this was quite the way to bounce back and keep themselves firmly in the top four conversation. David de Gea can still be seen mumbling to himself about how late the ball moved and Lukaku is still out there right now trying to find the back of the net.
Mauricio Pochettino is on an interesting path at the moment. Following Tottenham’s oh-so-predictable defeat at Southampton, the Poch accused his team of ‘arrogance’ and ‘complacency’ after they seemed to stay in the changing room in the second half.
Pochettino was in the stands for the match having been given a weird two-match ban after having a chat with the referee after the Burnley defeat but it feels like he is starting to grease the wheels of his getaway vehicle in the summer. The only problem is, there doesn’t look like there’s a job for him.
Jose Mourinho could well be appointed Real Madrid manager any time between now and Easter Sunday and can anyone really make a case for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer not getting the United job? The Poch might be thinking he is ready for his next gig, but the two he would love probably won’t be available to him so he might want to ease off alienating the players he could well be working with again next season.
But hey, at least they’ll be in their shiny new stadium in April.
What’s the quickest way to describe the snoozefest that Chelsea and Wolves put out there? Chelsea were average and Eden Hazard saved them at the end, not for the first or last time.
Newcastle United versus Everton saw a remarkable comeback that could have been easily avoided. Jordan Pickford, somewhat in a pickle at the moment, fumbled the ball once again and then rugby tackled Solomon Rondon to the ground when the big man just had a tap-in to draw Newcastle level. Inexplicably, Pickford wasn’t even booked and, you guessed it, saved the penalty.
And, as almost always happens in these moments of controversy, Everton went up the other end and doubled their lead almost immediately.
But, never forget that Everton are really not very good and Newcastle knew that. They turned it around and won 3-2 leaving Marco Silva ironically moaning about the fact that Ayoze Perez’s winner shouldn’t have stood. He’s right, it shouldn’t have but after getting away with a big one themselves, how could they moan?
Brighton had their fair share of luck too as both their goalscorers against Crystal Palace shouldn’t have been on the pitch for different reasons. Glenn Murray had been named as a substitute but started at the last minute after his replacement got injured in the warm-up. Anthony Knockaert should have seen red after 30 seconds after his slightly over-enthusiastic studs-up challenge. He only got booked and, of course, went on to score a worldy to win the match. Uncle Roy also mentioned the wind being a factor in their defeat. What on earth has Klopp started?
West Ham United went peak West Ham United in their no-show against Cardiff City. Cardiff needed the win, if not just to end the laughable rumours that some people want rid of Neil Warnock. Even I cannot make a case for him to get sacked this season.
It’s 100 up for Jamie Vardy at Leicester City now after the striker brought up a ton of Premier League goals in his team’s 3-1 over Fulham. Brendan won his first home game in charge and Fulham, bless them, were better but still not good enough.
If Huddersfield cannot beat Bournemouth, a side without an away win since the good ol’ days of Jose being at Old Trafford, at home then they really should be relegated instantly. The Cherries won 2-0 with Callum Wilson back on the pitch and back in the goals.
So that was the weekend. The biggest takeaway for me? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a collection of terrible refereeing as what we were treated to this weekend. Bring back David Elleray, please.