Forgive me, I was under the impression that Peppy G’s men had already been awarded the title given the fact that they’d played some half-decent football since the start of the season and were unbeaten.
Now I am being told that it was all fake news and they will have to play out the rest of the season like everyone else.
I am not blaming City for this at all, just that pesky British football media which loves to go well over the top at every available opportunity. Teams that have won a few games in the row are ‘great’ or the ‘the best ever’. Footballers that probably wouldn’t have coped with the game in the 1960s (in the same way that the players in the 1960s probably wouldn’t cope with the game today) are labelled ‘the greatest of all time’ etc etc.
Let’s be thankful to Chelsea for giving everyone a bit of a reality check. Being top of the league in early December doesn’t always mean you win the title, no matter how good you are and Manchester City received a ‘good lesson’ at Chelsea according to Pep.
I might have suggested last week that Sarriball needed a bit of reconfiguring and I was delighted to notice that Maurizio Sarri did make a few subtle tweaks to his system at Stamford Bridge. Given the fact that both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have been a waste of a shirt for large parts of the season it was understandable that the Italian shifted Eden Hazard central thinking that another of his best players out of position would be better than the other options available to him.
Chelsea became the first team to beat City in the Premier League this season thanks in the main to a fine goal from N’Golo Kante and a header from David Luiz. Now, considering that before the match 99% of the Chelsea chat was still around how Kante has to play in his better position of defensive midfield it must have felt good for Sarri to stick to his guns and see the French World Cup winner pop up on the stroke of half-time to give his side the lead.
And as for David Luiz, he deservedly won man-of-the-match. Yes, I kid you not. Luiz was excellent and it is amazing what he can do when he remembers that he is a defender first and a circus act second.
The game was marred somewhat by the alleged racist abuse aimed at Raheem Sterling from a Chelsea ‘fan’. That said, without the incident then we would have not got Sterling’s incredibly mature, poignant and accurate response via his Instagram account where he rightly, in my opinion, called out the Daily Mail for ‘fuelling racism’.
Sterling was classy enough not to refer back to the countless incidents where the Mail have put stories out involving himself, many of which could be considered to back up his claim. Instead, Sterling showed two stories run by the rag. Both involved young footballers at the start of their careers buying expensive houses for their mothers. One player is black and one player is white.
Unsurprisingly, given the editorial standards of the Daily Mail, Phil Foden (the young white footballer) was applauded for such a lovely gesture to the lady who had given up everything so Phil could become a professional footballer. Of course, Tosin Adarabioyo (the young black footballer) was cast as a “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25million despite having never started a Premier League match”.
It is so important people in Sterling’s position call things like this out in an intelligent manner as it is the only thing that might see this recent trend, in some circles, of racism starting to become acceptable behaviour end and end quickly.
I am sure we can all agree, Mohamed Salah is having a terrible season. I mean, what has happened to him, right? Those goals have completely dried up. What a one-season wonder. Salah scored three against Bournemouth to help Liverpool to a 4-0 win that saw them move top of the Premier League on Saturday lunchtime (and they were probably a little surprised to still be there come Sunday breakfast).
Steve Cook might never recover from the nightmare that cast him as the main reason why Bournemouth fell apart in the second half. Before Cook really got going, Eddie Howe could have pointed to the fact that both Callum Wilson and Lewis Cook were out injured and that Salah was actually offside for his first goal. But no, with Cook giving away possession then trying to foul Salah as he ran through, the initial fingers of blame were starting to point his way. And, just to make sure, his own-goal certainly made him Liverpool’s man-of-the-match ahead of the Egyptian.
Tottenham Hotspur will have been delighted to have been given the late-late-Saturday slot given that they have to play Barcelona on Tuesday night to stay in the Champions League. As a result, the Poch rested Harry Kane and it didn’t seem to matter too much. Son Heung-min was excellent again, scoring a lovely goal and then setting up Dele Alli for a second-half second that saw Spurs past Leicester City.
Arsenal are all about setting new standards. Arsene Wenger managed to get them into the top four more often than not but Unai Emery is aiming to do it in a different, or maybe even better, way. Arsenal are aiming to qualify for next season’s Champions League despite not leading at half-time in any Premier League match this season. They literally only turn out for the second half and for that I applaud them. Huddersfield can feel a little disappointed to have left the Emirates without a point (a bit like they can be massively disappointed to have left Bournemouth with nothing the other day).
To make things worse, MotD chose not to show either of the good shouts the Terriers had for penalties. See, the British media are at it again – you only know what they want you to know and someone wants to keep the ‘Huddersfield are terrible’ narrative running. Three Arsenal players were booked for diving before the new darling of
the terraces the posh seats, Lucas Torreira, scored an overhead kick from one yard out. Yes, he is that small he could make it possible.
Moving on to the mid-table teams, Manchester United fans can start getting a bit carried away now. They won 4-1. Yes, 4-1! Jose cracked a joke in the post-match press conference. Yes, a joke! Who cares if it was only a Fulham side managed by someone who probably still owes Jose a favour after the Portuguese wore a tracksuit top with CR on it after Ranieri was binned off by Leicester? A 4-1 win at Old Trafford is so rare nowadays you need to celebrate them as if you’ve just beaten your biggest rivals.
Jose’s joke, for anyone interested, was to comment on the lack of water given out at the post-match presser suggesting that United are saving up for the January transfer window. Yes, Jose. Well, either that or your severance.
West Ham United and Crystal Palace served up the most crazy dish of the weekend. Even Manuel Pellegrini had to laugh when asked to give his thoughts. Felipe Anderson was the difference once more for the Hammers, his goal finally being the one that decided the outcome of the five-goal thriller. You have to feel for Uncle Roy. Finally Palace score two, yet they still lose.
Burnley and Brighton was never likely to be a five-goal thriller and it was won by a goal deflected in off the nipples of Burnley’s centre-back James Tarkowski. That pretty much sums it up.
As for the Klopp of the Alps, Ralph Hasenhuttl got his stint as Southampton boss underway with Neil Warnock snarling in other dugout. Welcome to the Premier League, Ralph. To give Hasenhuttl a complete understanding of the task ahead, Southampton lost 1-0 to a goal scored by a Scottish right back playing up front because Cardiff don’t have any other options. It’s going to be one of those jobs you regret saying yes to, Ralph.
Seven days ago Wolves were in a mini-crisis that happens if you don’t win any of four matches. A week later and they’ve beaten both Chelsea and Newcastle, Sunday’s Super Sunday victory happening in the 94th minute at St James’ Park. Did anyone else notice how red Rafa was in fact in the second half? That’s what working for Mike Ashley does to you.