A question to my older readers. Was that the least inspiring United selection you have seen in your lifetime? When was the last time you compared your XI to Liverpool’s and thought, ‘they are a lot better than we are’? Seeing Matteo Darmian line up as a centre-back hardly gave the United fans confidence especially when they remembered both Scott McTominay and Ander Herrera being given a run out there previously this season.
Kloppo won the prematch chat with his throwaway line about hearing all week that United had ‘no defenders’ yet seemed to have them ‘all over the pitch’. But the match was not played in the prematch chat, oh no. It was played on the pitch at Anfield, a stadium that allegedly plays house to the most passionate fans in England.
The Liverpool supporters were very, very noisy as Liverpool bossed the opening exchanges. They were raucous as Sadio Mane opened the scoring after Ashley Young forgot, once again, that as a makeshift left back he does have to track the runner. But, we can only assume that the Anfield faithful were still in shock at halftime having witnessed another Alisson mistake leading to United getting level because after that goal it all went a little quiet.
What a difference the space of a few days makes when you are a goalkeeper. After the Napoli game, Jurgey lad was saying how he’d have paid double for the Brazilian after his ‘world-class save’ in the dying moments kept Liverpool in Europe. In reality, that shot was hit straight at him; a bit like Lukaku’s cross was straight at him before he kneed it out of his own hands into the path of Jesse Lingard. It’s worth pointing out that with that second mistake leading to a goal, Alisson has now made the same amount of goal-inducing errors in the Premier League as both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius combined last season. Just saying.
Before the match, Lingard was getting a bit of criticism from Gary Neville and Roy Keane for launching his clothing brand in the last week. Neville didn’t have a problem with Lingard starting a business, just the timing. Keano, well you know how he takes offence to anything that isn’t pure football commitment 24/7. But Lingard did what Lingard does, scoring yet another (at the time) important goal.
But the really important goal was scored by the Liverpool sub, Shaqiri. How many deflections do you need off a United player before you are allowed to call it a goal? Five, I think and the final one coming off Ashley Young who must have taken a Carl Lewis length long jump towards retirement in that 90 minutes. Shaqiri’s shot also meant that every Liverpool player other than Alisson managed to take a shot at David de Gea.
2-1 down, 15 minutes to go and both Paul Pogba and Juan Mata sitting on the bench in the pouring rain. It has to be said, that level of pettiness is Mourinho at his absolute best. The Anfield crowd suddenly found their voice, claiming the ‘You Only Sing When You’re Winning Award 2018’.
Shaqiri’s second had people scrambling to find out whether any player had scored a hat-trick of deflected goals in the Premier League. With the first being deflected off his right foot and the second deflected off his left, he ended the game a deflected header away from the perfect deflected treble. At 1-1, Kloppo had sent on Shaqiri to win the game. At the same scoreline, Mourinho had sent on Fellaini to kill it. I think it’s fair to say it didn’t work. Fellaini did get into the Liverpool area once and hit the security guy by the corner flag.
Jose had started the day suggesting he was ‘in the dark’ over potential January signings. After that, you can kind of see why. The game ended with ‘don’t sack Mourinho’ being sung all around the stadium. Who knows if they will get their wish?
I have a question. Why on earth do teams (yes, I am looking at you Everton) try and play out from the goalkeeper against Manchester City? Call me a little bit old fashioned, but as far as I know, even City cannot score if the ball is in their half. Knocking it short to Yerry Mina and forcing him to suddenly transform himself into Bobby Moore and ping a 40-yard-pass to Richarlison doesn’t feel like the safest tactic in the world. And, as a result, Mina gave it straight to a City midfielder and the ball was in Everton’s net seconds later.
Things might have been a little different if Richarlison hadn’t served notice that it is now December and it about time his form started to decline, missing a golden chance to put Everton ahead. On the flip side, Jesus is having a great December already. There has to be a nativity based gag in there somewhere.
Pep is full of admiration for Raheem Sterling given how the England international has conducted himself in the last week or so. Sterling managed to score with his first touch having come on as a sub, a goal that alerted Peppy G to the fact that Raheem is a much better finisher when he doesn’t have time to think about it. There’s the answer to his international goalscoring record Gareth, right there for you.
Tottenham are being quietly efficient on the pitch. In fact, they are being so efficient that their builders would do well to give them a call for some tips. Joe Hart was peak Joe Hart once more for Burnley. He made some great saves and yet still managed to oversee another defeat. Sean Dyche lamented the fact that Burnley were beaten by a ‘lump down the pitch’. How frustrating must it be to get beaten by the tactics you preach to your own team all week, eh?
I mentioned in my gettingsackedinthemorning.com on Thursday that we might be about to find out how good Laurent Koscielny really is. For years it has been assumed that Koscielny is a world-class defender let down by the idiots around him. Well, he returned to Premier League action for Arsenal against Southampton with his team unbeaten in far too many matches for me to still be counting.
Arsenal, keeping on trend with their ‘not winning at halftime’ thing trailed 2-1 to Southampton at the break which wasn’t that much of a shock given that they drew Granit Xhaka out of the ‘who shall we play at centre back this week, lads?’ hat. I guess getting a deflection of that big lump of a Southampton defender Vestergaard is actually quite easy given the size of him. Mhki-T got a double but so did Danny Ings. And then, in a turn up for the books not many were expecting, Parklife’s Charlie Austin netted a winner.
Southampton fans, you have a good manager there now. Be nice to this one.
Chelsea edged past Brighton 2-1 at the Amex but not without their now bi-weekly hilarious defending. Maybe the back four was just trying to distract the world from everything that has been happening off the pitch? Eden Hazard gives the impression of not having a brilliant season so far but, and statistics do have an annoying habit of popping up and making your gut feeling look a mile off, Hazard is one of only two players with eight-plus goals and eight-plus assists this season. The other? That lad who wears 10 for Barcelona.
Claudio Ranieri’s ‘bounce’ really hasn’t been that bouncy. Fulham played well against West Ham but that really doesn’t matter considering they lost (again) and let in three goals (again). West Ham United have won four league matches in a row for the first time since they were managed by Sam Allardyce and I think it is fair to suggest that they have achieved this with a touch more swagger than under Big Sham. Felipe Anderson is starting to look like another astute West Ham signing, something not many of us expected to be saying.
Rafa Benitez won November’s Manager of the Month award and the usual trajectory of such an honour was reversed as Newcastle went to Huddersfield and won. This Geordie revival is very ill-timed given that the transfer window is about to open and Mike Ashley is going to be able to point to the current run and say that any new signings could disrupt things and that Rafa is doing well enough as it is thank you very much.
Crystal Palace have finally won a match where Wilf Zaha is not playing. Surely this means the time is now ripe to cash in on him in January? Roy Hodgson could then spend the £50m on finding more players like Luka Milivojecic (another player that slightly better Premier League sides must surely be looking at). It was a vital win for Palace against Leicester.
Is it possible that people might have got just a little bit too excited about Bournemouth this season? Eddie Howe’s men have now lost six of their last seven having been tossed aside 2-0 at Molineux. Maybe it is time for us to get too excited about their victors, Wolves, instead?
Hands up if you had Watford vs Cardiff down as a five-goal thriller? No? Nobody? Junior Hoilett went to great lengths to prove his goal the other week was not a fluke by doing exactly the same thing again. But hey, it worked. Just call him the inverted Andros Townsend as I would imagine that the next ten times Junior tries that move it hits row Z.