Dear reader, getting turned over by Lionel Messi is one thing. Getting turned over by Theo Walcott is another thing entirely.
It seems a bit daft to start today’s nit-picking talking about two teams battling not to finish in seventh, but there you go. You can blame Manchester United for that.
Last week, Ole Gunnar Solskjær sent United into battle at the Camp Nou believing that Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Chris Smalling would be able to keep the great Argentine under control. On Sunday, they couldn’t lay a glove on Dominic Calvert-Lewin for crying out loud.
Five years ago, David Moyes lost at Everton and was sacked. I’m not suggesting for a second that Solskjaer should be looking over his shoulder at all, of course I am not, but it is worth pointing out that David de Gea, Jones and Smalling were shocking that day too. How are at least two of them still in United’s starting eleven?
With ‘Ole at the wheel’ United went on their best away run in the club’s history, winning nine on the spin. They’ve managed to follow that up with five away defeats in a row, their worst collective since 1981. The 4-0 spanking at Goodison Park saw United move to 49 Premier League goals conceded this season; the last time they shipped this many was in 1989/90 when Fergie was trying to win the title with Lee Martin in the team. Martin was a worse full-back than Ashley Young, believe it or not.
Do you remember when people thought De Gea was the best shot-stopper in world football? Yeah, that. He’s now let in eight goals from outside the area this season. That’s not very good, especially when you think about the one from Messi that slipped under him last week. Maybe there is a reason Man United are refusing to pay him £350k a week, eh?
You could argue that I am not paying enough respect to how well Everton played. You are right, I am not. They lost 2-0 to Fulham last week, that just tells you how bad United were. Nobody loses to Fulham (unless you are Bournemouth, but we will come on to that).
Solskjær said before the match that it was ‘unlikely’ United would be swapping over as many as six players in the squad over the summer. With that in mind, Ole, you might want to start thinking about when is the best moment to jump ship. This isn’t going to get any better with this lot.
Many people said they wished Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Tottenham had never ended, such was the craziness on offer. Well, they only had to wait something like 62 hours for it to get going again and after 62 hours and four minutes, there was yet another goal.
Phil Foden became the first player born in the 2000s to net in the Premier League and it looked like we were in for another pure goal-fest.
Yeah, appearances can be deceptive.
Instead, let’s reflect on the things we will remember about City’s Champions League exit. There could well be a statue of Llorente in years to come, not that you’d really be able to tell the difference. If nothing else, his hip could well go down in history. And what about the celebrations? No, I am not talking about the Poch and his team at the final whistle. I’m talking about Peppy G, Raheem Sterling and everyone to do with City when they thought they’d scored their fifth in injury time; just before VAR got involved and deduced, correctly, that Sergio Aguero’s socks were in an offside position.
The Premier League match was never, ever going to match the midweek match. What we did get was another Kevin de Bruyne injury that must have been celebrated on Merseyside and Spurs complaining about a handball decision. I know, right? The irony.
Liverpool sit top of the table once again with City’s game in hand being against that Manchester United side. Liverpool took their time to find a way past Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City but the result was never really in doubt. And, just to make sure, Mohamed Salah teased Sean Morrison into hugging him in a slightly overly familiar way in the penalty area leaving the referee little choice than to give a penalty.
All that talk of City’s quadruple hopes coming to an end; don’t forget Liverpool could do quite a nice double themselves if a few things go their way.
‘Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe at home’ according to Martin Keown. Really, Martin? Really? Would you care to explain how they (a) lost to Crystal Palace at the Emirates and (b) saw Christian Benteke celebrating the fact he’d actually hit the target for the first time in a year? Yes, yes; Arsenal sorted out their horrible away form for long enough on Thursday night to beat Napoli and go through in the Europa League but losing 3-2 to the Palace puts yet another dent in that top four proposal.
With both United and Arsenal shooting themselves in the foot somewhat, the door has been left wide open for Chelsea.
Is there a more frustrating football team than Bournemouth? One week, they batter Brighton 5-0. The following week, they lose at home to Fulham. Fulham! At least you get value for money when you pay to watch Bournemouth. Their matches have thrown up 110 goals so far. And most of them have gone in their own net. Back-to-back wins for Fulham means that surely they now give the rebuilding job to Scotty Parker?
West Ham against Leicester was always likely to give us a little bit of entertainment and we were not disappointed. West Ham fans were, though. Especially given the fact they conceded in injury time to lose another two points. That said, Manuel Pellegrini is convinced his team have been robbed of five points in the last two matches given the offside decisions that have gone against them. Maybe, maybe. Or maybe it is just karma for the fact the club has spanked £250k on a carpet.
I think we can all agree that Wolves have clocked off for the season after letting Watford beat them in the FA Cup. After their midweek defeat to Cardiff, Brighton were desperate for anything from the game and what they got was a clean sheet and a point. Brighton have not scored for 35 days now but that was their first point in five matches. Will it be enough to keep them up?
If Mike Ashley is reading this, just give Rafa Benítez what he wants, will you? It’s rare Newcastle score three in the same game, let alone the same player getting all of them. Ayoze Pérez was the hero as Newcastle confirmed their Premier League safety. All eyes now move to June 30th, the day Rafa’s contract expires.
You get the feeling that Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu has no intention of being on the subs bench next time his side rock up at Wembley. The Spanish free spirit scored a double against woeful Huddersfield, taking his recent tally of good things in front of goal to nine goals or assists in the last ten matches. Drop him if you dare, Javi.