We’ve just been served up another Premier League main course of football having had a lovely start of European action in midweek.
In the Champions League, City were rampant, United persistent until the very end, Liverpool rotten away from home for the third straight European match and, hang on, it says here Spurs won? Danny Welbeck stepped up his claim to be considered England’s most injury-prone forward and take the title from Daniel Sturridge in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw in the Europa League.
But as much as those 20 or so football clubs want European football to be the only football that counts, we have to live with the Premier League for a little bit longer.
And that suits Manchester City just fine. They went into Sunday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad having rewarded Raheem Sterling with a brand new multi-million-pound contract for winning the most laughable penalty of recent times and with a third ‘Silva’ in their starting line-up.
Sergio Aguero’s desire to be just like his mates Dave and Bernard didn’t stop him from scoring City’s all-important second goal against a Pogba-less United. David Silva had given Peppy G’s boys the lead in the first half as Jose’s lot went through their standard motions of getting into a losing position. This is where United have felt most comfortable recently, going behind and coming back to look like heroes. The only problem was, this weekend, that they forgot the heroes bit.
The gap between City and United may not be too many miles geographically but when it comes to being on the actual pitch the story is a bit different. If City are in Manchester, say, then United are all the way in Asia, which is ironic given that’s where most of their fans are now based.
Maurizio Sarri successfully became the first ever Premier League rookie gaffer to remain unbeaten in his first 12 league matches. Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with Everton wasn’t great viewing. There has been a lot of talk about Jorginho’s ability to get 98% pass completion stat every single week, but at Stamford Bridge, he managed a ‘100% shocking tackle which should have got a red card’ completion stat. His foul on Gylfi was only marginally worse than the one Marcos Alonso landed on Theo Walcott, and Alonso staying on the pitch allowed us to see his other talent; that wand of a left foot testing Jordan Pickford. But still, is there a dirtier player in England right now?
Before their trip to Liverpool, Fulham’s gaffer Slavisa Jokanovic lived up to the Joka part of his name by claiming he was a great coach and that his players are to blame for not being able to defend for toffee. By the final whistle, it was the referee and linesman’s fault for disallowing Mitro’s header which would have seen Fulham take the lead at Anfield. As King Kloppo said, Liverpool got ‘a bit lucky as it was not 100% offside’ but the fact that Mo Salah scored three passes and 14 seconds later smacks of Fulham’s season to date. Oh, Slav also moaned that the ball might have still been moving when Alisson took the free kick. What about the five players still celebrating as Liverpool surged up the pitch, eh Slav? With Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester United in the next three games there is every chance Fulham will be having Christmas dinner with a new man in charge.
Tottenham’s Juan Foyth has had an interesting start to his Premier League days. The young Argentine defender won Wolves’ man-of-the-match award last week by gifting them two penalties yet on Saturday night he was Spurs’ match-winner. Foyth scored the only goal against Crystal Palace meaning the Poch still has a point about nobody mentioned his team as potential title challengers, despite the fact this is one of their best starts to a season ever. And, imagine how good they could be if they had an actual football pitch to play on?
Uncle Roy was not impressed when quizzed on why Palace cannot win without Wilf Zaha, claiming that was not the case. Palace have actually lost the last 12 matches in which Zaha has not played, suggesting that it is actually very much the case, Roy. Palace are in trouble, especially now they won’t be signing Welbeck for £10m in January.
Leicester City versus Burnley was a match where whatever happened on the pitch would soon be forgotten as it was a day of remembrance to the five people who died a fortnight ago in that helicopter crash. The fact the game finished 0-0 was secondary as Leicester returned to the King Power for the first time.
Suddenly, Newcastle’s hopes of survival rest on the shoulders of an injury-prone striker who got relegated last season (and Rafa, of course). Salomon Rondon scored a brace against Bournemouth giving Newcastle a valuable win. Now, if he can just play every single minute of every single remaining game then Mike Ashley might still be selling a Premier League club.
My favourite moment of the weekend was Charlie Austin’s post-match interview following Southampton’s 1-1 draw with Watford. Southampton, desperate for a win, thought they led 2-0 after Austin fired home. Steve Hooper had different ideas, however. The referee disallowed the goal, probably wrongly, leading to Austin properly losing his cool on camera after the game. Austin conveniently forgot the fact that Hooper had also not given Watford a clear penalty five minutes earlier, meaning there is no guarantee that his goal would have been a winner. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a famous post-match chat.
Huddersfield Town just cannot stop scoring right now. They doubled their goals at home tally in the 1-1 draw with West Ham. Someone calm them down, otherwise they might not be dead certs for relegation.
Neil Warnock celebrated his 100th game in charge of Cardiff City with a spawny win over Brighton. Chris Hughton didn’t ‘think Sol Bamba was offside, Sol Bamba was offside’ as the defender turned home an injury-time winner for the Welsh team. Chris Hughton was right, but being right doesn’t get you three points anymore. At this rate, Warnock might not be getting Christmas and New Year off after all.