Once in a while, a Premier League weekend emerges that gives you nothing to say. No shocks, no crazy statements, no refereeing blunders that matter and certainly nothing I can mock. England being good at international football was forgotten as the Premier League returned us to the world of the mundane and the predictable.
Manchester United drawing 0-0 with Palace at Old Trafford? Most of us must have seen this coming. City battering West Ham at the Athletics Stadium? Nothing new there. Liverpool turning over Watford? Hardly a shock. Tottenham being the first team to beat Chelsea? Even this hardly features on the Richter scale.
Wait a moment, what’s this?
Claudio Ranieri is back? In the Premier League? At Fulham? And he won his first match in charge? What odds are they for the title, exactly? 5000/1 you say? Interesting!
Yes, the nicest man in football was unveiled approximately seven minutes after news broke that Fulham had finally lost patience with Slavisa Jokanovic’s refusal to tell his players to defend. Ranieri was brought in during the international break licking his lips at the prospect of facing Mark Hughes and Southampton in his first match, possibly the most winnable game in the league at the moment.
Did Ranieri sort out Fulham’s defensive woes overnight? Of course not, they allowed even Southampton to score two but they did manage to get three themselves and prevent Southampton getting a late equaliser. So that means Fulham will probably stay up now, opening up a slot for another team to be dragged into a relegation battle.
Maurizio Sarri now knows what it tastes like to lose a game of Premier League football as Chelsea collapsed at Wembley against Tottenham. David Luiz chose Saturday night to remind the world why he is the planet’s least reliable central defender by giving away a silly foul leading up to Dele Alli’s headed opener and then cleverly getting out of the way of Harry Kane’s pot-shot just in time. Those balls can hurt if they hit you, you know. His defending for Son’s third was akin to a man realising he was late for a bus and making a late dash for it just as the bus pulled away in the other direction.
Sarri called his defence a ‘disaster’ after the game which, of course, he meant he was reluctant to point the finger completely at Luiz. Tottenham’s Juan Foyth nearly added another penalty to his collection with a clumsy tackle on Eden Hazard when the game was 1-0 but Sarri didn’t believe that would have been enough to see his Chelsea team sort themselves out.
Chelsea’s defeat means there are only two teams left unbeaten in the Premier League and each took different routes to victory on Saturday.
Playing West Ham away is rarely a tricky day out for Peppy G’s men. Usually, there’s an early goal or two. Normally, it ends up being three or four, sometimes five. Saturday afternoon saw David Silva and Raheem Sterling score the early ones before a brace from Leroy Sane finished the job. Guardiola’s final words as he left for the night were, ‘the only thing that can stop us is a belief that we cannot do better’. Or Liverpool.
Liverpool went to Vicarage Road and put in another performance that reminded people they are not as electric as last season but did the job and got all three points. Mo Salah who is, don’t forget, rubbish this season apparently scored the long-awaited opening goal after 67 minutes before Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the free-kick of the weekend and Bobby Firmino added the third. Oh, and Jordan Henderson picked up two yellow cards as he continues his quest to be the midfielder Klopp gets rid of by the end of the season.
We should all know by now that Manchester United can only win if they go behind in a game of football and the fact they were playing Crystal Palace seriously negated the chances of them going behind. That said, Andros Townsend did have a wonderful chance to score for Palace but he didn’t. Jose was Jose after the game, talking about some players going home and having a bad dinner, some having a nice dinner and some having a party. He was talking about a lack of heart or desire in his players, following up from his interview with Hristo Stoichkov last week where he talked about young players being spoilt and not caring enough. Not like when you played professionally, eh Jose? Oh.
United were sluggish and one-paced again and in a completely unrelated observation, Romelu Lukaku was back in the team. Oh, hang on. The two are completely linked. Now Fellaini has got rid of the afro, he is going to find himself being judged on his actual footballing ability and this is not good news for the Belgian. I wonder how long it will take to grow back?
Nowadays, Mesut Ozil isn’t considered good enough to cope with the immense physical specimens of AFC Bournemouth. Unai Emery dropped the German playmaker citing that Eddie Howe’s men were too intense for Ozil to be able to play well. The plan worked, as Jefferson Lerma delivered a boyhood dream, scoring for Arsenal. The only problem was, he is Bournemouth’s record signing. The Cherries managed to get level before Yo Pierre sealed another three points for the Arsenal.
On Saturday night, Everton were sixth. The Marco Silva revolution has been taking place very quietly and although a 1-0 win over Cardiff at home isn’t anything to get too excited about it did represent Everton’s growing solidity under Silva. Neil Warnock disagrees, of course saying that Cardiff ‘made Everton look quite average’ and that his team could have won if they’d played a bit better. Which begs the question, Neil; why didn’t you?
It’s hard to judge Leicester City at the moment given recent events but they showed character in Brighton to come back from 1-0 and leave with a draw. Glenn Murray scored for Brighton, obviously, but Jamie Vardy leveled from the penalty spot. Leicester had played most of the match with ten men after James Maddison picked up a second yellow card for a terrible dive.
I think most of us had Wolves down as a home win given they were playing Huddersfield, right? The Terriers legged it to Marbella over the international break to get some R&R and it worked a treat with Aaron Mooy scoring twice to get Wagner’s men a valuable three points.
So that was the weekend. At least Burnley versus Newcastle was scheduled for Monday night so I don’t have to write about it.