Another midweek round of Premier League football crazier than a Sean Dyche press conference moved seamlessly into another weekend round of Premier League football more error-strewn than this column before an editor gets their hands on it.
Liverpool, knowing that defeat to Brighton during the week left the torch of their title defence barely flickering, saw it ruthlessly extinguished at Anfield by the new champions-elect, Manchester City.
Given Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty and Ruben Dias’ interesting decision to touch Mo Salah anywhere near a penalty area, Alisson knew he was going to have to go some to be the biggest villain in the match.
Liverpool’s keeper opted for volume of mistakes rather than quality – sloppy passing from the back gifting City goals two and three before he managed to make himself very, very small as Phil Foden rifled home the fourth.
Four could have been six too, had Gundogan’s penalty not followed the exact trend of City spot-kicks in this fixture. Still, Riyad Mahrez feels better about himself now. Also, John Stones’ fringe was believed to have been marginally offside by VAR.
Whilst I am not looking to dance on the grave of Liverpool’s Premier League season, I do recall being laughed at in some quarters for saying that this was not a ‘great’ Liverpool side – yet. Great sides create dynasties, and the Reds will need to come back as champions next season (or win the Champions League this time out, I guess) to be able to lay a glove on their Anfield predecessors or even, whisper it quietly, those pesky United sides that Fergie used to manage.
The only thing stopping Peppy G getting his crown back is the desire to win the Champions League – though surely he could be allowed another miss on that to reclaim the Premier League trophy?
Manchester United fans will currently have the hump with this column, saying I am writing them off a little early. Yes, spanking Southampton 9-0 was impressive (but come on, you’re not the first team to do that) and you do sit second so by a mere technicality you are title-challengers, I suppose.
But, throwing away a two-goal lead to Everton does not a champion maketh.
Given the amount of grief Paul Pogba gets, it’s only fair to point out that they were winning when he went off injured and it is a shame that a wonderful goal by Brunaldo will be forgotten due to the final score. David de Gea will no doubt regret opting for the Teflon gloves once more and Lindelof might reflect back and surmise he would have been better actually marking Dominic Calvert-Lewin rather than giving him a 95th-minute free pass to net the equaliser.
A moment that will pass us by without taking the appropriate pause to appreciate it? James’ touch before his goal – velvet is the word you are looking for.
I don’t know how many painkillers Harry Kane chose to take ahead of Tottenham’s 2-0 over WBA, but he made the right choice if you are of a Spurs persuasion. Jose’s miserable little run comes to an end and Kane shows that even with two big ankles and with bags of ibuprofen rattling around inside him he is more use than Gareth Bale and Carlos Vinicius combined.
As a fan of the club whilst growing up, Mathew Ryan will have been excited to get a chance to make his Arsenal debut following the madness of Bernd Leno’s dash from his goal during the week. Ryan, bless him, probably didn’t dream of picking the ball out of his net within minutes having not had a touch – Ollie Watkins scoring Villa’s winner to round off a shocking week for Arteta (again).
Thomas Tuchel still can’t tick off one of the items on his big Chelsea to-do list. Platitudes for Timo Werner’s role in both Chelsea goals were plentiful, but it still does not hide the fact that his last goal for the club was against Morecombe. And, to be fair, if you can’t score against the jinxed Aaron Ramsdale, who can you score against? Jorginho had us thinking he might have got rid of that daft hop, skip and jump penalty approach by taking one properly against Spurs but no, it was back. Mind you, he scored so that makes it OK, OK?
Steve Bruce isn’t a fan of a conspiracy theory. Don’t mention 9/11 or Graeme Jones taking his job to him. Southampton came to the game needing to wipe the memory of another 9-0 shellacking. It’s fair to say Jan Bednarek has had better weeks – an overturned red at Old Trafford and two own-goals in four days. Alex McCarthy will also look back on the week and wish he hadn’t bothered – though Alisson certainly managed to raise the ‘dodgy passing from a keeper’ bar. The Magpies managed to hold on with nine-men for another much-needed win but do watch back James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick. Sublime just about does it justice.
Beating Liverpool is one thing, beating Burnley is another. Graham Potter’s Brighton would have taken four points from those two fixtures, however.
At Craven Cottage, we saw first hand the levels Mike Dean operates at. You could understand at first glance a decision to send off Tomas Soucek for his elbow clipping Mitrovic. But, to miss it and then be talked into having a look by the VAR on duty and then decide it was anything other than an accident – that’s different wheels.
It’s easy to argue that Premier League referees don’t really understand too much about playing the game – trust me, I play 11s with one who used to be one of the best so I am qualified to make that statement – but I’d love to know exactly what Dean saw on the replay that made him think, “oh yeah, he’s tried to do him there”.
This Fantasy Premier League manager didn’t see Wolves and Leicester ending up goalless, hence a Wolves defender and a Leicester defender being left on the bench.