Ah, the weekend of the terrible penalty. Not the giving of the penalty, you’ll understand – though there were enough of them again to warrant a column of their own. The taking of them. It felt like every game had a penalty miss – led by the great Kevin de Bruyne.
Three shockers from Messrs Lookman, Vardy and De Bruyne though in fairness to Leicester’s main man, he’d already scored one before he missed his second.
But, we’ll get on to all that as we take our usual meander through all things Premier League from this weekend past whilst reflecting on some of the mid-week tomfoolery.
Speaking of which, Jose Mourinho cranked up the Jose Mourinhometer during the week, didn’t he? Following rent-an-opinion Danny Murphy suggesting that Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah are, well, cheats, Mourinho waded in defending his number 9 after the fake controversy about him helping Adam Lallana foul him last weekend. I don’t know what Murphy is bleating on about, to be honest – he scored all his Premier League goals from the spot and I doubt his teammates won every single one of them honestly.
Next Mourinho was hilariously in a tizz about Gareth Bale being coached by a current Arsenal coach when he heads off on Wales duty. With Ryan Giggs, er, unavailable Wales seem to have drafted in a few extra pairs of hands and Mou genuinely believes that it is a plan to scupper Tottenham’s title bid.
All that seemed to be forgotten as Spurs briefly hit the summit following a late 1-0 win over WBA. That’s a defeat that’s got to hurt Slaven Bilic, a manager seemingly duking it out with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for who is getting sacked first. Matty Doherty hit an area which just so happened to be where Kane’s head was lurking and the England captain had his 150th Premier League goal.
That puts Kane level with Michael Owen in 9th place on the all-time scorer list and, between you and I, I cannot see Owen adding to his.
Jose reckons Spurs would be champions in many other leagues across Europe, following this win. Well, given how easily the despatched the non-champions of Belgium the other week we can assume he didn’t mean that one.
Manchester City and Liverpool promised much and for at least 43 minutes they delivered. Given the amount of rain falling at the Etihad and the fact that both sides looked absolutely done in during the second half, nobody would have minded if they hadn’t come out for the second half.
The entire build-up was centred on whether King Klopp would pick Bobby Firmino or Diogo Jota and, like the guy who could decide which girl he preferred, he dated both – sending Liverpool out with a Fab Four for the first time since that band was quite popular.
Kyle Walker, further endearing himself to Roy Keane, managed to gift Mohamed Salah the chance to give the champions the lead from the spot. At the other end, the question was whether Gabby Jesus meant to do what he did before he scored.
Now come on, folks – we’re not talking about Gary from the local pub side here. Jesus is the second-choice striker for the second-best team in the country. I think we can take his word for it when he says he meant to stick Trent on his backside and then toe-poke it home.
It’s probably getting to the point where defenders should take to the field without arms, as Joe Gomez was a touch unlucky to be penalised, even after Craig Pawson checked the monitor. But, look at it this way – had it not been given, we’d not have seen Kevin de Bruyne put daylight between the ball and the post as he dragged his penno wide. That’s not something you see every week.
Gary Neville, currently challenging Keano as the one I enjoy most on TV for vastly different reasons, suggested that John Terry would have given away 40 penalties a season with these current rules. Which is entirely fair, I always thought JT was Chelsea’s best goalkeeper – even when Cech was in nets.
Liverpool will be delighted with the point – Peppy G not so much.
Having taken Manchester United back to being the Greatest Team in the World having beaten PSG and RB Leipzig, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was set to lose his job if United lost at Goodison Park. With that in mind, he made the obvious call – and dropped Paul Pogba.
You don’t get the feeling that the players want rid of Solskjaer considering that every time he is on the brink the players do what is needed to get him another month. United were decent against Everton, even if the wheels are well and truly off Ancelotti’s title run.
Harry Maguire, having had to defend himself during the week off the back of another Roy Keane tirade, feels that people just want United to fail – yes, Harry. That’s what happens after you dominate football for the best part of 20 years with a manager that created a siege mentality at the club. The rules say, following that, people will enjoy seeing you fail.
Seamus Coleman also has pretty clear views on Maguire, following Jordan Pickford continuing his vendetta against opposition central defenders. I can’t repeat those views here, but let’s just say that Seamus thinks Harry is an ‘expletive diving expletive’.
Solskjaer had a curious post-match presser – has he managed to clean that spot on the desk yet? Ole would love Bruno Fernandes to develop the ability to be in two places at once – praising him for his passing and then criticising him for not being on the end of the passes. Not even Eric Cantona managed to do that. The United manager then went on a rant about the fixture list being ‘a disgrace’ – United had returned from Turkey at 4am on Thursday only to kick off at 12:30 on Saturday. Frankly, after their performance in Turkey I think Roy Keane would have made them walk home meaning they’d have had to go straight to Merseyside, so be more grateful please Mr Solkskjaer.
Someone seems to have located Ngolo Kante and put him back in a Chelsea shirt. The World Cup winner was back to his best against Sheffield United as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea got Ian Wright so excited he thinks they will win the league.
The Blades probably scored the nicest goal of the night – the problem for them was that Ziyech created four. It was hard to call whether the ex-Ajax man was Chelsea’s most dangerous player or whether it was Sheffield United’s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale who, on this form, is heading for a second-straight relegation.
Who had Crystal Palace scoring four at home against Leeds? For all the talk of Marcelo Bielsa, can we also give Roy Hodgson a load more respect, please? Bielsa is the greatest coach in the world, apparently, yet Uncle Roy – the ultimate wise owl – did an absolute number on him. Palace were given a huge advantage by Leeds’ keeper Meslier trying to keep the ball out of the net whilst being in the actual net himself and another shocking VAR decision.
Patrick Bamford, horribly treated in a short spell at Palace years ago, was given offside for pointing to where he wanted the ball to be played. Yes, for pointing. Maybe strikers should have no arms, either.
I’m not entirely sure Bernd Leno would have saved John McGinn’s piledriver even if Ross Barkley hadn’t been standing in front of him. Aston Villa thought they led at the Emirates but VAR intervened once more – well, once Martin Atkinson’s monitor had been fixed. Villa soon led against Arsenal, thanks to young Saka stealing in at the far post at toeing it home.
Arsenal have scored just nine Premier League goals this season – I know we’re all supposed to rate Mikel Arteta because he’s Pep’s apprentice and speaks about 13 languages, but it all feels very Unai Emery to me.
Sometimes it is good to have players that have the bottle to step up and take a last-minute penalty when you are 1-0 down. Sometimes. And probably not when it was Ademola Lookman.
Fulham’s big signing felt that was the perfect time and stage to bring out the Panenka – and the ball barely reached the goal. Don’t worry, though. Lookman has taken responsibility and vowed to score his next one – which will be taken in 2034 in his own testimonial as that is the only time someone will let him anywhere near the penalty spot again.
Issa Diop is still looking for his wedding ring and whilst he is doing that I am trying to decide whether Tomas Soucek is the next Fellaini or, in fact, the next David Platt. Which is much better. I am still not sure.
Leicester City top the table courtesy of the aforementioned Jamie Vardy penalty, crazily given as the ball was drilled into the Wolves defender from precisely 0.7mm. Vardy netted and then missed the second one, which in fairness was absolutely nailed on. But Leicester are top, Spurs are second and whilst other teams struggle to get going we’ve been here before, no?
Southampton topped the table themselves, briefly, having beaten Newcastle 2-0. Imagine that a year ago after they were still recovering from that 9-0 drubbing. Steve Bruce says there will be big changes at St James’ Park after that defeat – probably best not to start giving Mike Ashley international break ideas, Brucey…