Well then. 25 minutes in and I am penning my ode to Jose Mourinho and how Tottenham can start dreaming of a proper run at the Premier League title.
3-0 up, cruising. Bring Gareth Bale on with 20 minutes to go and the Hammers go and steal a draw.
There I am, crossing out all references to David Moyes being banished back to the sofa. Anything to do with Spurs looking like one of Mourinho’s finest Chelsea creations deleted probably never to see the light of day.
As electric as Tottenham were in the first 20 minutes, they were insipid in the final 20. Was it the Bale circus? Did they see him come on for his second debut, see him nail his first free-kick on target and assume it was job done? Either way, Lanzini hasn’t hit a ball that well in a few years and Davinson Sanchez would not be able to score with such a deft header at the right end.
A clean-sheet and Spurs would have had me writing about how they could win the league. Imagine that. Note to self – never, ever let my guard slip like that again.
What actually happened? Who better than Jose himself to explain – “football”. That’s right, football happened.
More likely to win the title are Everton, and they will have been pleased to escape the Merseyside derby with a point. Given their respective performances, I’d suggest to Carlo Ancelotti that he picks VAR to play in goal ahead of Jordan Pickford next week – far less likely to give away needless penalties and probably equally likely to make a mistake or five each weekend so what’s the harm? Heading into this match, people were suggesting that it might be the first Merseyside clash to feature two rush-keepers given the current form of Everton’s custodian and his opposite number in Adrian.
King Kloppo is, as he loves to remind us, a big advocate of VAR as long as the decisions are correct – unlike the bizarre offside call given to rule out Jordan Henderson’s late, late winner (or so we thought). As concerning as people sat in front of a video unable to see things behind a line to Klopp was the challenge that went in on big Virgil. Everyone knows Pickford fancies himself as a bit of an outfield player, and with tackles like that he’d certainly not look out of place in the National League.
As for Richarlison, you know what you are going to get. It was far from surprising to see the Everton striker lying prone on the deck as the referee showed him the red card given that is where he spends at least 75% of each match. The real shock was that he stayed on his feet long enough to dive in two-footed on Liverpool’s Thiago. Had Yerry Mina attacked the ball with so much force, maybe Mo Salah wouldn’t have notched his 100th goal for the Premier League champions.
Chelsea are lots of fun to watch at the moment, right? Unless you are an actual Chelsea fan, I suspect. It was good to see Kepa get an early chance to rebuild his confidence after Frank Lampard bombed him out for Mendy and given his knee-slide past Kurt Zouma’s back-pass most Chelsea fans still believe Benjamin Mendy would be a better shout in goal.
Before the match, pundits galore were writing off Timo Werner and Kai Havertz as not being able to adapt to ‘the greatest league in the world’ so it was rather fitting that the German duo shared the three goals between them – Werner scoring a couple of beauties before laying on the third for his international teammate.
But their defending, wow. Champions League places aren’t won by shipping three at home to Southampton when you’ve led three times. And yes, you can remind me of that when Lampard is dancing to the tune of sneaking into fourth place in May.
‘Lads, go and play like Spurs played against us’ said Ole before United’s match against Newcastle. Ever the loyal disciples, the Manchester United players obeyed and found themselves 1-0 after a matter of minutes – Luke Shaw clearly doing whatever he can to be put out of his ‘playing professional football misery’ by toe-poking one past David de Gea after 90 seconds.
And, just like Spurs, that woke United up sufficiently to put on quite a good performance – Solskjaer’s lot walking off 4-1 winners at the end. Fair play to Harry Maguire for not hiding behind that pulled hamstring picked up moments before he got himself sent off for England in the week – football’s most out-of-form defender picked himself up and even went as far as heading United’s equaliser. Marcus Rashford continued to drag his team forward, ably supported by Bruno Fernandes who looked like a player once more – given he wasn’t having to carry Paul Pogba on his back for the game.
Manchester City and Arsenal were supposed to put on a thriller – and failed, miserably. Sergio Aguero was so happy to be back on a pitch he was putting his arm around anyone and everyone. Peppy G and Mikel did everything they could to out-tactic each other and in the end it was a damp-squib of a 1-0 City victory. That makes it 72 consecutive away matches to a top-six rival that Arsenal have failed to win – and yes, 72 might be wildly exaggerated.
Given the utter lack of needle in many other ‘derby’ matches with no fans, it was truly refreshing to see Crystal Palace and Brighton show their utter contempt for each other throughout their clash on Sunday.
Tariq Lamptey must be a damn-sight stronger than he looks on TV for Michy B’s knees to buckle in such fashion and Uncle Roy’s tactic of telling Wilf it was nearly January must have worked as Zaha tucked away the penalty.
But, yet again, this was a performance from Brighton that was very, very good but, ultimately, equally over-rated as they failed to really hurt Palace in the box – well, if you don’t include Lewis Dunk’s attempt to two-foot the ball over the line following a late goalmouth scramble.
Fulham versus Sheffield United was exactly the kind of game a £14.99 pay-per-view was designed for and the game was, as expected, dire fare only improved by a cracking goal from Ademola Lookman and the kind of performance from Mitrovic that immediately gets filed under ‘had better days’.
Everyone’s favourite Sunday night drinking game was in full force when Aston Villa went to Leicester. Every time Jack Grealish was fouled, you had to neck a shot. Trust me, lots of inebriated people by half time.