There’s bad, and then there’s losing to the Ev at Anfield in the Merseyside derby for the first time in over a decade bad.
This time last week, there was underground talk that Jurgen Klopp had walked out on Liverpool – rumours to this intense level not started since one of those Beatles were leaving the band or something. Of course, it wasn’t true – but do you think King Kloppo might be starting to head that way in his mind?
You have to feel a bit for Ozan Kabak – I mean, how bad can Liverpool be if he is wondering whether life at Schalke is less depressing? He’s been thrown in, and rightly so given he was signed to play in a defence that has no central defenders, and he’s looking around and wondering how this lot won the title last year. And that’s the point – this lot didn’t win the title last season. No matter how cool it looks seeing Jordan Henderson sweep the ball out to the wing from a deeper position, it doesn’t make him a centre-back. You can get away with it for so long, but then it catches up – so why Jurgey-lad insists in keeping him there (therefore losing him in midfield) when he has actual defenders who could play there is bizarre.
Rather than focus on that, Klopp reminded the world that it really is very windy in Liverpool and that ‘God must be a Man City fan and you cannot beat God’. Well, not with Hendo at centre-back, you can’t.
Still, Carlo Ancelotti finds himself in Everton folklore already with the win – and rare credit has to go to Jordan Pickford for not finding a way to make the game more difficult than it needed to be. And once again, Richarlison is a decent player if can spend enough of a match on his feet and not rolling about on the floor.
Man City looked like they were very much in the mood for the first eight minutes against Arsenal before realising they didn’t really need to over-exert themselves to maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table. Kevin de Bruyne is back, which hardly damages their chances and the way John Stones casually eased Yo-Pierre off the pitch towards the end of the match bodes well for the summer – if only Ruben Dias was more English than Harry Maguire.
18 wins in a row for Pep’s lot now. Ten points with no other team looking consistent enough to take advantage of any slip-ups? I doubt it’s that cut-and-dry.
Ole Gunnar Solkjaer is certainly hoping it is done and dusted. Manchester United saw off Newcastle 3-1 at Old Trafford with Rashford and James scoring plus, of course, the obligatory Brunaldo penalty. But where City look rock solid in defence, United have a perma-injured Lindelof and the aforementioned Maguire who, we must presume, was trying to head it out for a corner rather than dollying it up for Alain Saint-Maximin to volley home.
Thomas Tuchel has made his first mark at Chelsea. Hooking Callum Hudson-Odoi after 76 minutes having only brought him on at half time is the kind of managerial move that makes me like a manager a lot. We have no idea at this stage where Hudson-Odoi sits in the Stamford Bridge player power rankings that have seen off many a coach before Tuchel, but he did not look too impressed when his number went up.
Minamino starred for Southampton again, scoring his second since his loan move from Liverpool and Mason Mount probably finds himself top of the class under his new teacher following his penalty-based equaliser.
It’s incredible to think that when Tottenham were 3-0 up with ten minutes to go against West Ham earlier in the season I was prepared to hail Jose Mourinho’s comeback as an amazing thing and how Spurs were very much title-challengers this season.
Those that have read this column for some seasons (come on, there must be a few of you) will know this isn’t my worst tip ever – but it’s not aging very well, I’ll give you that.
West Ham are actually revitalised under the second coming of Moyes and their win over their London rivals kept them in the Champions League places. Yes, that means they are in the top four. West Ham. 4th. And good for it too, I can tell you.
Jesse Lingard’s rebirth is a pleasure to see and his finish for the Hammers’ winner will be overlooked because it was in a West Ham shirt with Lingard on the back and not a United shirt with Fernandes above the number.
It was all very well Tottenham pushing hard late on – do you remember the days when they’d do that at the start, lead, then give away a daft equaliser? – West Ham were good value for the win that keeps my predicted title-winners in 9th. Ouch. It’s also the first time the Moysaih has beaten Jose Mourinho. Still, Jose’s coaching methods are still second to none according to, er, Jose.
Leicester City managed to widen the gap between them and any other top-four wannabes with a 2-1 win over a Jack Grealishless Aston Villa. That allowed James Maddison a bye in the Grealish vs Maddison undercard clash and he took full advantage by scoring the Foxes’ second – which turned out to be the decider.
You’d think Sheffield United would have circled Fulham away as a match they could win to have any chance of staying up. You know Fulham would have done the same – and it was Scott Parker’s team who took all three points in a rare case of ‘player does big pre-match exclusive interview in the paper and then actually plays well that afternoon’ as Ademola Lookman nicked the winner.
Ilian Meslier has made some mistakes this season, there is no denying that. However, Leeds’ French keeper cannot be blamed for Adam Traore’s piledriver hitting the bar, bouncing down and hitting him on the backside before crawling over the line. Even for Leeds, this was a new way to lose.
Burnley and West Brom ending goalless was far from the biggest surprise of the weekend, I am sure you’d agree.