Ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Selhurst Park, Jose talked of being like Roy Hodgson and managing into his 70s. Six months ago, I’d have hated the idea of that – Mourinho’s football slowly becoming more and more negative as the decades pass. But, right now I’m kinda up for him sticking around – especially if matches involving his teams remain as entertaining as the 1-1 draw with Palace.
To be fair, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper did put on Guita performance. Guita saved everything apart from that one and was the main reason that Spurs didn’t end the weekend with daylight at the top of the Premier League. Well, that and Spurs deciding to let Palace push and push and then push some more until they finally got the equaliser they deserved. And, I suppose, Fulham – but we’ll come on to them.
Palace’s leveller was the moment Mourinho allowed his side to move out of their own half once again only to find the Palace keeper flying around like an actual eagle to keep everything out.
Down at Craven Cottage, you’d have been hard-pressed to tell who was fighting relegation and who was hoping to go back to the top of the pile. Fulham’s first-half performance was making Jurgen Klopp grumpier and grumpier and VAR getting the Fabinho decision spot-on (eventually) denied all the non-Liverpool fans the chance of seeing the German give yet another interview to be remembered in history.
However, they did get it right as Fabinho did win the ball – but even that didn’t spark the champions into life and they left London second on goal difference and scratching their heads at why the man who moans most about players getting tired chose to play senior players in a dead rubber Champions League match. The result? Diogo Jota out for two months (oh, and 1-1 if you really care).
The Manchester Derby was the ‘game of the weekend’ in the eyes of the broadcasters – and the grub that was served up on Saturday evening should have been sent back to the kitchen with several complaints.
Of course, there was no way that United were going to lose because they’d already had their one embarrassment of the week having been dumped out of the Champions League – and one thing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team can do quite well is put in a shift when there’s a danger that United might look to sack the boss.
As Peppy G said, City probably had the better chances but there was always a chance that Kyle Walker might give away a penalty on the break – OK, he didn’t say that exactly but Walker will have been mightily relieved that Marcus Rashford was VAR-offside.
The biggest entertainment at Old Trafford was Gary Neville vs Roy Keane vs Mino Raiola with far more meaty challenges going in than we saw on the actual pitch – it’s fair to say that Neville doesn’t think that United should be doing business with a certain agent and that Keano had Neville’s number in their playing days. Yet, all that chat and still not one ex-teammate suggesting that Ole might not be taking the club forward? It’s much easier to keep jumping on the Pogba bandwagon than risk upsetting a mate, right?
So, the question is: has Frank Lampard been well and truly Klopped? Liverpool’s gaffer went on record last week saying Chelsea were favourites for the title in a claim mainly used as a reminder to the world how much money they’d spent this season. But then Ben Chilwell was in the papers saying how they don’t expect to lose – a harmless statement in all reality, but as a prelude to getting done 1-0 at Goodison Park not a good look.
Much has been said about the ‘excellent recruitment’ of Mendy in goal but it was his clear-and-obvious error that saw him cleaning out DLC for Everton’s penalty. Just imagine the outcry that had been a certain Spanish portero. Is it a coincidence that Petr Cech is getting a Premier League 2 runout next week?
Carlo Ancelotti had a masterplan, and that masterplan involved sticking four central defenders across the backline – very Puliserci. But, it worked as Olivier Giroud didn’t really get a sniff – which was no great surprise. This is what happens with Giroud – goals off the bench leads to a starting run, which then has a good first 90 and then fades away quicker than a miscued Tiger Woods tee-off.
This is a phrase I am sure I’ve said more than once this season, but credit to Newcastle manager Steve Bruce. Having had his club in quarantine for the last week or so, many wondered if they could get a team resembling a Premier League side on the pitch against WBA – and many Newcastle fan-cynics would suggest that’s been a challenge for far longer than this weekend just gone.
But not only did Newcastle get a team on the pitch, they picked up the big W against WBA – and, as a Brucey bonus, saw Dwight Gayle head the winner on his return. Could VAR have had a longer look at Callum Wilson blowing over Ivanovic? It was a rare moment of beauty – an attacker actually being allowed to bully a central defender without a foul being given.
Mike Dean was very much getting into the festive season by dishing out cards left, right and centre at Molineux. There were more reds than goals and the winner came from the kind of thing Dean puts on his Christmas list – the opportunity to give an injury-time penalty. Aston Villa, like Everton, are keeping the top-of-the-table within reach.
West Ham United fans will be feeling that sense of vertigo normally only felt when taking their seats at the Athletic Stadium. A 2-1 win up at Leeds, coming back from behind, saw the Hammers up to 5th before the Saturday results started to come in.
There is little more frustrating than a set of blunt blades when you have a need for a cutting edge – and that is exactly how Chris Wilder is feeling right now. Sheffield United were turned over 3-0 by Southampton with such ease that you wonder when they will actually add to their lonely, single, solitary point this season – which is the same digit as the number of goals they have scored in open-play this season. That’s relegation form, that is.
Some of us had a choice to make with the last game of Sunday night – Arsenal boring the life out of us at home to Burnley or Leicester City blitzing Brighton with an amazing first-half performance. You can probably guess which one I ended up watching – I suspect even Mesut Ozil tuned into the King Power.
But, Mesut – the moral of the story is to stick with the Gunners otherwise you’d have missed out on the hilarity of the second half. Granit Xhaka, only ever millimetres away from crossing the lines of decency on a football pitch chose to throttle a peacemaker and then Yo-Pierre ended that goalscoring drought of his with a delightfully glanced header home from a set-piece. Oh.