Those early Saturday kick offs are normally rather dull affairs, but Zlatan and Tyrone were on personal missions to ensure that was not the case this weekend. The whole circus around “did they or didn’t they mean it” and trust me, they both meant it, led to everyone being distracted from the real talking points. Just how bad was Phil Jones? How on earth did Paul Pogba miss hit that shot? And, what happens to the opposition goalkeeper when he sets foot on the Old Trafford turf? Having tipped United, live on Manchester radio, to be the team that gets closest to Chelsea come the end of the season it was pretty obvious they were going to drop points. Still, Jose came out in the post-match presser claiming he had nothing to say as “he isn’t of the generation that cries in the media.” Wait, what? Jose. Jose. Jose! Would you like me to send you some of your media quotes this season? Unless you literally mean tears falling from you eyes, we have you bang to rights on this one. Jose, possibly trying to distract everyone from the fact that United failed to beat a Bournemouth side that has been rolling over and having their tummies tickled wherever they have played recently, went on to say that as it is so long since United had been awarded a penalty they have simply stopped practising them. Yeah, of course you have Jose. All in all, and there has been some stiff competition this season, that was the most shambolic display of officiating I have seen this campaign. Andrew Surman must still be trying to work out how he managed to get sent off whilst Zlatan and Mings got away with it.
I am still trying to work out whether Arsene dropping Alexis Sanchez for the trip to Anfield was a cry for help, a resignation letter or a suicide note. Alexis has been the talisman all season and, we believe, is a player that Arsenal would like to tempt into a new contract. Dropping him for a crucial match against an old rival isn’t making that contract getting signed anymore likely. I am starting to form the opinion that Arsene is only sticking around to wind up Piers Morgan. If that is the case, crack on Mr Wenger, I am 100% behind you. I suppose Arsenal did have the excuse that they might have forgotten how to play on real grass considering their last game was against Sutton, but wasn’t it all just a little predictable? Everyone knew that Liverpool would get into their opponents and if they could get ahead then the game was theirs. Klopp must be wishing they could play their closest rivals every week and Arsene must be so looking forward to the visit of Bayern in the week.
“Harry Kane, a one-season wonder” sang the Spurs fans as Kane netted another brace in Tottenham’s win over Everton. But forget that eh, Sky? Yeah, let’s focus on the silly little handshake him and Alli have devised and not talk about how Kane is the next off the production line of great English league scorers like Owen, Fowler, Shearer, Wright, Lineker, Greaves and Ferdinand and how he will probably never truly transfer it over to England matches. It is hard for Redknapp to come up with new ways to look like a prat on live television, but he pulled it out of the hat in spectacular fashion. As for Souness, the fact you would go for Lukaku over Kane is the very reason why you are sitting in a TV studio and not a dugout.
How many more games do Leicester need to win before the owners are proven right to bin off Ranieri? Craig Shakespeare has steadied the ship and suddenly Vardy and Mahrez look like a couple whose marriage counselling is actually working. Hull are receiving a lot of praise under Marco Silva, but they really need to start picking up more points if they are to take advantage of the fact there are still other teams in the relegation battle who might be worse than them.
Hull weren’t helped by the fact that Palace went to WBA and out-bigged them. It’s very rare that a Pulis team gets bullied, but Big Sam will have been mightily relieved to pick up a win that sees Palace move ahead of Middlesboro in the race to escape. As for Boro, Steve Gibson must be looking at Leicester and wondering whether he should be rolling the dice. If they are basing their survival on being tight at the back then I would humbly suggest they stop conceding goals as they certainly are not scoring enough. If you are in a relegation battle, Stoke are now the kind of team you travel to and beat up a little bit, before leaving with three points. If you lose there 2-0, you are in proper trouble.
Burnley scored twice away from home! Burnley scored twice away from home! The problem was, they were playing a resurgent Swansea side who put aside the disappointment of a shocking penalty decision going against them to recover and come out the sunny side up of a five goal thriller. The Swans share 27 points with Leicester and Bournemouth, five points away from the drop zone. Anything could yet still happen to any of them.
Watford and Southampton should be end in the mid-table no man’s land and put on a cracker of a game at Vicarage Road. Paul Merson once again showed he is a man in the know, claiming Southampton could go and bully Watford as they are a little soft. Has he watched Watford this season? Either way, the Saints took their EFL Cup disappointment out on Mazzarri’s men and held on for 4-3.
One saving grace for the likes of Leicester, Bournemouth and Boro has to be the fact that Sunderland are surely halfway up the creek with no paddles whatsoever. Jermain Defoe crashed a shot against the bar but you just knew that a very average City side were going to score eventually, and they did. If I was feeling generous I would say that is what a good side can do, play badly and win. But I’m not feeling generous.