Red cards, refereeing cock-ups, tackles flying, own goals, disallowed goals, supporters tumbling down the stairs, lucky suits and unlucky stadiums – this Premier League matchday had it all. Here’s what caught our eye from the weekend’s action:
Chelsea: Crisis? What crisis?
Manchester United: Another four goals without reply sent shivers down the spine of the 19 other teams, while sending the red half of Manchester into an intoxicated frenzy not seen since Sir Alex won their last league title. They’re top of the table on goal difference, above the newly promoted Huddersfield. Heady days, indeed.
Sadio Mane: Oh, how Liverpool missed him when he went off to the Africa Cup of Nations last season. Another astute acquisition from the Southampton Super Store, the Senegalese is now fit and firing on all cylinders, and came up with the winner against a dogged Crystal Palace. Unless he contracts Wilsheritis from his perma-crocked teammate, Daniel Sturridge, the Reds have a fighting chance of winning silverware.
Leicester City and Riyad Mahrez: After a dispiriting defeat against Arsenal last week, little Leicester flexed their muscles and comfortably swatted aside the challenge of Premier League newcomers, Brighton. Mahrez was the creator-in-chief for the foxes, showing his strategically injured peers that it is possible to fulfill the terms of your current contract while angling for a new one. Who knew!
Watford: Marco Silva seems to have struck gold with Richarlison, who scored on his full debut as the Hornets beat Bournemouth by two goals to nil. If Silva’s first full season in the Premier League goes well, Watford could make it into the top eight, which would earn the Portuguese a chance to manage Spurs after Pochettino inevitably leaves to manage Barcelona next season, leaving large slices of humble pie for Merson and Thompson to feast on. It’s called the butterfly effect. Look it up.
Jese Rodriguez: Not many would swap Paris for Stoke-on-Trent, but Jese was apparently swayed by Mark Hughes’ commitment to building a side full of former wunderkinds and talented but no-quite-there-yet footballers. If Tony Pulis were still managing Stoke, I would have used ‘From Paris to Pulis’ as the headline for this piece. Oh, well, c’est la vie.
Huddersfield: Enjoy it while it lasts, fellas.
Javier Hernandez: Little Pea doing what he does best – score goals. Maybe next time they’ll be worth a point or three.
Marcos Alonso: While Chelsea continue to look for backup/competition/upgrade for Alonso, the man himself continues to put in a shift and score a few beauties along the way. And he does all that while maintaining that glorious mane of his. Swoon.
Tottenham Hotspur: Repeat after me: There’s no such thing as the Wembley curse. There’s no such thing as the Wembley curse. There’s no such thing as the Wembley curse. There’s no such thing…
Joe Hart: England’s number one goalkeeper and chief passion-merchant has let in seven goals in just two games. So much for revitalising a faltering career.
Luka Milivojevic: A goal not just gift-wrapped, but delivered at Sadio Mane’s doorstep along with a pair of scissors to open it with.
Substitutes: Hal Robson-Kanu came on for West Brom, scored a goal and then got himself sent off. Michy Batshuayi came on, scored an own goal and tied the score. Overall, not a good day for strikers sent on as subs. See, that’s why you’re not starting games, chaps.
Granit Xhaka: Wenger usually does not turn on his players, fiercely protecting even those from whom he stands to gain nothing (read: Diaby). So, it was quite surprising to see him publicly criticize Xhaka for his xtupid mixtake. Maybe he’s finally had enough of players ruining his day with their incompetence. Good on you, Arsene. You tell ‘em.
Newcastle United: The basket-case club of the North East continues its fine tradition of internal strife, boardroom instability, managerial disagreement and ineptitude. Get your popcorn ready; something big is about to go down if things don’t improve.
Wenger Out Brigade: Come on, fellas. We’re two games into the new season. Have some shame, for crying out loud.
Referees: The only consistent thing about Premier league referees is their inconsistency. How long will it be until Mourinho, Klopp or Conte lose their rag and let fly at the officials?