There’s never a dull moment when Liverpool are playing. Klopp told his team “we are not the Harlem Globetrotters” before the game, leading to very confused faces from players far too young to have the first idea what he was talking about. Philippe Coutinho might be forgiven now if he needed to be. His wonderful free-kick from distance would have been worth the crazy admission fee in itself. Mohamed Salah can score with his head too, as well as just running very, very fast in behind people. The newly invented game of Liverpool Bingo went well, with the Reds conceding from a set-piece, conceding from a cross that could have been cleared twice and giving away a penalty. Mind you, Mignolet saved the spot kick which ruined the chance for many people across the land to shout “house”. Leaked emails over the weekend have also shown Barcelona to have acted like prats over the Coutinho chase and suggested they have zero transfer strategy in place. This comes as a surprise to some people, the same people who have clearly forgotten that Barcelona signed Paulinho this summer.
So Oumar Niasse isn’t good enough, eh Ronald? The Goodison Park striker that has been asked to pack his bags more than once might have kept the Dutchman in gainful employment by coming off the bench and scoring a late brace to snatch the win for Everton against Bournemouth. Once again Eddie Howe’s men refused, bravely, to even consider shutting up shop when 1-0 ahead with 15 minutes to go and it’s that kind of cavalier attitude that might well get them promoted back into the Premier League next season. As for Niasse, Koeman hadn’t even thrown him on in the last ditch attempt to win the game. It was purely because Wayne Rooney was looking a bit knackered, bless him, and Koeman had little other choice. What’s the lesson here Ronald? You can spend as much money as you want, but the missing piece of the jigsaw might have been hiding down the back of the sofa all along.
Palace held out longer than I expected. It was nearly halftime by the time Leroy Sane got the first. City smelled blood from that moment and racked up another four. Even the lesser spotted Fabian Delph got a goal, which should mean instant relegation for Roy Hodgson’s men. That’s another 90 minutes of Premier League football that Palace have played without scoring. Can they get to ten matches in a row? Before they need to get excited about that prospect, the next record there for the Palace taking is Portsmouth’s ability to lose the first seven league matches of their 2009/10 campaign. It’s OK though Roy, you’re only playing Manchester United. Christian Benteke will be no doubt delighted to have done some damage to his knee ligaments as if playing for this Palace team in the season leading up to a World Cup wasn’t bad enough. He could be out for a while, not that he has really had much to do this season so far.
As expected, Southampton failed to score at home once again. Mind you, they were playing the aforementioned Manchester United and Romelu Lukaku scored once more in the 1-0 win for Jose’s men. Mind you, Jose still managed to find time to get sent to the stands in injury time and shake everybody’s hand before finally departing. His crime? Throwing on Chris Smalling to revert to five at the back defending a one-goal lead at St Mary’s? No. Encroaching onto the pitch. That technical area is there for a reason Jose.
Would Alvaro Morata have scored from a long ball over the top after two minutes in Tony Pulis’ day? I think not. Would Chelsea have scored two more following defensive gifts from Stoke City in Tony Pulis’ day? I think not. With Morata getting a hat-trick, does anyone at Chelsea really give a damn as to whether Diego Costa loses five stone and ever plays football again? I think not. And as for Azpilicueta, the defender is an assist machine at the moment from both the right and the left. Chelsea are motoring and Antonio Conte has the look of a crazed man about him. OK, that’s normal for him.
Tammy Abraham only needed three miss-kicks to score his first Swansea City goal, but it wasn’t enough as Watford got back in the saddle with a 2-1 win. You may have already forgotten that Burnley and Huddersfield played out a 0-0 draw, but in a game devoid of entertainment there was one moment of controversy allowing Sean Dyche to play his “I’m an Englishman” joker and completely rip into Huddersfield Town’s Rajiv van La Parra for what was a hilarious dive in the box. Town’s manager David Wagner did agree it was a dive to be fair, but that wasn’t enough for Dyche who just stopped short of calling for all foreign footballers to be rounded up and sent back to the countries they came from.
Newcastle United did what Newcastle United do. Having given their fans a nosebleed by finding themselves in 4th place, they traveled south to a team likely to get relegated and lost. If you are a Geordie of any age, you will recognize this formula for sure.
We end the weekend’s roundup where it all started. There was a London Derby between two teams that can’t stand their current home grounds, so it was natural that (a) the away team won and (b) Harry Kane scored twice as it was a London derby. Mauricio Pochettino admitted after the game that he is in fact in love with his main striker, which will be wonderful news for Poch’s wife and Kane’s fiancee. Slaven Bilic must be certain there is something in this plan to play Javier Hernandez as far away from the goal as possible, but the Mexican poacher managed to disobey orders long enough to score his third goal of the season, the distance all three goals combined now adding up to a total of four yards. It sparked something of a comeback for the Hammers, but to be frank, Spurs were just being punished for coasting and even the dismissal of Serge Aurier on his first start wasn’t enough for West Ham to find the leveler. Aurier, who clearly loves a slide tackle, looks like a potential two yellow cards candidate every time he plays. My favorite moment from the match was on the NBC commentary, with David Pleat in fine form. Having wrongly called a throw in to West Ham he suggested that “the commentary box is so far from the pitch sometimes it is hard to see exactly what happens. Mind you, what do you expect when it’s an athletics stadium”. Beautifully put David, beautifully put.
Finally, on a slightly different note. Having shown themselves to be regularly incompetent when being the custodians of the men’s national game, the FA managed to transfer that skill set over to the women’s game in their whole general handling of the Mark Sampson affair (and no, I am not being that literal when I say that). If the FA Chief Executive is seen on Sky Sports News minutes after the sacking is announced saying “well, it’s not really our fault” you can guarantee one thing and one thing only. It is completely their fault.