Is it just me, or did that International break feel longer than usual? Probably not helped by Liverpool vs Man Utd being a snoozefest, thankfully the other side of Manchester scored enough goals for everybody. Has anybody caught the eye this weekend? Who has been a silly boy? Do you like leading questions? Let’s pick a team.
Julian Speroni – When you’re 38 and you’ve barely featured for 3 seasons, you probably wouldn’t expect to be lining up against the defending Premier League champions. If you want to take the absurdity of this a bit further, you play for the team rock bottom of the table with 7 losses out of 7 and no goals scored. However, it turns out Wayne Hennessey was the problem (statistically, it is hard to disprove this) as the veteran stopper finished on the winning side. What a story. I’m naming him in the team as it may be three years before he plays again.
Dejan Lovren – Lovren has had so much criticism this season, probably because he cost Liverpool a small fortune and has been an utter disaster. Being part of the defence that gets a clean sheet against Man Utd should be cause for celebration, but instead, Lovren’s day was blighted by rolling around like Romelu Lukaku had landed him with a people’s elbow, rather than accidentally grazing his back in a clumsy stumble. Have a word with yourself, Dejan.
Tom Edwards – As the world frantically wikipedia’d Tom Edwards on Saturday to find out who this young man was, the reality is that he’s an 18-year-old academy product who was thrust into Stoke’s starting lineup at the Etihad. Pretty daunting, right? Well, the bad news is, he conceded 7. Well not him personally, but Stoke as a unit. The good news is, he would have had an assist if Mame Diouf didn’t have a biscuit tin for a head, as his cross was right on the money but Diouf decided to glance his header in off Kyle Walker. Edwards was born in 1999. Let that sink in.
DeAndre Yedlin – The luckiest man in Britain on Sunday? Well, maybe not Britain but certainly St Mary’s, where the American somehow escaped a second yellow card for a ridiculous lunge. Maybe he was just feeling a bit rough after the USA failed to qualify for World Cup 2018? I’m not sure, but it’s a miracle he wasn’t sent off. Then again, it’s Newcastle, so it’ll probably get pulled up on review somehow.
Kevin De Bruyne – What an incredible performance from De Bruyne on Saturday. His two assists are two of the finest ever seen, the disguise on the pass for Sane along with the pinpoint accuracy of his cross for Gabriel Jesus will take some beating in the assist highlight reel. In truth, most of City’s team could make a claim to be in the side this week, but the greatest compliment I can pay De Bruyne is that he was head and shoulders above everybody on the pitch.
Wilfried Zaha – Get this, right. Palace’s best player has been out since week one and they haven’t won. He came back from injury and…they won. I know, right? Of course, football isn’t that simple, but the reality is that Zaha is Palace’s best player by a distance, especially with Benteke out. There’s a lot resting on Zaha’s shoulders now to try and pull Palace away from the bottom of the table whilst his Belgian colleague is sidelined, but Wilf’s got the talent. Remember when he signed for Man Utd? That was a strange old time.
Tom Cleverley – Another ex-Man Utd player who makes the side is Tom Cleverley. His late winner was the latest disappointment for Arsene Wenger, and I really enjoyed Match of the Day trying to make out Cleverley was some sort of creative genius as they showed a montage of his forward passes being intercepted. This got me thinking though – remember when Cleverley was England’s starting number 10? He’d miss a sitter every match and it was inexplicable how he was in the team. A few years down the line and TC has moved on to Everton and now back to Watford, but with the country struggling for central midfielders, Cleverley hasn’t even been near the squad again. Why? Because he’s rubbish.
Granit Xhaka – Rarely do I pick two players from the same incident but for Watford’s winner, you’ve got to admire how little Xhaka reacts at any point in the passage of play. I mean he literally stands still and watches Cleverley drill the loose ball home. It’s pathetic and sums up Arsenal’s problems at the minute, too many players not fit for purpose. Whatever that purpose is these days.
Andy Carroll – I normally stick up for the big AC but bloody hell Andy, give me a chance. It’s not unusual for a big striker to get booked for some arm flailing madness but to follow that up with a running forearm smash on Ben Mee…what was he thinking? Other than “I really hate Ben Mee.” Fortunately for Andy, it was two yellows, meaning he only has one week to think about what he’s done.
Tammy Abraham – Cheap plug alert but I had the pleasure of watching the England Under-21’s for one of our sister sites over the International break and Tammy Abraham slotted away a penalty, but was generally a handful and looked like he could be the real deal. The question of whether any of the current crop could land a spot in the World Cup squad next summer was raised, and right now you’d say no. But clearly playing regular Premier League football is improving Abraham, and his two goals on Saturday will surely help his cause. Keep scoring Premier League goals and you never know, it’s hard to ignore goalscorers.
Romelu Lukaku – Poor Rom, turns out playing against one of the better teams was a step too far for him. Again. Man Utd have a tough set of fixtures over the next few weeks and Lukaku could do with silencing some critics in that time to prove he’s not just a flat track bully.
Roy Hodgson – Roy has become a figure of fun really after the disastrous World Cup and European Championship campaigns followed by a less than stellar start as Palace manager. But this weekend belongs to Roy, who has come home to manage his boyhood club and he’s upset the odds with a win over Chelsea. Lest we forget, Roy was an Internationally renowned manager before England got stuck into him, and he even took Fulham to the Europa League final. All hail Roy.
That’s it for this week, more frolics next weekend as we try to cling to all the club football we can find before yet another International break. Toodles.