As week ten of the Premier League crawls towards a conclusion, the reality that we are over a quarter of the way through the season is hitting home for some of our Premier League strugglers. But who enjoyed a perfect ten? Who wore a 12? Can’t you save a 3-5-2 for me? Not my words, the words of the Beautiful South. Well, some of it. Let’s take a look.
Jonas Lossl – I’ve become a victim of my own rules again. Lossl’s Huddersfield were on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat at Anfield but some consolation for their goalkeeper in that he saved a penalty from Mo Salah. It was an awful penalty and it seems Salah has been afforded penalty duties because he scored one for Egypt whereas Firmino missed for Liverpool. That’s three pens in a row Liverpool have missed but that’s not Lossl’s fault. Well done for moving slightly.
Phil Jones – It’s easy to forget amongst all the hilarious faces and ridiculous decisions that Jones was once regarded as the future of England’s defence and Alex Ferguson paid a small fortune for him. The good thing is for Jones is that it’s not too late, as the country has excelled in producing a series of defenders who we think will be the next Maldini but are in fact the next Phil Jones. Current Phil Jones had an excellent game on Saturday, keeping Spurs out for 90 minutes, even if they didn’t have Harry Kane you can only defend what’s in front of you. Is that a saying? Anyway, well done Phil, at this rate you’ll be starting in the World Cup next summer.
Tommy Smith – Back to Anfield now and after Lossl’s penalty save, Huddersfield were feeling quite pleased with themselves with a frustrated Liverpool being held 0-0 at half-time. No doubt Wagner will have asked for more of the same, so he’ll have looked on with great anguish as his captain glanced a perfectly weighted header into the path of Daniel Sturridge to open the scoring. Whoops.
Sead Kolasinac – It is becoming forever more frequent that Arsenal find themselves “surprisingly behind” at some point in every game, and when that’s at home to Swansea the alarm bells would be ringing louder than usual in the head of Wenger. Not for the first time though Kolasinac came up with the match-winning performance to score the equaliser shortly after half-time and then lay on the winner for Aaron Ramsey. Unfortunately, they only have one of him, so Wenger’s troubles may continue in future weeks.
Darren Fletcher – Fletcher of course came through the Manchester United Academy what feels like about 30 years ago, and since then he’s brought that winning mentality wherever he has gone since then – except when he plays for Scotland. Or Stoke, for most of this season. Anyway, cruel jokes aside, the other thing Fletcher learned from his Old Trafford days was the Beckham/Scholes corner routine, where he arrives on the edge of the box to smash home a Shaqiri corner. Ridiculous really but I tell you what, nobody expected it.
Michail Antonio – Imagine you are Slaven Bilic, just for a minute. Don’t ponder your hair situation for very long as that is truly inexplicable, but cast your mind back to last weekend when you were given two games to save your job – Spurs away in the cup and then away to Palace in the league. You’ve done the hard bit and recovered from 2-0 down to Spurs to win 3-2, it’s a remarkable result and you’re on the verge of being granted the keys to the city again. Come Saturday, you’re 2-0 up at half-time, and yes you give away a soft pen to make it 2-1 but you know what, your lads have got this, they are playing for you. Antonio has the ball in the corner in stoppage time, he’ll just keep it there…30 seconds later it’s 2-2 and you’re off to strangle your winger. Oh to be a football manager
Charlie Adam – Remember when Charlie Adam scored from his own half? How we lauded the talents of this man, what a wonderful eye for goal he has. Right? On Saturday, I witnessed two strange things. Firstly, Adam went one on one with Gomes about 40 yards from goal and did some sort of crazy shimmy stepover to leave Gomes for dead. Roll it into the empty net Charlie, this is like a penalty for you. No…you’ve hit the post. Stick to shooting from half way please.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea could have scored half a dozen on Saturday night but had to settle for just one from their star man, whilst those around him spurned chance after chance. After an injury hit start to the season he’s looking back to his best which is probably just in the nick of time for Antonio Conte.
Demarai Gray – It’s usually the case that when a struggling team get a new manager, one player is brought in who had barely had a kick previously and makes all the difference. Craig Shakespeare, meet Demarai Gray. Craig’s loss is new manager Claude Puel’s gain as Leicester got the Puel reign off to a good start. Everton, however, are less good. Mind you, how the second goal has been credited to Mr Gray I have absolutely no idea. If things like that aren’t an own goal it’s a wonder we ever got a goals and gaffes video in the 90s.
Andre Ayew – Ayew is on a one man mission to keep Slaven Bilic in a job, having scored twice in West Ham’s comeback win on Wednesday. His goal on Saturday though was something special, hitting a fierce left footed drive into the roof of the net from the edge of the box. If his pal Antonio hadn’t been a bit daft the goal would have meant even more, but you can’t have everything.
Troy Deeney – If you wanted to draw the definition of an angry man, get that image of Troy Deeney with his hands around the face of Joe Allen. Troy stood there grinning like a mad man, trying to pull Joe’s face off his head. Allen wasn’t totally innocent of course but there’s no place for those scenes in football, and I suspect the FA will act. “The Equaliser” as he called himself the other week may have a few weeks off.
David Unsworth – It seems Unsworth is the cheap and cheerful choice for the Goodison Park hotseat, but rather than risk a backlash they’ve given him four games to make a difference. So far, he’s lost two tricky away games with a trip to Lyon to come on Thursday. Next week against Watford could be crucial for not only his hopes but also for Everton’s season.
That’s it from me for another week, but it’s Super Duper Mega Sunday next weekend. Have a good week.