The international break is over and club football is back with a bang! We are in the midst of a brilliant week of football that has seen some top quality games on every single day of the week. These are my top picks for the terraces this weekend.
Liverpool do a Liverpool
In scenes ironically reminiscent of the ‘Liverpool miracle’ in the Champions League final of Istanbul 2005, Liverpool managed to turn around a 3-0 domination into a heroic 3-3 comeback in southern Spain on Tuesday night… for Sevilla.
Liverpool were totally dominant in the first half, just like Milan in 2005, after goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – including a brace for the latter. Firmino had given his side an early lead to set the wheels of what would appear to be a comprehensive Liverpool win in motion. Georginio Wijnaldum rose like a salmon to flick on Philippe Coutinho’s cross to Firmino who squeezed his finish past Sergio Rico.
It was another flick on from a Coutinho cross that set up the reds’ second goal. This time it was Firmino who rose highest to win the header from the free kick which Mane then finished with a well-controlled downward header into the bottom corner.
Mane and Firmino combined again for the goal that looked to have put Sevilla out of the game in just the 30th minute. Mane turned on the afterburners, racing down the left side before seeing his shot parried by Rico, only for the ball to fall to Firmino who controlled and gratefully stuck it away into an open net.
But something seemed a little fishy about Liverpool’s third goal. In what looked at first light to be a display of showboating flamboyance, Firmino turned to look back in the direction of his own goal while netting the ball.
Was it a show of theatrical cheek to really rub it in the faces of the Sevilla faithful who were watching their team get absolutely torn to shreds? Or a silent, telepathic warning to his own less-than-reliable defenders?
“Please don’t f*ck this one up,” his eyes seemed to say.
Well as it turned out, Firmino’s foreboding powers were pretty on point. It only took five minutes of the second half for Alberto Moreno, the small excited dog masquerading as a Premier League left-back, to chop down Pablo Sarabia and give away a free kick. Ever Banega curled in the cross that Wissam Ben Yedder headed in.
Just 10 minutes later, that man Moreno again gave the ball away and then brought down Ben Yedder in the box in a valiant attempt to atone for the error and the French forward dispatched the penalty.
At the climax of the squeakiest of squeaky bum times, Liverpool finally and royally shat their pants in the third minute of added time. After a bit of pinball in the Liverpool box, Guido Pizarro struck the ball through bodies, bouncing beyond Karius to seal Liverpool’s bottleless fate.
Winter is Coming. North London is Red.
Many observers would have said the latest North London derby on Saturday would have fallen the way of the Spurs family. Arsenal were coming off the back of a 3-1 drubbing from Manchester City and a two week period of international break to mull it over. And under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have become a genuine Premier League superpower (albeit devoid of trophies).
But Arsenal demolished their rival visitors to the Emirates. They pressed high and fast and as a team. They forced Tottenham into errors and anonymised their normally star players. Ultimately, it was a red wedding of goals from Shkodran Mustafi and a reinvigorated Alexis Sanchez that doomed Spurs.
In the game of North London derbies, you either win or you die.