I tell you what would have been a nice pre-Christmas gift to the rest of the Premier League. Manchester City at least drawing with Tottenham Hotspur so we could at least pretend it is worth turning up for the rest of the season. Yes, I know we’ve been here before with teams having huge leads and then suddenly forgetting how to play the game but have we ever seen anyone quite as good as City open up this kind of gap? That’s not me saying they are the finest Premier League side ever, just so we are clear. It’s just me saying that they are less likely to throw this away than Keegan’s lot back in the day. It was good of Dele Alli to remind us he was actually playing as his stamp on Kevin de Bruyne was somehow missed by the match officials. And credit to the City players for putting last week behind them, singing a song about “parking the bus” in the dressing room after the match. Well, they can do what they want at home, can’t they?
If there was a trophy dished out for value for money football, then pretty much any game involving Liverpool would win it. There was no way that their trip to Bournemouth was going to end up 0-0 with both team’s personal commitment to shambolic defending and we were not disappointed. Missing opportunities at key moments often has a habit of coming back and biting you on the bottom, so when Jermain Defoe hit the post with the score being 2-0 to Liverpool it was fairly obvious that Liverpool were going to score again quickly. They did indeed and Mo Salah became the quickest Liverpool player to 20 league goals since the last person to do it, or something like that. Liverpool ended up 4-0 winners.
Whoa there West Ham United. This is verging on something that could be considered a decent run of form! It’s a curious coincidence that a run of three clean sheets has followed Moyseh’s brave decision to drop Joe Hart and those three shutouts have garnered seven points. We say it every week, Mark Hughes was brought into Stoke City to move the club away from the Tony Pulis era and I think we can all agree he has now successfully achieved that. There is zero organisation, heart or fight left at the Bet365 Stadium now so I think Sparky can call it a job well done. Speaking of Sparky, the only reason some Stoke fans thought they’d got to half-time without conceding was because the match actually kicked off an hour late due to there being a power cut. It’s not just a power cut that is stopping the players, it’s an ability and desire cut. Oh, and a class cut. Mark Hughes had a few choice words to the player he claimed had made a “sideways move” having left Stoke to join West Ham. Marko Arnautovic probably didn’t even notice, having scored the second goal and picked up another handsome pay packet for actually turning up.
When it comes down to it, West Bromwich Albion were very unlikely to get relegated under Tony Pulis. Since Alan “the off the leash psychologist” Pardew has rocked up they have failed to win and have to be classed as relegation candidates. Why? Because Pardew normally makes most of his impact at the start and if he is failing already then WBA are stuffed. Hey, I didn’t say it was high-class analysis. Manchester United won 2-1 but should really hang their heads in shame as they allowed Albion to score the first goal of the Pardew era and it was scored by Gareth Barry of all people.
It’s funny how not many people are talking about Marco Silva right now. Football’s, well the Premier League’s anyway, hottest managerial property has suddenly learned what happens when you manage Watford FC. Great start to the season, tick. Everyone talking about what a good coach you are, tick. Premier League survival pretty much guaranteed by Christmas, small tick. Shocking second half of the season and most likely the sack? Watch this space. Watford were battered 4-1 by a hungry Huddersfield Town side who are not going to give up their own Premier League spot without one hell of a fight. Watford were, frankly, awful as the result probably tells you.
Chelsea are not the Chelsea that ran away with the title last season, but they did manage to sneak a 1-0 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge. Marcos Alonso was the match winner with the kind of free kick that doesn’t get seen too often. Left-footed and on the left side of the area, the Spanish wingback curled the ball around the outside of the wall (yes, to the left) and back in again on the near post. All that element of surprise is what probably did for Fraser Forster.
I didn’t watch Brighton play Burnley and as much as I have hunted high and low for highlights, not many have been forthcoming surprisingly. The game ended 0-0 in both shots on target and final score.
Mesut Ozil isn’t the most popular of footballers but when he does something good it is normally very, very good. His winner for Arsenal against Newcastle was one of the better goals of the weekend.
Two very much in-form teams met each other in the early Saturday kick-off. Crystal Palace, they who did not score for the first ten games of the season or so, had not scored an away goal in the Premier League since some time in April. Christian Benteke had not scored a goal himself since Romelu Lukaku was an Everton player and Palace had not been out of the relegation zone since the league table was sorted in alphabetical order. Wilfried Zaha is on a different planet to most of the league at the moment and singlehandedly led the Eagles to their finest moment of the season to date. Benteke and Sako scored either side of Wilf’s effort and Roy Hodgson has managed to get the club out of the bottom three. As for Leicester City, it’s safe to say that Wilfred Ndidi put in the worst dive ever seen and has somehow been rewarded with getting Christmas off. Top work Wilfred, top work.