Hello! Another weekend of football has been and gone, and whilst we eagerly await the white-hot Monday Night Football between Everton and Swansea, I’ve put together 11 headline grabbers from this weekend’s action. With two penalties missed (not saved) and a direct free-kick from miles out, there was plenty of incident to get stuck into. 3-5-2 this week!
Ederson – Spurs had a really proactive plan to try and stop Man City. They pressed high up from City goal-kicks and threw down the gauntlet for Pep’s men to try and pass through them. The problem was negated by the fact Ederson can ping a 70-yard pass more accurately than most of the Premier League. Is there anything this side can’t do?
Marcos Alonso – As per my own rules, Marcos Alonso guaranteed his place in Team of the Weekend by smashing home a free kick on the stroke of half-time. It was hit from some way out and Fraser Forster probably won’t be too pleased with his contribution but that isn’t really a new feeling for the big stopper, who is having a rough run of things.
Jose Holebas – Holebas is a very sly footballer, so it filled me with enormous joy when he went down holding his face allowing Huddersfield to score. I hasten to add there was nothing wrong with him and it was just play acting trying to get the game stopped – I don’t like people getting struck in the face, just to make it perfectly clear. Anyway, the moral here is, play to the whistle and don’t be a doofus.
Dejan Lovren – This weekend was like forgiveness weekend, which I guess the Santa of football decided. Fresh from giving away a cheap penalty in the Merseyside derby, Lovren regained some respect by scoring Liverpool’s second at Bournemouth. If he can score about 25 more, he’ll be back on an even keel.
Marko Arnautovic – Quite an eventful day at the Bet365 stadium, which started an hour late but was lit up by West Ham. See, that’s funny because the delayed kick-off was due to a power surge. Anyway, Arnautovic was returning to Stoke for the first time since leaving in the summer and he received a barracking from the home fans, which got worse with every miss Arnautovic produced. However, he showed great resilience to keep going and eventually get his goal, and a good bit of home fan-baiting in the celebration. To cap it all off, his former manager shouted at him on his way off. All in all, a good day’s work.
Mesut Ozil – This goal was an absolute textbook guide to hitting a volley. The technique, the accuracy – a wonderful hit and more importantly in earned Arsenal all three points. I’m sure Mourinho will want more of the same next season (*awaits bites*)
Dele Alli – It seems like a cycle for all of England’s “next big things” that they have to go through a phase of being phenomenally terrible with an element of self-destruction. Alli has been nowhere near his top form this season but on Saturday he threw in an awful tackle that was lucky it didn’t finish Kevin De Bruyne’s afternoon – or indeed his season. Instead it just seemed to provoke De Bruyne into being even more brilliant. Alli needs to sort himself out in the new year, there’s a World Cup coming and a similar tackle on De Bruyne next summer will probably not be treated as leniently by continental referees.
Raheem Sterling – Look, I gave Sterling some credit a few weeks ago because he’s obviously improved, but it’s hard to give him credit for scoring open goals especially when he misses as many as he scores. It makes you wonder how many would Sterling score if he didn’t miss a hatful of chances every week? Admittedly, it is hard to be critical when you’re talking about the top scorer of a record-breaking team but I find it hard to forgive missing open goals. Call me a cynic.
Philippe Coutinho – What a lovely goal this chap scored on Sunday as he continues his personal highlight reel of recent weeks. This time it’s a solo effort, dribbling about 45 yards, aided by a quick 1-2 with Robertson and finishing by craftily reversing it past the keeper. It’ll be a huge shame for the Premier League if his move to Barcelona materialises in the future, both long-term but also this season where he, Coutinho, Firmino and Mane have been good fun.
Christian Benteke – Fair play Christian, 7 days on from his penalty horror show he bounced back in style with the opening goal for Palace on their way to a handsome 3-0 win at Leicester. The much-maligned forward celebrated but putting his fingers in his ears, which I thought was a bit odd. Is he saying he doesn’t listen to the criticism? Maybe he should. Defying the manager’s orders is not cool. Anyway, he also got himself a 5th yellow card – an impressive feat for a guy who missed 2 months of the season – so he’ll miss next weekend’s clash.
Troy Deeney – This is becoming embarrassing now, Troy. Almost every time he gets a start for Watford these days it ends in an appearance in Team of the Weekend, and rarely for the right reasons. This time it was a stupid tackle from behind which earned him a straight red card, technically his second of the season after he tried to chokeslam Joe Allen a few months ago.
David Moyes – I could have gone a few ways with the manager choice this week, but as it’s the festive season I’ve opted for the praise approach rather than openly laughing at Mark Hughes. That one will have to wait. The greatest compliment I can pay Moyes is that he has made West Ham totally unrecognisable from the team he inherited, and it seems those writing their Premier League obituaries have rather jumped the gun. There’s a whole transfer window for Moyes to try and get through without his bosses shooting themselves in the foot, but if they manage that, they look good to stay up.
That’s all from me this week, and I won’t be here next week as there’s something happening on the 25th which seems to have pre-occupied a lot of people. I’ll be back with a team of the festive period between Christmas and New Year, so be good and have wonderful festive times.