It was hard not to feel sorry for Pep Guardiola as Manchester City fell one game short of the worldwide record of 19 matches won in a row. That record, incidentally, is held by one Pep Guardiola so let’s not worry about him too much, eh? Forget Pep for a moment. What about Roy bloody Hodgson? Give him the England job for crying out loud. If he can organise a Crystal Palace team to do so well against a much better side, imagine what he could for England in the World Cup? Oh. Iceland, you say? Palace should have only gone and won the game too, missing another last-minute penalty after Wilf Zaha, of course, went over in the area. That’s two spot-kicks missed with 90 minutes on the clock for Palace, costing them a total of 4 points. As for Jason Puncheon, wow. Already up in court for alleged assault and carrying a weapon then he goes and does that to Kevin de Bruyne. I like him. Not as much as I like Roy Hodgson though – one of the sights of the season was watching him and Pep having a bit of a chat in the dugout after the game.
I know the modern game is moving on fast, but since when did we hear of player transfers being announced by global clothing brands? Nike, naturally, briefly had something on their website announcing that Philippe Coutinho was off to the Camp Nou for a mere €125m and were offering a special deal on shirts with his name on if you paid for them before next weekend (or something). It was removed quicker than Mo Salah turned the game against Leicester City back in Liverpool’s favour. It would not have been Liverpool without some kind of defensive howler and Joel Matip could well be expecting Virgil van Dijk to take his shirt next weekend after selling Emre Can up the river early in the game. Every Liverpool fan looked at the £75m Dutchman and said with their eyes, “that’s what you’re coming here to sort out, Virgil la”. Jurgen Klopp “hates” the price he has had to pay Southampton, presumably having done the maths and realising he could have bought the whole club by now for the total transfer fees Liverpool have sent down to the South Coast.
Last week it was because Manchester United had not spent enough. This week it was the fault of Craig Pawson for not giving a penalty. Yes, that’s right – Manchester United, the most successful club in Premier League history, need penalty decisions to go their way to beat one of the worst Southampton sides for years. At home. How bad has it got for Jose? It is starting to feel like the public meltdown is one more dodgy decision or silly draw away. Will he even last the season? United will be without Romelu Lukaku, for real rather than him just being rubbish, as he has concussion and it turns out that the Lion’s knee is not as well healed as everyone thought. You didn’t rush back, did you Zlatan? Real Madrid and Barcelona want to buy Daley Blind. All that says is neither club actually bothers watching players they decide to sign.
Apparently, Mark Hughes fielded a “weakened side” against Chelsea. Could anyone actually tell the difference? Chelsea battered Stoke City 5-0 and even Danny Drinkwater (a) played and (b) scored which tells you just how bad Stoke were. Sparky reckons it will be worth it though if they beat Newcastle later today. You just know what is going to happen.
Arsene Wenger has now managed 811 times in the Premier League and at least one of his squad for the (result) with West Bromwich Albion were not even born when he took charge against Blackburn Rovers all those years ago. Wenger has 811 and Pardew has about 200 too many as the team he was brought into bounce up the table seems to have developed a puncture. WBA seem somewhat adverse to winning under Pardew and scoring isn’t something they are that fond of either. As a Premier League way to sign off 2017, it wasn’t that good really – and can you name a worse free-kick goal than Sanchez’s? It was hardly Bobby Carlos and it’s no wonder it was given as an OG. Mind you, tell me how Calum Chambers gets done for handball and Yoshida doesn’t? Petr Cech has to wait just that little bit longer for his 200th clean sheet.
Carlos Carvalhal apparently gave his new Swansea City team a proper going-over at half-time as they trailed 1-0 to Watford. Bizarrely, it worked as Swansea scored twice in the last five minutes to give the new gaffer a win on his debut. Carlos Carvalhal was sacked last week by Sheffield Wednesday as Swansea City continue to give jobs to managers that have failed in the Championship. Still, getting a win so early into the new regime is way more than West Bromwich Albion have achieved under Pardew.
Newcastle and Brighton had clearly knocked off early from the task of scoring any goals. Their 0-0 draw was a late contender for “dullest game of 2017”. Brighton need more goals, so therefore want Moussa Dembele from Celtic, a player that has looked very good in Scotland and pretty good in Europe. £20m is the price-tag being quoted and it could be money well spent if he proves to be better than, er, Glenn Murray.
Bournemouth are a funny bunch. They can be terrible for weeks and then pull Sam Allardyce’s unbeaten Everton record out the bag and give it a good kicking. Little Ryan Fraser got both in a result that sees Bournemouth end 2017 in 14th, which is impressive seeing that they were in the relegation zone.
In a rare moment of managers agreeing and players allegedly being honest, Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner agreed that Jeff Hendrick had been fouled by Jonas Lossl and it should have been a penalty to Burnley. How had he drawn that conclusion? Lossl had told him so. Unsurprisingly, this did not make Sean Dyche feel any better but it was another clean sheet for the Turf Moor lot. Jeff Hendrick. Huddersfield want to bring in Monaco’s Terence Kongolo, which tells you everything you need to know about how stupidly rich even the smallest Premier League clubs have now become.