Here’s a thought to get us going today. Is Jesse Lingard better than Marcus Rashford? Or is this about as good as it’s ever going to get for Jesse and the rest of his career is destined to be like Tom Cleverley? Either way, he scored a cracker against Everton at Goodison Park last night sealing a solid, unspectacular and at times, downright dull win for Manchester United. Poor Jose had to make do with picking a £60m striker in Anthony Martial given that Romelu and Zlatan were unavailable and it was Martial who opened the scoring. Jose! Jose! A centre-forward with a decent first touch and can hit the target more often than not. Don’t fancy using him, do you? Back to Jesse for a moment. Good teams often have players with that bit of chemistry between them, something just clicks. Together they make each other even better – think Alan Shearer and Teddy. Lineker and Beardsley. Mahrez and Vardy. Drinkwater and Kante. They may not be the best players in the side like Gerrard and Lampard were supposed to be, but how they work together immediately makes their team better. That’s what Lingard and Pogba have going on so surely Jose has to play them as often as possible? They have a better, more honest relationship than the majority of celebrity marriages, so cash in on it Jose! Still, it was good to see Wayne Rooney setting United off on a swift counter-attack just like the good old days.
Post-match Jose took aim at Paul Scholes – Scholes would have probably preferred it if Romelu had because he would have missed – claiming that the ex-United ginger maestro “does nothing but criticise my players”. Jose has a point. It’s over Scholesy and, to be fair, you’ve done nothing other than be a whinging pundit since quitting. Jose went to say that he’d love Scholes to try management and “wishes that he could be at least 25% successful as I have been as he will have had a good career then”.
So how did that work out for you Sparky? Stoke City pretty much threw the game at Chelsea in order to get all three points against Newcastle United yesterday. The only problem was neither the Stoke or Newcastle players bothered reading the script. In his pre-match chat, Shaqiri oddly said: “we play for Stoke City, yes the manager is a small part of that but we play for Stoke City”. It doesn’t sound like the players give two whatevers about Hughes anymore, but Shaq’s claim that “they play for Stoke City” was bizarre as his performance against Newcastle suggested that it is the last thing he is doing. Charlie Adam was back to his creative best, his pin-point pass sending Rafa’s men on the attack that led to the winning goal. After the game, before he stormed out in a bit of a huff, Hughes said “it was clear we deserved to get something out of the game”. But Mark, that’s not how the league table works, is it? You lost. Again. Do the decent thing now. At the end of the day, who could have possibly seen Stoke City ending up with a load of overpaid prima donnas who don’t really care that much about the club? QPR fans are smirking their little faces off right now.
It was good to see Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan come up with a cunning plan to keep Virgin on the bench after his signing as announced. Combine to score a last minute winner! Genius, but I can’t see it being enough to keep the world’s most expensive defender out of the side no matter how much Jurgen Klopp “hates” how much he cost. That’s two late wins in a row for Liverpool now, which is great considering the knives were out pretty quickly on social media after Burnley got a late equaliser. Liverpool are still 4th, but it feels like they are on the move.
The weirdest goal of 2018 so far has to go to Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson who seemed to be creating his own slow-motion shot as he prodded home the equaliser against Brighton. In what was a surprisingly entertaining game considering all of the players should have still been hungover from their New Year’s Eve party Brighton led twice before the Cherries escaped with a point. That Jose Izquierdo, he is a bit left-field but boy can he run.
Paul Pogba got half his belated Christmas wish when Jesus was ruled out for a “significant period of time” following his injury against Palace. I’m sure this happened last year leading to all kinds of “resurrected by Easter” kind of puns. Not from me of course, I’d never stoop to that. Anyway, Gabby Jesus is very cross. Kevin de Bruyne is thought to still be alive following Jason Puncheon’s “tackle” which would not have looked out of place in the local Sunday League. Puncheon appears to have injured himself though and could be out for the rest f the season. As Pep says, players need more protection – especially from injuring themselves when trying to injure someone else.