Football is a funny old game. By being released from the shadow of Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal set about Crystal Palace as if someone had drugged them and told them they were Manchester City in the opening 20 minutes. Sanchez has swapped the Emirates for Old Trafford where, no doubt, he will go on to be one of the finest second full-backs Manchester United have ever seen. Nacho Monreal managed to do more in 33 minutes than Sanchez had managed all season, scoring and assisting twice as the Gunners sped to a 4-0 lead. Could this be the sign that Arsenal are now free and will go on the kind of run that sees them trouble the top four? Probably not, but if Wenger can unlock the Mkhi that wowed everyone at Dortmund then you never know. And if they can add Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the squad it will be exciting as they’ll have painted the front of their house all pretty whilst the petty thieves keep breaking in around the back. As for Palace, Hodgson will no doubt shrug his shoulders, be polite and get back down to drilling “team shape” on Monday morning.
If I just tell you the score between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor was 1-0 to United, you can probably guess what type of game it was. If I then throw in the fact that Phil Jones, yes really, was man-of-the-match your initial guess was probably bang on. If anyone thinks the addition of the Chilean is suddenly going to make Jose Mourinho the great entertainer, think again. I know, Burnley “are tough to beat ©“ but even so. And he’s going to get a new contract which, hopefully, just means he gets a bigger payoff in late September after it is clear City have taken football to yet another level at the start of next season.Oh, Anthony Martial scored the winner again but that still won’t make Jose like him.
Chelsea had looked pretty lost in recent weeks and not just because of their mid-week public chase of Andy Carroll, who then managed to get injured reading the newspaper reports that Chelsea wanted to sign him, and Peter Crouch who must have assumed he was on some kind of reality TV show, especially when Stoke asked for £15m. Alvaro Morata’s confidence has fallen as quickly as the three Blues booked for diving against Norwich and Conte has been looking more and more agitated. Yet, in the opening six minutes against Brighton, everything came back together and Chelsea were leading 2-0. The second goal was the kind of goal City have scored plenty of this season, meaning it was rather good, and with Chelsea winning 4-0 they are making it clear that they do not plan to be the top-four fall guys. The surprising statistic post-match was not that Eden Hazard had been subbed yet again, it was the fact that Chelsea are now unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions. Conte wants to leave on a high, clearly.
In shock news, Harry Kane missed a great chance to win the match at Southampton. Tottenham’s main man had already scored, obviously, to equalise a fine goal for Southampton by Spurs’ centre-back Davinson Sanchez, steering it in on the move from a tight angle. The dropped points mean Tottenham trail Liverpool by two points before the Reds no doubt go and put Swansea to the sword on Monday night.
Another week in the Newcastle United soap opera has passed with Mike Ashley claiming that Amanda Staveley’s proposed takeover is off and has been “a complete waste of time” which is kinda how most Newcastle fans view big Mike’s tenure. Once more Rafa sent his Championship quality side out knowing what was likely to happen next and he was right. Sergio Aguero netted all three for Pep’s men but the goal of the game actually came from a fine finish by Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy. Mike Ashley has no doubt noted that Murphy’s value will have risen thanks to the little run and dink over Ederson, so if anyone fancies themselves a talented young Englishman then he is almost certainly for sale at a profit. Rafa Benitez has said he needs “three or four” new signings by the end of January knowing full well he’ll probably get one and he’ll be from Aston Villa’s reserves or somewhere equally dreadful.
The previous Everton manager wasn’t a fan of Oumar Niasse either, yet the Senegalese scored a few for Koeman just to make the Dutchman look silly. Sam Allardyce had splashed nearly £50m on two attacking players in Tosun and Theo Walcott to try and help Everton at the very least get a shot on target in January, but once again it was the very-much-up-for-sale Niasse who scored another important goal for the Toffees. This goal nabbed them a draw with West Bromwich Albion and the Goodison Park natives are already starting to get a little restless watching Allardyce’s side create minimal chances. Mind you, what did they expect when the gaffer comes out every week saying the team “needs to be more boring”.
Last Monday we were all laughing at Stoke City who appeared to have drawn their appointed their new manager by giving away raffle tickets. Paul Lambert had number 16 which was ironic, as that was exactly his place on Peter Coates’ handwritten list of “people I’d like to give the job to in preference order”. Lambert, like most out-of-work managers who start to think they’ll never get another chance (the ones that are the total opposite to the likes of Alan Pardew for example), put his ego to one side and expressed his gratitude for getting the gig. Lambert got a little lucky with Huddersfield Town being the visitors but Stoke looked organised, committed and did not completely abandon any moments of creativity as Shaqiri’s assist for the second was lovely. Lambert celebrated with a level of passion that I presume Sky Sports will be turning into an advert at some point. Oh, he’s not Italian so they won’t? OK then,
It finally became clear that Marco Silva was living on a different planet to the Watford board. Leicester City heaped further misery on Watford as they beat them 2-0 without so much as seeing Mahrez break sweat and Silva insisted his job was not in danger. Marco, we have been here many times before you. Watford have an excellent start to the season, check. Manager gets linked to bigger jobs, check. Watford players think the season’s work is done by mid-December, check. Watford start tumble towards the relegation zone, check. Manager’s great start to the season gets completely forgotten and he gets the sack. Get on the phone to AC Milan, Marco. That’s the job for you. I’m sure Big Sam is raising a pint of wine in your honour right now.
Watford’s new man? Javi Gracia. Google will be your friend here.