And they say English players don’t have the vision for a clever through-ball. Eric Dier proved this theory completely wrong after a few minutes of play at Anfield. The only problem was, he picked out Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and he is not the kind of guy you gift a chance to. Salah’s opening goal made him the quickest player to 20 league goals in Liverpool’s history. Yes, that’s quicker than Ian Rush, Luis Suarez, Kenny Dalglish, Fernando Torres, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and, er, El-Hadji Diouf. They also say English players don’t dive. Dele Alli disproved that theory in equal measure and Harry Kane hardly looked innocent. As for Victor Wanyama’s wanslammer? It rebounded so far out of the goal that Lloris was nearly called into action himself. To be fair, he probably didn’t need to hit it that well to beat whoever was in Liverpool’s goal, in this case, Loris Karius. And, Lorius. The man-bun? No. You don’t need to attract any more criticism than your goalkeeping brings your way. Especially when you come charging out of your goal and clean out Harry. What’s that? You saved the penalty and denied Kane his 100th Premier League goal? Oh, crack on then, go double bun for all we care. Without you, Mohamed wouldn’t have scored an injury time goal that had Klopp sprinting down the touchline quicker than Dejan Lovren has moved all season as if Liverpool had just won the game. Calm down Jurgen lad, this is Liverpool remember? The £75m defender brought in to help Liverpool see out situations like this gave away a second penalty with Harry Kane slotted away. 100 up for Harry and anything Liverpool continues to entertain.
Oh to be Arsenal. Oh to be Arsene Wenger. And, frankly, you could not pay me enough to be Sam Allardyce right now. Before I wax lyrical over Arsenal looking like a cohesive, attractive football team for a moment, let’s hop over the fence and talk about Big Sam, shall we? “You know what you are going to get with Sam, his team will be hard to beat” proclaimed many a pundit. Oh yes, very hard to beat. Very hard to beat indeed, especially in North London where Spurs put four past them and Arsenal five. Allardyce cannot blame Koeman now, as he has been given about 50 million big ones to throw at the likes of Theo and that turkey from Turkey. Anyway, Arsenal. Who’d have thought Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be decent in a team that likes to attack? Who cares if Yo Pierre was a yard offside when he scored on his debut? Let the good times roll at Arsenal, they are back baby. Well, until next week maybe. Now, Aaron Ramsey scored a hat-trick for the first time in his life which is probably a good time to start pondering whether a Ramsey goal equals a celebrity death? By the time you read this you’ll probably know more than I do now and could well be mourning the passing of the remaining members of the Jackson 5. To make things even better for Big Sam, Ademola Lookman who was “definitely not leaving on loan” in the transfer window did actually leave on loan in the transfer window and scored the winning goal on his Bundesliga debut for RB Leipzig. Play it again, Sam. And Everton, I believe the manager you really wanted is now looking for a job. I’d imagine sacking Allardyce now and bringing in Marco Silva will be cheaper than the £10m Watford wanted originally.
I’m calling it now. Alexis Sanchez’s penalty and follow-up will become the defining image of his Manchester United career. What do I mean? I mean it should be a glorious opportunity but it will end up being a bit of a scrambled affair that didn’t really mean anything and will be forgotten quite quickly. Yes, United have pegged Manchester City back to a mere 13 point lead but is anyone convinced by Jose’s men at the moment? They huffed and puffed their way to a win over Huddersfield Town, though considering the Terriers beat them in the reverse fixture maybe we should be applauding United. Of course, it might have been a bit easier for United if Terence Kongolo’s demolition job on Scott McTominay had been spotted by Stuart Attwell who, I can only presume, was afflicted with temporary blindness. Anywhere else on a football pitch anywhere in the world that is a free kick and possibly a yellow card, let alone in the penalty area at Old Trafford. Still, it’s not Jose’s fault, OK? This week it was the fans for making the famous old stadium “quiet”.
If you need about an hour’s worth of bloopers to get Danny Baker out of retirement to do one of his classic “gaffes” VHS videos then Raheem Sterling must be pretty close to striking a deal. Sterling, who is massively improved under Pep in every single part of the game other than finishing an open goal from one-yard or less, missed yet another sitter in the game at Turf Moor against Burnley, before watching Sean Dyche’s men grab a late equaliser to steal a point – still a rare thing to take off Manchester City. City have been criticised, mainly by Mourinho, for spending striker fees on fullbacks, but when one of those fullbacks can cut inside and curl one into the top corner from distance like Danilo, it looks like money well spent. Anyway, Pep had bigger concerns. He was unable to choose a full complement of 7 substitutes for the match, despite City having spent well in excess of £200m on “creating the best Academy in the land”.
It’s been a tough week for West Ham United, but then tell me a week that isn’t tough for West Ham United. Thwarted on Deadline Day when looking to bring in two more players, Africans as it turns out, they’ve decided to sack their Head of Recruitment Tony Henry after it emerged he’d sent out emails saying the Hammers didn’t want to buy any more African players as “they had bad attitudes” and “are a nightmare when they are not in the team”. For once, the Hammers board have probably made the right call as it was a crazily stupid email for a person in his position to send but when his boss threatened to give a female reporter a “bit of a slap” last season, what do you expect? You also have to admire West Ham in many ways. It is difficult to keep coming up with new ways to become a laughing stock, yet they still manage it with alarming frequency. Their efforts to sign Leicester’s Islam Slimani, Algerian, on loan were rejected by the Foxes who remember Lady Brady mocking their decision to sack Claudio Ranieri. Good for them, I like that ability to hold a grudge long enough for it to have an impact, On the pitch, things are falling back into the normal place for Moyseh’s men, this time losing at Brighton 3-1. Izquierdo scored a stunner, Glenn Murray scored his third since being accused of tax fraud (a novel way for a player to kick himself into form, I am guessing he needs the goal bonuses to pay his lawyer) and Joao Mario must be wondering what he has signed up for. Probably a relegation battle Joao, probably a relegation battle.
It would have been very, very Bournemouth to follow up a superb 3-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a home defeat to Stoke City and that looked exactly like what Bournemouth were going to do when trailing 1-0 with 20 minutes remaining. Eddie Howe’s men are wonderfully unpredictable and managed to turn the match in their favour within 9 minutes, Joshua King and Lys Mousset grabbing all three points for the Cherries. Bournemouth are unbeaten in 7, yes 7, and sit 9th. Incredible, give Howe the next big job that comes up, please.
Regular readers know I can barely stop myself from spitting on the floor every time Alan Pardew gets mentioned so you can imagine my delight when Southampton scored their entire February goals quota in the match at West Bromwich Albion. Had there not been a net in the way, Mario Lemina’s bullet of a strike would still be heading to Ireland as Southampton condemned Pards to yet another league defeat, 3-2. As one of my fellow Tales writers pointed out, WBA only seem to beat teams in the league whose team name starts with the letter B, so with Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley, Bristol City etc in the Championship it does feel like that is a better place for the Albion to be playing next season.
Swansea City are showing a bit of that much sought after quality that “real football men” desire – character. Once more they left an away match with something, nicking a 1-1 draw against Leicester City. Watch out Crystal Palace, Carlos Carvalho wants to challenge you for the most unlikely recovery of the season award.
Crystal Palace should have sold Christian Benteke to any club that might have wanted him in the window. The big Belgian currently looks like a technically poorer player than Romelu Lukaku and Michy B (who is already loving life in Germany, scoring twice on his debut for Dortmund) and this takes some doing. Benteke is currently making Raheem Sterling look prolific from half-a-yard out and if he’d managed to take one of the three chances he missed Palace would have ended the weekend five points clear of the drop zone. However, the 1-1 draw with Newcastle and look at Newcastle getting a point in London, means that Roy’s men sit 14th. Rafa Benitez needed players in the January madness and was given a player on loan from Chelsea, surprise surprise, a Slovakian goalkeeper and the unseen Islam Slimani. Slimani could be the man to save them and boy do Newcastle need saving.
Although they kick off on Monday night, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte sounds very much like a manager that knows he is likely to be sacked in the summer but would prefer a healthy payout before he starts accepting his next post. Conte has been linked to AC Milan and the Italian national team job, but has stated on the record right where the powers that be can see it that his preference is “to stay at Chelsea”. In other words Roman, it’s going to cost you mate.