Poor old Rafa, hunting around trying to find a loan signing here or a loan signing there throughout January without ever really knowing if he was going to be able to sign anyone. Money is tight in Newcastle, see? Especially when Mike Ashley is treating the club like the estranged family member who has had its allowance cut off. And then there is Jose Mourinho, who saw Alexis Sanchez added to the “biggest club in England” for the princely sum of about £400k a week. When the two teams got it on at St James’ Park what happened? Newcastle United beat Manchester United 1-0. Maybe Mike Ashley knows a thing or two? No, not at all but there is little else like an unknown Slovakian goalkeeper having an unforgettable debut to make you laugh at the fact that Jose still hasn’t won at St James’. Ever. Ever! Ha! That said, Jose was actually a gentleman in defeat, almost as if he likes watching a team win a game in the manner Newcastle managed.
Throwing huge amounts of money at players to paper over cracks is one way of doing it, I suppose. Bringing through “one of your own” is another and in the North London Derby, it was £58m of Lacazette that looked like £50 of Lacacomposure. Arsenal’s French striker had a fine chance to equalise Tottenham’s winning goal at Wembley but completely fluffed his lines. Of course, if you were Paul Merson you’d have expected Yo Pierre to have had a much bigger impact as, according to the Merson oracle, Tottenham would not have seen much of the ex-Dortmund front man. Don’t let the fact that Tottenham have played Dortmund plenty of times in the last couple of seasons and Yo Pierre has scored a couple against them as well get in the way of some lazy punditry. As it turned out, Spurs handled Aubameyang comfortably and the match was settled by Harry Kane, naturally.
Over at Leicester City, they too have an Englishman that is decent in front of goal. We spend a lot of time talking about Harry Kane, and rightly so, but Jamie Vardy became the first player to score against Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the same season. The only problem for Vardy was the rest of his team against Manchester City and, in particular, his goalkeeper/captain/shop steward. A little tip for Schmeichel junior. Don’t go on Sky Sports and do a big interview criticising Riyad Mahrez when you then turn in that performance against the team Riyad wanted to join. It’s that kind of thing that is probably the reason he was keen to leave. City ran out 5-1 winners with Sergio Aguero reminding us that there is another goal scorer in town with a deadly eye for goal, helping himself to four against the Kasper the Useless.
Liverpool disappointed me a little this weekend if truth be known. Not because they won, no. But there was zero drama. Since when did Liverpool do routine 2-0 wins away from home, even if they were only playing their B team? Southampton came into the game knowing that both Newcastle and Huddersfield had won and it didn’t raise anything extra from them in the slightest. Liverpool to finish second? You never know.
What is it with teams in relegation dogfights missing vital penalties this season? And not just missing them, having a disagreement over who is going to take them and then missing them. Rule number one when demanding you take the kick. Score it. Simple. If you do the whole macho “my penalties are better than your penalties” thing, don’t go and miss it. Stoke City were level 1-1 with Brighton when Charlie Adam won the verbal arm-wrestle meaning he would step up. Shaqiri, already with a goal in his back pocket, playing well and generally being the best thing about Stoke this season, stood by and had to watch Adam miss then disappear into some quicksand when the rebound was there for the taking.
According to Sham Allarfarce, Gylfi and Wayne can’t play in the same team. A little flick over to the statistics tells us that when Gylfi and Wayne do play together they often win and when they don’t play together Everton often lose. Gylfi and Wayne played against Crystal Palace and, guess what? You got it, Everton won. Better still, that striker everyone is still keen to suggest won’t score the goals for they need, Oumar Niasse, scored another goal.
In another moment of Merson Madness, he suggested that Swansea appointing Carlos Carvalhal was tantamount to waving the white flag and surrendering the season. Swansea City beat Burnley 1-0 yesterday meaning they are unbeaten in quite a while and now sit the sunny side up of the relegation zone. Merson, coincidentally, was missing from Soccer Saturday this weekend and replaced with Chris Kamara which was a bit like dropping Chris Smalling and replacing him with Gary Cahill.
Bournemouth have been on a wonderful run so a trip to Huddersfield Town was always going to end in tears. The Terriers trampled all over the Cherries and got a valuable 4-1 win.
Javi Gracia might have been thinking he’d got a hang of this Premier League stuff, beating Chelsea 4-1 last Monday. As we all know, the Premier League can be a fickle friend and Gracia was brought crashing back down to earth losing at West Ham United of all places. But, as they say, if Marko turns up then West Ham might win. The Hammers’ board also moved to deny reports that David Moyes might be leaving at the end of his six-month contract. You’d assume that they’ve offered him a new deal then, no? Not yet, not yet so I’m classing that as the classic vote of confidence. Moyes out in the summer, you read it here first.