After a short absence, Premier League football returned to our lives and filled Saturday with a mix of joy, misery, and despair. And that was just in Bournemouth vs Newcastle. I’ve also included the Carabao Cup final participants because I am a maverick, so which 11 have I pulled together along with a manager to keep things ticking over?
Jack Butland – This was ridiculous. A cross smashed over from the right by Albrighton should really have been bread and butter for “Britain’s best goalkeeper” (Lambert, 2018) but instead, he fumbled it into his own net. Paul Lambert, of course, defended his stopper who is of course very good but every time he seems likely to become England’s number 1 he drops a clanger. It’s getting silly now. Maybe we just won’t field a goalkeeper this summer? Credit also to Asmir Begovic for throwing two in for Newcastle.
Andy Robertson – What a signing this lad is looking. Having been given the ridiculously low bar of Alberto Moreno to take a first-team place from, Robertson has grasped his opportunity with both hands. It must be quite a shock going from relegation with Hull to Champions League challengers at Liverpool but he certainly doesn’t look out of place. He grabbed an assist on Saturday which sparked this love in. Is he Liverpool’s second-best bargain after Mo Salah?
Lewis Dunk – I’m not sure any of them have been his fault but Dunk’s own goal on Saturday was his FOURTH of the season. That’s more than some strikers have at the right end. One to think about.
Vincent Kompany – It is impossible not to feel pleased for Vincent Kompany after he scored the second for Man City in their Carabao Cup final win. I mean yes, Arsenal were awful, but for once I’ll focus on the positive and say it’s a great day for a man who has gone through an injury nightmare whilst his colleagues have gone from strength to strength. Enjoy this one Vinny.
Xherdan Shaqiri – If ever a goal didn’t fit a game, it was this one. Shaqiri has been in my team of the week for both good and bad performances in the past this season but his goal on Saturday was comfortably the best thing that happened in the whole game.
Ashley Westwood – Sean Dyche seems like a perennially angry man, so the events that unfolded in the final minute at Turf Moor on Saturday will probably have turned his gravelly tones blue. Westwood was blocked off by referee Bobby Madley, though I think Dyche will be more angry that Westwood didn’t just foul his man and take a yellow card for the team. He sort of thought about it and before he could make the decision to hack, it was too late and Southampton equalised. Burnley haven’t won in 2018 yet still sit comfortably in the top half. Life isn’t fair.
Dan Gosling – Hands up if you had forgotten Dan Gosling used to play for Newcastle? He reminded Newcastle fans in the worst possible way by scoring a last-minute equaliser against his former club, dragging Bournemouth back on level terms having trailed 2-0 with just 10 minutes to go. Gosling has been around forever. Remember when he scored that winner against Liverpool but ITV missed it? Great days.
Chris Brunt – The latest problem befalling Alan Pardew is that he doesn’t like to pick Chris Brunt, but whenever Chris Brunt is on the pitch he contributes an assist. His set-pieces alone are worth 10 goals a season and WBA need all the help they can get. Saturday’s home defeat to Huddersfield was the latest nail in the Pardy man’s coffin as their Premier League status looks in jeopardy at best.
Dwight Gayle – The bottom line will read “Gayle scores backheel” but the reality is that he couldn’t miss. It was a similar story for his second goal after receiving a gift from Begovic, but even with a two-goal headstart, the Toon could only take a point from the Vitality. Still, the number 9 has sorely lacked goals this season so this will be a big boost for him.
Glenn Murray – It seems there’s barely a home game goes by for Brighton where they don’t get a penalty. As a disclaimer, I am well aware there have been many. Anyway, Murray has been in lethal form since the whole alleged tax issues arose, can you read anything into that? I would say no, but he scored twice on Saturday to prove he is truly adding value to Brighton’s survival bid (sorry).
Romelu Lukaku – He can’t play in big games! Turns out, just this once, he can. The goal was Lukaku’s first against a top half side this season, which is a ridiculous stat but one I am on board with. Add an assist to the mix and it was a very good afternoon’s work for the much-maligned Man Utd centre-forward.
Javi Gracia – I’ll admit I had and indeed still have no idea who Watford’s manager is, but I was impressed by the way he sent on attacking subs and basically ended up playing 4-2-4. It worked as well, with Deeney getting the late winner and basically securing their Premier League status. Also, it’s always nice to see Big Sam lose, so there’s that.
That’s it for another week, but I’ll be back next week with more shenanigans. Toodles for now.