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The Premier League (and the match ball) belonged to Mohammad Salah last Saturday, when his four goals helped obliterate Watford 5-0 at Anfield. The level-headed Egyptian now has 12 goals in 993 minutes played all comps in 2018, giving him a ratio of a goal every 82.75 minutes played. Who needs a calculator? (Answer: Every journalist to verify the credibility of their sources). He also got one over Cristiano Ronaldo last night, scoring the winning goal for Egypt in Portugal. (Edit: Ronaldo scored twice in stoppage time, sorry Mo).
Back in January, you may recall that Jose Mourinho dubbed Luke Shaw the ‘best left-back in the country’. We all took it with a pinch of salt, because he had always treated him with contempt before the claim, and has continued to do since. Back in his starting line-up for their FA Cup Quarter Final against Brighton, he was hauled off at half-time. Shaw is the archetypal attacking full back. But he is still questionable when it comes to defending. Yet how is he supposed to improve on that aspect of his game without playing games?
The Seagulls posed questions for Argentina’s number one Sergio Romero all game, meaning he now has at least one more game to shake off his itchy arse while watching games from the bench. Belgian powerhouse Romelu Lukaku’s fine goal return in the FA Cup continued while Nemanja Matic also bagged himself a goal.
But as far as what the main story concerning Man United this week was, it was undoubtedly the various sources in the press stating that the club were considering handing out lyric sheets to all fans at home games in a bid to improve the atmosphere. Tragic.
Alan Pardew must have thought his luck had finally changed when Jay Rodriguez put the Baggies one-nil up at Bournemouth. However, goals in the last 15 minutes from Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas condemned West Brom to another defeat. Time must surely be running out for Pardew’s stint at the club. The side immediately Crystal Palace fans were given a lift before kick off at Huddersfield when they saw Wilfried Zaha in the starting eleven. And they were still in buoyant mood following the comfortable 2-0 victory.
Mark Hughes has been at Southampton for just over a week now and he has already achieved what the widely lauded Mauricio Pochettino couldn’t do, reach a cup semi-final. And he only required the one game. It was a surprise to a lot of people at home watching Wigan against Southampton, myself included, how enjoyable the game turned out. The home team made the most of their abundance of width and could have easily scored 2 or 3 in the first half had it not been for poor last minute decision making. Sparky turned things around in the second half for the Saints when goals from Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Cedric Soares secured a semi-final against Chelsea with a 2-0 win. Because Antonio Conte’s Blues were taken to extra time by Leicester City, where Pedro popped up with the winning header. And Christian Eriksen was again his unplayable self, when he influenced a 3-0 win for Spurs over Swansea.
England boss Gareth Southgate was in attendance for Stoke City’s vital game against Everton. He was there to cast his eye over the two English keepers on show, Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. Unfortunately, he arrived on a day where both displayed their underlying weaknesses. Butland himself admitted afterwards he could have done better for Cenk Tosun’s 84th minute winner, where he never cleared danger. While Jordan Pickford’s difficulties in dealing with crosses was also evident. The latter made the most of his opportunity for his country with an assuring performance against the Netherlands.
Southgate began his preparations for the World Cup with friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy. There were all the usual suspects named in his squad, while interestingly Swansea’s Alfie Mawson and Leicester’s Harry Maguire were picked ahead of the likes of Gary Cahill. On the pitch, it was a typical England fixture, it was far from thrilling. The sole goal of the match came courtesy of Jesse Lingard, ensuring England achieve their first win over the Netherlands since Euro 96. Meanwhile in Alex McLeish’s first game back in charge of Scotland fell, they fell a 1-0 defeat at home to Costa Rica.
Amazingly, Ryan Giggs did turn up for Wales’ friendly in China on Thursday morning to take on the hosts. The greatest Welsh scorer of all time Ian Rush was replaced by Gareth Bale, when the Los Blancos forward bagged himself a hat-trick within the hour to take his goal total for Uguto 28. On his senior debut and his 21st birthday, Hull loanee Harry Wilson sublimely whipped the ball round the keeper. While the whole team all received a touch each in the build-up to the goal from Sam Vokes, bringing the score to an unconvincing 6-0 win. Uruguay in the final on Monday? At least one home nation will be bringing home a trophy in 2018.
Have a great weekend everyone.