What’s that? Manchester City have been screwed twice in a week since partnering with Tinder? Who saw that coming?!
As Martin Tyler said to Gary Neville, without a hint of irony, the Manchester Derby was “a great game if you are a neutral”. Gary came in with a “neutral” score of about 1.3 out of 10 as you could hear him wishing he was out on the pitch giving Leroy Sane a bit of a kick himself.
People say Jose Mourinho is finished, has lost his touch. I have to disagree. Bringing on both Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba at half-time was a stroke of genius and changed the direction of the match, if not the title, massively.
After 45 minutes, City led 2-0 as we all know. There was talk of United having to give them a guard of honour back on to the pitch for the second half and that the bus Mourinho has cleverly parked in many a big match needing to be sent to the scrapheap in the sky. Money was changing hands over who exactly Jose was going to blame for the defeat and Pogba’s decision to dye his hair blue for the match was looking somewhat curious.
The first half was all Manchester City, United touched the ball once in Ederson’s penalty area. Vincent Kompany attacked the ball like it was 2012 all over again as Chris Smalling hoped a little pull of the shirt might be enough to stop the City skipper putting the champions-elect into the lead. Gundogan doubled the lead and the social media chat was about how this second string side put out by Pep Guardiola was dominating the team placed second in the table, showing how vast the gap was between the two.
If Raheem Sterling had taken just one of the six chances he had in the first half, the title would have been done there and then. If Martin Atkinson had done the honest thing and penalised Ashley Young for tipping the ball out City’s reach with his fingertips whilst slipping over, the title would have been done there and then. As it was, Jose was able to remind his team that they might have played like “clowns” but that did not mean they had to be the “clowns” watching City celebrate with the trophy in 45 minutes time.
Yes, United woke up and played a bit after half-time. Yes, it will go down as a very famous comeback. Yes, City have now conceded six in two games. But, for all of United’s tenacity to get back in the game we should not forget that Manchester City should have had a nailed on penalty and Ashley Young should have been sent off for implanting each and every stud on this boot into Sergio Aguero’s shin. How Martin Atkinson failed to give that one as a penalty was even more bizarre than the one in the first half. Gundogan also hit the post, so before United fans get too excited just remember; Yes, you won. But City hit the post twice, should have had two penalties, should have had half an hour against ten men and Raheem Sterling would be very, very good if he could finish.
It was nice to see that one of the “Derby Day” matches delivered, though. Frankly, that match at Goodison Park between Everton and Liverpool could be classed as the worst Merseyside Derby, ever. There was little spirit, fight or passion and Kloppo seemed delighted at that fact, calling it the “most mature performance” his team had put in this season. Fair enough Jurgen, I suppose you have bigger fish to fry on Tuesday night. Wayne Rooney wasn’t best chuffed at being hooked by Sham Allafarce after 55 minutes, the only surprise being that Sham didn’t put on another defender in his place.
Harry Kane is a true striker. A proper goal scorer. A man who only exists to put the ball in the back of the net. How do we know this? Not because he has made a superhuman return to fitness. No, that’s not the reason. The fact that he is STILL insisting he scored the second Tottenham Hotspur goal against soon-to-be-relegated Stoke City is what gives Harry away. He is certain it went in off his shoulder and he is properly upset that everyone disagrees with him and the goal has been given to Christian Eriksen. Stoke City tried very hard, bless them, but even Hugo Lloris gifting them a goal wasn’t enough to spark any form of quality to keep them up. It is just a matter of time, I’m afraid.
Arsenal pretty much sent the reserve team out to play Southampton on Sunday, which tells you where Jack Wilshere sits in Arsene Wenger’s mind, and they were still too good for Mark Hughes’ men. Danny Welbeck put in the pitch-perfect Danny Welbeck performance, including a horror-miss, lots of running and a couple of goals. Actually, the two goals were an added bonus as you normally only get the first two things on the list.
As for Chelsea, well their top four hopes were firmly put out by an equaliser from West Ham’s Javier Hernandez – a goal that pretty much guarantees that Premier League football will grace the Athletics Stadium again next season. There have been many rightful tributes to the late Ray Wilkins this last week, but the best was at Stamford Bridge where a retro number 8 shirt was placed on the assistant manager seat in the dugout. A rare moment of class from a club who don’t often think to remember their pre-Roman years.
Where Big Sam gets given £150m at Everton to turn out that rubbish week in week out, Rafa Benitez is an actual miracle worker. Armed with a couple of loan signings and a player signed from Stoke, Rafa has managed to keep Newcastle United in the Premier League and considering the circumstances he has been working under I think that makes him the true manager of the season. Newcastle beat Leicester City 2-1, away from home which is pretty rare for Newcastle, to pretty much guarantee they will be on Match of the Day next season.
Whereas Newcastle United have done everything they can on the pitch to stay up, you cannot accuse the likes of Huddersfield Town, Swansea City, Brighton or Crystal Palace of doing the same.
Palace led Bournemouth, a team with nothing to play for, 2-1 on Saturday and managed to concede late and drop two points. Swansea City were playing absolutely cast-iron relegated West Bromwich Albion who had, finally, sacked Alan Pardew. Surely that was a game worth fighting for, Carlos? All the media soundbytes in the world do not hide the fact you needed a late equaliser against one of the worst sides in Premier League history to not leave the Hawthorns empty handed and very red in the face. As for Brighton? Taking off their top scorer when the scores were level was curious. Neither side seemed to believe they could win and Huddersfield equaliser was one of those that you do not want to see happen when you are fighting the drop.
Are any of those sides mentioned worse than Stoke or Southampton? Possibly not.
There is nothing like a lucky substitution coming off and making you look like you know what you are doing, eh Sean Dyche? The Ginger Mourinho threw on Sam Vokes for Burnley and the Welshman scored with his first touch against Watford. 90 seconds later, Chris Wood had sealed the win. That Javi Gracia might not be around long enough for people to learn to spell his name correctly.