Well, last week was fairly entertaining wasn’t it?
Tony Pulis may have done his level best to bring the Premier League back into alignment by fielding a back eight against Chelsea but the damage had already been done. There were goals aplenty, and some pretty decent ones at that, complimented with some trimmings of terrible defending and goalkeeping worse than that Christmas jumper you’re planning on wearing to the work do.
Everton and Watford set the tone early on Saturday, Watford coming out the sunny side up of a five goal thriller. Ronald Koeman didn’t take it very well, publicly criticising some of his players.
He named and shamed Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Loris Karius and Joel Matip before realising that he is in charge of Everton and not Liverpool like he dreams of.
It’s a good thing Arsenal beat Stoke at the weekend otherwise Arsene Wenger would be hitting the Christmas brandy a couple of weeks early considering the 48 hours since their 3-1 win. Wenger had been reluctant to start Granit Xhaka too often due to concerns about his on-pitch discipline.
Following the midfielder’s elbow to Joe Allen’s face, I cannot for one moment see Arsene’s point. If you needed the final proof that Stoke have completely changed since Mark Hughes replaced Pulis, it came at the Emirates. Could you imagine a Pulis defence conceding to an Ozil header? Hell no, there would have been naked headbuts all over the show afterwards.
Theo Walcott earned himself a nice new coffee machine for netting his tenth before Santa slides down his chimney and Arsene’s little push on the 4th official seems to have gone completely unnoticed. I’m sure José jotted it down on his list of things to potentially blame later in the season, though.
As I said, highs and lows for Wenger in the last few days. “They’ll regret it if they don’t win their group,” the Champions League sages mused. Really? Arsenal could end up in the Europa League and still manage to draw Bayern Munich.
Add into the mix that Shkodran Mustafi has gone and injured himself and that unbeaten November really isn’t going to count for much as Arsenal’s back four reverts to the pre-September 2016 vintage. Less than ten minutes remained when they let Ashley Williams of all people score the winner at Goodison Park. Got to love Arsenal.
I don’t know much about the beautiful game as you can tell, but I do know that when you have managed to find yourself 4-0 down to a team that has barely bothered to turn up in the name of their title defence this season, you have not “defended well.” Pep, you are not getting away with that one my friend, no matter how well you managed to get Lionel Messi to play.
I’ve not rushed into assessing Claudio Bravo, unlike some. I’ve watched him closely and have decided today is the day I declare that he is complete bobbins. The guy has got more chance of saving Private Ryan than saving anything heading towards his goal. As for John Stones? I’d rather stick Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones at the back instead of him. They’d probably make better decisions.
Apparently, before the game, Riyad Mahrez had only managed to pass the ball successfully to Jamie Vardy five times in the league this season. The sixth successful pass was alright, wasn’t it? Vardy’s tomato ketchup bottle is now positively spewing out goals. Well, until last night, when he played against a team not determined to self destruct by trying to defend against him on the half way line. Yep, Bournemouth know how to do it.
Yaya Toure was charged with drink driving on Monday, despite claiming to be teetotal. He admitted his offence, but claimed not to have been drinking on purpose and that his drink was spiked. At some point soon Yaya is going to have to assess his PR team and maybe make a change.
When all others are losing their heads around them, and yes we will come on to Hull and Palace very soon, you can rely on Pulis and Mourinho to suck the life out of carefree entertaining football. Antonio Conte had to call upon Cesc to unpick the lock of West Brom’s back eight and he laid on the winner of Diego Costa.
The laughter that you can still hear from Conte since the final whistle is the news that Villas-Boas wants to give him £60m for Oscar. I know. China will emerge to be a footballing powerhouse with moves like that.
I feel like I am being brainwashed by José. I’m starting to believe that United have been unlucky, that they are playing well and that things are about to change for them. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first Premier League goal against Spurs and then got kicked off the pitch by Danny Rose. If United could score more of the many chances they are now creating then someone is going to get a proper hammering anytime now.
According to Phil Jones, Fellaini is coping very well with the booing from the fans. He simply pulls his hair down over his ears and ignores it all.
Spurs are falling apart now their draws are turning into defeats. No penalty, no goal for Spurs. To make things worse, they learned that they have to go through the trauma of playing the giants of Belgium, AA Gent, at Wembley in the New Year.
Hull and Palace was a very special treat. If I was in Pardew’s shoes and had just seen Wilfried Zaha score one of the goals of the season to give us the lead, I am fairly confident I wouldn’t take off my one decent defensive midfielder and brought on Cabaye to be the enforcer. Two minutes later, Hull had levelled and soon found themselves in the lead. Smug Al happily pointed to the fact he put Frazier Campbell on to get the equaliser late in the game.
A word on Zaha, if I may. This season he is full of tricks, skills and end product and is showing a real passion for his craft. Andros Townsend, however, was so bad that he got hooked after 45 minutes. Which one is in the England team and which one is about to give up and play for the Ivory Coast. Yeah, that.
Before the game against Swansea, David Moyes had said that he hoped the American Bob Bradley was given time to get used to the Premier League. I had presumed this was because Moysey reckoned it would be at least one team Sunderland could finish higher than this season. How wrong was I?
David Moyes pretty much personally guaranteed that Bradley will be in charge by January by delivering the worst Sunderland performance of their season and, believe me, there have been a few.
We end today pretty much ignoring the match between Liverpool and West Ham and focusing on the delightful exchanges post match. Before the game the Liverpool “keeper” Karius had called out Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville for their criticism of his performance against Bournemouth. What better chance would Karius have to shut them up than by putting in a confident, solid display against the Hammers. Oh well!
As Carragher said on Sky, he should probably “shut up and do his job.” Kloppo chose to target Gary Neville for his post match thoughts, suggesting that letting a failed manager like Neville talk about player on TV was a little bit wrong. Neville shot back brilliantly saying “I’m not a chef but I know a good steak!” The problem was, Gary, you tweeted it. And as Jurgen had clearly said, he’s not on Twitter.