It was a shameful weekend for both halves of Merseyside while Marcus Rashford steps into the Cristiano Ronaldo breach for Manchester United…
The last 30 minutes of this game were perhaps the most impressive from Arsenal. They created chances and scored a couple of goals in the first half without being at their absolute best, before soaking up pressure from their arch rivals away from home. They showed – dare we say it – what champions are made of.
Aaron Ramsdale made some excellent saves, but at no point did it feel as though Tottenham were going to get back into the game. The confidence pulsing through Arsenal is quite extraordinary and to maintain their form without Gabriel Jesus – arguably their best player before his injury – is testament to the work Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff are doing.
We’re past the point where their performances and results can be explained away by luck or form. They’ve passed nearly every test and, quite simply, look like the best football team in the Premier League.
At points last season – and this was the case for most United players, to be fair – it felt as though Rashford needed to escape. Old Trafford was poisonous and although such a talented footballer departing his boyhood club would have been a great shame, even the fans appeared willing to see the back of a forward who was worth more in potential transfer fees than contributions on the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo leaving was of course a blessing, but there was also a sense that United needed an ego to step into the breach. They thrive with a touch of arrogance up top and Rashford seems dead set on being the talisman and driving force behind what threatens to be an era of competing for the big gongs under Erik ten Hag.
Rashford’s 16th goal of the season was his ninth in consecutive home games, equaling a Manchester United record set by Dennis Viollet in 1959.
The 1-0 win over Fulham was Newcastle’s fifth Premier League clean sheet on the bounce and their 11th in total. They’ve conceded more than one goal just twice this season, in the 3-3 draw with Manchester City and the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, which was their only loss of the campaign.
Sven Botman’s proven to be a brilliant signing, but Fabian Schar – who’s unfairly been lumped in with some average centre-backs in previous seasons as the defensive collective had been so poor – has been outstanding. He’s a wonderfully gifted defender who can run with the ball, play defence-splitting passes and hits a mean free-kick, as he illustrated on Sunday with his strike hammering the base of the post.
Their defense means Newcastle usually only need one goal to win games of football, and Alexander Isak – who now has three goals in four Premier League games – returned at just the right the right time to prevent three goalless draws on the trot.
Well done everyone at this football club. They were a laughing stock during the summer as they bought two teams’ worth of players, seven of whom started the 2-0 win over Leicester. But despite spending £150m on those new additions they agreed to have a refugee charity as their shirt sponsor.
Most uplifting was their against-the-grain decision to offer a new contract to the manager who had overseen a run of four points from eight games to start the season. The tide turned the moment Steve Cooper was given that backing, with Forest picking up 16 points from 11 games since. They’re now five points clear of the relegation zone and are through to the Carabao Cup semi-final.
He must have thought Crystal Palace were going to equalise, as by his own admission “everything that can go wrong, is going wrong” for him and Chelsea. It wasn’t a great performance – Chelsea have played better and lost in the last couple of months – and they were up against a team as down in the dumps as they are, but they scored a goal, created a few more chances and had no further injury problems. Blessed relief.
He also saw a debut and clean sheet for Benoit Badiashile, who already looks like a marked improvement on Kalidou Koulibaly – who was brought on at the end to shore things up and did the opposite – and watched as hogtied winger Myhaylo Mudryk was released and told to smile through the tears as he waved to the fans of a club he’s been paid handsomely to pretend he wants to play for.
A bit-part player under Potter in his previous two seasons, Solly March is loving life under Roberto De Zerbi. He’s started every game under the Italian boss and has four goals and two assists in his last four Premier League appearances. His second goal against Liverpool was a thing of beauty as he raced through a hole in the defense and fired a shot across his body and in off the far post.
It’s a shame for Everton and Frank Lampard that both of Anthony Gordon’s brain cells were occupied as he bundled Che Adams over unnecessarily 25 yards from goal.
There’s no-one you would rather see over a free-kick in that position, possibly in Premier League history. And no disrespect to James Ward-Prowse, but given the number of outstandingly talented players to have graced the Premier League, it is quite odd that there’s no-one you would rather see than James Ward-Prowse. He’s now two shy of David Beckham’s Premier League record, and unless Southampton are relegated this season, which is looking less likely by the game under Nathan Jones, he’s going to breeze past him.
Only Yaya Toure (11/11) has a better 100% penalty record in the Premier League than Toney (nine from nine).
Frank Lampard was climbing into the stands at Goodison Park at the end of last season, celebrating with the Everton supporters, who were giddy at avoiding relegation and as sure as they had been for a while that they had a manager who shared their passion for the club and could lead them back to the mid-table mediocrity they sniffed at for so long but now crave. Things feel very different now.
The boos are inane but understandable, the death threats and physical assaults are not. And Everton’s shame continued after the game as a peaceful sit-in was rather overshadowed by Gordon being chased out of the stadium with fans shouting “f*cking d*ckhead” and “get out of our club”.
The Everton fans’ beef is with the owner and board, but the worst way for the fans to highlight their ineptitude is to allow the rest of us opportunity to feel sympathy for them. Shame on them? Yes Shame on you? Also yes. One of the worst days for Everton Football Club.
This wasn’t your typical ‘small club’ vs ‘big club’ victory; Brighton thrashed Liverpool in every way. De Zerbi’s side had 62% possession and 14 shots to Liverpool’s six. They won more duels and recovered the ball more frequently. It looked like a Champions League outfit was swatting aside a relegation candidate.
“It was a very organized team against a not very organized team,” Klopp said as he reflected on what he believes was his “worst” ever game in management. It’s a truly stunning demise for a team that was chasing the quadruple last season and apparently has very little money to spend on the mammoth rebuild that is evidently required. They need a whole new midfield and a centre-back at the very least. Cody Gakpo was not an “obvious” signing.
Chants of ‘Marsch out’ could be heard from the away end as supporters directed their anger at the head coach. It’s not the first time the fans have voiced frustration their this season but this was as vehement a call for Jesse Marsch’s head as there’s been thus far. And the American manager describing it as their “most complete performance” since he had been at the club is likely to further irk those fans, with Leeds admittedly pretty good going forward but pretty pathetic in defence.
Other than Alphonse Areola and Maxwell Cornet, who haven’t been and wouldn’t be in his first XI in any case, Moyes has a fully fit squad to choose from. Having finished sixth and seventh in their previous two seasons and spending £160m in the summer – comfortably their greatest ever outlay – West Ham are now in the relegation zone, level on points with Everton and Southampton below them, having claimed just one point in their last seven games. He’s on the brick.
Is it better to have a goalkeeper who’s the best and then the worst, or one who’s alright all of the time? Hugo Lloris had a bit of a stinker against Arsenal, pawing Bukayo Saka’s shot into his own net, before being beaten from distance by Martin Odegaard. He is currently in the midst of one of his patches of form which would make a layman balk at the thought of this guy being a World Cup-winning captain and beaten finalist.
Bournemouth have lost all four games since Gary O’Neil took permanent charge during the World Cup break, conceding nine and scoring zero.
One shot on target in two games. Stay tuned for the ‘better without Erling Haaland?’ discussions.
“Anyone that’s ever played the game”
It was offside.