‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ chants came Jose Mourinho’s way early on from the Newcastle fans at Old Trafford, but this was one of those times when that overused line of words had some justification. The morning before the game against the Toon, news had started circulating about the Portuguese manager’s impending dismissal, with UK’s Daily Mirror bringing out an ‘exclusive’, which, after supposed information from ‘top sources’, stated that Mourinho was getting the sack irrespective of what happened against Newcastle. Manchester United’s board were quick to dismiss such reports, but given how the two previous managers had been dismissed, many would be forgiven for thinking there was an element of truth about the rumour.

And things looked to be going even more south on the pitch on Saturday, less than 15 minutes had been played when United found themselves two goals down, strikes from Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto from Newcastle, courtesy of some atrocious defending, seemed to put Mourinho on the brink of a p45. That the goals were easily avoidable, as well as the overall play of United in the first, once again raised the issue of whether the players were playing for the manager. At fulltime it seemed like they were, a remarkable fight-back turning a nightmarish afternoon into the stuff that’s made United so reputable and historically formidable.

Not that the manager was prioritising the players playing for him over winning for the club. ‘If the players play just for the manager, they are not good professionals because, one day, they like the manager and they play for them, and the next day comes a manager they don’t like and they don’t play for him…’ said Mourinho post-match. ‘So I think it’s ridiculous talk’.

From Mourinho’s demeanour on the pitch, it seemed like he knew a lot- if not everything- was on the line. His usual sulk of resignation when United concede bad goals lately wasn’t there, instead there was yelling, bellowing, gestures of obvious displeasure, and the tactical move of taking off Eric Bailly after 20 minutes and bringing in Juan Mata.

That was one of the changes that showed United were out to risk it all on the day, as well as the removal of Scott McTominay for Marouane Fellaini before the second half began, which meant Paul Pogba played as something of a false centre-back. ‘Of course we had some tactical touches, of course we risked a lot, of course we went in different directions’ said Mourinho, while forward Romelu Lukaku also echoed his manager’s point risking it all. ‘We thought let’s just go for it, give everything we have got’.

And it did look like United were going hammer and thongs for it, especially in the final 20 minutes, wave after wave of attack, roared on by the Old Trafford faithful, before Juan Mata and Anthony Martial dragged them level with two goals in six minutes. ‘I think, at halftime, we had a good conversation’ said Mourinho. ‘We didn’t promise each other that we are going to win the match, because we couldn’t promise that. We promised each other that we were absolutely going to give everything without any fear...’ I think the boys they deserve (the win), but even if the game ends with 2-2, even if we don’t score the last goal, the feeling would be a positive feeling…’

But they would score that last goal, an Ashley Young cross was met by the head of Alexis Sanchez, who hasn’t had the best time since swapping Arsenal for United in January. The Chilean started this game on the bench after his poor run of form, and his goal was only his fourth for the goal, but it says something that it was one of the players who has quite underperformed lately that would complete their turnaround on Saturday.

So, the question: Is this a turning point for Mourinho and United or a stay of execution? United’s kitchen-sink final 20 minutes, as pleasing and rewarding as it turned out, left holes that other sides would have capitalised on, just as other teams would have taken even more advantage of that dire first half. They travel to Chelsea next, after the international break, and whether sets the tone for their season to get back on track under Mourinho, or is just a mighty gesture of defeating defiance, remains to be seen. But at least there’s defiance in them. For once in a long time, they simply left it all on the pitch.

Cherries keep going

‘It was an incisive, efficient performance and we dealt with the physical contest really well’, said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe after his side’s 4-0 at Watford. The comfortable victory, after which Howe said his side could still play better, puts the Cherries in sixth-place, and in the top four in terms of league goals, only Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea have found the net more often this season. The side from Dorset have 16 points after eight games this term, it took them 17 matches to reach that much in the last campaign.

Goalless at Anfield (!!)

Well congratulations and nice going to us all, our salivation over the Liverpool v Manchester City game jinxed it, as it produced only goalless game of the weekend. There was no shot on target until the 56th minute, just one overall in the first half, and there was even a penalty miss from City’s Riyad Mahrez. Absurd!

Elsewhere

  • Nine wins in a row for Arsenal, up into fourth place, braces from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and a cheeky finish from Aaron Ramsey to boot. Only Man City has scored more league goals than Unai Emery’s side so far. It’s all coming together nicely for the Gunners.
  • So it’s a trio of twenty at the top, with City, Chelsea and Liverpool all locked on 20 points. Before Liverpool and City contrived to play a goalless stalemate, Chelsea made light work of Southampton at St. Mary’s, Eden Hazard getting on the score-sheet, as is customary, while Ross Barkley got his first for the club.
  • For Southampton, they could look back at a glaring three-yard miss from Danny Ings with the score still goalless, as their woeful run of form continued, despite the positives on show. They’ve now lost their last 31 games against top-half opposition, and since December, haven’t won as many games on their own turf as Leicester City. Yes, really.
  • It looks to be coming together for Marco Silva and Everton as well, who grabbed a second successive win, away at Leicester, thanks to a gorgeous piece of finishing from Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has three goals in two games, and looks to be hitting form for the Toffees. Leicester, for the second time in four league games, had Wes Morgan sent off.
  • Two goals in three games for Huddersfield. Don’t make it a familiar feeling, lads!
  • Crystal Palace didn’t win at home. But you knew that already.

Results

Fulham 1-5 Arsenal

Brighton 1-0 West Ham

Burnley 1-1 Huddersfield

Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle

Leicester 1-2 Everton

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

Crystal Palace 0-1 Wolves

Southampton 0-3 Chelsea

Watford 0-4 Bournemouth

Tottenham 1-0 Cardiff

 

Published in International Watch

It seemed too good to be true. After the pre-season build up to Jose Mourinho’s third season at Old Trafford, then the two defeats in the opening three games, three away wins in a row to repress the growing sense of discord was supposed to be perceived as a false dawn. This was Jose Mourinho’s third season at the same club after all; the house of cards are supposed to fall, the ticking time-bomb expected to go off anytime soon, and successive victories at Burnley, Watford, and Swiss side Young Boys are just gestures of defeating defiance.

So, three successive games without a win since that victory in the Champions League seem more like it, first a draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, then a penalty shootout defeat to Derby County in the League Cup, all mixed with off-field chaos. First Paul Pogba pointed out that United need to attack more, after the draw with Wolves, then Mourinho announced that the Frenchman would never captain the side again, and, after the League Cup exit at the hands of Championship side Derby, footage appeared of a supposed hubbub between the player and manager.

And the week was capped off with a hapless defeat at West Ham on Saturday. There was general bafflement at Mourinho’s system at the London Stadium, the decision to play Scott McTominay in a back three, the apparent game plan of trying to sit back and exercise caution away at a West Ham side, who had beaten United once in the last 21 meetings, and had one won of their last 12 home league games before this encounter.

United look second-best from the get-go, and only five minutes had gone when Felipe Anderson scored for West Ham. ‘We were a team that comes with that mental fragility of a bad result (that Derby match)’ said Mourinho. ‘Coming here and after five minutes we were losing 1-0, which is not the best way to start’. Mourinho also pointed out, and rightly so, that Pablo Zabaleta was offside in the build-up to Anderson’s opener, but the linesman was given cause for hesitation after McTominay failed to keep in line with the rest of the defence, highlighting his exoticism in that position.

The Red Devils did grow into the game, putting West Ham on the back foot, Romelu Lukaku hitting the outside of the post with a header, yet when the next goal came, it was into the back of David de Gea’s net once more, Andriy Yarmolenko’s shot ricocheting in off Victor Lindelof. Mourinho noted the lack of aggression at West Ham’s second goal, and to be fair, the aggression was lacking all-game, the Portuguese manager citing flaws in United’s ‘mental approach in certain duels’. Even in United’s best spells, they could barely fashion out anything, despite the fact that Marcus Rashford halved the deficit before Marko Arnautovic put them out of the picture. 

So, who’s to blame? Who’s been to blame all season? The players, for looking so off the pace, and performing nowhere near their best? The manager, for constantly talking down the club’s chances all-season? The vice-chairman, for keeping hold of players Mourinho seemed to be happy to let go, and for not backing him enough in the summer window?

Either way, a split for Mourinho and United looks inevitable, like the players are waiting for it, the manager is waiting for it, the media are waiting for it, and it’s almost a matter of ‘how soon’. To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson as Augustus Gibbons: checkmate in three, Jose. You should see it coming.

Elsewhere:

  • Not that United’s current state of tartness should take the shine off what has been a positive couple of weeks for West Ham. Seven points from three league games for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, after none in the previous four. The Hammers have finally got going.
  • Stat attack: Manchester United conceded their 12th league goal of the season at West Ham. It took them until December 17th to concede that much last season.
  • It seemed like there would be no breakthrough for Liverpool, who fell behind at Chelsea to the in-form Eden Hazard, as they headed for a second defeat to Chelsea in four days. On Wednesday, in the League Cup, it was a moment of brilliance from Hazard that decided the game in Chelsea’s favour. This time, it was Daniel Sturridge who produced a bit of magic late on, to drag the Reds level. Jurgen Klopp’s side no longer has a 100% league record, but they showed another form of persistence and quality to fashion out a point at the Bridge.
  • Two minutes. Two goals. Just like it was for them at home to Everton, Arsenal delivered quickfire strikes to see off Watford. Alexandre Lacazette was lively again, despite not scoring, but questions remain on how the Frenchman’s form and presence lessens the influence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunners were still far from convincing in an end-to-end game, but most importantly, have garnered five league wins in a row.
  • There were boos at the end at St. James Park, after Newcastle lost at home once again, their fourth league loss on their backyard in four games this season, at the hands of Leicester. A trip to Manchester United up next means things are unlikely to get better soon.
  • That looked more like it for Everton at Goodison Park, who scored three without conceding against Fulham, a double from Gylfi Sigurdsson, who initially missed a penalty, for only a second league win of the season for Marco Silva’s side.
  • Harry Kane looked quite sharp at Brighton a week ago, and he certainly looked just as strident at Huddersfield this weekend, as his double led to Spurs’ second league win in a row at the John Smith’s Stadium. Huddersfield remain just as hapless as they are winless.
  • And Southampton lost without scoring. Would you believe it?

Results

West Ham 3-1 Manchester United

Manchester City 2-0 Brighton

Huddersfield 0-2 Tottenham

Wolves 2-0 Southampton

Newcastle 0-2 Leicester

Arsenal 2-0 Watford

Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

Cardiff 1-2 Burnley

Everton 3-0 Fulham

Monday Night Football: Bournemouth v Crystal Palace

 

 

Published in International Watch

 

There’s hardly any shame in losing to this Liverpool side. A 3-0 defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s ever-threatening team at the ever-raucous Anfield is no cause to panic or be too glum. Especially when you are a mid-table side.

 

But for Southampton, this wasn’t just about the scoreline, more like the performance. Lacklustre, leisurely, listless. Southampton looked almost decidedly second-best, like they could have played this game without opponents and yet still have lost. ‘If you come to this place with the individual talent they have in abundance, if that dictates they are better on the day than you then you have to hold our hands up, but I didn’t think in that first half they were markedly better’, said Saints boss Mark Hughes afterwards.

 

And not only did Sparky have a point that Liverpool weren’t distinctly better, the Welshman should also be worried that their hosts didn’t have to be. Liverpool could have played with a mentality of ‘let’s just turn up and turn them over’ and they would hardly be wrong. It was basically the way the first goal: only 10 minutes had gone when Xherdan Shaqiri’s shot ricocheted its way to Wesley Hoedt, who had enough time to get the ball out of danger, yet opted to put his thigh at it, resulting in a preventable own goal.

 

From Hughes’ setup, the Saints game plan was to sit out and play it safe for as long as possible, yet that hardly lasted. ‘When you come to places like this you’ve got to remain in the game and be resolute’, said Hughes. But if Southampton were still in the game after conceding the first goal, they certainly weren’t after conceding a second, in also preventable circumstances. Considering the Saints’ game plan before kick-off, surely the last way for them to concede was via a set-piece, particularly a side with players like Hoedt, Jannik Vestergaard and Oriol Romeu in the team, yet Joel Matip had virtually a free header to double Liverpool’s advantage.

 

Two-nil down after 20 minutes is always a sign of a horror start, yet can also mean there’s enough time to mount a comeback. Against a side like Liverpool, the immediate concern is not getting blown out of sight rather than getting back in it, yet Southampton hardly did either. Every attack they embarked on was ill-fated from its get-go, every foray forward lacked any conviction, like it was a passage of time until Liverpool got their third, which came via Mohammed Salah in first half stoppage time. ‘We just made mistakes that allowed them to get a head of steam and three goals to the good unfortunately’, added Hughes. ‘It’s a shame. Maybe before the game no one expected us to win, but I just felt in the first half we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to stay in the game’.

 

It’s taken two seasons, and Southampton have gone from the side that everyone admired, that always persevered and conquered despite the odds and loss of key men, to a side who almost seem comfortable not trying, a side who seem like they are in the knowledge that there are at least three other clubs worse than them, at least three clubs who’ll certainly end up in lower positions than them come May. The energy, the desire to upset, the tendency to look greater than the sum of their parts, all those traits look to be gone. Of course, there’s only so much you can do if you constantly lose key players, this isn’t just about the quality of the players, but as much about their attitude.

 

Skipper Ryan Bertrand said, after the loss, that it’s been a positive start; six defeats and one win in six games, with nine goals conceded. Are the Saints comfortable with their new standard or is Bertrand just trying to spur morale in the dressing room? Admittedly this was against Liverpool, against whom even champions Manchester City have looked second-best, and it probably might have been different had the league’s loan rules not prevented Danny Ings from playing against parent side, but, as Charlie Austin’s isolation asked, where would the supply have come from if he had played?

 

The days of the Saints punching above their weight look well behind them, now it’s as if they can barely punch. If last season taught them anything, it’s that complacency and feeling entitled in this league is a recipe for disaster. However far north you’ve once gone, things have the ability to go south real fast in the big time.

 

Elsewhere:

 

  • A first league win for Burnley, four goals scored, three from two of their front men, and none conceded at home to Bournemouth. Perhaps the secret to Sean Dyche’s side getting back on track was simply playing on a Saturday.
  • Five for Manchester City in South Wales, yet the scoreline hardly flattered them. Riyad Mahrez’s first goals for the club, as well as a goal for Sergio Aguero on his 300th appearance for the club, to put the Lyon debacle behind them. Neil Warnock had cautioned no mistakes after the Bluebirds lost at Chelsea last time out, so he won’t be too ecstatic about watching Bruno Ecuele Manga practically gift Mahrez the fifth goal.
  • A first competitive clean sheet for Arsenal under Unai Emery, four league wins on the bounce, and a climb into the top six. There were still more than a few signs of vulnerability from the Gunners at home to Everton, and there’s still much room for improvement, but the fact that they are on this run despite being at full-pelt is definitely encouraging.
  • Perhaps there was no game with the most apt scoreline this weekend than Crystal Palace and Newcastle playing out a goalless draw at Selhurst Park, thanks in no small part to Mahmadou Sakho. Newcastle’s winless start to the season continues. Even without Christian Benteke, the Eagles are still doing their best not to score.

 

Results

 

Manchester United 1-1 Wolves

 

Leicester 3-1 Huddersfield

 

Cardiff 0-5 Manchester City

 

Brighton 1-2 Tottenham

 

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

 

West Ham 0-0 Chelsea

 

Crystal Palace 0-0 Newcastle

 

Arsenal 2-0 Everton

 

Fulham 1-1 Watford

 

Burnley 4-0 Bournemouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in International Watch

Sound the alarms. Read them the last rites. Prepare the caskets. Tottenham have lost two league games on the bounce. There’ll always be the inevitable inquest whenever Spurs suffer defeat, and sometimes it can be borderline ludicrous, but following a ‘home’ loss to Liverpool, whatever scrutiny they have- and will come under- is more than justified. Spurs were listless, hapless and lucky to only lose by the odd goal in three.

‘Everyone who watched could see it was a difficult game’, said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. ‘Liverpool are a great team. We made a lot of mistakes and were punished, and it’s difficult when you concede those chances’. Pochettino, whether inadvertently, pointed out one of Spurs’ problems this season, making mistakes. Perhaps because of the number of the players the North Londoners had in the latter stages of the FIFA World Cup, but Spurs have looked a tad off the pace so far this term, not least in the games they won- even in that 3-0 victory at Old Trafford, they looked second-best for much of the first half.

And they were far from good enough in the opening exchanges in this game at Wembley, only the offside flag and a handful of save by goalkeeper Michel Vorm kept them on terms. But when the goal came, close to halftime, Vorm played a culpable part in it, fumbling a corner, which eventually led to Georginio Wijnaldum heading the visitors in front. Spurs may have started the game on the back foot, but this goal concession happened when they were hauling themselves back into it, and that looks like another unenviable trait with the Lilywhites: an ability to concede a goal out of next-to-nothing. That tendency to concede when they look to be gaining a foothold on proceedings is starting to look constant, a situation that cost them last season in the UEFA Champions League against Juventus, at Manchester United and Arsenal in the league, cost them at Watford before the international break a fortnight ago, and very nearly did for them against Fulham in the second weekend of the season.

But that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Spurs were very much second best here, and in-between Roberto Firmino putting Liverpool two up, Vorm had saved from Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah (again) and Naby Keita. Liverpool looked a cut above without really having to be at their maximum, proof that Jurgen Klopp’s side might be clicking into an all-round, cohesive gear, and also evidence Spurs being really poor.

So, the question, are Spurs going through a blip, or does it seem like they have peaked and are falling back down? ‘It’s so important to keep calm and to assess the team in the right way’, noted Pochettino afterwards. ‘I’ve not changed my vision of the team from the beginning when we beat Newcastle. My thoughts are the same, we still need to improve, the circumstances are different this season and our responsibility as a coaching staff is to not talk about the perception, but to talk about the reality’.

Pochettino pointed out that there’s always room for improvement whatever results they get, echoing his words after the win at Old Trafford, but the reality is, with Spurs, it’s almost always a case of extremes. A win and it’s another sign of improvement from a continuously emerging team who opted for cohesion by not making any signings in the summer; a defeat it’s another proof of the lack of nous from a side who haven’t won any trophy yet, who ignored the glaring need for depth by not making a single signing in the summer.

Spurs need not panic within themselves, this might just be a case of key players suffering burnout after their World Cup, and had Son Heung-Min been rightfully given a penalty, they may well have gotten a point, and the storyline may well have been of them learning to get something from games without being at their best.

But in this league, and sport, of increasing extremism, where every good thing is the best and every blip is a crisis, Spurs should know how quickly they can get labelled ‘yesterday’s prospects’ and ‘today’s nearly-men’.

Elsewhere:

  • Spurs’ problems, and Liverpool winning their first five league games for the first time in almost three decades; all smokescreens to distract us from the most important event of the weekend: it’s taken four seasons, but Wijnaldum finally has a Premier League away goal!
  • Newcastle looked to have Arsenal on the ropes at St. James Park, despite the scoreline being goalless, were hardly troubled at the back, and looked like they could get a goal themselves. Perhaps they were shocked by Granit Xhaka rifling home a free-kick for the visitors, but after they fell behind, they seemed apathetic, and eventually succumbed to another meek defeat against a top-six side. For the first time in 31 years, the Toon have lost their first three home league games.
  • A Chelsea hatrick against Cardiff for Eden Hazard, who looks to be enjoying life under Maurizio Sarri. His manager has suggested he (Hazard, not the manager himself) can bag up to 40 goals if he gets to being ’25 metres’ from goal, not his usual ’60 metres’. More importantly, the Blues have five wins from five, and have not fully acclimatised to Sarri’s smoking brand- sorry- of football.
  • Wolves have two league wins in a row, and two clean sheets in a row. Their latest victory, at home to Burnley, saw them have 30 shots on target. Yes, thirty!
  • Leroy Sane needed less than two minutes to make his mark, the man who’s come under some criticism and has hardly appeared this season, got on the score-sheet in his first start for Manchester City this season, as the champions ran out 3-0 winners over Fulham.
  • It was the perfect birthday gift for Manuel Pellegrini, as his West Ham side finally got their first points of the season, an Andriy Yarmolenko double giving the Hammers a much-needed and much-deserved win over Everton at Goodison, a ground where the Chilean manager has never lost in the Premier League.
  • Wilfried Zaha returns for Crystal Palace, and scores the only goal as the Eagles win at Huddersfield. Unbelievable.

Results

Wolves 1-0 Burnley

Manchester City 3-0 Fulham

Bournemouth 4-2 Leicester

Watford 1-2 Manchester United

Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff

Everton 1-3 West Ham

Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool

Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal

Huddersfield 0-1 Crystal Palace

Monday Night Football: Southampton v Brighton

Published in International Watch

‘Result-wise it could not have been better. Performance-wise, we know we can improve and we really know that we could have already done better’. Jurgen Klopp’s words on his Liverpool side’s performance could have barely been more apt, after the Reds laboured to another league victory, this time against Leicester. That was a fourth win in a row, a third in which the display was arduous, but it keeps them top of the standings.

‘In the beginning we played fantastic football, then we fought for the three points, that’s how it should be’, added the German manager. ‘And that’s why we won the game’. The ability to fight for the points is what the Merseyside club have been accused, with justification, of lacking- the football is always easy on the eye, but when push turns to shove, they crumble. Not so far this season. They may have begun with a demolition of West Ham at Anfield, but they followed that up with a hard-fought win at Crystal Palace, which wasn’t sealed until the final seconds. Then came victory over Brighton at Anfield, another difficult showing which required a late save from goalkeeper Alisson Becker to preserve the three points.

And now this, a 2-1 win against the Foxes that probably wouldn’t have ended that way in previous seasons. As Klopp said, they began with a dominant front-foot display, only 10 minutes had gone when Sadio Mane put them in front, the Senegalese forward’s fourth goal in as many league games, and for much of the first half-hour, they had a foothold on proceedings at the King Power stadium. Leicester grew into the game, but when Roberto Firmino headed in a second just before halftime, victory looked a given.

Then came the moment that gifted the hosts a route back in the game. With less than 20 minutes to go, Virgil van Dijk played a back-pass towards Alisson, whose status as a goalkeeper with a tendency for flamboyance is growing, having performed a neat chip over Brighton’s Glenn Murray the weekend before. On this occasion, it wasn’t so glamorous, his attempted Cruyff turn went wrong, and he was robbed of possession by Leicester substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, who fed Rachid Ghezzal for his first goal for the Foxes, and they were back in the game. ‘I’m not going to be stupid and make the same mistake’, said the Brazilian. Alisson’s moment of blunder seemed inevitable, especially in his early days at Liverpool, where he’s expected to play the role of a goalie as an extra outfield man. ‘It was clear that it could happen one day that we concede a goal because of that’, said Klopp. ‘It needed to happen so it will not happen again. I think today was the day’.

That goal brought Leicester back in the game, but there would be restoration of parity for the hosts, as Liverpool held on once more for another strenuous win. The performance after the break was hardly one to set the pulses racing, but unlike previous seasons, there was no concession of an equaliser, no set-piece that caused panic in their box, no defensive individual that had hearts in mouths. ‘These moments are very important’, said Van Dijk. ‘You need to get the win over the line.’

Liverpool’s attack will surely start to dominate their headlines sooner rather than later. Right now, though, nicking it through hard-work will do nicely.

Brave Bluebirds Beaten at home

For the most part of the first 20 minutes, it looked like Arsenal would run away with things in South Wales. They had taken a deserved lead through Shkodran Mustafi, and bossed the game, while Cardiff looked like anything but a Neil Warnock, no compactness or solidity at the back, and at the other end Harry Arter had blown a chance even before conceding. But the hosts would grow into the game, and on the cusp of halftime, Victor Camarasa ensured they would be the final of the 92 teams in the Premier League and Football League to score a league goal this season. Arsenal retook the lead in the second period through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Warnock’s side responded again, through Danny Ward. The Gunners would end up with the points, though, Alexandre Lacazette getting the winner inside the final 10 minutes. The Bluebirds are still winless in the league so far, but this was a definite cause for optimism.

Elsewhere

  • Southampton finally got off the mark for the season, bagging their first win of the season at Crystal Palace. A huge relief for Mark Hughes at Selhurst Park, where the Eagles showed they are still toothless without Wilfried Zaha, and Christian Benteke still can’t score.
  • Another game for Newcastle at the Etihad. Another defeat for the Magpies. Another game against a top-six side. Another defensive-minded defeat. Next!
  • Respite for Manchester United, who got their second win of the season at Burnley- a dominant win too-, despite a penalty miss by Paul Pogba and a red card by Marcus Rashford. Respect.
  • Four wins out of four for Liverpool, Chelsea and… Watford!!! The Hornets showed their mettle by coming from behind to grab victory at home to Spurs, whose manager Mauricio Pochettino had warned that the Londoners would crash if they rode on the back of their win at Old Trafford. A poor performance from the visitors resulted in a deserved defeat. Watford have begun with four successive wins, for the first time since 1987.
  • Four league losses in a row for Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham, who tasted defeat at home to Wolves late on. In Frank de Boer terms, that’s grounds for sacking; the fact that, after the international break, they play three of last term’s top-six in their next four games means it may get significantly worse before getting better.

Results

Leicester 1-2 Liverpool

Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton

Watford 2-1 Tottenham

Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth

Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal

Burnley 0-2 Manchester United

Manchester City 2-1 Newcastle

West Ham 0-1 Wolves

Brighton 2-2 Fulham

Everton 1-1 Huddersfield

Published in International Watch

When Bournemouth snatched a late equaliser against Everton via Junior Stanislas in November 2015, perhaps we should have foreseen that as setting the tone for how much their never-say-die attitude would be on show in their Premier League stay so far. The Cherries had just conceded a stoppage time goal to Ross Barkley, and defeat, to continue a torrid run of form, seemed on the cards. But Stanislas would get a leveller just moments after to salvage a point. Less than three three years after, Bournemouth's remarkable powers of recovery have quite stood them out from other sides of similar stature, and the latest of their comeback displays was a 2-2 draw with Everton this weekend.

'We're delighted to achieve another comeback.' said manager Eddie Howe afterwards, who watched his side just about edge the first half against the Toffees, a half which they ended with a numerical advantage, after Everton's Richarlison got sent off. The numbers would be evened out in the second period, Adam Smith receiving his marching orders for the Cherries following a professional foul on Theo Walcott.

By then Walcott had put the visitors in front, and Michael Keane would add their second soon after. The game looked gone for Bournemouth, but with the side for Dorset, it never is. A penalty from Josh King, and a goal from Nathan Ake, meant the spoils. 'Once we got the goal to make the score 2-1 the momentum changed in the game', said Howe. Bournemouth rescued 21 points from losing positions last term, and with the inclusion of this game, have gotten five from the same positions of deficiency this season. So, what is behind their herculean powers of recovery?

'How we do it is a combination of several things, including the players showing mental strength', the manager added.

But just as important as their ability to come from behind is the fact that they've made a bright start to the season. They've obtained seven points from their opening three games, very different from their previous tallies of nil, one and three after the same number of matches in the past Premier League campaigns. 'I'm pleased with how we've started the season', said Howe. 'We remember how we felt this time last year when we gave ourselves a mountain to climb. This year it is slightly different but we know how difficult every game is in this league'.

The keenness to point out how tough this league can be surely lies in relation with Howe also quick to hint that they won't keep getting away with falling behind, despite their bouncebackability. 'I'm very pleased with the ability to come from behind as it always gives you a chance in a game, but it frustrates us that we allow it happen in the first place. There's plenty to learn from it'.

There's a lot for Bournemouth to learn in terms of not going behind. When it comes to coming from behind, the Cherries surely have a lot to teach.

Wolves Roar against Champions

It seems ludicrous that Wolves are yet to win a game in the league this season, giving how bright their displays have been. The latest to find out how tough a challenge the Championship champions can be were the Premier League champions. Manchester City were uncomfortable, harangued, and harried at the Molineux on Saturday, and could only leave with a point. Admittedly it could have been very different, Sergio Aguero hit the woodwork twice, one of which was in stoppage time, Raheem Sterling was denied by an absolutely superb save from Rui Patricio, while Willy Boly's goal for Wolves could easily have been disallowed for offside and/or handball, but a few different decisions at the other end, and the hosts could have gotten all the points as well. Afterwards Wolves boss Nuno Esprito Santo said the side don't have to prove themselves to anyone, yet they are.

Elsewhere

  • The Bournemouth-Everton game saw about 10 minutes of stoppage time played, due to the injury to Michael Keane after a nasty head collision. It looks better than first feared, though, with Keane supposedly out for only a month with a hairline fracture.
  • As the cameras moved around the Cardiff and Huddersfield players after full-time at the John Smith's stadium, it was clear to see why both have been touted by many to face the drop this season. A tame goalless draw in Yorkshire means both sides means both sides have three points and one goal between them so far.
  • Arsenal got up and running for the season, coming from behind to beat West Ham at the Emirates. There's still a lot of improvements for the Gunners to make, but they'll take unconvincing wins for now.
  • Speaking of unconvincing wins, it was a second of those in as many games for Liverpool, who battled past Brighton at Anfield. The Reds were coming off the back of a hard-fought 2-0 win at Brighton's rivals Crystal Palace last Monday, and at home to the Seagulls, needed an Alisson Becker as much as a Mohammed Salah goal to bag all three points. Another gritty victory, but Jurgen Klopp's men are top after threer games.
  • Watford can't help themselves at the moment, another win, this time against Crystal Palace, means the Hornets have a 100% record so far. Dare we say stability looks to be forming under Javi Gracia?
  • Chelsea are also with an impeccable record so far, as the Blues made it three wins out of three following their first victory at Newcastle since 2011. In a game where the Blues racked up over 80% of possession, and midfielder Jorginho completed more passes than the entirety of the home team, the win was anything but convincing, or straightforward.
  • And in a weekend of players deciding against thinking, Everton's Richarlison got sent off for headbutting Bournemouth's Adam Smith, Jonathan Hogg did similar and received similar for Huddersfield against Cardiff, while Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg went out on his own, choosing to get red carded for simulation instead. Good job all around, lads.

Results

Wolves 1-1 Manchester City

Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea

Liverpool 1-0 Brighton

Fulham 4-2 Burnley

Bournemouth 2-2 Everton

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham

Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace

Southampton 1-2 Leicester

Huddersfield 0-0 Cardiff

Monday Night Football: Manchester United v Tottenham

Published in International Watch

First, a sense of level-headedness: Not scoring in August has ultimately always meant very little to Harry Kane’s season as far its entirety is concerned; goal tallies of 21, 26, 29 and 30 in the past four campaigns are practically redundant proof of that. The Englishman had registered 108 Premier League goals, none of which had come in the eighth month of the year, the first of the new season.

Until this weekend, that is. And when Kane was played in by Erik Lamela, cut back inside and placed a finish past Fulham goalkeeper Fabricio and into the top corner, the look on his face bore semblance to relief. That, and the fact that Kane talked post-match about getting that stat over with and moving on was perhaps proof that it was starting to get to him. His stumble when through on goal in the first, which led to Mauricio Pochettino’s fury in an appeal for a penalty and resulted in a Stage One yellow card for the gaffer, was probably proof of that. Perhaps he’s starting to try too hard, trying to put that stat to bed, but with 13 minutes to go, he succeeded.

Not that it should take the shine off what was a thoroughly enjoyable game at Wembley, or the fact that for the first time in four seasons, Spurs have won their opening two league games, the latter of which Kane was keen to point out afterwards, citing its importance: after all, their past three seasons have been ultimately affected by the fact that they started sloppily. There was no such sloppiness at the start on Saturday against Fulham, only 76 seconds had gone and Spurs had pressured the visitors into giving the ball away in their defensive third three times. Openings were being created, but that final piece in the puzzle was always lacking, Lucas Moura spurned two good opportunities, while Christian Eriksen flashed a shot wide.

Fulham were back at the scene of the triumph that took them to the top-flight some three months ago, and as this game grew, so did they. The Cottagers started making forays, Ryan Sessegnon and Aboubakar Kamara were threatening on the wings, while skipper Tom Cairney tested Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal. But on the stroke of halftime, the breakthrough would come, Moura with a delightful curling effort with his weaker foot, which went in via the post, and the hosts went into the break ahead.

Only seven minutes into the second period, though, and parity would be restored. Aleksandar Mitrovic has an eventful history against Spurs before this game, two goals and one red card in two games against them with Newcastle, and now in Fulham colours, he was their scourge again, as after Sessegnon miscued a brilliant Joe Bryan cross into his path, the Serbian headed from less than five yards. Signed from Newcastle after a successful loan spell last season, Mitrovic had hit the base of the post moments before his goal, and moments after it, really should have put Fulham in front, but scuffed his shot after being played in by Kamara.

Then Pochettino rang the changes, and Spurs upped the ante. Kane hit the bar from close range, from Kieran Trippier’s cross, as it looked like his August hex would continue. But it wouldn’t; moments after seeing Trippier put Spurs back in front with a superb free-kick, Kane would get his foot.

Stepping inside Calum Chambers, and beating Fabricio, England’s captain wheeled away in celebration. Inconsequential as it may have seemed, he’s finally kick-started his goal-scoring engine early. More importantly, Spurs haven’t taken their foot off the gas.

Chaos at the Bridge

It was the definition of bedlam at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, when Chelsea and Arsenal met in West London. It was dubbed as a game between two sides still adapting to their managers’ systems, so a lot of defensive lapses were expected. And, boy, was it quite a feast of defensive munificence. For Chelsea’s opening goal, Marcos Alonso had the freedom of the capital, before setting up Pedro, same went for their second, by Alvaro Morata, Arsenal opting to play a line so high there was no outfield player in their own half when Cesar Azpilicueta played his pass towards Morata.

But anything generous the Gunners could do, the Blues could match in their own magnanimity. First, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left in a lot of room just outside Chelsea’s six-yard box, just before Morata’s goal, a chance the striker inexplicably skied. Then- after Henrikh Mkhitaryan did his best Aubameyang impression, and then made amends with a goal later on to halve the deficit- Alex Iwobi was the next Arsenal man to find himself in acres of space, and it was from that opening the Nigerian who dragged Arsenal level before the break.

No such flurry of goals in the second period, the game was settled late on by Alonso’s simple finish, as Chelsea bagged a second win in two league games, while Arsenal have begun the season with two straight losses. 3-2 it finished at the Bridge; it could have easily been six-all.

Elsewhere

  • There were few eyes watching Manchester City as they hosted Huddersfield Town, their first game since Kevin de Bruyne got ruled out for three months, against a side they failed to score against at home just three months ago. So, naturally, the champions put six past the Terriers, with Sergio Aguero registering a hatrick. There will be sterner tests than this for City, but this was a signal of what they could do even without their best player around.
  • Two wins in two for Watford, whose opponents Burnley may well be starting to feel the exertions that come with European commitments. Or at least that’s a ready-made excuse for one goal and one point in their opening two games.
  • So, Brighton did a number on Manchester United again, with the Red Devils putting in a hapless performance. One for the Grumpy Jose chronicles.
  • No single pass completed in the second half, a yellow card and penalty miss in stoppage time. It’s not a good weekend to be Kenedy.
  • It’s a rosy start for Richarlison at Everton so far, as the man who supposedly ruined the transfer window this summer scored another in the Toffees’ win over Southampton, his third goal in two games.

Results.

Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield

Tottenham 3-1 Fulham

West Ham 1-2 Bournemouth

Leicester 2-0 Wolves

Burnley 1-3 Watford

Brighton 3-2 Manchester United

Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal

Cardiff 0-0 Newcastle

Everton 2-1 Southampton

Monday Night Football: Crystal Palace v Liverpool

 

Published in International Watch

 

The theatrics and pyrotechnics were on show at the Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers were back in the Premier League for the first time in some six years; the last time they were here, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were still very much part of the top-flight furniture, Kylian Mbappe was 13 years old, Blackberry phones were on the in, Huddersfield were in the third tier, while things like Goal-line Technology and Video Assistant Referees were yet-to-be implemented theories. That’s how long it’s been.

Absence has made the heart grow fonder, and, add to that the fact that the Midlands-club have added well in the summer transfer window, and fancy themselves capable of more than mere survival, you could not just excuse the overwhelming sense of anticipation, but rather encourage it as well. The stadium was in full voice, as Everton came to town.

‘The fans must enjoy it’, said manager Nuno Esprito Santo, and the fans did, the boisterous atmosphere at the ground was palpable , as Wolves stepped out to begin a season in which they were the only side from the West Midlands in the top-flight. The kick-off came with roaring cheers, as did every Wolves kick of the ball early on.

But Premier League is never roses and rainbows, it took only 17 minutes for Wolves to be reminded of what they left behind back in 2012. The ruthless cruelty that is the top-flight, any lapse likely to be punished, such as failing to deal with a free-kick in your 18-yard box, what the hosts were guilty of in the 17th minute. When Gylfi Sigurdsson swung in a cross, Wolves’ defence hesitated in the area, their clearance uncertain, and Richarlison nipped in to put Everton in front.

Everton also have expectations of their own, looking to put things right after last season’s debacle. They also have a Portuguese manager, long sought-after Marco Silva finally appointed in the summer, and it was the manager’s new signings in Richarlison, a man who had raised eyebrows for being acquired for 40million pounds, who was off celebrating giving Everton the lead.

There it was, the size of the task that Wolves had to rise up to in this division; they’d talked the talk, now to walk it. But they did find a response, even if a helping hand came their way at first. Everton skipper Phil Jagielka took a heavy touch, then took his studs through Diogo Jota’s ankle, an act which saw receive his marching orders, in the 44th minute. Wolves had a numerical advantage, and from the resulting free-kick, Ruben Neves, near-impeccable in the Championship last season, arrowed one past Jordan Pickford.

Then the noise was back, the electricity in the ground resumed, not since Steven Fletcher in 2012 had this club had a goal-scorer in the big time, Wolves now had lift-off. ‘We thank the crowd, Molineux was incredible- buzzing’, said Santo, who was engulfed in celebration by his coaching staff after Neves’ leveller. ‘It was a good atmosphere’.

If the atmosphere was unquestionable, the performance wasn’t; for all the noise and bounce in the ground, Wolves didn’t create much after halftime, despite their numerical advantage, Jota guilty of taking a touch too many on a few occasions, while the passes weren’t quite coming off, and on 67 minutes, thanks once more to Richarlison, they fell behind again. ‘We over-played some moments…’, admitted Santo, ‘…but it’s natural when we’re growing’.

But the fans wouldn’t leave sullen, as with 10 minutes left, a delightful Neves cross was met by the head of Raul Jimenez, one of the summer signings, to rescue a point. ‘We have character.’ Santo again pointed out. ‘We came back with a result two times, it’s not easy’.

And he shouldn’t expect it to get any easier. There were a few causes for concern; the fluidity was lacking, the defence was suspect, and chance creation was next-to-non-existent. But as Santo said, the side is growing. There will be teething problems, but results like this will make them feel they should overcome that. The optimism can’t fade just yet, Wolves want to belong here.

Elsewhere

  • It was the ideal start for Chelsea at Huddersfield- three goals, three points, a clean sheet for the World’s most expensive goalkeeper. But that in no way means the Blues look ready, they were a few jittery moments at the John Smith’s stadium, but as Maurizio Sarri’s side are still at the getting-used-to-it stage, the win was more than welcome.
  • One side also getting used to it are Arsenal, who were shown a hint of the level they aspire to get to under Unai Emery as they lost to the champions Manchester City. No sense of deflation as of yet, this is another who are always going to face teething problems, even if one of those was almost the most inexplicable of own goals you could see. Almost.
  • It all began on Friday night, only 72 seconds were on the clock when Andre Marriner gave Manchester United a penalty against Leicester. A spotkick goal (yes, we had to) from World Cup winner Paul Pogba, a first career goal for Luke Shaw, suddenly Jose Mourinho’s pre-season grumpiness is forgotten… For now.
  • It’s the first weekend of the season, and Roberto Pereyra has probably already won the Goal of the Month award for August.
  • Mohammed Salah scored, Harry Kane didn’t score in an August game, Wilfred Zaha helped Crystal Palace to victory, Southampton didn’t score…nothing much is new these days.
  • From the probably-not-immortal words of Frank Underwood, ‘Welcome back’.

Results

Wolves 2-2 Everton

Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace

Huddersfield 0-3 Chelsea

Liverpool 4-0 West Ham

Watford 2-0 Brighton

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester

Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham

Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff

Southampton 0-0 Burnley

Published in International Watch

It wasn’t quite a Sergio Aguero circa 2012 moment on Sunday, but bedlam broke out at St. Mary’s, when Kevin de Bruyne’s delightful pass was finished off with a deft chip by Gabriel Jesus, in the 94th minute, to give Manchester City three points on the day, and a century of them for the season. Off went Jesus’ shirt, berserk went Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff, it was like the goal had just sealed them the league title.

That was the biggest in the hall of records that City have shattered this term. That win in the South Coast was their 16th away from home in the league, a new record. Their overall goal tally of 106 is a new record. Their run of 18 successive wins, between August and January, a new record. Their tally of wins (32), a new record. Their goal difference of 79, a new record; just like their points tally over the team in second place.

But City weren’t the only ones shaking up the history books on the final day. In the 26th minute at Anfield, Mohammed Salah found the back of Brighton’s net, making him the first player to exceed 31 goals in a 38-game league season. The Player of the Year bagged the golden boot award, ahead of Harry Kane, whose double for Spurs against Leicester took him to 30 goals this term, the first time two players have reached that figure in a single 38-game campaign. Kane’s goal tally also means he’s scored at least 20 times in each of the past four seasons, while Salah has equalled a record of goals in all competitions by a Premier League player (44), and still has a Champions League final left.

But, amidst the records, there was still football that had to be played. Southampton-Man City may have served up the late drama, but Spurs-Leicester provided the full-on madness, a game that went 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, to 3-3, then 4-3, 4-4, and finally stopped at 5-4. Braces for Kane, Jamie Vardy and Erik Lamela took the limelight, as did a pile-driver from the Foxes’ Kelechi Iheanacho. That win sealed third spot for Spurs, with Liverpool closely behind, after the Reds put four past Brighton. Liverpool had an outside chance of finishing outside the top four, and a shock defeat to the Seagulls would have helped that cause, but there was no such hiccup, and the other significant result didn’t matter, as Chelsea faltered at Newcastle.

Okay maybe faltered isn’t really the word. Chelsea travelled to St. James’, where they haven’t won in almost seven years, needing a win to stand a chance of snatching fourth spot, yet mustered no shot in the first half, and at the end were lucky to lose by just three goals. The dreadful display summed up the erstwhile champions’ season, it’s Thursday Night Football for them, and if this display is pre-requisite for the FA Cup final next week, then it’s no trophies for them.

Elsewhere:

  • ‘You wanted him out, you two-faced bastards’ sang the Huddersfield crowd at home to Arsenal on Arsene Wenger’s final game, to which the Gunners fans replied; ‘Herbert Chapman, he left because you’re shit’. On the pitch, there was a round of applause in the 22nd minute, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the answer to the 2027 pub quiz question: who scored Arsenal’s last goal under Wenger?
  • Swansea needed to win and hope for a miracle, so Swansea actually score, and score first in a game. Trust nature to rectify such anomaly, two goals from Stoke sending the Swans down with a whimper. After the Carlos Carvalhal bounce, the Welsh side’s season petered out with five straight losses. Bye!
  • It was goodbye from Michael Carrick, who hangs up his boots at the end of the season, but not before he reminded us of his vision to create Manchester United’s only goal at Watford. And to think, he could have gone off on a throne in the 16th minute.
  • Well, what else are you waiting for? Bye!!

Results (Final Positions)

(3rd) Tottenham 5-4 Leicester (8th)

(17th) Southampton 0-1 Manchester City (1st)

(2nd) Manchester United 1-0 Watford (14th)

(16th) Huddersfield 0-1 Arsenal (6th)

(4th) Liverpool 4-0 Brighton (15th)

(10th) Newcastle 3-0 Chelsea (5th)

(11th) Crystal Palace 2-0 West Brom (20th)

(13th) West Ham 3-1 Everton (8th)

(18th) Swansea 1-2 Stoke (19th)

(7th) Burnley 1-2 Bournemouth (12th)

Published in International Watch

It wasn’t so much as being nervy, but rather occupying a convoy of nerves at the St. Mary’s, as Southampton managed to stumble over the finish line against Bournemouth. The win was a narrow as it was vital, the performance as irrelevant afterwards, as it was shaky during; the air punches from Mark Hughes and his assistant at the final whistle, along with the sighs of joy and relief from the players summed it up: Southampton still have life in them.

This South Coast derby had been a must-win for the Saints, after a torrid of form in the league- no wins since February prior to this. There had been close calls, a 3-2 defeat at Arsenal where the Saints spirit and commitment yielded plaudits but no points, a 3-2 defeat at home to Chelsea where their impressive start was replaced by a horrific conclusion as they threw away a two-goal advantage; there had also been insipid displays; from the 3-0 loss in Hughes’ first game, at West Ham, to the 3-0 loss in Mauricio Pellegrino’s last, at Newcastle.

But every battle has a turning point if things are primed to still end well, every war its twist of fate that shows there might just be salvation after all, and perhaps this is the Saints’ Normandy moment, their Battle of Gettysburg situation. Two goals from Dusan Tadic was enough for victory over the Cherries on Saturday…well, two goals at the attacking end, at least. At the other end, there was a combination of brave and gutsy defending, mixed with desperate and nervous defending, as well as a few good saves from goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (one of which was a blinder in stoppage time to keep out Josh King’s deflected effort). The football was hardly mind-blowing, the fans were edgy, and the players had their fair share of tiredness, but they held on nevertheless.

That big win became even bigger considering the state of results of elsewhere. When the Saints were hanging on against Bournemouth, fellow relegation battlers Huddersfield were succumbing to Everton at the John Smith’s stadium. The Terriers had gone into that game with a chance of virtually gaining survival, but a 2-0 loss, where they lacked any sort of invention going forward and didn’t look like scoring even if the entire Toffees squad got hypnotised, now leaves them just three points above Southampton, who are in 18th. That’s the first point to note for David Wagner’s team, the second is that their final three games are against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, two of those away from home. The celebrations at the end of that win against Watford a fortnight ago sent a message, the lack of one at the end of this defeat sent another.

The relegation battle story of this weekend doesn’t end with those two, as before Huddersfield and Southampton took the pitch for their respective games, Stoke City had gone to Anfield and claimed a point. It was an expected backs against the wall game for Paul Lambert’s side, but perhaps the result wasn’t as predicted, the Potters sharing the spoils after an impressive display at the back. The reality is that it’s still no wins in 12 for the Potters, and they’re still 19th having played a game more than their rivals around the drop zone, but this could well be a big point, especially considering one of their final two games is against Swansea.

Swansea would also face Southampton before the season runs out, and this weekend, despite their second half performance, they fell to defeat at Chelsea. A frustrating evening for Carlos Carvalhal leaves his side just a point above the drop zone. That home game against Southampton in the penultimate will be vital.

West Ham, meanwhile, are only two points off Swansea, and by extension three from Southampton. They also have a rather terrible goal difference, not aided by their loss at home to Manchester City, which made them the worst defence in the league so far this season. Brighton, who drew at Burnley, may be two points further forward, but aren’t quite safe yet, especially as they end the season with a home game against Manchester United, as well as trips to Liverpool and Manchester City.

This long slog looks like playing out right to the wire.

Five-star Eagles

One team that’s probably safe are Crystal Palace, who, amidst the battles going on elsewhere, were putting five past Leicester City on Saturday. There was a first goal at home for Christian Benteke in just about a year, while the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and (of course) Wilfred Zaha came to the party, which was almost literal at the end of it. Palace haven’t lost against a side currently in the bottom half since September, Palace have the best goal difference in the bottom half, Palace are three points off the top ten. This was the same side that were goalless and pointless in October.

Elsewhere

  • It was a brilliant reception for Arsene Wenger as he walked on to Old Trafford for the final time, before receiving an award from Sir Alex Ferguson, and even (yes, really) sharing a smile with Jose Mourinho. At the end of it, there was no smile on his face, as his youthful side came close to grabbing a point at Old Trafford, but his last league game at the Theatre of Dreams succumbed to Fergie Time; how fitting. Arsenal still haven’t managed an away point in 2018; how worrying.
  • That West Ham loss to Man City, means City are now seven points away from a century of Premier League points in a season, as well as two goals away from the Premier League record of 103 in a season (by Chelsea in 2009/10). They have more goals in the first half of games, than West Ham have over 90 minutes.
  • Having looked doomed all season, suddenly West Brom won’t go down. Their win at Newcastle means they’re not mathematically relegated, yet. It also means they are unbeaten in four games under Darren Moore. They’ve won two games in that time, Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew combined for three league wins in nine months.
  • On the Chelsea win at Swansea, it’s finally 50 up in the Prem. for Cesc Fabregas at last. More pressingly, should Chelsea win all their remaining three games, they might finish in the top four.
  • And Mohammed Salah scored for Liv… oh, hang on. He didn’t (!). He even missed a sitter in Liverpool’s goalless draw with Stoke (what!!!).

Results

Southampton 2-1 Bournemouth

Burnley 0-0 Brighton

Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester

West Ham 1-4 Manchester City

Newcastle 0-1 West Brom

Huddersfield 0-2 Everton

Swansea 0-1 Chelsea

Liverpool 0-0 Stoke

Monday Night Football: Tottenham v Watford

Published in International Watch

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