What a difference a week makes, eh? Just seven days ago and Gary Lineker was turning down free tickets to Leicester versus Chelsea because he had to work. Luckily, they were still available.
There was solidarity for Lineker everywhere after he dared use his personal platform to criticise a government policy on human beings – Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and many others all declined to work for the BBC on their football coverage on Saturday meaning that Match of the Day went ahead without presenters, pundits or commentators – absolute bliss for some people, you suspect. Even Gary’s old club Leicester stood shoulder-to-shoulder – they seem determined not to appear on MotD for the entire 2023/24 season.
What a difference seven days make etc etc on Merseyside as well. Liverpool can stick seven past “quadruple-chasing” Man United last weekend and then lose 1-0 to bottom-of-the-table Bournemouth this. One week, Mohamed Salah is breaking Robbie Fowler’s records. The next, he is breaking his windows (with that penalty, shocking).
Liverpool used to be “mentality monsters” and now they are a “fragile little flower” according to Klopp in his pre-match presser. Bournemouth trod all over them like kids killing daisies the first time they are allowed on the grass in Spring.
Has anyone worked out exactly what Virgil van Dijk was towing when Outtara jogged past him? There’s been a lot of talk about how Klopp’s midfield is aging and their legs have gone – but not much spotlight on the fact that Virgil seems no longer able to move heaven, let alone raise hell.
Peppy G felt it was best not to expose Kyle Walker in public for City’s trip to Crystal Palace – a team who still haven’t won in 2023. Walker was rested, possibly because he’d had a busy week – Guardiola certainly didn’t select Stones because he felt he needed bigger balls at the back, Walker had certainly proved he had them in abundance.
Erling Haaland came into the game having only scored two Premier League goals in the last eight games – a drought Wout Weghorst would be proud of. Haaland managed to score the most difficult of his three chances – a penalty kick, which should tell you something about the other two he missed.
City’s win meant that the gap to Arsenal was closed to two points once again – and then opened back out to five within 45 minutes of football at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
Arsenal were rampant against Fulham, winning the game 3-0 in the first half. Arteta and crew managed to keep their celebrations church-like – must have been because the game was being played on the Sabbath and Gabby Jesus was back in the squad.
On Friday, Erik Ten Hag was named February’s manager of the month and before you all get up in arms, check the date of when Liverpool did them for seven. Sure, it would make sense to announce the winner at the end of the month and not one-third of the way through the next one but we appreciate it for the bantz if nothing else.
The Dutchman was talking about every game at United being an exam – Erik, you need to resit last week if you don’t mind me saying – and Casemiro was ejected from the exam hall that is Old Trafford before he’d finished his paper, sent off against Southampton.
The game finished 0-0 meaning that Ruben Selles has managed to beat Graham Potter, draw with Ten Hag, beat Brendan Rodgers and lose to Grimsby in the cup since replacing Nathan Jones. Jones will no doubt remind you he beat Pep in the League Cup though, and City always win the League Cup.
United are not in a title race, just in case there was any confusion.
Going back to that “a week in football is a long time” theme, Potter will be feeling much happier now than he did seven days back. Back then, he’d managed to sneak his first win in ages but there wasn’t much reason to believe they could beat Dortmund. Wrong! Chelsea are in the Champions League quarter-finals and then managed to score three goals in a game – even if it was against Leicester, they still count. Rodgers knows how hard it is to be a British coach at a top Premier League club so must have instructed his team to allow Chelsea 36 chances to score – it’s the only feasible explanation.
As expected, Tottenham managed to find the goals they actually needed midweek against Milan. Richarlison’s curious way of appealing to Antonio Conte to pick him paid off and his season is now marginally less shit as he nearly scored a goal – damn VAR, not playing along with the narrative.
We all know Conte won’t be there next season and there is every chance Harry Kane won’t be either, so every goal he adds on top of his new record should be cherished – almost as much as the rarest of sights, a Heung-Min Son strike. Kane got two against Nottingham Forest and there is still a crazy chance that this visually god-awful football team might finish in 4th.
Newcastle’s form has nosedived since people started suggesting they might be in a title race back in January – and Miggy Almiron’s run as the best goalscoring midfielder in world football was equally shortlived. But, the Geordie Saudis are back in 5th and Miggy is back in the goals – coming off the bench to score the winner against Wolves.
West Ham and Aston Villa was the kind of fixture that everyone could have agreed would end 1-1 before kick-off and nobody would have really noticed whether it took place or not. For the record it did – and David Moyes really could have done with more than a point at home.
Sean Dyche was talking up the benefits of the 1-0 win before Everton went out and beat Brentford, er, 1-0. The Ginger Simeone was saying that all the best managers love a 1-0. I’m not sure Jurgen does this morning, to be fair.
Everton scored in the first minute against Thomas Frank’s side who had been unbeaten in (checks notes) LOTS of games before their trip to Goodison. They managed to hold on and leapt up to 15th in the table. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a nosebleed – no, not another injury, just being that high in the table.