The Premier League certainly lays claim to the “most exciting and unpredictable league in the world” and on this weekends evidence, it is hard to argue with that claim. There were thrills galore, controversy and of course the most important thing…pies. Of course not, it’s goals silly! Anyway, with the turgid splendour of international football out of the way there is now free reign for club football all the way to March, near enough.
The standout game over the weekend was of course Leicester City’s 5-3 win over Manchester United. Almost as sensational as our Guts sport bonus. In what seemed to be a throwback to the 1950’s, Leicester capitalised on some fortuitous and bewildering decision making from referee Mark Clattenberg as well as some shambolic United defending to come back from 3-1 down to complete a remarkable comeback and seal a memorable victory. Van Gaal must now solve a defensive conundrum in which he finds another defender injured as well as one suspended for the following three games.
Of course, Liverpool succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away to West Ham United that was their third in five games, a far cry from the impressive side that we saw towards the end of last season. West Ham on the other hand seemed reborn which a pace, power and intelligence never seen before in a Sam Allardyce team! Arsenal secured a 3-0 win away at Aston Villa after the Midlands club started brightly but a 5-minute blitz that destroyed the Villans confidence and ensured Arsenal were relatively untroubled for the remainder of the match.
Elsewhere, there were draws for Newcastle, who came from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 at home to Hull, and also QPR and Stoke battled out a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road while Manchester City and Chelsea ensured the status quo at the top of the table as Frank Lampard secured a point for City against his old club in a 1-1 draw.
Lampard has been one of the Premier League’s consistent performers and his number of goals from midfield has frankly (no pun intended) been outstanding. No other manager other than Mourinho would have let him go for free to a club that not only is in direct competition for trophies with Chelsea but also is approaching the ‘nemesis’ stage of football rivalry. However, Lampard showed class in how he conducted himself, scoring a vital goal and then his respect to both City and Chelsea fans.
Is Gerrard worthy of a place at the moment? Yes, he’s Liverpool captain and he’s been a very good one but he’s just not doing it anymore. While claims that Brendan Rodgers could do worse than give his captain a rest, Gerrard cannot be happy with his own performances. Rodgers does need to rotate Gerrard better and if Liverpool are to move forward under him, he and the team need to get past this over-reliance on him and the attitude that without Gerrard, Liverpool are incapable of securing a result. Rodgers could do worse than look at Sir Alex Ferguson’s example of how he managed Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs as well as Mourinho’s handling of John Terry.
Only one winner here, I’m afraid. Leicester secured a quite remarkable result against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium. 3-1 down on the hour mark and seemingly heading for a hiding, they rallied and basically bullied United into capitulation, which was as embarrassing as it was unexpected. While referee Mark Clattenberg was doing his best ‘let’s make this interesting’ act, take nothing away from Leicester who preyed on United’s weakness at the heart of their defence.
A quality goal from a quality player who, after playing a one-two with Wayne Rooney, collected the ball inside the penalty and executed a quite sublime chip over the advancing Kasper Schmeichel. Just a shame the defence behind him let him down with a collapse, as the goal was good enough to win any football match.
I know there has been a seemingly never-ending mention of the words ‘Mark’ and ‘Clattenberg’ in this blog but there can never be an excuse for inconsistency. Clattenberg’s decision to not award a free-kick to Manchester United right-back Rafael after being blatantly targeted by Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and then subsequently fall for his exaggerated theatrics in the penalty area resulting in a penalty to the Foxes, must be a quite puzzling sequence of events for one to analyse.
Mike Dean, who refereed Manchester City and Chelsea, seemed quite happy to let things go in that game that also wouldn’t normally be let go. A blatant arm-up from Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor was also missed while there were penalty decisions missed for City and a potential sending off for two bookable offences for David Silva also missed.
The subject of technology within the game will also rear its head again, surely while a bigger deal must be made of referees who fail in their job and while mistakes are forgivable, incompetency isn’t.
Categories: Premier League