Liverpool answer tough question, Jose Mourinho’s new image, and why Jack Grealish is a Premier League rarity

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Liverpool answer tough question, Jose Mourinho’s new image, and why Jack Grealish is a Premier League rarity

OK, something’s not quite right. Is there a weird parallel universe in action, or something?

We seem to have been thrust into an existence where England are the bookie favourites for Euro 2020 having been given a hilariously easy draw, Liverpool are 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League, West Ham are winning matches at Chelsea and Miguel Almiron has an assist to his name.

Virgil van Dijk hit a brace in Liverpool’s 2-1 win against Brighton

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Virgil van Dijk hit a brace in Liverpool’s 2-1 win against Brighton

As I said, something isn’t right.

Up at Anfield, Liverpool answered the question around whether they’d continue their unbeaten run now Fabinho is out until 2020 (which sounds a hell of a lot longer than it actually is).

However, they did it in a way that maintains the classic cliche around title-winning teams know how to win matches playing badly – Liverpool are certainly maxing out on that at the moment.

Virgil van Dijk probably didn’t realise the votes for the Ballon d’Or are all done and dusted, so his headed double is too late to influence that outcome. But, they did help Liverpool break down an impressive Brighton and get a 2-0 lead that was much-needed by the end.

Allison, so complimentary of Adrian in a pre-match Sky interview, clearly felt the need to let his teammate have some more limelight given his dash from goal to palm the ball away when a good five yards out of his area.


Moments later, Adrian had conceded the resulting free kick with a mere 15 minutes left on the clock – 15 minutes only for King Kloppo to come up with a convincing reason as to why his sub ‘keeper could concede so quickly.

Credit to Klopp, this is why his top-of-the-table. He’s moved on from the Anfield wind as being an issue.

On Saturday, Adrian conceded without touching the ball because he was, wait for it, freezing cold. You see, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and gloves not designed to keep hands warm are a nightmare for number two shot-stoppers.

Yes, that is the reason Adrian didn’t line his wall up quickly enough and Lewis Dunk cleverly placed the ball home.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League

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Jurgen Klopp’s men are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League

Maybe he still wasn’t very warm when he nearly threw that other one over the line as well?

Adrian will be in goal for the Merseyside Derby which shouldn’t be a problem – Liverpool are playing Everton after all.

I’m pretty sure I heard Liverpool fans singing the name of Jonjo Shelvey for the first time ever on Merseyside, as well. The Newcastle skipper found long-awaited popularity on the Kop by curling home a late equaliser at St James’ Park.

The goal meant Peppy G’s Man City dropped more points in their title-race, making it understandable that the Catalan is now looking at catching Leicester City before spending any time worrying about catching the European champions.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City dropped more points in the Premier League

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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City dropped more points in the Premier League

By the end, Benjamin Mendy must have been looking at Jethro Willems and wishing he could be as dangerous going forward.

The Newcastle left-back has now scored crackers against both City and Liverpool and he is the reason Miguel Almiron will be able to tell his grandkids he did once get an assist in the Premier League.

City without Aymeric Laporte have struggled. City without Laporte and Sergio Aguero do not feel like the team that have won back-to-back titles, even if Guardiola did claim post-match his side played as well as they did when winning those titles.

As for Leicester, it’s always a good sign when a team comes back from a goal down to win with an injury-time winner, no? I mean, isn’t that what Liverpool have been doing for much of the season? And, if you add in a winner from a striker who never, ever scores then you know you are having a good season.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s late, late strike perfectly complimented Jamie Vardy’s 13th Premier League strike of the season and put Marco Silva even closer to the exit door at Goodison Park. I hear there might be a job going at Vicarage Road though, so it’s not all bad for Silva.

Kelechi Iheanacho sparked mass scenes of celebration late on

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Kelechi Iheanacho sparked mass scenes of celebration late on

Do you remember ‘old Jose’ – the guy who used to park the bus at every available opportunity? Those days seem long gone, as his three matches in the Spurs dugout have seen ten goals for and six goals against.

Fresh from coming back from two goals down against Olympiakos, Tottenham led Bournemouth by three – just like they led West Ham by three last weekend. And again, just like against the Hammers, they ended up sneaking a win 3-2. But Jose won’t care, in public anyway.

He can use this to create his new image as a carefree, attack-minded gaffer whose sole purpose in life is to bring entertainment to the people. Oh, and get the best out of Dele Alli. Two for two on that score so far, Jose.

The Portuguese appears to have found the perfect way to play Dele

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The Portuguese appears to have found the perfect way to play Dele

Personally, I have a lot of time for a 33-year-old Premier League debutant being in tears at the end of the match, then climbing up to the press box to give his old man a hug.

That’s what happened at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea fell to their second successive Premier League defeat and David Martin left a hero.

It wasn’t the most difficult selection Manuel Pellegrini has ever had to made, as if he hadn’t dropped Roberto for this one he’d have probably paid with his job. However, even with a new man in goal and even with him being the son of a West Ham legend, not many will have expected the Hammers to depart with all three points – probably enough to see Pellegrini still in post come 2020.

Lampard was gracious in defeat, admitting his kids must have stayed up late on Friday night given their tired-looking performance. Chris Hughton will be gutted though, he might have to end up at Watford now instead of the Athletics Stadium.

Simon Jordan can’t believe Manchester United are sticking with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

I said in a preview somewhere that the loser of the Southampton vs Watford relegation 12-pointer would be looking for a new job come Cyber Monday.

Quique Sanchez Flores managed to lose (from a winning position) and, as a result, leaves Watford for a second time. Watford are expected to move for the aforementioned Hughton as he is kicking around waiting for his next go on the merry-go-round.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is a lucky man, as he has now passed the 14 matches in the season point that did for Mark Hughes last time.

As expected, it was a terrible game played out by two terrible teams – but Southampton’s winner did come from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick which was decent.

Saints were on to the win the game thanks to James Ward-Prowse’s glorious free-kick

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Saints were on to the win the game thanks to James Ward-Prowse’s glorious free-kick

Unai Emery is no more at Arsenal, so that’s that problem solved then, right?

Freddie Ljungberg is Arsenal’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, brought in to reunite the fans and the team, to play the attacking football that the Arsenal supporters demand, remind the press that he ‘used to play for the club’ 15 times a briefing, call Arsene Wenger 19 times a day and never, ever park in the old boss’ parking space because he will always be the boss.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he seems to have missed off the ‘win the first nine games’  bit that Solskjaer did so well.

Sure, Arsenal’s 17th skipper of the season netted an equaliser despite there being another ball on the pitch (who cares if a Norwich fan threw it on) but at no point did it look like the beginning of a beautiful honeymoon period for the Swede – had it not been for Bernd Leno, and we’ve never said that before, Norwich would have won handsomely.

Freddie Ljungberg has taken over from Unai Emery on a temporary basis

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Freddie Ljungberg has taken over from Unai Emery on a temporary basis

Winning nine games (or whatever it actually was) in a row is a distant memory for Ole Gunnar, just like his twinkling blue eyes and boyish enthusiasm for the job. Granted, United matches are finally entertaining again – but predominantly because you just know the opposition will score at least once.

Jack Grealish, as well as being the most fouled footballer in the Premier League, is becoming one of those rarities in the modern game – a homegrown cult hero. Alongside Harry Kane, he is out there flying the flag for the local boys and his goal at Old Trafford will only further boost his standing in B6. Marcus Rashford is one who could potentially claim to be a homegrown cult hero in the coming years at United, if he could just become a little bit better and a little bit more consistent.

He had a goal cruelly (and rather amusingly) taken away from him after his header hit the post, went across the goal-line and tapped Tom Heaton on the back before going in. Obviously, the panel gave it as an oggie – why wouldn’t they?

United led 2-1 momentarily, no doubt leaving Solskjaer to reminisce once more over the great teams he played in – the kind of teams that wouldn’t let Villa go and get an equaliser 30 seconds later.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Marcus Rashford at full-time

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Marcus Rashford at full-time

Teemu Pukki correctly deduced it is easier to score if you hit it straight at Mustafi than trying to score direct yourself and we got to see the awful Todd Cantwell celebration once more as Norwich led 2-1 at the break – Arsenal’s goal coming from a retaken Yo-Pierre penalty after it looked like Tim Krul had performed dark heroics once again.

Uncle Roy said pre-match that Palace wouldn’t underestimate Burnley, a curious statement given that Burnley were higher in the table than Palace at kick-off.

Credit to Hodgson though, they didn’t – Palace’s win ending Burnley’s nice little run of 3-0 wins.

Wolves are pretty damn fine at coming from behind and Sheffield United are pretty damn fine at not losing away from home.

Therefore, when United took a 1-0 first-half lead you’d have been a fool not to back a 1-1 draw. It ended 1-1, obviously.


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Published at Mon, 02 Dec 2019 11:23:47 +0000

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