Jen Offord picks out five things she learned from an unusually goal-shy weekend of Premier League football. This week: how the tumbling of league records is inevitable, why Jose isn’t solely to blame for Chelsea’s strife, and Jamie Vardy is making himself impossible for Roy Hodgson to ignore.
Klopp isn’t a miracle worker
As he continued settling into his new digs at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp certainly looked the part (if the part was the American tourist in Trainspotting), dressed head to toe in Liverpool FC regalia, as his team met Crystal Palace yesterday. As his introduction to the Premier League continued, he acquainted himself with the man, the myth, the incongruously aggressive legend that is Old Blue Eyes himself, Alan Pardew. Pardew was quite literally on fighting form, and Klopp was spared none of his trademark “enthusiasm” in their heated exchanges on the touchline.
It looked as if the German gave at least as good as he got, and thankfully Pards was not driven to ‘push him away with his head’. Nonetheless, it was not the Premier League new boy’s day on the pitch. Liverpool’s bogey team Palace may be, but this game was a reminder that it takes more than a manager to make a team.
The Premier League has become an unpredictable place this season. In recent weeks we have seen ridiculously exciting scorelines: 6-2 Newcastle v Norwich, 5-1 Man City v Crystal Palace, and 6-2 Everton v Sunderland last week. So at least the dearth of goals this weekend was interesting in that it was unexpected, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the paltry 16 – cobbled together by our 20 leading lights – when half that many were scored in one game last weekend. And it certainly wasn’t predicted that league strugglers, Aston Villa, would hold City to a goalless draw. Who saw that coming?!
Stumped by Chelsea slump
Having been slapped with a one-match stadium ban after yet another tussle with the establishment during the recent game against West Ham, Jose Mourinho at least wasn’t present to witness Chelsea’s defeat at Stoke City. Marko Arnautovic’s 53rd-minute goal was enough to deprive the Blues of a much-needed point, leaving them in 16th position, just three points above the relegation zone.
It’s become a baffling situation, which I struggled to explain to an admittedly disinterested football-sceptic friend, over the weekend. On paper, there’s no reason why last season’s champs should be enduring such awful results. Famously, they’re not short of a bob or two (thanks to Roman Abramovich), they have good players, and they have a top-class manager (although undoubtedly one who’s a bit of a plonker). One thing Saturday proved was that it can’t ALL be Jose’s fault. I mean, he wasn’t even there!
For the record . . .
The streets of North London were, erm… purple (in patches at least) on Sunday night, as substitute Kieran Gibbs scored a goal in the 77th minute to level for Arsenal against Spurs at the Emirates. Harry Kane was the goalscorer for Tottenham, continuing his recent run, which is what all England fans like to see ahead of the internationals.
Though it was a slow start for Arsenal, their pace picked up as Spurs began to tire in the second half (no doubt due to their Europa League action). Mesut Ozil became the latest of the season’s record breakers, becoming the only player to have assisted goals in six consecutive Premier League games. Much as football fans can appreciate a stat and, indeed, a record – the ‘Premier League’ is only 23 years old.
Vard to catch
But, of course, we can’t talk about stats without mentioning Jamie Vardy… again. The Leicester striker scored in his ninth consecutive league game on Saturday to take him just one game away from potentially levelling Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of 10.
It was a penalty, though, but regardless it makes him a strong contender to start for England in next week’s internationals.
Yet another three points takes Vardy’s Foxes up to an incredible third place, level on points with Arsenal and Manchester City. Next up it’s Newcastle for Leicester, where he will surely be feeling confident about that 10th goal. But, like I keep saying, you never know what’s going to happen this season… unless you’re Mourinho.
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