Jen Offord picks out five standout features of another superb weekend of Premier League action, including Tottenham’s remarkable rise, United’s open courting of a former love and English football’s heart-warming show of solidarity.
Sterling is left red-faced
Raheem Sterling met some familiar faces at the Etihad, as his old team came to visit for the first time since his £49million mega move in the summer. If he was expecting to meet with the Liverpool of earlier this season, he’ll have been disappointed and maybe even a little red-faced as they exacted the best kind of revenge – a 4-1 thumping of the wannabe Champions.
Liverpool boss, Jürgen Klopp, looked to be a happy bunny, embracing his staff at the game’s close. Speaking on MOTD afterwards, Klopp warned: “Many people are not sure of the quality of this team and it’s our job to show them.” Well, Mr Klopp, you certainly did.
Vardy’s impressive powers of recovery
Jamie Vardy made a remarkably speedy recovery from a hip injury that kept him out of international duty earlier in the week to return to start for Leicester against Newcastle on Saturday. And with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of scoring in 10 successive games to match, who could blame him?
Let’s face it, that it was Newcastle standing between him and that elusive record must have felt encouraging. Vardy’s first shot on goal was denied, but a second shot just before half-time hit the net to seal his new status as a Premier League goalscoring great and send Foxes top; even if his hunger denied other players opportunities later in the game. Now, if he could just do the same for England . . .
On another note: Newcastle looked utterly shambolic and the long-suffering fans understandably vented their frustration after the game. It’s not looking good for Magpies.
Ronaldo has options
Louis van Gaal hit the headlines again this weekend, but not because of Manchester United’s great form. Although they did manage to take three points home from Watford, thanks to the unfortunate Troy Deeney, who turned the ball into his own net just moments after pulling his side level from the penalty spot.
But the big talking point came after the game when Van Gaal confirmed that he was in the market for another superstar, with one-time Manchester United great Cristiano Ronaldo very much in his crosshairs.
“We are looking at all players, not just Ronaldo,” Van Gaal was reported by BBC sport as saying. “But these players are mostly ungettable. With Ronaldo, let’s wait and hope.” The words every three-time Fifa world player of the year longs to hear.
Is this really Spurs’ year?
And finally, Tottenham continued their run of good luck yesterday with their 12th consecutive unbeaten league game – equalling a club record. And they fought off competition from London rivals West Ham (in style), with another goal-fest of 4-1.
Harry Kane continued his run of form, too, with two of the goals and he could have made it a hat-trick near the end of the first half had he not shot wide. But it was Dele Alli who really shone after his England goal against France in the week, pressing forward and making some great tackles for Spurs.
Spurs ended the weekend in that coveted Inter Toto (I know it’s not called that anymore, I’m being facetious) position of fifth place, but how long can they keep their fans on tenterhooks for this time?
Allez Les Bleus
It’s not all fast cars, dodgy selfies and indoor fireworks in the Premier League, as we saw this weekend when stadiums up and down the country stood in unison against the horrific events in Paris last weekend. Clubs paid tribute to our European neighbours by blasting out La Marseillaise prior to this weekend’s fixtures and some of them even looked like they knew the words. It was a powerful reminder of the way in which a game that asks us to pick a side – like most sports – can also bring us together.