Five Things We Learned: Manchester United are a shambles and Arsenal still bottling it against lowly Chelsea, but Spurs rising star Dele Alli is real deal
Jen Offord picks out five features of the Premier League weekend, including Liverpool’s over-the-top reaction to conceding four at Norwich, Arsenal’s mental block when it comes to Chelsea, and three big reasons for Roy Hodgson to feel positive.Embed from Getty Images
Calm down, Liverpool
I understand Liverpool fans must have to thank heavens for small mercies these days, and of course three points are three points, but are we really supposed to hail their 4-5 defeat of Norwich as a massive victory?
They undoubtedly did well to come back from 3-1 down to be a goal ahead going into stoppage time, but it would be kind to call their defending calamitous. Liverpool can’t defend set-pieces for toffee right now and Alberto Moreno, in particular, had a stinker. The full-back looked as if he was desperate to give away a penalty, bringing down Steven Naismith not once, but twice – just to make sure.
Yes, the late drama was exciting but should Liverpool really be celebrating this as a seminal result? Let’s face it, this was more a bad day for Norwich than it was a good one for the Reds. After all, Jürgen Klopp’s side just conceded four goals to Norwich – who even knew the Canaries had four goals in them?
Three Lions are threatening to roar
With the Euros just months away, the pressure is on the England team to prove they have not had their day. Bearing that in mind, it’s reassuring to see a strong English presence in the top scorer charts this season. Record-breaking Jamie Vardy is of course the top dog with 16 goals, and having returned to form this weekend, it’ll be interesting to see what his tally come the end of the season.
Harry Kane is also back in form and sits in fourth position in the list on 13 goals. Admittedly, after that we don’t see another English talent until Jermain Defoe in eighth . . . but let’s keep it positive for now.
He may not be a striker, but all eyes must surely be on England’s new star – 19-year-old Dele ‘Pelé’ Alli, who could’ve scored two goals against Crystal Palace on Saturday, were it not for that pesky crossbar. But the goal he did score was truly remarkable and showed the kind of creativity and composure that we don’t see all that often in our national team. England manager Roy Hodgson was at Selhurst Park to see it, and he looked as happy as many national fans will no doubt have felt about it.
United fans given dose of reality
Louis van Gaal generously stood up to be counted after a 1-0 defeat by Southampton at Old Trafford, agreeing that the fans were right to boo him. He also pointed out that his players need the supporters’ backing, stating: “For better or for worse, you have to stick together.”
This kind of assertion by a failing manager irritates me. I would argue, Louis, that you actually need to concentrate on being ‘better’ at football. It’s an expensive business travelling to matches week in, week out to support a team like Manchester United and you might, quite rightly, be asking yourself by now why you’re bothering. United fans have had little to smile about since Alex Ferguson left three seasons ago.
I’m an English Charlton fan, so I think misery is par for the course when it comes to football . . . and isn’t that character building after all? I can understand, however, why someone who had taken the opportunity to enjoy their weekends by supporting a half-decent side might now be a bit frustrated by the self-flagellation most of us endure. The message to the United board could not be clearer: it’s time to succumb to peer pressure.
Why does Allardyce keep getting work?
I’ve already spoken about Norwich’s weekend woes, but what of the other teams on my relegation watch? As I write every week, there’s no point discussing Villa (unless they win, which really would be a notable occurrence). They didn’t win.
I still think Newcastle will be okay, despite defeat at Watford on Saturday. There’s something disquieting about a big club going down and it can’t happen twice in one season, can it? (Yes, I’m calling Villa a big club)
Sunderland and Bournemouth drew, leaving Sam Allardyce’s men still very much the wrong side of 17th place. How does he still get employed? How?!
I must have stopped paying attention somewhere along the line because the Cherries now sit four whole points above the drop zone. It’s still too early to say, isn’t it? No, I’m not talking to you, Villa.
Arsene actually IS a specialist in failure
Don’t take this the wrong way, Gooners, because I really do love Arsene Wenger (more than a lot of you, if Piers Morgan’s Twitter feed is anything to go by), but I used to wonder if he was just a little bit intimidated by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Fair enough, he’s now been sacked twice by the same club for being a bit of a wally, but he did talk a good game.
I don’t imagine that Wenger is really bothered about Guus Hiddink, so why, in God’s name, can Arsenal still not beat the Blues? In a season when Chelsea have failed to beat few teams, somehow they have taken six points off this year’s would-be Champions.
Of course it doesn’t help when you’re a man light – as the Gunners have been in both league meetings with the Blues this year. And on both occasions, guess who was involved? Yes, of course, it wouldn’t be a day in the Premier League if Diego Costa hadn’t annoyed someone, but did he do a number on Per Mertesacker? Much like Wenger, I didn’t see the incident, but all signs suggest not. Chelsea were, it seems, the better team for once (or possibly twice) in their sorry season.
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