Rich Laverty takes a look at some of the weekend’s action across the country, which includes a four goal haul for one League One striker, a goal of the season contender and one of the fiercest rivalries in the Premier League.
When your luck’s out…
It’s an old cliché that nothing goes for you when you’re at the bottom and everything goes for you when you’re at the top.
I’m certainly not somebody who believes in luck or fate but it was hard not to feel just a little bit sorry for Paul Clement as deflections played a big part in all four of Arsenal’s goals at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Two were Swansea clearances that fell straight into the path of Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez respectively whilst both of Alex Iwobi’s efforts flew in off despairing Swansea defenders – Iwobi’s first attempt particularly cruel.
An early win over Crystal Palace brought much hope for Clement but there’s a long way to go to save Swansea from the drop this season.
Tottenham currently the favourites to chase down Chelsea
I wrote in this column a few weeks back that we could only claim Tottenham had reached the heights of last season’s performances if they backed it up with a convincing display over league leaders Chelsea.
Mauricio Pochettino and his side didn’t let us down, Spurs rarely allowed Chelsea a sniff in a comfortable Dele Alli inspired victory which saw Antonio Conte’s side look almost human at times.
Not only did Spurs beat Chelsea, they followed it up with one of the best performances you’ll see all season against West Brom on Saturday. The link up play between Harry Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen, the midfield work from Dembele and Wanyama added to the wing play from Walker and Rose saw Spurs tear through West Brom at every opportunity and Tony Pulis may feel fortunate it was only 4-0 in the end.
Andy Carroll has goal of the season tied up
Everyone thought goal of the season would come down to the scorpion kick duo. Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked like he had it wrapped up until Olivier Giroud came up with his own version a couple of weeks ago but Andy Carroll – rather surprisingly – has raised the bar again.
Whilst Giroud’s was artful, there’s something exciting about watching a ball rocket into the net at what seems like 100mph. It beat Rooney’s against City and whilst that goal may be remembered for its occasion, the way Carroll’s strike nestled in the top corner with curve and power all over it ensures something truly incredible will have to come along and hit us in the face to ensure Carroll doesn’t win goal of the season.
Anything Ellis Harrison can do, James Vaughan can do better
Only last week I praised Bristol Rovers striker Ellis Harrison for his superb seven-minute hat-trick in League Two but it appears Bury’s James Vaughan wasn’t content with the attention his fellow striker was attracting.
After once bursting onto the scene as the Premier League’s youngest goal scorer, Vaughan didn’t even net once throughout last season and going into Saturday’s match with Peterborough, Bury had lost 14 of their last 16 games – including 12 on the bounce at one stage.
It was going to form when Tom Nichols put Peterborough ahead after four minutes but an incredible 20-minute spell which saw Vaughan not score just one, not two, not even three ensured an incredible turnaround. Yes, between the 7th and 27th minutes of the game, Vaughan bagged an incredible four goals and Bury would eventually run out 5-1 winners.
Little reason to panic for Manchester United or Liverpool fans
Overall, the second half of ‘Merseyside vs Manchester’ didn’t really live up to expectations. Manchester United failed to find the rhythm that has made them so successful lately whilst Liverpool at times found themselves unable to breach a solid Jose Mourinho defence.
After James Milner slotted home a first half penalty it looked as if Jurgen Klopp’s side were all set for a win before late drama saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally scrambled home a header at the death to steal a point. Whilst neither side were at their best there’s little reason to panic for either.
With Chelsea proving on Saturday their defeat at Spurs was a blip, the Premier League title looks tough for either of these sides but there were positives to take for both. Liverpool’s defence was much improved, particularly man of the match Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet looked almost back to the goalkeeper that initially meant Liverpool were interested in taking him from Sunderland.
It wasn’t all bad for United either, whilst Paul Pogba’s display was pitiful at times, United created several clear cut chances whilst Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo proved their recent renaissance was no fluke.