So, England got a bye to the last 16 of the World Cup – apparently.
Being drawn against Iran, USA and one of Wales, Scotland or the Ukraine has English fans overly excited. Providing England donâ€™t contrive to not win that group against a bunch of footballing minnows, theyâ€™ll probably play Senegal or the Netherlands in the knockouts and then probably France in the last eight. Quarter finals and out then!
But before the football world turns yet another blind eye to anything that might get in the way of our precious World Cup taking place, we have the small matter of the Premier League run in (and, weirdly, the start of the next Premier League season too) to get out of the way.
Liverpool finally clawed themselves back to the top, beating Watford 2-0 – but before lazy hacks were able to ask Jurgen â€˜how it feltâ€™ or state â€˜that must be a big turning pointâ€™, City led at Burnley to guarantee theyâ€™d move a point ahead once again.
Liverpool were in typical post-international break form – good enough without setting the world alight. Diogo Jota, Exhibit C of Kloppâ€™s recent world-class recruitment, scored a nice little header before VAR decided to go looking for some work to do and upsetting Uncle Roy.
That said, there cannot be too many better back-up penalty takers in the league than Fabinho – one benefit of Salah not being on the pitch is seeing the Brazilian net once more from 18 yards.
According to Peppy G, City didnâ€™t discuss Liverpool once in their team talk and were purely focused on the fact they usually batter Burnley home or away. KDB scored nice and early, meaning the champions were able to control, stroll and save themselves for the midweek Champions League quarter-finals.
The top two head into next Sunday with a single point between them – so letâ€™s now sit back and wait for Sky to overhype it into a dull 0-0 draw.
As for Burnley, they might have hoped their rather long grass might have made it tricky for City – having lost ten in a row against the Etihad boys, you canâ€™t blame them for trying everything. Theyâ€™ve got 10 games left to live up to the cliche â€˜they know how to stay upâ€™.
If anyone had Brentford to beat Chelsea 4-1, Iâ€™ll give them the money myself – the odds would have been quite generous which would have matched Chelseaâ€™s defending in the second half.
Toni Rudiger must have still been wondering whether his wunderstrike had added another 100K a week to his wage demands next season as Brentford, led by the majestic Christian Eriksen, turned it around to score four and win this fixture for the first time since 1939. Mind you, Chelsea donâ€™t really get on with this weekend – last season, they lost 5-2 to West Brom.
Steven Gerrard says his team â€˜never turned upâ€™ against Wolves and that was down to him which does make me wonder what directions to Molineux he gave them. Wolves won 2-1, meaning Villa have lost every game Gerrard has taken charge of when playing a team above them in the table. The Coutinho honeymoon period also seems to be over – fun whilst it lasted.
Think what you want about Everton Football Club and Frank Lampard as a manager but the last thing you need when you are getting dragged into a relegation scrap is a touch as heavy that of Alex Iwobi.
Iwobiâ€™s inability to control the safest of passes in the Toffeesâ€™ midfield led to West Hamâ€™s winner – not that was the only thing to go wrong for Lampard. Donny van de Beek pulling up lame in the warm-up wasnâ€™t a great start and skipper Michael Keane picking up two yellows wasnâ€™t a great finish. West Ham, well they just keep marching on aiming to keep Man United out of the top six.
Thatâ€™s right – the top six. The top four went a few weeks ago, now itâ€™s a battle to be one of the best six sides in England for Ralf Rangnickâ€™s disillusioned band of professionals.
If it hadnâ€™t been for Fred, De Gea and VAR then Old Trafford would have been witnessing another defeat – instead, they just got to watch another disjointed, insipid and everything-other-than-what-Rangnick-said-heâ€™d-deliver display. Ronaldoâ€™s the problem, is he? Are we all very sure about that?
James Maddison deserved his goal to stand, especially given he managed to avoid being properly injured by Scott McTominayâ€™s â€˜tackleâ€™ and the fact that he was back to his mischievous best. Fred, to be fair, is one of the few players to have improved on the Germanâ€™s watch.
Tottenham have now scored more Premier League goals than everyone else in 2022. Just let that settle in for a moment – yes, Mr Ed. Your parting gift to United could have been just getting Conte in and being done with it, but no. You dithered once again. He might have been â€˜too defensiveâ€™, right?
Conteâ€™s Spurs hammered Newcastle 5-1 and the craziest part of that headline is that Kane didnâ€™t score. He did pretty much everything else, but Tottenham found the back of the net five times and their main man didnâ€™t. Thatâ€™ll have annoyed him, even if the win did move his side into the top four ahead of their local rivals.
Down in Brighton, they are still looking for the ball that Neal Maupay dispatched from the penalty spot.