Well, folks – who had seven matches in the First Manager To Get Sacked This Season Sweepstake? Before the season actually started many of us might have looked at Xisco at Watford and felt he might need to get at least a couple of wins and a draw from the first seven games to stay in the Vicarage Road hot seat and that is exactly what he did. It wasn’t enough though, eh?
The Watford board, like they ever need an excuse to sack a manager in the Premier League, cited “a negative trend in performances” and seem to have Claudio Ranieri lined up to take over – leaving me frantically searching to see if any Premier League-winning managers have ever got relegated.
Also, who knew that it’s harder to get a second yellow card after the age of 35 than it is for of the rest of the football world? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s lovely that James Milner is still a valued part of the Liverpool squad and his versatility puts him right up there with Phil Neville for me. But at any level, any day of the week, no matter which way you look at it, that was a second yellow. Not even a soft second yellow, Just a clear and obvious yellow.
Obviously, after such a crucial moment, Liverpool went up the other end and Salah scored one of the Premier League goals. Many sides would have lost it at that point, but not Peppy G’s lot. KDB found another equaliser and City left with a point. Maybe the team motivation comes from the threat of having to wear the same sweatshirt Pep dons every single week? I think most people would keep going with that punishment hanging over them. Mind you, I’d give it to Joao Cancelo anyway after that bit of defending.
Up at Old Trafford, Rafa Benitez was smiling like a Cheshire cat having seen his Everton side nick a point whilst inflicting further damage to the reputation of Fred.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blamed a “lack of cutting edge” (having left Pogba and Ronaldo on the bench) when what he should have come out and said was “if a strong wind hadn’t blown Fred over, we’d have won”. The Brazilian had two opportunities to stop Demarai Gray breaking away from a United set-piece yet ended up backside firmly inserted in Manchester turf as Gray found Doucoure who found Andros Townsend who, amazingly, declined to cut back on to his left and drilled a right-footed effort past the statue-esque De Gea.
Still, at least the United fans got to see the Ronaldo celebration again – Townsend going to great lengths to explain his copycat effort was in tribute and not to mock.
Bruno Fernandes thinks United need to change something – I suspect there is a growing agreement in the boardroom.
One of the bigger existential questions of the weekend was – if James Ward-Prowse had not got himself sent off, would we be talking about a Chelsea crisis? Southampton (plus VAR) were looking good for a point at the Bridge until their skipper went flying through the little legs of Jorginho. From there, Chelsea got going and even Timo Werner managed to get a goal allowed. Incredibly, the German has had 16 goals disallowed by VAR since joining the club yet still felt compelled to wheel away in celebration as if the fact he was clearly onside guaranteed it would be given.
England left-back Ben Chilwell was back in the side and will hope that Tommy T focuses more on his volleyed goal than his oh-so-clumsy foul on Tino Livramento that gifted Southampton an equaliser from the spot.
Oh, and for the record, the other question floating around my mind was whether Romelu Lukaku has made Chelsea worse not better – but we can save that for another time.
Mikel Arteta gratefully accepted “a point gained” as Arsenal were outplayed by Brighton for the majority of their 0-0 draw. Arteta can be grateful to Aaron Ramsdale, a goalkeeper that can only be termed “never knowingly dull”.
Spurs, very much knowingly dull in the post-Poch era, beat Aston Villa 2-1 thanks to Sonny putting in a decent second-half display. It turns out that scoring a treble against some European minnows doesn’t mean that Harry Kane is bang back in form – maybe he is being distracted by his new toilet roll and toothpaste company?
It’s 400 up for Sean Dyche – no, not fouls they committed in their attempts to bully poor little Norwich off the pitch but games managed for Burnley. It was a first point of the season for Daniel Farke and Burnley’s winless Turf Moor streak continues apace.
Leeds finally managed to get a win – beating Watford 1-0 which led to the aforementioned Xisco getting the bullet. Would Leeds have fired Bielsa had they gone seven without a win? No, but then they are not run by crazy men. Consistent crazy men, admittedly, but crazy nonetheless.
Patrick Vieira seems to be adapting to life at Crystal Palace and is getting the hang of substitutes. Having seen Edouard come on and score two off the bench against Spurs the other week, Vieira repeated the trick when 2-0 to Leicester. Michael Olise and Jeffrey Schlupp were thrown on and both found the back of the net cancelling out yet another Jamie Vardy goal and a birthday strike from Iheanacho.
There is no finer club than West Ham when it comes to bursting their own bubble. Everyone’s been getting a bit West Ham happy in recent weeks and this is not suggesting that the Moysiah is not doing a fine job. But, Wissa wizzed in an injury-time winner for Brentford and the Bees are very much creating their very own Premier League buzz.
You learn something new every day, they say. I’ve learned that Wolves’ new goalscoring South Korean Hwang is nicknamed the Bull. I would love to believe that formed some of the recruitment conversations over the summer. “Guys, we are struggling to score goals. Obviously, we can’t get Steve Bull out of retirement but do we know of any strikers that might play like him? What’s that? His nickname is the bull? Tell me more….”
Hwang scored twice against Newcastle and Wolves’ revival is in full flow. On the other side of the fence, Joelinton is surely Mike Ashley showing the fans what happens if he actually spends big money. The hapless number nine who is not a nine (any more or ever) is surely trying to find fame as the worst Premier League player of all time.
Fear not though Newcastle fans – you won’t have any managerial upheaval as Ashley refuses to pay Bruce off to the tune of £3m to leave.