Manchester City 1 (Aguero 44’) – 4 (Mangala 7’ (og), Coutinho 23’, Firmino 32’, Skrtel 81’) Liverpool
During the respective transfer windows, or change of managers, there is often substantial talk regarding how a team “should” be capable of playing “on paper”.
Such an assertion suggests that a team has a talented roster, but lacks a certain cohesiveness, fluidity or understanding during traditional phases of ball movement.
The phases of movement that have improved markedly under Klopp include transitioning into defence high up the pitch, counterattacking play and particularly the manner in which Liverpool penetrate inside 25 yards.
Mangala’s own goal was a poor attempt at a clearance following high Liverpool pressing and passing through the box, once Liverpool had a sniff, barring a brief bit of stunning individual brilliance from Sergio Aguero, the boys in red were well and truly off to the races.
Aguero briefly showing why he’s one of the best on Earth when fit
Take the 3rd goal from Firmino as an example, Coutinho spots the run of Emre Can, who retrieves the pass whilst being entirely aware of Countiho’s attempt to jump the defensive line, as Firmino comes screaming through the middle like a leopard on heat.
The pass that follows appears to be a schoolyard piece of trickery, however this is merely Can demonstrating his awareness inside 25 yards whilst under pressure, as Klopp has released the young German from the doldrums of right-back, his ability to enable the Brazilian duo of “Phil and Bob” has been superb – this match was a display of a Liverpool team playing with the movement desired by Klopp’s aggressive style, high tempo passing intertwined with brutal counter pressing during defensive phases.
Liverpool were a team playing like they “should”, whilst a toothless Manchester City struggled to dominate possession, as Sterling was rendered ineffective. The absence of Kompany was staggering, Mangala looked lost at points, as Martin Demichelis’ lack of pace was put on display.
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Morrison 35’, Arteta 40’ (og) – 1 (Giroud 28’) Arsenal
A comedy of errors from Arsenal struck down their opportunity to land top spot in the English Premier League standings, as Tony Pulis’ characteristically stern defensive unit moves into 12th position.
Arsenal looked for all intents and purposes, the dominant team, with 73% possession and 11 shots on target, yet a missed penalty marked the decisive moment in which the possibility of a draw, quite literally, slipped away.
Cazrola’s missed penalty solidifying my ability to find puns where necessary
Other comedic events littered throughout the game included Arsenal’s now stock standard player injury or two, with the unique double substitution of a single player required.
Arteta replaced injured defender Francis Coquelin, only to be subbed off later in the match having injured himself and scored an own goal – you couldn’t write this stuff sober.
West Brom must be congratulated for absorbing enormous amounts of possession and holding off Arsenal, with winger James McClean providing a 90 minute headache along the wing for Arsenal.
Swansea 2 (Ayew 28’, Shelvey (pen) 39’) – 2 (King 10’, Gosling 26’) Bournemouth
The biggest fantasy football headache of the week, to drop Andre Ayew or not? The man responsible for the weekly control of the attacking movements of Swansea had been in a minor slump of sorts lately, causing many managers to transfer the beautiful bald man out – however, I stubbornly stuck with the midfield maestro, and was richly rewarded!
You know you’re having a good day at the office when a back-heeled shot on goal appears to be the most appropriate course of action.
An entertaining first half comprised of 4 goals, with a suspect Ayew fall inside 18 yards dragging Swansea back level with Bournemouth, following a rapid opening from the Cherries.
The draw keeps Bournemouth stuck in the dreaded relegation zone, as Gary Monk’s future hangs in the balance with Swansea having won 1 of their last 9 Premier League outings.
Monk bravely dropped 4 first team players for this fixture, Federico Fernandez, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis found themselves benched, much to the delight of the fan base, as Gomis’ recent inability to find the goal has been painfully disappointing.
Whilst this draw didn’t do wonders for Monk’s job confidence, a loss might’ve been interpreted as a nail in his managerial coffin, as he continued to mention during media interviews that calls for his sacking were merely driven by the internal speculation of those with ‘an agenda’.
Swansea face Liverpool, Leicester and Manchester City next, which roughly translates to a manager’s worst nightmare, Monk might be fleeing the Welsh weather sooner than expected.
Southampton 0 – 1 (Krcic 10’) Stoke
A team I have a meteorological soft spot for (see: lots of precipitation), Stoke ground out a hard fought win through one of their numerous Barcelona ex-pat’s, as Bojan cheekily flicked the ball home in the 10th minute to get proceedings underway.
Bojan timing his run to perfection
Stoke are a team who have evolved over the past few seasons, previously labelled as a club better at playing a brand of rugby than football, a rag-tag bunch of La Liga ‘couldabeens’ and various others searching for a spot to reignite their careers have banded together to play quite an attractive style of football.
Stoke have won 5 of their last 7 fixtures, as their trio of Bojan, Arnautovic and Shaqiri kept Southampton under pressure throughout the day.
Stoke’s defensive credibility and trio of midfielders who wouldn’t look astray in a failed boy band, waddle into the top half of the table, with a delighted Mark Hughes remaining firmly employed.
Newcastle 0 – 3 (Vardy 45’, Ulloa 62’, Okazaki 83’) Leicester City
I could merrily write a good few thousand words on the brilliance of both Leicester City and their entirely psychopathic genius of a striker Jamie Vardy, but I’ll keep it brief, as Vardy travelled to Newcastle to have a truly miraculous party.
Vardy’s goal on the stroke of halftime equalled the Premier League record for successive games scored in, with Vardy now tied with Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United fame.
Vardy waltzing into the box without a care in the world
Vardy’s moment of glory began as he picked the ball up on the left wing, faced with the usually foul defensive offerings provided by Newcastle United, Vardy decided he’d had enough, striding into the box, playing a one-two, receiving the ball back and promptly nutmegging whichever poor soul occupies left back for Newcastle United (Moussa Sissoko, for those wondering).
Leicester capped off the game in dominant fashion, as both Ulloa and Okazaki grabbed 2nd half goals, solidifying Leicester’s absurd run to the top of the Premier League, with the Foxes now sitting 1st in the league standings.
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren told the media: “That was the worst performance we have had this season and it is very disappointing. I understand the frustration of the fans and we will get back on the training field on Monday to get consistency back in our results.”
Newcastle now sit 17th, one spot above relegation.
Everton 4 (R. Barkley 17′, 42′, R. Lukaku 28′, 59′) – 0 Aston Villa
In other Premier League news, Aston Villa continue to be poor at football, nothing to see here folks.
Romelu Lukaku continued his rich vein of form, as Ross Barkley took part in a proper demolition job.
Aston Villa have not won since the opening day of the season, now having endured 12 games without a victory, a trend which never looked in danger of being changed, as Barkley’s 2 goals were of the tap-in variety, and Lukaku’s 1st was a well-directed header.
Lukaku showing why he’s one of the youngest EPL players to 50 goals
Everton’s man of the match was Gerard Deulofeu, as the Spanish youngster scored 5 times in 2 appearances for the Spanish U-21 side during the international break, he was on an assisting spree, linking up with Barkely or Lukaku seemingly at will, showing consistent signs of the hype that surrounded his early teenage years.
Villa remain last in league standings, lacking a proper offensive option, the struggling side will find it difficult to shake this form unless they manage to create constructive passages of possession inside their opponents half – a rather obvious statement – but a series of actions Villa has found near-impossible this season.
Chelsea 1 (Costa 64’) – 0 Norwich
Chelsea fans across the world rejoiced, as they felled the mightiest of sides… Norwich City.
Chelsea put Norwich to the sword, as their bumbling criminal of a striker briefly appeared to remember where he is paid richly to place the ball.
Costa briefly remembering what his job is
Cesc Fabregas’ rapidly taken free kick should receive the applause in this scenario, as the wily Spaniard spotted an incoming Costa and placed the ball delicately in his path.
Worrying signs to be gleaned from the Chelsea victory include the fact that a stubborn Norwich held the star-studded line-up goalless for the better part of an hour, infuriating Jose Mourinho to the point of a particularly surly post-match press conference.
A glimmer of positivity was granted to the fans in blue, as Eden Hazard had a game reminiscent of “2014 Eden Hazard”, floating about in a less structured number 10 role, the Belgian midfielder was heavily involved in a number of Chelsea’s movements forward.
The win moves Chelsea to 15th, as Norwich sit 16th.
Watford 1 (Deeney (pen) 87’) – 2 (Depay 11’, Deeney (og) 90’) Manchester United
Manchester United’s visit to Vicarage Road saw Watford’s Troy Deeney go from hero to villain in the space of 3 minutes, as the Watford striker converted a penalty late on, only to slide home a Bastian Scweinsteiger cross in the 90th minute.
Memphis Depay signalled a potential return to form, volleying in an inch-perfect cross from Ander Herrera, a volley that most mere mortal would scuff into orbit, calmly controlled whilst sprinting forward, indicating the near-tangible hype surrounding the Dutch youngster.
Memphis making an extremely difficult action look pedestrian
United’s Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial both missed the fixture through injury, granting Memphis an opportunity to prove himself, having come off the bench for all appearances since October 4th.
United sit 2nd in the league, as Watford slip to 13th, once again falling victim to a litany of unfinished chances.
Tottenham 4 (Kane 23’, 50’, Alderweireld 33’, Walker 83’) – 1 (Lanzini 87’) West Ham
Tottenham fans have spent the last 5 games growing increasingly happier, given the apparent return to form of their golden boy, Harry Kane.
Kane continued his 5 game streak of scoring, converting two opportunities and reminding fans why he was rapidly elevated to the national team last season.
Kane showing a devastatingly accurate eye for goal
West Ham struggled without French wizard Dimitri Payet, who faces at least another two months on the sidelines injured.
The clinical Tottenham performance rarely offered West Ham an opportunity to press forward, barring a late goal from Payet-replacement Manuel Lanzini, who following an astonishing bit of footwork, absolutely rocketed the ball into the top corner.
Jelavic finds Lanzini for a properly filthy double-step over prior to rocketing it home
West Ham remain 6th, as Tottenham creep closer to the top 4, sitting 5th by 2 points.
Crystal Palace 0 – 1 (Defoe 80’) Sunderland
A defensive mistake from a hesitant Scott Dann gifted Sunderland the victory, as the Black Cats sported a truly horrid green kit, which continues to baffle me as their shield colours are red, white and black… Oh well, onward.
Sunderland’s first away win of the season was deserved, as both teams fought tightly for goal scoring opportunities throughout the tie, as Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates had an early header cleared off the line by Crystal Palace.
Defoe capitalised late on a bit of Yannick Bolasie stupidity, as the maverick Congolese midfielder attempted a lazy bit of “tekkers”, he tried to scuff the ball backward following his FIFA Street-esque failure, resulting in a hard-working Defoe running through to pressure Dann into a defensive error.
Defoe skips through on goal
“Big Sam” Allardyce’s managerial reputation for saving beleaguered lower-end sides appears to be holding true, as Sunderland’s defensive approach to the fixture saw them claim 3 points and move to 18th on the table, a mere point away from escaping the relegation zone.
Crystal Palace remain 10th, with a game at home against Newcastle next week.
Zaha shaking Van Aanholt to the bottom of his soul
Next Week’s Top 3:
- Leicester City vs Manchester United – Jamie Vardy attempts to cap off the ultimate party with 11 successive fixtures scored in
- Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea – In-form Tottenham visit a calamitous Chelsea side
- Liverpool vs Swansea – Two sides on the up and up, Monk fights for managerial survival as the HeliKloppter seeks out its next victim
Have a pleasant week everyone, here’s a particularly entertaining clip I thought you might enjoy:
Jose Mourinho not fussed with proceedings, enjoying a casual spot of gardening during the mid-week UEFA Champions League fixture vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv #josethings