Another round-up from the Greatest football league in the world as the top two surprise everyone with a goalless draw, Chelsea continue to impress with a successful trip to the south coast, and Mourinho’s men leave it late.
If there is one streetlight that remains on, permanently blinding the folks that do business at The Etihad, it’s one carved out of steel forged in the irons of Merseyside.
Leading into the weekend’s top of the table clash between Liverpool and Man City, the Anfield unit had only lost once in seven visits, including three-times in City’s Premier League winning season last term.
The aggregate scoreline in those three thrilling encounters was 9-4.
As the groundsman swept the floors, watered the pitch, and laid the lime, there was one dead cert.
There would be goals.
And there was none.
Pep Guardiola is a proud man, but he is also savvy.
In his previous eight games against sides managed by Jürgen Klopp, he had only won one of them, and only banked the insides of a bagel in his past four.
Klopp knows how to breed football teams that can beat Guardiola’s style of football, and so the Spaniard changed things. He tightened up. He set out a team with a gameplan to stifle the most tremendous trident in football, and it worked.
The only problem is Klopp did the same.
There was only four shots in the entire game, and the first on target came courtesy of Riyad Mahrez in the 62nd minute. The Algerian’s other attempt on goal came five minutes before the end when he missed from the penalty spot. Had that gone in, City would have ended an 18-game winless run at Anfield, and been leading the Premier League by three points, instead they lead on goal difference.
If anyone is pondering Liverpool’s credentials this term, consider this high praise from the best in the business.
“If it is an open game at Anfield, you don’t even have one percent of a chance. We controlled it through Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, the guys to give the extra pass. Up and down they (Liverpool) are the best team in the world in these transitions, offensive, defensive, it is built for that. In that situation they are much better.” – Pep Guardiola
The fans who turned up expecting to see a goal blitz may be disappointed, but neither manager will be.
Both sides remain unbeaten after eight games.
Southampton 0 v 3 Chelsea
The draw between the top two allowed Chelsea to break them apart extending their own unbeaten run to eight games with an easy win over Southampton.
Mark Hughes’ remains the bookies fourth favourite to get the boot after another heartless performance from a club that has now gone 26 Premier League games without beating a Top 6 side, and has only won once in 15 home games.
The Premier League’s top scorer increased his tally to seven when he opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Ross Barkley put Eden Hazard through, and the Belgian finished with ease.
Then Barkley turned goal scorer when he got on the end of an Olivier Giroud cross to score his first goal since May 2017, an opportune moment with England playing Croatia on Friday night, and Barkley named in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Maurizo Sarri will also be please that Álvaro Morata scored for the successive game, chipping over the onrushing Southampton keeper deep into injury time after being put through by Hazard.
Man Utd 3 v 2 Newcastle
There are many who believe Jose Mourinho will be hanging by the rafters by the end of the season, but you don’t hear those dissenting voices within the Old Trafford crowd.
That said, the noose is around his neck, and at times, you can’t help but wonder if the Special One placed it there himself. Talk of a manhunt is ridiculous. Jose, you are the manager at one of the most important brands in global football.
Get with the program.
Whether or not the United Board would have sent Mourinho down the waterfall without a life jacket had they lost against Newcastle, we may never know, but it certainly wouldn’t have helped.
Newcastle, who came into this tie without a win all season, opened the scoring as early as the seventh minute when Kenedy made Ashley Young look like a one-legged banjo player, before coolly passing the ball passed David de Gea.
It was an unthinkable beginning for the Old Trafford faithful.
Three-minutes later and the unthinkable happened, again.
Jonjo Shelvey punted the ball into the box, Yoshinori Muto was allowed to have multiple touches before turning Young inside out and scoring his first goal for the club on his Premier League debut.
The crowd began singing, “You’re getting sacked in the morning.”
Mourinho reacted by substituting Eric Bailly in the 19th minute, and placing Scott McTominay (who Mourinho would later refer to as ‘scared’) into the back four, with Victor Lindelof on the bench.
Shelvey nearly made it three, but saw his long range effort parried by the brilliant goaltending Spaniard.
Muto missed a sitter from four-yards.
At the other end, Marcus Rashford (whom Mourinho would later call ‘sad on the pitch’) headed over the bar from the near post when it looked easier to score.
And then we had the half time interval.
Teacups were thrown no doubt.
United emerged a different side.
McTominay came off, and Matic moved into the back four, and Marouane Fellaini came on instead of Alexis Sanchez.
Paul Pogba took control of the game. The Frenchamn saw a shot saved by the Newcastle keeper, and Matic blazed over from seven yards, and then Pogba set up Rashford who once again headed over the bar.
The United youngster trundled off to be replaced by Sanchez.
Then a spark.
United picked up a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area, and Juan Mata spanked it into the top corner.
One way traffic.
Fellaini saw his shot saved.
Chris Smalling likewise.
Then a beautiful piece of interplay between Pogba and his compatriot Anthony Martial ended with the one time most expensive teenager in the world drawing United level.
Mohamed Diame saw his header cleared off the line by Romelu Lukaku in a rare foray forward, and with 90-minutes on the clock, Young curled a cross into the box, and Sanchez popped up at the far stick to head home the winner.
It’s the seventh time in Premier League history that United have come back from two goals down.
Newcastle hasn’t won a game in eight.
Fixtures in Full
Brighton 1 v 0 West Ham
Burnley 1 v 1 Huddersfield
Crystal Palace 0 v 1 Wolves
Watford 0 v 4 Bournemouth
Leicester 1 v 2 Everton
Spurs 1 v 0 Cardiff
Man Utd 3 v 2 Newcastler
Fulham 1 v 5 Arsenal
Southampton 0 v 3 Chelsea
Liverpool 0 v 0 Man City
Premier League Table
1. Man City – 20
2. Chelsea – 20
3. Liverpool – 20
4. Arsenal – 18
5. Spurs – 18
6. Bournemouth – 16
7. Wolves – 15
8. Man Utd – 13
9. Watford – 13
10. Leicester – 12
11. Everton – 12
12. Burnley – 8
13. Brighton – 8
14. Crystal Palace – 7
15. West Ham – 7
16. Southampton – 5
17. Fulham – 5
18. Huddersfield – 3
19. Newcastle – 2
20. Cardiff – 2
Premier League Winner Odds
Man City 4/6
Man Utd 100/1
Premier League Relegation Odds
Harry Kane – 5/2
Sergio Aguero – 10/3
Eden Hazard – 11/2
Mohamed Salah – 13/2
Next Manager to Leave
Jose Mourinho – 4/6
Neil Warnock – 6/1
Rafa Benitez – 9/1
Mark Hughes – 10/1