Week 12 of the English Premier League sees Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea retain their unbeaten starts to the season with victories over Man Utd, Fulham and a draw at home to Everton.
As a nipper, I would occasionally touch the bible, wink at the sky, and ask God to help Manchester United win the Premier League. The Gods’ wand must have run out of whale fat, because I began begging in 1983, and it didn’t happen until 1992.
But it happened.
Maybe, I should have found a bible last night.
Who am I kidding?
No amount of bibles would have saved United.
They didn’t have a prayer.
I never cared for the Manchester Derby, because back in the day, Manchester City was rubbish. How could you get excited about a game you were always going to win?
City fans must feel the same way.
In the opening ten minutes, United away fans could have put the tops back on their flasks and headed home. The Citizens had over 80% of the possession, making 96 passes to United’s measly 6.
It was the 177th Manchester derby, and I doubt there have been many as lopsided even throughout United’s dominance during the Fergie years, and City deservedly took the lead in the 12th minute after David Silva scored from just outside of the six-yard box after neat work by Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva.
United have been the comeback kings of late, rescuing seven points from losing positions in recent Premier League games, and of course, that stunning victory in Turin, but today, they were no king; they were the court jester.
United’s midfield, missing Paul Pogba through injury, looked like a bunch of camels meandering through the desert, as City ran rings around them. Then in the 48th minute, City went two ahead with Sergio Agüero scoring his eighth Premier League goal of the season after a neat one-two with Riyad Mahrez. It was the Argentine’s ninth derby goal, pulling him level with the great Bobby Charlton.
Then there was an opportunity for United fans to buy some popcorn after Ederson brought down Romelu Lukaku, and Anthony Martial scored his fifth goal in successive games from the spot.
But there would be no comeback like the last term.
City simply pressed, and pressed, as United players scurried around the pitch with a nervousness you only see with people on two packs a day trying to find a lighter that works at 4 am.
Then in the 86th minute came the goal of the season.
In total, the move contained 44 passes, and took up 2.1% of total match time, before Bernardo Silva’s cross found Ilkay Gündogan in the six-yard box, and the German scored with ease.
That goal means United finished the game as the only side in the top ten to have a negative goal difference, the first time that has happened since the late 70s, and in Mourinho, they have a manager who is just deluded.
Instead of walking off the park, and admitting to the press that City outclassed his side, Mourinho offered nothing but excuses, saying that City’s preparation for the game came with two ‘friendly’ matches against Southampton and Shakhtar Donetsk, while United had to face the might of Bournemouth and Juventus.
“The physical and mental fatigue leads to mistakes,” said Mourinho, refusing to acknowledge what Alan Shearer called a ‘chasm’ between the two sides.
Luckily, for United, the international break gives them time to lick their wounds, before they return to Premier League action with a comfortable looking home tie against Crystal Palace.
The Best of the Rest
There is more chance of Dr Pepper becoming more popular than Coca-Cola than anyone stopping Man City from retaining their title, but the bookies think Liverpool have a fighting chance.
Jürgen Klopp’s side remains a 4/1 shot to win their first Premier League title after beating Fulham 2-0 at Anfield. Slavisa Jokanovic’s team had their chances, notably an early miss from Ryan Sessegnon, and Liverpool made them pay with goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Mohamed Salah, the last of which came after the Fulham players were busy protesting with the officials over a disallowed Aleksandr Mitrović header.
Liverpool remains unbeaten in the Premier League, and so does Chelsea after Everton held them to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge. It wasn’t your standard nil-nil with both sides creating an array of chances, notably Marco Alonso, who had the best two chances of the match, including a stunning volley that Jordan Pickford tipped over the bar in a brilliant display of goalkeeping.
Neil Warnock told the press that his boss would expect European qualification after Cardiff beat Brighton at the Cardiff City Stadium with a last minute winner from Sol Bamba, who went into such a fit in the aftermath of his goal that he disputed taking his top off and throwing it into the stand. Cardiff moved ahead of Huddersfield after the Terriers drew 1-1 at home to West Ham.
Arsenal’s bid for a Champions League place took a minor bruising after a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves. When the Premier League fixture counter spewed this one out, it had a home win written all over it, but Wolves had more than enough chances to win what turned out to be an open game. Spurs extended the gap between them and their rivals to three points after beating Crystal Palace after Juan Foyth scored his first goal for the club after joining from Estudiantes in 2017.
Newcastle booked their second win on the trot, and Bournemouth booked their second loss on the trot in a 2-1 home win for the Geordies. Two goals from Salomon Rondon in an Alan Sheareresque performance bagging the points for Rafa Benitez.
Here are the results in full.
Cardiff 2 v 1 Brighton
Southampton 1 v 1 Watford
Leicester 0 v 0 Burnley
Huddersfield 1 v 1 West Ham
Newcastle 2 v 1 Bournemouth
Crystal Palace 0 v 1 Spurs
Liverpool 2 v 0 Fulham
Chelsea 0 v 0 Everton
Man City 3 v 1 Man Utd
Arsenal 1 v 1 Wolves
Premier League Table
1. Man City – 32
2. Liverpool – 30
3. Chelsea – 28
4. Spurs – 27
5. Arsenal – 24
6. Bournemouth – 20
7. Watford – 20
8. Man Utd – 20
9. Everton – 19
10. Leicester – 17
11. Wolves – 16
12. Brighton – 14
13. West Ham – 12
14. Newcastle – 9
15. Burnley – 9
16. Crystal Palace – 8
17. Southampton – 8
18. Cardiff – 8
19. Huddersfield – 7
20. Fulham – 5
Premier League Winner Odds
Man City 1/4
Liverpool – 4/1
Premier League Relegation Odds
Top 4 Finish
Man City 1/1000
Man Utd 7/2
Harry Kane (6 goals) – 10/3
Sergio Agüero (8 goals) – 9/4 (
Mohamed Salah (6 goals) – 9/2
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7 goals) – 9/1
Eden Hazard (7 goals) – 10/1
Next Manager to Leave His Position
Slavisa Jokanovic – 4/7
Mark Hughes – 5/2
Roy Hodgson – 12/1
Jose Mourinho – 12/1
Mauricio Pochettino – 12/1