Mane saves Liverpool’s blushes
Cometh the hour, cometh the Man(e).
Liverpool left it late to get all three points at Aston Villa, but it isn’t over till it’s over, and if there’s one similarity between Jurgen Klopp’s side and Pep Guardiola’s City, it’s that they just keep coming until the very last knockings.
With five minutes left of this one, you sensed that Villa thought that they had the game in the bag. After having just two shots on target in the whole game, they’d been the antithesis of the table toppers for long periods. Their mistake was to ease off, even slightly, as the game entered the last few minutes.
Once Andrew Robertson levelled with three to play, the only question was whether the hosts could hold out, because there was a definite swing to the Reds at that point.
With the clock running down and Man City already having completed a comeback of their own, Sadio Mane scored the goal – a header whilst moving away from the target – which kept the gap between first and second at a healthy six points.
City time it perfectly against Southampton
For most of this match, it looked like Man City were wilting under the pressure of having to keep pace with a relentless Liverpool.
James Ward-Prowse’s 13th minute opener for Southampton wasn’t against the run of play, and even though Pep Guardiola’s side stepped things up considerably in passing terms, they were unable to get the better of a side that had conceded nine just over a week ago.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they ran out of steam towards the end, and City don’t need asking twice. Sergio Aguero, who else, levelled with 20 minutes to play, and there was never any doubt after that goal, that another would arrive.
It took until the 86th minute for Kyle Walker to send the home supporters delirious, and the win keeps the champions ready to pounce on any slip ups from the leaders.
Not one of City’s best performances, Pep will know that these are the wins that earn titles.
United’s revival goes south at Bournemouth
For a few games at least, the notion that Manchester United had finally turned the corner in terms of form and results was alive.
It took a well-drilled Bournemouth side to show any football watchers that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has an awful lot to do if he wants to convince everyone that he’s still the right man for the job.
Eddie Howe has always been lauded as being the master tactician, and he showed his nous once again. Ceding possession, the hosts were happy to allow United to dictate, whilst keeping them at arm’s length.
Joshua King’s 45th minute finish was enough to take all three points, and though there were moments to admire from the visitors, they were few and far between – and that’s Solskjaer’s issue.
Arsenal fail to hold onto a lead again
It’s becoming a really annoying habit, and once again Arsenal failed to build on a lead and were ultimately pegged back.
Once Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired the Gunners into a 21st minute lead, and given the way in which they were knocking the ball around, the expectation was that they’d build on the goal.
As has begun to happen too many times already, however, Arsenal allowed their opponents, Wolves on this occasion, to come storming back.
The visitors had almost three times as many shots at goal, and double the amount of shots on target. The only real surprise was that they weren’t able to add to Raul Jimenez’s 76th minute leveller.
A lot has been said about Unai Emery’s weakness in terms of bravery of selection and tactics, something that’s haunted him since his PSG side lost 6-1 to Barcelona.
This result only strengthens that narrative and it remains to be seen if the Arsenal board will put up with it for much longer, given they’re already 14 points behind Liverpool.
Magpies take flight at the London Stadium
West Ham are beginning to revert to type again.
A few games ago, one win would’ve taken them to a deserved second in the table, but fast forward a few weeks, and they were out-thought and outfought by an average Newcastle side on their own patch.
The Magpies had only won two games before Saturday’s encounter, but never looked like losing this one after Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez had put them two up after 22 minutes.
Newcastle could’ve legitimately had five before the break if it weren’t for some poor finishing in the one on ones. It brought back all of the old arguments about the London Stadium not feeling like home, and the boos and heckles got louder before half-time.
Once Jonjo Shelvey, a former West Ham youth player, made it 3-0 with a magnificent long-range free-kick, the locals really made their feelings known.
And don’t let Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass’ late goals fool you. West Ham were well beaten.