Lallana in the nick of time
Jurgen Klopp was seething at half-time in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, and it’s doubtful his expression changed much after the game. Of all of the teams to stop the Reds from getting a new top-flight record of consecutive wins, it had to be their biggest rivals. Of course it did.
In truth, a draw was probably the fairest result. United played way above the level we’ve seen them at this season, for long periods. Liverpool, by contrast, were nervy going forward and probably gave their worst performance of the season in arguably one of their biggest games.
An expected eight-point lead at full-time is now just six, which is more than achievable from Manchester City’s point of view. Indeed, the manner of the 90 minutes will give Pep Guardiola all the ammo he needs to motivate his players.
For Liverpool, they needed the 85th minute intervention of sub Adam Lallana to save them a point after Marcus Rashford had given the hosts a 36th minute lead.
That goal was surrounded by controversy after a foul in the build up that VAR refused to overrule. Liverpool’s frustration was compounded when Sadio Mane had a goal ruled out for handball.
Both they, and United, will have better days.
Ruthless City back to winning ways
At this stage of the season, the winning of titles shouldn’t even be entering the discussion. Such is the dominance of Manchester City over the past two seasons, and Liverpool’s form since the start of the last campaign, that such chatter is inevitable.
And with Pep Guardiola’s side in such devastating form going forward again, it opens up the argument of whether the Reds will finally have the staying power to overhaul their closest rivals.
Or whether City will go on another epic run, piling the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s side week in and week out. We saw it last season of course, and some are already looking at the next City-Liverpool fixture as being the title decider, however preposterous that seems.
On the day against Crystal Palace, it was men against boys. The only real surprise was how City didn’t score more than the two in two first half minutes from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva.
Alonso keeps the blue flag flying high
For those Chelsea supporters who were sceptical about Frank Lampard’s appointment as manager after just one season at Derby, the Blues’ performance against Newcastle was another indication of their former midfielder’s talent in the dugout.
Though the Magpies offered no attacking threat to speak of and didn’t muster a single shot on goal at Stamford Bridge, with 30 minutes to play, Steve Bruce’s side were still holding the hosts.
Replacing Mason Mount with Christian Pulisic on 64 had the desired effect, and within nine minutes, Marcos Alonso had scored the games only goal thanks to some consistent Chelsea pressure.
Ultimately, Lampard will be judged on his finishing position come May, but with no incoming transfers, a relatively young squad and only 12 months experience himself, ending week nine of the season in fourth place is a huge triumph for the club’s bravery in hiring him in the first place.
Silva lining for Everton
It wasn’t that long ago that a win for West Ham would’ve seen them second in the table, and another loss for Marco Silva would likely have seen him relieved of the manager’s job at Everton.
On Saturday, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the Hammers who were in dire trouble.
Everton are the east Londoners bogey side, but the visitors should certainly have put up more of a fight at Goodison Park.
The opening goal owed much to the inventiveness of Bernard, and with three defenders around him, the Everton striker shouldn’t have been allowed to twist and turn before firing his shot home.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s wonderful strike deserved to seal the match late on for the Toffees, but Declan Rice has to take some of the blame in the build up. His half-hearted tackle lost the ball, and a pathetic attempt to get back and challenge allowed Sigurdsson to take his time and pick his spot.
Watford stung by VAR debacle at Spurs
Bottom of the table they may be, but Watford outplayed Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday for long periods. So much so that the hosts were booed off at both half and full time.
Getting to the final of the Champions League last season has become a curse for the Lilywhites as they’ve got progressively worse ever since that game.
Dele Alli will get the plaudits for snatching a late equaliser after Abdoulaye Doucoure had given the Hornets an early lead, but VAR will grab all the headlines.
Watford were denied a clear penalty as Jan Vertonghen slid in and upended Gerard Deulofeu, but the VAR team agreed with the officials on the pitch. No wonder the technology hasn’t curried favour with many in the game.
A point is better than none, but in truth the draw doesn’t suit either team.