Liverpool March on
There were some tense moments inside Anfield as Liverpool failed to take several chances against an overran Manchester United side on Sunday. With the score at 1-0 thanks to Virgil Van Dijk’s early header, United survived multiple onslaughts and were able to reach the game’s latter stages needing just a goal to claim an unlikely draw. Anthony Martial’s woeful miss ensured Liverpool breathed a huge sigh of relief, and the Frenchman’s lack of composure would prove costly for United.
With the clock ticking down, United put all their men forward for a stoppage time corner, but when that came to nothing, Liverpool broke rapidly thanks to Allison Becker’s quick thinking. His long ball punt was picked up by Mohamed Salah who raced through on goal to give his side a 16-point advantage at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand. Liverpool can see the finish line and it would take a catastrophic collapse to see them miss out on their first Premiership trophy.
City’s Defence Providing More Problems
It was always going to be a hard ask for Manchester City to deal with the absence of Aymeric Laporte following a lengthy injury, but should the removal of one player turn City’s defence into an absolute shambles? It has to be said that it was John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi who marshalled City’s backline during their record-breaking Centurion season, but that campaign seems a million years ago after watching City capitulate against Crystal Palace.
For all their attacking prowess and firepower, City undo such prestige with their shabby backline. Palace didn’t have to play well to breach City twice as a routine corner and decent cross was enough for them to register two goals that brought them an unlikely 2-2 draw. City will relish the return of Laporte, who is due back anytime now, but is the Frenchman’s influence going to be enough to keep City’s quest for trophies alive?
Holgate and Calvert-Lewin Deserve National Recognition
Optimism is high at Goodison Park following the recent appointment of Carlo Ancelotti and that excitement could be increased further if Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin maintain their excellent form. Everton’s 1-1 draw with West Ham on Saturday was probably a fair result, but it was the performance of two Everton youngsters that caught the eye.
Holgate has looked assured at the back for most of the season and with uncertainty surrounding several England defenders, rumours are gathering pace that he could be included in Gareth Southgate’s next England get together. If Holgate is selected, then he could be joined by his goalscoring teammate. Calvert-Lewin has taken a while to get going since making his Everton bow, but goals are very much part of his game now and he added to his tally with a close-range finish at the London Stadium.
Steve Bruce Deserves Credit
There were groans of discontent at St James’ Park in the summer when Steve Bruce was appointed Newcastle United manager. The Geordie faithful had been in awe of Rafael Benitez and his successor was always going to be met with caution no matter what his background in the game was.
Despite Bruce’s indifferent start, the former Manchester United defender has added some resilience to the Newcastle side and his commitment to the cause deserves the utmost respect. Things are not perfect at Newcastle and they could still find themselves dragged into a relegation fight, but halfway into the season, Bruce has done fine and Saturday’s win against Chelsea was another high moment for a manager slowly winning his critics over.
Bournemouth Look Doomed
It once appeared impossible that Eddie Howe would be under pressure at Bournemouth, but after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Norwich, it appears that The Cherries are in desperate need of some fresh impetus.
Howe’s rise on the south coast is one of football’s feel good stories, but the Premier League is no place for sentiment, and it appears that Howe’s fairy-tale leap through the divisions with Bournemouth is taking a dark turn. The club is desperate need of a win, and even that is not enough looking at their current position. Bournemouth were once the benchmark for how a promoted club should approach the top flight, now they’re the envy of no one as they try to cling to their Premier League status.