JUMP TO: Man City’s great weekend | Klopp gets frustrated by Man United | Dele Alli’s welcome return | VAR issues continue | Norwich keep a clean sheet | Can Silva be saved at Everton? | Ings the Saints’ hero | Praise for Adam Lallana | Hudson-Odoi brings the magic | Chris Wood a January target?
A great weekend for Man City
Make no mistake, Manchester City dodged a massive banana skin at Crystal Palace. Could it now change their season? After their defeats to Norwich and Wolves, it wasn’t too far-fetched to consider that a punchy Crystal Palace side could land a mortal blow to their title hopes, particularly when the teamsheet showed Fernandinho and Rodri bundled together as an unlikely centre-half duo. (Plus, Palace have done it before: witness Andros Townsend’s wonder goal in last season’s 3-1 win.)
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But Pep Guardiola’s team found a way through on Saturday, scoring a sublime second goal through David Silva in the process, and putting on the kind of performance that suggests talk of “crisis” is overblown.
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Norwich have been conceding too much in recent weeks given injuries across their back four, so a dull draw at the Vitality Stadium felt like a welcome relief. Above all else, it suggested Daniel Farke’s side have the wherewithal to grit out a result against decent opposition and that relegation still looks a fate they should avoid.
Silva services continues for now at Everton
Marco Silva may well have been sacked if Everton had not beaten West Ham 2-0 on Saturday. He might still be in the near future, because there’s nothing yet to show that his team can achieve any consistency and the suspicion remains that he’s riding on the back of the strange over-hyping of his talents that occurred in his early months with Hull and Watford. But credit where it’s due: the Toffees thoroughly deserved their win against opponents who can be almost as infuriating.
Bernard, whose end product has rarely matched his scurrying workrate, scored a particularly fine goal and the out-of-form Gylfi Sigurdsson finished neatly too to put the game beyond doubt in the closing stages. Everton looked smooth and slick while avoiding mishaps at the back; now they and their manager need to show that can be the case on a regular basis.
Ings keeping Saints alive
It’s good to see Danny Ings looking the real deal for Southampton after injuries denied him a deserved opportunity at Liverpool. His well-taken strike at Wolves made it three goals in three games — five in four if you include two Carabao Cup goals against Portsmouth — and the signs are he will need to keep this up.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl did enough in the second half of last season to suggest a season in midtable should be possible but they’re looking like a team destined for a relegation battle this time around. If Ings gets hurt, having scored four of their nine league goals to date, it’s hard to see where the firepower to escape danger is coming from.
Man of the weekend
Talking of players connected to Liverpool, Southampton and untimely injuries, the lion’s share of weekend plaudits should go to Lallana. It feels a trick of the light that the midfield schemer, who has endured rotten luck in recent years and missed 39 games through injury since the start of 2017-18, turns 32 towards the end of this season. The sense, before those stolen years, had always been that there is more to come but he delivered at Old Trafford, scoring his first goal since way back in May 2017.
“It’s been a tough, tough couple of years for me, so it’s pleasing,” Lallana said afterwards. Here’s hoping that such a lovely, deft footballer gets the chance to make up for lost time from here.
Creative force of the weekend
There were some observers who believed Callum Hudson-Odoi’s achilles injury would leave him struggling to regain the spring and speed that marked him out as such a devastating prospect. But his return has been outstanding and among five chances the winger created against Newcastle, the lay-off for unlikely match-winner Marcos Alonso showed great poise and awareness.
Christian Pulisic, who had been introduced nine minutes before that goal, was hopefully taking notes.
Long shot of the weekend
Burnley may have lost at Leicester but Chris Wood, who headed them in front during the first half against their old club, has now scored four goals in four games. He is still only 27 and after scoring nine goals in the second half of last season too, is quietly becoming the fearsome top-flight striker he promised to be in his youth.
Could one of the bigger clubs, perhaps a Europa League chaser, be tempted to stump up the cash to grab him in January?