Nick Miller breaks down all the highs and lows from matchday eight of the 2018-19 Premier League season in our Weekend Review.
Goal of the weekend
After an uncomfortable first season at Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson looks back to his best. His astonishing goal against Leicester — a perfect Cruyff turn followed by a thumping shot into the top corner — proved as much. In most weeks, Ricardo Pereira’s extraordinary solo strike would have stood out, but ultimately it wasn’t even the best goal in that game.
Missed opportunities of the weekend
Pep Guardiola declared it a “good result.” Jurgen Klopp said he was “really happy with what the boys did.” It seems everyone was satisfied with the 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday, except perhaps those of us who had to watch this rather dubious form of public entertainment.
But should the managers have been quite so pleased? Before the game, they would both have justifiably been delighted with a draw, Liverpool playing the best team in the country, while Guardiola was facing the manager with the best record of anyone against him and one who seems to get in his head the most.
And yet, both teams were so bad that they can only blame their own poor performance for not taking three points. It will surely never be easier for Liverpool to beat Manchester City and for Manchester City to beat Liverpool, but both teams wasted their chance. A point is useful, but both could’ve had much more.
Optimists of the weekend
From a neutral perspective, it was quite nice just to hear Arsenal fans enjoying their team again.
“We’ve got our Arsenal back,” they sang during the 5-1 deconstruction of Fulham, their ninth win in a row. Considering their next two league games are against Crystal Palace and Leicester, you’d imagine that run will be extended, meaning they’ll go into the home game against Liverpool at the start of November high on confidence.
Suddenly, this looks like an Arsenal team that could do something.
Papered cracks of the weekend
A reprieve then, for Jose Mourinho, who nonetheless emerged from Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Newcastle with an air of paranoia that you might actually excuse him for, this time. But even in victory, there were indications of exactly why his job might be in jeopardy.
“The second half was the way we should always play football,” said Romelu Lukaku afterwards.
“That’s what the fans want to see, that’s the way we want to play. I don’t know why we don’t always play like this but we won the game and have to move on.”
It’s always possible to read too much into these things, but that’s the second senior player this season to openly and almost casually question Mourinho’s approach. It was a fine win and a rousing comeback, but ultimately it might prove a temporary sticking plaster, a delay of the inevitable.
Luckiest moment of the weekend
Luckiest moment of the season? Whether Alexis Sanchez’s late goal will actually save Mourinho’s job remains to be seen, but it was aided greatly by referee Anthony Taylor’s failure to spot one of the more blatant handballs you’ll see this season, when Ashley Young raised his arm to block a free kick from Jonjo Shelvey in the penalty area. To compound the disbelief, Taylor’s unique interpretation of physics led him to not even give a corner after the ball went out.
That was in the 40th minute, the score at 2-0 to Newcastle. Manchester United’s comeback from that point was unlikely, but had Newcastle converted the penalty, surely it would have been impossible.
Veteran of the weekend
Glenn Murray gave an interview to the Times last weekend in which he said he didn’t let himself have breakfast at the Brighton training ground these days, because he’d stay there too long, get chatting and fill up with unnecessary food.
It’s always easy to ascribe on-pitch success to off-pitch marginal gains like this, but it is indicative of a 35-year-old who wants to wring every last drop out of his career. Murray’s goal against West Ham on Friday night was his fifth in seven league starts this season: Whether it’s the light breakfasts or not, whatever Murray is doing is working.
Concern of the weekend: Part one
Ultimately it didn’t prove costly, but Hugo Lloris’s latest error will still prove concerning for Tottenham. The mad dash off his line that donated a goal to Barcelona last week was at least sort of consistent with his all-round career. He’s always been a goalkeeper who comes for everything, for good or bad, but one wonders whether the mistake in the Champions League got into his head against Cardiff.
This time, after a ball over the top was overhit and provided a theoretically easy claim for any alert keeper, Lloris dithered, then advanced at just the right time for Jacob Murphy to lift the ball over him. Toby Alderweireld saved his bacon, but if Lloris is now second-guessing himself rather than just making mistakes, it is a real worry.
Concern of the weekend: Part two
Crystal Palace now haven’t scored in their four home games so far this season, and only two of the bottom three — Huddersfield and Cardiff — have fewer overall. The inability to find a forward, other than Wilfried Zaha, capable of scoring could land them in deep trouble.
Team of the weekend
Watford vs. Bournemouth looked like the low-key game of the weekend before kick-off, the two surprise packages of the season facing each other in what promised to be a fixture of razor-thin margins. In the end, it was a rout, Eddie Howe’s team dismantling their opponents with precision and aggression.
Howe wasn’t getting too excited about the 4-0 win, the brilliance from David Brooks and Josh King and Jefferson Lerma, or their position on the fringes of the Champions League spots.
“Oh, we’ve played better,” he said afterwards.
But if you can’t get excited about Bournemouth climbing to fifth, as they were on Saturday evening, then this game might not be for you.