By: Rusty Gorelick
The bad news: the Champions League took a break last week. The good news: the Premier League was in full swing.
Manchester United continued to make headlines, much to the delight of everyone who watches soccer and does not support the Red Devils. Jose Mourinho’s side lost 3-1 to West Ham, and now the “biggest club in England” sits in 10th place in the league, nine points off of first place.
Aside from Man U’s loss and the draw between Liverpool and Chelsea, three of the major six teams took home a victory. Arsenal took down Watford, Manchester City beat Brighton, and Tottenham beat last-placed Huddersfield. All those games ended 2-0. Wolves also won over the weekend, shutting out Southampton 2-0. The win moves the newly-promoted side up to eighth place in the league, just three points off a top-four spot.
Man City and Liverpool are now tied for the top spot on points, but City has lead with a better goal differential. City ran away with the title last season, but 2018 Champions League finalists Liverpool made quality signings in Alisson, Naby Keita, and Fabinho for this year to help them bring their European success into England. After eight weeks of matches, Eden Hazard’s brilliance, Man U’s way of gloriously messing things up, and City’s inventive and attractive style of play have stuck out most to soccer fans.
Mourinho’s Season Three Curse Continues as Manchester United Crumble
Jose Mourinho’s teams are never likable, and watching them implode during his third year is one of the finer things in soccer. He failed with a supremely talented Chelsea side in 2015, and his Man U team looks like it is following suit. If the “Special One” going with Scott McTominay at center back isn’t a sign that he is losing his mind, I don’t know what is.
Felipe Anderson’s deft finish and Andriy Yarmolenko’s deflected shot sparked the Hammers onto victory, and the underdogs did well defensively as they made Romelu Lukaku run with the ball. Additionally, Mourinho decided to exclude Alexis Sanchez from the squad entirely, which will make any Arsenal fan tear up with happiness. Having seen the same thing happen to Chelsea the last time Mourinho had his third season at any one club, I think Man U’s best bet is to fire him and bring in Zinedine Zidane to see if the France legend is actually a solid manager or just a beneficiary of Real Madrid’s talent.
Deeney fails to back up his talk, as usual
Arsenal did something they rarely accomplished under Arsene Wenger: they won a winnable game. The Gunners hosted Watford and won 2-0, shutting up Troy Deeney, the Premier League equivalent of Joel Embiid but without any skill or likeability. Deeney’s best known for his size and trash talk rather than his goals, and considering he plays striker, I think his priorities are most certainly not in order.
The hosts had a poor defensive display, but plays from Rob Holding and Mesut Ozil helped the team keep a clean sheet despite losing Petr Cech late in the first half to a hamstring injury. Holding ran halfway across the box early in the second half in order to block Isaac Success’s shot. After Abdoulaye Doucoure bodied him off the ball in the middle of the field, the notoriously “lazy” Ozil ran to the top of the box to win the ball back merely four seconds later. Ozil also scored his side’s second goal, a tap-in following an own goal from Watford’s Craig Cathcart.
Chelsea, Liverpool entertain in 1-1 draw
Mohamed Salah and Hazard, the Premier League’s two best and most entertaining players, squared off as Chelsea faced Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge’s resurgence has been one of the most surprising revelations of the season, and the ex-Chelsea striker scored a wonderful late goal against his former club.
Just a few days after scoring a similar goal against the same opponent, Hazard did his best Leo Messi impression as he weaved through the Reds’ defense in the first half. Week-in, week-out, he shows why he really is the third-best player in the world after Messi and Ronaldo, and he proved it again while facing a brutally challenging opponent in Liverpool.