Kieran Davies looks back on a week of Mortal Combat and Guess Who.
So in a week where Mourinho allegedly shoves a child, Gary Neville shows he actually has a heart and Marty McFly and Doc Brown touchdown in the present day, another weekend of frenetic Premier League action is to take place. The highlight of the weekend is a Manchester derby, with Pellegrini’s City travelling to Old Trafford looking to cement their place at the top of the table. Last weekend saw City trounce Bournemouth 5-1 while their bitter rivals had a routine 3-0 victory at Goodison Park in the wake of news that Howard Kendall had passed away. Unfortunately for the toffees faithful they could not find the performance to give their ex player/manager the send off they will have felt he deserved. Two goals in the space of five minutes seemed to see Everton off as far as the visitors were concerned and at 3-0, had this been a bout of the computer game Mortal Kombat the message to United would have been……….’FINISH HIM!’ As it turns out they didn’t need to and there was no way back for Martinez’s side.
Meanwhile Arsenal left it to the second half of their game at Watford until they decided to turn on the style enough to dispose of their opponents. The performances of Alexis Sanchez is something anyone facing Arsenal currently need concentrate on, as the Chilean is in a rich vein of form. First United, then Watford and finally Bayern Munich have all struggled to deal with the South American of late. This weekend Wenger’s side face Everton at the Emirates Stadium, the Merseyside outfit being one of the Premier League teams Arsenal have the best record against historically so I cannot see anything other than a North London win here. Who knows what Everton will turn up, I am told they are having a great season, Chelsea game aside, I have not seen this team everyone talks of when I have watched Everton games thus far. On the other side of London, Chelsea who themselves are under pressure to turn things around from the start they have made, faced an Aston Villa side whose appearances in the papers of late have just been speculation as to who their new manager will be. As for the identity of Sherwood’s potential successor, that is like a game of ‘Guess Who’ with different names being bandied about from one day to the next. There are in fact few known names in the game of football who have not been linked to the post already.
Villa will take on Swansea City this weekend with the need for three points as great as it has ever been and with Monk’s side seemingly out of form somewhat. Having lost at home to Stoke City on Monday Night Football last week, Swansea will need to stop the rot on their season and to get back to winning ways. Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool ended in a stalemate at White Hart Lane. Both Tottenham and Liverpool could not be separated on the day and was probably a fair result with both sides having their chances in the game but nobody could capitalise. Pochettino’s side travel to the South Coast to take on Bournemouth, while Klopp will enjoy his first home league match as Liverpool manager against South Coast opposition. Both teams had disappointing displays in Europe with neither finding victory, now they have the difficulty of a Premier League return only three days after their travels. One of the managers who has been under the greatest pressure week in, week out has to be Steve McClaren. Going into last weekend’s fixture, McClaren couldn’t buy a win, so Norwich will have fancied their chances of a result. No one would have foreseen the six goal drubbing Newcastle were to hand out to their opponents. To be fair I think most people linked to Newcastle United would never have envisaged the team being on the positive end of an eight goal thriller let alone their team scoring six of those eight goals.
West Ham won at Crystal Palace last time out with many Palace players being quoted after the game as saying the best side they had faced this season was Bilic’s Hammers. This is some adulation considering the calibre of opponents they have faced thus far, but also must have Hammers fans scratching their heads also. Why can’t the side consistently perform at this level? Why are the two levels of performance they see from their side such poles apart? Following up their win at Selhurst Park with victory over Mourinho’s Chelsea would certainly be a way to please their fans for sure. Meanwhile Newcastle will be looking to build upon their impressive victory last weekend with probably one of the most important fixtures in their season, Sunderland. With Allardyce having taken over the reins at their rivals, an ex Newcastle manager himself, this has all the makings of an epic derby. As with any derby, the form book goes out of the window, this is all about passion and hunger. The only question being…….who wants it the most?