Daniel Storey gives his Premier League review.
After Tottenham’s 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool, Jose Mourinho talked up his side’s intent in the final 20 minutes of the match, saying that they were unlucky not to earn at least a point. But that is a particularly one-sided, self-protecting view.
Tottenham did indeed threaten Liverpool towards the end of the match. They forced turnovers in possession high up the pitch and Heung-Min Son and Giovani Lo Celso both missed fine chances to equalise. But then why did it take until the final throes of the game for Spurs to try toand put Liverpool under pressure?
In the first half, Mourinho instructed his side to play with two banks of five. That might be a logical strategy if Tottenham were proficient defensively, but they have kept one clean sheet in Mourinho’s 13 matches in charge. Against a side as good as Liverpool, it was a case of when, not if, the away team took the lead.
Mourinho is not yet under pressure; there is an understanding that this project will take time. But after the initial pleasure taken by supporters in winning consecutive league games, reality is biting again. Tottenham have taken four points from their last five matches. They are now nine points off the top four.
There should be a section of Manchester United supporters who currently feel very sheepish. Earlier this season, Marcus Rashford came in for serious criticism from those who believed he was not pulling his weight.
Others even believed Rashford was spoilt — demanding too much money, and allowing contract demands to cloud his performances. Never mind that United were struggling to play through midfield and, by doing so, demanding that Rashford create his own chances.
Rashford did not deserve criticism, he deserved an apology.
A club of Manchester United’s size should not be asking a 22-year-old to carry the team on his shoulders, but somehow Rashford has coped with that responsibility and pressure.
His two goals against Norwich on Saturday means that only Jamie Vardy has scored more league goals this season.
At 22, Rashford has already reached 200 appearances for United.
But while Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, and Cristiano Ronaldo all also had to learn on the job, and under the glare of the spotlight, Rashford has done it without being surrounded by excellence and with his club enduring a tumultuous existence.
All power to him for his improvement and his ability to ignore the catcalls.
You cannot stop that man scoring.
Southampton’s board deserve a huge amount of credit for keeping faith in Ralph Hasenhuttl after the 9-0 home defeat by Leicester City, but there is no doubt which individual is most responsible for the turnaround in their season. Ings has scored 15 goals since mid-September, and 10 in his last 11 Premier League matches.
Against Leicester, he was a constant threat to one of the best central defensive partnerships in the country.
This matters beyond Southampton for Ings, although he will continue to insist that he is just concentrating on helping out the team that took a gamble on him after serious injury.
With Harry Kane certain to miss March’s international friendlies and Callum Wilson’s form having fallen off a cliff, Ings will surely get the chance to audition for an England squad place at Euro 2020.
More than four years after his international debut, this tale of redemption and battling through misfortune at last has its potential happy ending.
After 93 minutes, David Moyes was dancing. His team had rescued a point in stoppage time, and Moyes’ unbeaten start to his West Ham return had been prolonged.
After 94 minutes, he was broken.
You can argue until May about the vagaries of VAR and the new handball rule, but all that matters to West Ham now is that they lost and were plunged back into trouble.
It was all they deserved. The worry about Moyes was a lack of creativity through midfield, and their improved defensive resilience was undone by another injury to Lukasz Fabianski. David Martin kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge, but handed — or rather kicked — Sheffield United the match at Bramall Lane.
Moyes was furious at the officials after the game, but he will know that his side’s own deficiencies cost them the match.
Everton, Leicester, and Liverpool as their next three league opponents suddenly looks a little more daunting.
Fabian Schar, thigh; Yoshinori Muto, groin; Deandre Yedlin, knee; Ki Sun-Yeung, knock; Jamaal Lascelles, calf; Allan Saint-Maximin, thigh; Javi Manquillo, thigh; Jonjo Shelvey, thigh; Jack Colback, knee; Emil Krafth, knock; Paul Dummett, thigh; Dwight Gayle, thigh; Joelinton, groin.
Newcastle United are a squad laid low.
“I’ve been going 40 years and never really seen a situation like what has unfolded in the last couple of weeks,” Bruce told Sky Sports.
“Are we just unlucky or is there a reason why? I’ve got my own ideas, I keep telling everyone it’s the amount of games we play and when you play people fatigued, you risk that trouble.”
Bruce has our sympathies, but he should also explore whether his training methods or picking players when tired is also causing problems.
If Newcastle’s injuries continue, they will surely be dragged back into the relegation fight.