FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE THIS WEEKEND
Although talk about the heat being on Liverpool boss Rodgers had b
been rife for some time, the news on Sunday that he had been sacked shortly after the Reds’ 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby at Everton still came as quite a surprise. Another reminder, if any was needed, that club owners are not shy of taking decisive action when they really feel it is necessary.
Manchester City striker Aguero went into Saturday’s home clash against Newcastle with it being noted he had scored only once in the league to date in 2015-16, and not since mid-August. He subsequently netted five times in 20 minutes past the stunned Magpies, becoming only the fifth man ever to hit that tally in a single Premier League game. The 27-year-old Argentina international could hardly have produced a more bold statement about the powers he possesses.
When the Blues beat Arsenal on September 19 it appeared they had finally stopped the rot with regard to their poor start to the season. But a scraped 2-2 draw at Newcastle saw alarm bells ringing again a week later – and Saturday’s 3-1 capitulation at home against Southampton showed Jose Mourinho’s men are far from over their troubles this term. Where their title defence goes from here - and whether Mourinho might be involved for much longer – is anyone’s guess.
Newcastle and Sunderland started Saturday bottom and 19th respectively and without a league win between them this season. Both made very encouraging starts to their fixtures, the Magpies taking a surprise lead at the Etihad Stadium and the Black Cats racing 2-0 ahead at home against West Ham. Each side then spectacularly imploded, Newcastle finishing up on the end of a 6-1 hammering and Sunderland concluding their game with 10 men and having been held to a 2-2 draw. In either case, the fans must feel as if there is some kind of jinx on their club.
Whether or not he thought anything sinister was going on, Advocaat was left in no doubt his time as Sunderland boss could not go on as he walked away from the club on Sunday. There has been a slight air of inevitability about the situation since the campaign began, and many – certainly now, if they did not already - will feel that after keeping the Wearsiders up last season, the 68-year-old Dutchman really should have stuck to the promise he initially made to his wife that he would retire over the summer.
THE IRISH IN AMERICA
Robbie Keane’s 36th minute strike, his 18th of the season, looked like being enough to secure the LA Galaxy a 1-0 at the Seattle Sounders, but Chad Barrett’s stoppage time equaliser for Seattle stopped them in their tracks.
The draw was still enough to take the Galaxy top of the Western Conference, though and was enough to book their places in the MLS playoffs.
Elsewhere, Kevin Doyle scored a 16th-minute opener for Colorado Rapids but Real Salt Lake came from behind to win 2-1.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEKEND
Maybe even better than Arsenal’s and Southampton’s - Lorenzo Insigne struck twice and set up another as Napoli romped to a 4-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro.
Allan put Napoli on their way to a first away league win of the season in the 13th minute before Insigne, who created that chance, doubled the visitors’ advantage three minutes after the re-start.
The Italy forward added his second of the evening in the 67th minute before an own goal from Milan defender Rodrigo Ely with 13 minutes left completed the scoring as Napoli ended the Rossoneri’s 100 per cent home record this season in style.
Embattled AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic is confident he can turn around his team’s flagging fortunes and insists he will not step down.
“I will never step down,” Mihajlovic said to Gazzetta dello Sport. “I will never do so, I have my dignity and my pride.
“I always try to give my best but then it’s the club that has to decide what must be done.
“I am ready to explain everything to (AC Milan owner Silvio) Berlusconi.
“I will try to give everything as I’ve always done and will continue to do so.”
MISS OF THE WEEKEND
Sampdoria’s Joaquín Correa with a howler against Inter.
Taken in isolation the result didn’t kill Rodgers, the damage was done well before that. He never got the hang of rotation, see, therefore he’ll never be able to manage any club that has to regularly play two games a week.
But let’s be clear: yesterday was the kind of moment they call a ‘market correction’ on the stock exchange, when everyone involved realises they’ve been collectively guilty of overvaluing assets, and adjusts accordingly in one brutal afternoon.
Seeing the Arsenal literally leave an impressive looking midfield on paper — Schweinsteger, Carrick, Mata — for dead in that sensational opening 20-minute spell, there was the distinct sense that we were so pumped up, as if our players truly felt they owed their manager proper recompense after our midweek fiasco against Olympiacos.
We need Roman to nail his colours to a mast. And in my opinion, it needs to be the manager’s mast. That sends a clear message out to all the players. If there is any disruption in that dressing room, if there is anyone leading any sort of campaign – it stops it dead, there and then. The owner needs to make it clear that there will only be one winner.
THE WEEKEND IN GUFF
“They are like a bunch of giraffes swarming around in their black and white stripes.”
"It’s alright saying ifs, buts and maybes. But in factsies, we haven’t picked up three points again." Factsies!
"No one deliberately does anything, do they, really?"
PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEKEND
A trio of Arsenal players make ESPN’s selection: