The stand-out talking points, performances, videos and gaffes from the football weekend.
FIVE TALKING POINTS
1. MANCHESTER CITY CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT SERGIO AGUERO
Quite rightly, the classy striker is considered one of Manchester City’s most important players. However, talk that their hopes of success are reliant on him remaining fit is clearly premature: in his absence Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick and Wilfried Bony netted twice to inspire a 5-1 defeat of Bournemouth. Granted, the Cherries are one of the Premier League’s weakest sides, but Sterling is proven at the highest level and Bony has looked similarly capable so manager Manuel Pellegrini has little to worry about.
2. JAMIE VARDY REALLY CAN MAKE IT TO EURO 2016
The Leicester forward’s first call-ups to the England squad came as a surprise, and few would have predicted he would remain there in the long term. With only four or five places in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016 likely to be taken by front men, Jamie Vardy faces intense competition to remain there, but if anything he is continually improving. On Saturday at Southampton he scored a rare header before demonstrating his composure when, having already missed a fine chance to equalise, he confidently scored from the next, which came his way in the the first minute of stoppage time.
3. NEWCASTLE WILL AVOID A RELEGATION BATTLE
It may prove beyond them, particularly after such a disappointing start, to finish the season in the Premier League’s top 10, but if Sunday’s evidence is anything to go by Newcastle are better than simply avoiding relegation. That has, of course, been said about them before, but what stood out in their impressive 6-2 defeat of Norwich was the fact that five of their six goals came from summer signings. Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic were key, and will likely contribute far more hereafter to lift Steve McClaren’s team out of the bottom three.
4. JURGEN KLOPP WILL NEED TIME
There is little doubting the credentials of Liverpool’s new manager, but judging by their starting XI in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Tottenham, there is little he can work with. If Daniel Sturridge is unfit, they will struggle for goals, and Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel remain unconvincing in defence. He has inherited an unbalanced squad, and simply needs superior players – or Sturridge consistently available and always in prolific form, which is unlikely - if he is to inspire them to qualify for the Champions League in this campaign.
5. SAM ALLARDYCE MAY BE CAPABLE OF RELEGATION AFTER ALL
The cliche has long insisted that, like Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce’s presence at a club guarantees that club will avoid relegation. He certainly has an impressive record in that regard, but he had built the Bolton team that always survived, and while at Blackburn he inspired safety with a collection of players he had inherited, with Chris Samba, Paul Robinson, Roque Santa Cruz and more, his squad possessed some quality. At Sunderland, with whom he lost his first match in charge 1-0 at West Brom, he has inherited nothing of the sort, only a disillusioned collection of players from several unsuccessful regimes, and may find that survival is beyond him.
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND
Produced several impressive saves to secure a clean sheet at Tottenham, where it was vital for morale that Liverpool avoided defeat in Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge.
Assisted Aaron Ramsey’s goal, and contributed to Arsenal’s clean sheet, with a typically-energetic performance in the 3-0 win at Watford.
The in-form central defender was again convincing in another clean sheet for Manchester United during Saturday’s 3-0 win at Everton.
One of the main reasons Liverpool so rarely looked like scoring in the 0-0 draw at Tottenham on Saturday. The key component in, statistically, the Premier League’s joint-best defence so far this season.
Instrumental to Manchester City’s 5-1 defeat of Bournemouth. Particularly impressive were his three goals, given his occasionally-erratic finishing is frequently criticised.
Inspired Newcastle to a much-needed 6-2 win over Norwich with four goals, including two headers and an outstanding long-range strike. Also impressed with his linking of play.
Even if he scored the second goal in Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Everton, his creativity from midfield was what truly caught the eye. Quite why Louis van Gaal chooses not to start him every week, only the manager will know.
Scored one and assisted another in West Ham’s 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. If he continues to perform like that his loan will likely become a permanent transfer.
Scored Leicester’s two goals to secure a 2-2 draw at Southampton when they had been 2-0 down. Enjoying the finest form of his career, the forward particularly impressed in the way he recovered from missing an excellent chance to equalise by scoring his second.
Finally scored in the Premier League – for the first time in 11 months – to prove that class is permanent. The goal was Manchester United’s third in their 3-0 win at Everton, and will likely be followed by more given the improved confidence that should follow.
Scored twice for Manchester City in a 5-1 defeat of Bournemouth to prove that he is capable of replacing the injured Sergio Aguero, and did so having not started a game for them since September 15.
Some medical malpractice from Greece:
THE WEEKEND IN GUFF
Steve McManaman had good news for Spurs:
“Harry Kane’s troubles are still eluding him.”
Paul Merson feels David Silva and Wilfried Bony aren’t on the same page and made a detour into long-wave broadcasting to express this theory:
“There’s wavelengths and wavelengths. He’s (Silva) on FM and he’s a bit Radio Luxembourg.”
Charlie Nicholas had an unkinder take:
“And you’re radio rental.”
Glenn Hoddle’s personal motto:
“Yeah, you always have that sometimes.”
The new Liverpool manager may not yet be a household name, not in Mike Parry’s house anyway:
“Two things I really like about Ian Klopp…”
Alexis Sanchez was into the groove during the warm-up at Watford:
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