There’s still a Monday night game to come but the weekend review is not lacking for talking points as Nick Miller runs through the highlights and lowlights.
Goal of the weekend
It’s been a rough few years for Daniel Sturridge, with injury problems and a limp loan spell at West Brom keeping him from challenging for a place in the Liverpool team. He’s back now though, scoring twice against Chelsea in a week with Saturday’s effort both much more important and much better.
The frequency and over-ambition of his shots can be infuriating but he was right this time, picking out the top corner from way, way out. If he can stay fit, the resurgence of Sturridge might be the story of the season.
Silver lining of the weekend
At what point should Liverpool start worrying about Mo Salah? Something isn’t quite right: His finishing is a bit off, he doesn’t seem as sharp as last season and he isn’t quite as decisive. Who knows why? It could just be a blip, it could be bad luck, it could be the lingering effects of the shoulder injury inflicted upon him by Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
That might be the bad news, but the good news is that Liverpool don’t have to be quite as worried because have more attacking options now. Last season Salah scored 32 of their 84 league goals. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino got another 25 between them and only one other player scored more than three: Philippe Coutinho, who left in January.
When Klopp looked to his bench last season he saw Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke: this term he has a fit again Sturridge and the underrated Xherdan Shaqiri. The main man might not be quite the same but Liverpool’s supporting cast look much stronger.
Player of the weekend
Marko Arnautovic barely trained this week, with a lingering knee injury still so concerning that he was advised by medical staff not to play against Manchester United. He ignored them in the end, but it was no wonder he looked dead on his feet when he was substituted in the 83rd minute of West Ham’s 3-1 win.
The Hammers are just an entirely different proposition when he is on the pitch. A combination of physicality, nice passing and decisive finishing makes him one of the best forwards outside the top six, and along with Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, he forms a fine attacking trio for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
All three were excellent against United, but Arnautovic stood out in particular.
Schadenfreude of the weekend
Not long after Jose Mourinho arrived at Real Madrid in 2010, he was asked about his immediate predecessor, who’d just got a new job. “If they [Real] get rid of me, I won’t be going to coach Malaga,” Mourinho said, with his customary grace. “I will go to a big club in the Premier League or Serie A.”
Manuel Pellegrini isn’t alone in the ranks of managers who have received abysmal treatment from Mourinho. But there was something darkly pleasing about the man who came before him in Madrid inflicting the latest horror on him at the weekend. Pellegrini’s West Ham beat a Manchester United side who attacked with the ferocity of a sleepy kitten and defended like the same kitten, two hours later: This wasn’t exactly hard-fought revenge on an old foe, but it must have been quietly satisfying nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Malaga are doing pretty well at the moment. They’re top of the Segunda Division in Spain having won six of their seven games so far. They probably wouldn’t take Mourinho now anyway, if for some reason he suddenly became available.
Luckiest moment of the weekend
It’s always preferable not to indulge Mourinho’s complaints but in terms of West Ham’s first goal, he did at least have a point. Pablo Zabaleta was clearly offside before he set up Anderson and the most infuriating thing must be that it was only a few yards away from the linesman, who had a clear view along the line. Had he raised his flag, then who knows whether Manchester United’s latest calamity would have panned out in the same manner.
Tired player of the weekend
Harry Kane still doesn’t look quite right. He still looks exhausted, in fact. But it’s an illustration of how much of a goal-scoring savant Kane is that during this period of (to the naked eye, at least) awful form, he’s scored five goals in seven league games thanks to two against Huddersfield on Saturday. You probably wish your centre-forward looked that exhausted.
Trend of the weekend
St James’s Park used to be a fortress. Even in the season they were last relegated, Newcastle United only lost five games on their own patch, the same as fourth-place Manchester City.
Not anymore, though. Their defeat to Leicester was their fourth in four home games this season and while the previous three have been against Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, the weekend’s loss to Leicester is a bit more difficult to write off. With two points from seven games, they’re already in a relegation scrap but if they can reclaim some of that strength at home, they’ll have a much better chance of staying up.
Continued excellence of the weekend
Since the start of last season, Raheem Sterling has scored 22 Premier League goals and registered 13 assists. Therefore, he’s been directly involved in 35 of the 127 for Man City, over a quarter of the goals arguably the best club side in the world right now have managed. And that’s not even counting the goals he’s been indirectly involved in, or helped create with an off-the-ball run.
Last summer, Pep Guardiola had the chance to sell Sterling to Arsenal, but he kept him and the past 18 months or so have shown why. It’s been been a wonderful example of a player and manager working together to extract the very best from someone’s ability; if you’ll excuse a gushing moment, it’s a pretty beautiful thing to see.
Team of the weekend
Paulo Gazzaniga, GK – Tottenham; Pablo Zabaleta, DF – West Ham, David Luiz, DF – Chelsea, Virgil van Dijk, CB – Liverpool, Alexander Zinchenko, DF – Liverpool; Mark Noble, MF – West Ham, Gylfi Sigurdsson, MF – Everton; Raheem Sterling, FW – Manchester City, Marko Arnautovic, FW – West Ham, Harry Kane, FW – Tottenham, Felipe Anderson, FW – West Ham.