Lallana rescues Liverpool at Old Trafford
Liverpool were rescued by an unlikely saviour against Manchester United as Adam Lallana popped up with his first goal since May 2017, converting Andrew Robertson’s cross from close range to cancel out Marcus Rashford’s opener with just five minutes to spare at Old Trafford.
- Man Utd 1-1 Liverpool – Match report and highlights
- Ole: Utd attacked | Klopp: Utd just defended
Lallana has been dogged by injuries over the last couple of seasons, making just six Premier League starts since the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign, but he chose a timely moment to rediscover his scoring touch. Jurgen Klopp called it a “great story” in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
Klopp has always been a big admirer of Lallana, using him regularly in his first two seasons in charge, and the hope now is that his injury issues are behind him and that he can re-establish himself in the manager’s plans. The 31-year-old was thrust into Liverpool’s attack on Sunday, but he has also been used in a deep-lying role. His versatility could be useful to Klopp.
Solskjaer gets his tactics right
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical nous has been questioned in recent months and it is fair to say he still has a lot to prove in the dugout, but on Sunday he became the first Premier League manager this season to succeed in stifling Liverpool and for that he deserves credit.
It came from a dramatic change of system. Instead of persisting with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Solskjaer adopted a 3-5-2, with Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Marcos Rojo in a back three and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young deployed as wing-backs. At the other end, Rashford and Daniel James were used as split strikers with Andreas Pereira at No 10.
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Klopp complained about United’s approach – “they just defend,” he said afterwards – but the key was in how Wan-Bissaka and Young pushed Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson backwards, negating their attacking threat for long periods by positioning themselves high up the pitch.
United did eventually drop deeper, but they were an attacking threat too, with Rashford and James combining brilliantly for their opening goal and Pereira working tirelessly behind them. Could this be a template to follow for Solskjaer? It is certainly a template to stop Liverpool.
Who needs transfers? Chelsea have depth
There’s excitement at Stamford Bridge. The 1-0 win over Newcastle was their fifth on the bounce in all competitions under club legend Frank Lampard. But more than anything, there’s a positive siege mentality.
Chelsea’s transfer ban may just be the best thing to happen in Lampard’s first season; crucially, it has curbed expectation, increased the tribal atmosphere and given Lampard an excuse to look to youth.
- Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle – Match report and highlights
In using youngsters, Lampard has created a competitive culture at the club. Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic were two of Chelsea’s best players on Saturday, and both came from the bench with something to prove. Pulisic, a big-money signing before the ban was implemented, played a pivotal role in the winner.
Even with N’Golo Kante, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Ruben Loftus-Cheek out, Chelsea were fine. Lampard, somehow, has more depth in his squad than several top-four rivals.
They now look a genuinely good bet to finish in the Champions League places. Who needs transfers?
No change of luck for Poch
Tottenham boss Maurico Pochettino made seven alterations and switched formation to a 5-3-2 in an effort to get back to winnings ways against bottom-of-the-table Watford on Saturday, but to no avail.
In came Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Danny Rose, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura, while Paulo Gazzaniga started in goal in place of the injured Hugo Lloris, as Spurs made their most changes between two league games in a season in Premier League history.
- Tottenham 1-1 Watford – Match report and highlights
- Poch: We need to be ready in January
However, the home side – who threw Heung-Min Son, Eric Lamela and Tanguy Ndombele in search of a second-half equaliser – still needed a fortuitous late equaliser from Alli to rescue a point.
All of which may have thrown up more questions than answers for Poch as he prepares to host Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday, before travelling up to Anfield to take on unbeaten league leaders Liverpool on Super Sunday.
Recklessness costs Brighton again
For all the plaudits Brighton have enjoyed since the beginning of Graham Potter’s tenure, the fact remains that they have taken just nine points from their opening nine games, and currently sit 16th in the table. At the same stage last season, they were two points and four positions better off.
- Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton – Match report and highlights
An excellent opening-day result at Watford and that thumping of Tottenham have somewhat masked a host of missed opportunities for Brighton, and Saturday’s defeat at Aston Villa is the fourth time already they have dropped points against a side they could arguably consider relegation rivals.
The Seagulls took the lead at Villa Park but were swiftly left with 10 men after some reckless play by Aaron Mooy. It is the second time this season already an unnecessary dismissal has cost them, after Florin Andone’s early red card against Southampton in August led to an eventual 2-0 home defeat. Potter needs to make sure it does not happen again, and he will be praying those lost points are not the difference between safety and relegation come May.
Silva’s big call comes off
Everton manager Marco Silva had labelled Saturday’s clash with West Ham a “must-win” game and his players responded by producing a pressure-relieving 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
The Portuguese made a big call ahead of the match by axing the £45m forward Gylfi Sigurdsson, with summer signing Alex Iwobi instead occupying the No 10 role and Richarlison starting up front.
- Everton 2-0 West Ham – Match report and highlights
With the recalled Tom Davies also pulling the strings in midfield alongside Andre Gomes, Silva’s side delivered their best performance of the season so far to end a recent run of four straight Premier League defeats.
As a result, the Toffees have now moved out of the relegation zone and up to 14th in the table ahead of another potentially decisive match at Brighton on Saturday.
Jesus providing Aguero competition
Pep Guardiola described Gabriel Jesus as an “incredible, incredible young player” after his goal helped Manchester City to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Brazilian was rebuked for failing to pass to Kevin De Bruyne with one late chance, but his overall performance showed that Sergio Aguero’s starting spot is coming under increasing threat.
- C Palace 0-2 Man City – Match report and highlights
- Analysis: No defenders, not matter for City
His goal at Selhurst Park, a header from Bernardo Silva’s cross, took him to 50 for City in all competitions and means he has found the net in each of his last seven starts. He should have added to his tally on Saturday, but nobody can accuse him of failing to take his chances.
Since his arrival at Manchester City in 2017, Jesus has averaged a goal or assist every 93 minutes. It represents extraordinary efficiency, especially for a player who so frequently features from the bench. Aguero, an unused substitute at Selhurst Park, will be looking over his shoulder.
Not for the first time, West Ham fall short
It has not been too long since West Ham were talked up as one of the potential challengers to break into the top six this season, but their defeat at Everton on Saturday suggests they are still a little way off.