Southampton’s star center back Virgil Van Dijk was back in action for the first time in over eight months.
It wasn’t pretty, but he’s back.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Van Dijk, 26, has been out since Jan. 22 when he suffered a season-ending foot injury in a win against Leicester City.
Since then van Dijk has been chased by Liverpool, Chelsea and others with the Saints captain putting in a transfer request to leave Southampton but the club held firm and held on to him in the summer transfer window.
With the transfer window now closed, VVD was back in training with the first team last week after previously being banished to train on his own or with the reserves.
On Monday he played in Southampton U-23’s 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa. Saints conceded two goals in each half and van Dijk was caught out on Villa’s first, second and fourth goals.
Below you can see videos of all four goals, with van Dijk particularly laid back on Villa’s first goal after he stepped up but was beaten in a challenge and then failed to recover as he strolled back into position.
It was previously thought van Dijk may return to Saints’ team this weekend against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) but judging by this performance he seems a little rusty.
That’s to be expected after a long, and unsettling, period out of the team but VVD is widely-regarded as the best center back in the Premier League. Hmmm.
Some Manchester United supporters persisting in singing a chant glorifying Romelu Lukaku which has been deemed racist by many for its depiction of the player’s penis size.
Lukaku was among those to ask that fans stop singing the song, as did the club, but it was heard from the away end at St. Mary’s during Manchester United’s 1-0 win on Saturday (where Lukaku scored the winner).
[ WATCH: Coutinho’s gorgeous free kick ]
United responded with vigor after the match, releasing a statement claiming it would request closed circuit footage of the fans in attempts to ban those singing the song based on The Stone Roses’ “Made of Stone.”
Minutes after setting up Mohamed Salah for a back door header for a 1-0 lead at Leicestwer City, Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho tacked on a goal of his own.
WATCH LEICESTER-LIVERPOOL ONLINE, HERE
Coutinho scored a beauty in the 23rd minute, as the Brazilian lorded over a free kick before spinning a goal just off the top of the wall and past a flying Kasper Schmeichel.
It looked like it was headed for the upper 90 even had it not taking its tiny deviation. The kick was a masterful effort from Coutinho.
A quiz for you. Oumar Niasse‘s two goals:
- A) Saved Ronald Koeman‘s job
- B) Led Everton’s come back win
- C) All of the above
Koeman admitted “there were a lot of emotions” in Everton’s 2-1 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday, as the Toffees got off the mat to post their first Premier League win since Aug. 12.
[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Bournemouth ]
After a summer of spending, the Toffees were expected to compete for another berth in a European competition. Instead, a murderer’s row of early fixtures had Everton very low on the PL table.
Was Koeman able to stay calm as his team struggled at home against Bottom Three side Bournemouth?
“Calm after the game, yes. There were a lot of emotions. It was a difficult game, we did not create many chances and we took the right decision after 1-0 down to try something different – play two strikers and go more direct.
“It is a totally different world after winning. You have key moments during the season and this was a big win that will give everyone a boost.”
Apollon Limassol is next for the Toffees, followed by matches against Burnley and Brighton.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho saw his side battle to a 1-0 win away at Southampton on Saturday as they kept their unbeaten start to the Premier League season going.
Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game after 20 minutes and although Saints had the better of the play in the second half, United’s defense held firm.
Towards the end of the game Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Craig Pawson for encroachment as he stepped onto the pitch during the action.
“I don’t know, you have to ask the referee,” Mourinho said.
He then wasted more time by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he briefly went into the stands before the final whistle was blown.
It remains to be seen if he will face a touchline ban or fine for his actions but speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho focused on the performance of his team.
“It is not always possible to operate at high quality but fought hard. We did what many teams in the Premier League do for 90 minutes, which was play with five defenders at the back. Credit to Southampton, they tried to play. Pellegrino changed the team and sent on another striker to play more direct.
“It was a hard game but I am really happy. Romelu Lukaku’s work is so important for us. He scored his goal and worked hard like everybody else. Nobody feels the pressure to play always attacking football because so many teams play always defensively. I felt some of the boys were not sharp. I didn’t feel like we could score three or four goals like we sometimes do so the option was to make sure we got the points.”