What. A. Weekend.
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The Premier League was back with a bang after the international break as Jose Mourinho was in at Tottenham, Leicester City stay in second and Man City won the big game of the weekend as the edged past Chelsea.
Add VAR drama, late goals galore and a glut of no wins for the home teams and that adds up to one thing: Madness.
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Below are five key takeaways from Saturday and Sunday on Matchweek 13.
Rejuvenated Mourinho keeps it simple at Spurs
It was like he’d never left. 11 months after being fired by Man United, Mourinho replaced his good friend Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham last week. In his first game in charge Spurs were 3-0 up and should have won by a larger margin than 3-2 (two late goals gave the scoreline an unnecessary gloss for poor West Ham), as Dele Alli played a starring role alongside Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane up top.
[ MORE: Mourinho delivers on debut ]
That quartet kept things simple and Mourinho had Harry Winks and Eric Dier as two holding midfielders as Spurs looked solid. Yes, they were playing a West Ham side which is slumping, but they took care of business and Spurs haven’t won away from home in the PL since January. There are signs that Tottenham will have a more ruthless edge going forward and Mourinho’s pragmatism will deliver a better chance of ending their 11-year wait for a trophy.
Pochettino lurking as Solskjaer’s United lucky to draw
As for the man Mourinho replaced at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino is being linked with the biggest jobs in the world. They don’t come much bigger than Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson and others at the Red Devils are big fans of Poch. United fought back from 2-0 down to go 3-2 up at Sheffield United on Sunday as they failed to turn up for the first 70 minutes then sprung to life. United’s three goalscorers were all academy products as Brandon Williams (19 years old), Mason Greenwood (18) and Marcus Rashford (22) came to the rescue. United should have won the game but Solskjaer brought on a defender for a winger late on to try and shut up shop and that handed the initiative to the blades as Ollie McBurnie grabbed a late equalizer, which is the least Sheffield United deserve. Nobody knew how Man United were leading in stoppage time as they looked disjointed, lacked creativity and Solskjaer had a somber expression throughout. With a talented crop of youngsters coming through it seems like only one man should be trusted with developing their talent and giving United a clear playing identity. It’s not Solskjaer.
VAR drama involves Liverpool once again
So, are the LiVARpool jokes still going around? Ah yes, they are. After tight VAR decisions going their way in their wins against Man City, Leicester City and Chelsea, opposing fans are adamant Jurgen Klopp‘s side are getting all of the luck and the power that be are desperate for them to win the Premier League title. In truth, if they play like that did at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they won’t win anything this season. Liverpool were sloppy in possession, error strewn in defense and had it not been for Dejan Lovren‘s theatrical dive seeing a Palace goal chalked off and Wilf Zaha blazing over late on, Liverpool would have left Selhurst Park with a point, at best. But this game summed up their season so far.
Even the most ardent of Liverpool fans won’t deny they have been far from their best but they’ve found a way to win. Sadio Mane’s shot was tipped onto the post, squirmed across the line and hit the other post as Patrick Van Aanholt failed to clear, then Liverpool’s winner arrived as the ball pin-balled around and fell perfectly for Roberto Firmino to slot home. You make your own luck in this game, and Liverpool are doing just that through gritty, determined displays. Opposing fans can point to VAR, but Liverpool are eight points clear for a reason.
Man City lose Aguero, beat Chelsea as Pulisic struggles
This wasn’t a decent outing for Christian Pulisic as Chelsea’s youngster were held at arms length by a banged-up Man City squad. The USMNT winger showed a few glimpses of attacking intent in the first half but Man City just had that extra bit of class and composure in the final third which won them the game. Chelsea’s run of six-straight PL wins came to an end but Frank Lampard was impressed and believes his team are cutting the gap to the title contenders, even thought they’ve now lost to Liverpool, Man United and Man City. As for the reigning champs, they’ve lost Sergio Aguero for a few weeks at a key stage in the season and the pressure to score goals is now all on Gabriel Jesus. Pep Guardiola‘s men are hanging in there but untimely injuries are seeing them look longingly up to Liverpool who are at the summit and nine points ahead of them. Aguero often comes up big with goals late on in games and City have been involved in plenty of those tight situations in recent months. How much will they miss their all-time leading goalscorer?
Pressure mounts on Silva, Emery
Not many people would have predicted Arsenal to grab a last-gasp point at home against lowly Southampton on Saturday. Fewer would have predicted Everton losing to Norwich. But both happened and that is bad news for Unai Emery and Marco Silva. Both teams, and managers specifically, were booed at the final whistle and Emery admitted he knows he “needs to do better” as the pressure was cranked up a few notches. Had Southampton finished one of their numerous chances, they would have easily beaten Arsenal. The Gunners defense was all over the place and they didn’t deserve the point Alexandre Lacazette‘s late equalizer secured. As for Everton, there is no clear playing style, no grit and no leadership and Silva looks to be on his last legs, as he has done for a while now. Their win away at Saints before the international break papered over the cracks and this defeat against Norwich exposed them.