7 Things We Learnt from the Weekend’s Football
Published by Dodsy.
1. Firmino is essential in Liverpool’s title chances.
Whilst Firmino doesn’t always get the headlines or the numbers of his colleagues, Saturday’s game against Bournemouth served as a perfect reminder of his importance for Liverpool. When the team is firing on all cylinders, Firmino is involved. He links up with Salah better than anyone and his unselfish nature facilitates the ruthless sides of the other attackers to flow perfectly. With limited creativity in the Liverpool midfield, Firmino is the key to unlocking stubborn defences. Quite simply, if Liverpool are going to win the league, Bobby is going to have to keep this level up.
2. Tom Heaton is one of England’s finest keepers.
Heaton has never been far from Gareth Southgate’s thoughts but a few more performances like this and the England manager will have some difficult decisions to make. Heaton became a brick wall for Burnley in the face of real adversity, and although he conceded one, without his heroics, the three points were unlikely to follow the team back up north. Joe Hart’s career, both for club and country, is currently darkened by the imposing shadow of Tom Heaton.
3. Spurs have learnt to win ugly.
Most people wrote off Spurs as a title contender at the start of the season. When Kane went down with a fairly significant injury, even the die-hard fans must have lost hope but Spurs are finding the ability to win ugly. To pull out three points even without their leader and superstar striker. Even when they don’t play well. 2 goals in the last ten minutes saw them sneak past Watford, another late strike saw them steal the points against Newcastle and a lacklustre performance highlighted with clinical finishing saw them maintain their winning form against a decent Leicester team. Those 9 points may well have been dropped in years gone by, but not now. Can Spurs maintain a title push? After this weekend’s performance, perhaps they can.
4. Solskjaer is making it impossible for Utd not to hire him.
Few pundits or fans gave Solskjaer much chance of earning the Utd job full-time. He was supposed to come and hold the fort down for his beloved Manchester United until the powers that be could persuade a top manager to take the reins. But week after week, this team grows in confidence and stacks up the points. It is not even March and he has dragged his club into the top four. But forget the points, what may clinch him the job is his style of play. People want to watch Utd again, in a way we haven’t seen since Sir Alex was in charge. Solskjaer may win so many games that no matter whether the hierarchy at Manchester United want him, they may be forced to hire him or risk a fan revolt. Di Matteo at Chelsea springs to mind.
5. Sterling is now officially world class.
As much as Liverpool fans won’t want to hear it, Sterling is now officially world class. He was always full of potential but he has become clinical under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. He is scoring goals he wouldn’t have two years ago. But perhaps the biggest compliment you can give him is that he belongs in this Man City team, not just on the periphery but in a starring role. He is one of only four players to have scored or assisted over 20 goals in the league, along with Hazard, Salah and Aguero. He is finally in that company and if he can maintain that, who could not consider him world class?
6. Mourinho was to blame for Pogba’s form.
There is no denying United and specifically Pogba were dismal at the start of this season. The team played at such a lethargic place that it shackled his creativity. Don’t get me wrong, Pogba had a world class strop at his treatment from Mourinho, but it doesn’t excuse the mistakes José made. He publicly criticised Pogba, gave him the armband before dropping him and forced a style on him that could never get the most from him. Since the news that Mourinho had been fired (and Pogba’s ‘ill-timed’ tweet), there has been a complete reversal of from for the Frenchman. For the first time since he has returned to the club, he is deserving of his price-tag. He was signed to be one of the greatest central midfielders in the world and was in danger of leaving the club acrimoniously in January, causing financial and public embarrassment to the Red Devils. Solskjaer has revitalised him and by doing so, highlighted the person to blame for this situation: the special one. For further evidence, look at the form of Alexis Sanchez under Mourinho. A shadow of the superstar we saw at Arsenal.
7. Sarri is living on borrowed time.
We have seen this show before and it never ends well. If ever there was a club that refused to give a manager time to implement change and be successful, it would be Chelsea. Their business model is clear: instant success or time for change. Confidence isn’t improved by the way Sarri handles the media. Add to the mix the humiliation of a 6-0 defeat and the writing is on the wall.
What did you take away from this weekend’s football? Comment below.