Talking points from the Premier League weekend: KLOPP’S JIBES DON’T HELP HIS CASE
Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp’s positive attitude in the past few seasons helped secure Premier League and European success but he risks turning into a parody of the grumpy old version of Jose Mourinho when the Portuguese was Manchester United boss. While the ‘New Mourinho’ at Tottenham Hotspur is all smiles and jokes these days, the German coach has taken to arguing with TV interviewers and loading his comments with sarcasm and jibes.
That reached a low point on Saturday when he implied that the television schedule may have had a role in midfielder James Milner’s injury, picked up in the 1-1 draw at Brighton. The Liverpool boss was asked to confirm that the injury was to Milner’s hamstring and ‘congratulated‘ the TV interviewer before launching into another denunciation of the broadcast schedule which saw his team play in the early game.
Had Liverpool’s match been played on Sunday, though, it would have created a very short turnaround for Tuesday‘s Champions League game at home to Ajax Amsterdam. Suggesting that the kick-off time at the Amex Stadium had led to an injury and then taking a swipe at Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder hardly strengthened his case.
SPURS’ GRIT UNDERLINES TITLE CREDENTIALS It was not always pretty, but Tottenham Hotspur’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday underlined their title credentials — proof that Jose Mourinho has added some inner steel to the side.
Spurs have won only once in the league at Stamford Bridge in 30 years and, while that poor record goes on, the hard-earned point returned them to the top of the table. For the second week running Tottenham were out-passed and, while they lacked the attacking threat they showed in last week’s 2-0 win over Manchester City, the way they handled Chelsea’s attack will have encouraged Mourinho.
The fact Spurs left Gareth Bale on the bench, while Dele Alli and Harry Winks did not even make the squad, shows the options Mourinho has. Expect a more forward-thinking approach next week at home to struggling local rivals Arsenal. CAVANI SHOWS CLASS IS PERMANENT
When Edinson Cavani was signed by Manchester United on a free transfer from Paris St Germain on deadline day some questioned whether it was simply a panic buy to placate fans critical of the club’s lack of activity in the market. On Sunday at Southampton the Uruguayan showed that perhaps it was a masterstroke as he produced a vintage second-half display, scoring twice, including a stoppage-time winner, and assisting one as United recovered from a 2-0 halftime deficit to win 3-2 — a victory that could ignite their league campaign.
The surprise perhaps is that anyone is surprised. Cavani scored 200 goals in 301 games for PSG and despite this being the final chapter of his career, looks as sharp as ever now that he is fully up to speed. While United boast Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, Cavani offers a different approach with his clever movement and awareness of space.
EVERTON MUST STOP ALARMING SLIDE Everton’s poor run of form continued on Saturday as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Leeds United in a game that saw the Yorkshire visitors create 23 chances on goal in what was a fourth defeat in five league games for the Toffees.
After a bright start to the season that featured four wins and a draw against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, Everton’s fortunes have soured alarmingly, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side are now entering a critical period for their season. Up next are struggling Burnley before clashes with Chelsea, Leicester City, Arsenal and Sheffield United before they end 2020 with a home game against Manchester City on Dec. 28.
“This is a more difficult period. In a difficult period you can see how your players react – see their personality and character,” Ancelotti said following their loss to Leeds. BLADES’ LACK OF BITE BIGGER PROBLEM THAN KEEPER GONE
The form displayed by Sheffield United last season has vanished into thin air as they have gone from finishing ninth to being rooted to the bottom after 10 games this term but the main cause of their problems seems to be somewhat unexpected. The Blades suffered a severe blow as on-loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson returned to Manchester United in the close-season, but his replacement Aaron Ramsdale has done a decent job so far.
The real issue for manager Chris Wilder is at the other end of the pitch with a mere four goals — the league’s joint-lowest tally alongside third-bottom Burnley who have a game in hand.