Erling Haaland, Marcus Rashford have rough go of it in wild Premier League weekend

Erling Haaland, Marcus Rashford have rough go of it in wild Premier League weekend

Saturday may have been a routine day in the world’s biggest league, but there must’ve been some sort of gaseous cloud that descended over Ol’ Blighty on Sunday. Other than the one that normally settled over England on Sunday mornings that smells of ale, vomit and some sort of meat (no one’s quite sure) tinted by some bad dancing to Kylie Minogue all night. Sunday was the most bonkers day of the season, and maybe in a few.

Liverpool played a match where they gave up playing defense and would only score goals that one would try in a game of horse, and still won. Chelsea were mostly terrible and scored three goals to beat Brighton, playing with 10 men for over a half. Aston Villa needed a late-header to draw, it says here, “Bournemouth.” And if that wasn’t enough, the day capped off with Manchester City and Tottenham logging another chapter in their absolutely bonkers rivalry over the years, as City tossed away another two points at home by playing with their food for too long to draw, 3-3. Where to start?

Guess we’ll start at the Etihad, as City drew with yet another Big Seven side after taking the lead, just like they did against Liverpool. The difference this time was that they took the lead twice against Spurs and Spurs were not nearly as full-strength as Liverpool were last week. But in the same fashion as that match, City were mostly in total control and seemingly started just exploring the house and checking out the fish tank instead of closing the deal. And most teams in the PL these days can hit you it they’re allowed to hang around long enough.

There isn’t one place to point fingers. While Erling Haaland gave us one of the meltdowns of the season, it probably came as a result of having his first match with City where he had five shots at least and none of them on target. This never happens:

City took the lead anyway after that, but it seems to be a symptom of something being slightly off with the champions. Ruben Dias doesn’t really get anywhere near Giovani Lo Celso here and it’s also Julian Alvarez giving the ball away, and there’s not really anyone in the center of midfield:

For Spurs’ equalizer, Kyle Walker lets this cross in too easily and Nathan Ake just gets his ass beat to the ball:

Injuries are certainly an issue. Perhaps with Kevin De Bruyne around, there’s more of a ruthlessness to put a match away when City are ahead. Perhaps with John Stones around they’re a little more locked down in both midfield and defense. Perhaps there’s still a malaise from winning everything last season that’s making them complacent when they’re on top in a match. It’s probably some combination of all of it.

They’re still going to rip off 13 or 14 in a row in the new year ,at some point. The corrections needed are minor tweaks instead of major surgery. Yet that streak, when it comes, might not see them pull away from Liverpool or Arsenal if it keeps up like this until then. They’re next away at Villa on Wednesday and Villa Park isn’t a very welcoming place these days.

4. Jurgen Klopp is having a kind of Don Zimmer ‘89 season

Maybe the most esoteric reference I’ve ever made, but I’ll explain for those who weren’t a certain age and growing up on the Northside. The 1989 Cubs were a good team, the first good Cubs team of my consciousness, but they had a horseshoe up their ass all season, A round, bald horseshoe named Zim. Don Zimmer did the craziest stuff that year, like starting the runners with the bases loaded on a 3-1 count (multiple times!) or having a closer like Mitch Williams who literally couldn’t find the plate somehow come up with a sub-3.00 ERA and 36 saves. Everything came up trumps.

That’s Klopp this season. Mostly playing without a defensive midfielder, often leaving just two defenders behind that, throwing out four forwards regularly, and most, if not all of it, works because of the immense talent he’s helped to assemble and develop.

Yesterday might have been his piece de resistance of the season. With the match tied 2-2 and Liverpool looking kind of indifferent about it, Klopp hauled off Alexis Mac Allister, the only player even pretending to be a defensive midfielder, moving Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ryan Gravenberch barely making a wave at being a double pivot, as one’s a right-back who moves into midfield and the other a straight-up attacking midfielder who rarely, if ever, gets within 10 yards of his defense.

You’ll never guess that Fulham took the lead when there was absolutely no one shielding the defense. After going down 3-2, Klopp then brought on Wataru Endo, the only straight-up No. 6 that’s on the roster right now. Which one would have thought he would have done to shore up midfield when the game was tied or Liverpool were leading. To bring him on facing a deficit seemed the reverse of how these things go.

So, of course, this is how it plays out:

We couldn’t find a shot of Klopp heading outside Anfield to fire off some six-shooters into the air while donning a cowboy hat and yelling, “All aboard Jurgen’s crazy train, bitches!” One day we will.

3. Meanwhile, on the other side

It has been my contention, and several others’, that this Man United isn’t really all that different from last year’s Man United, it’s just that this one does not have a Marcus Rashford heater to ride to far better results than it deserves. When a player is getting reels like this made about them or rants about them from Roy Keane, you know things aren’t quite the same:

And Rashford was that bad on Saturday, and he’s been that bad all season. Without him, United don’t have anyone to pull them out of the muck of their own creation. Bruno Fernandes is too busy complaining to someone, anyone or everyone, Antony Martial gives less of a flying fornication than Rashford does, Rasmus Hojlund is 12-years-old. Here’s an interesting stat: In 100 minutes of game time, Scott McTominay touched the ball 31 times. His counterpart in midfield, Bruno Guimaraes, touched it 86 times. And this is a couple weeks after McTominay goofing a couple goals and being hailed as United’s savior. Uh, huh.

2. State of America

For USMNT fans, it was a mixed bag. Antonee Robinson was immense for Fulham against Liverpool and he basically had Mo Salah in his pocket all match. Salah tried just about everything – staying wide, dropping deep, cutting inside, heading to the end-line – and yet Robinson had an answer for all of it. The end of the match saw Liverpool move Salah inside full-time basically to get away from Robinson. He even threw in an assist while piling up 13 interceptions, 13 ball recoveries and winning seven of his 10 duels all while only getting dribbled past once and only committing one foul. As much as anyone can, Robinson bottled up Salah.

On the flip side, Matt Turner has lost his starting place in the Nottingham Forest goal again and he’s lost it to someone who apparently doesn’t know how their hands work in Odisseas Vlachodimos. Yeah, Turner had major borkage against Liverpool, but watching Vlachodimos flap at every cross or command his box like the overmatched failson who suddenly was given charge of dad’s company (this was the plot line for the last three seasons of Modern Family), one fears for the USMNT heading into the Copa America with a keeper who isn’t playing. Again.

1. Sometimes sports stereotypes are accurate

We try not to deal in stereotypes here, but sometimes players like Ollie McBurnie come around. If you were asked to cast a Scottish striker for your movie, you’d pick some giant ginger made of elbows with cinder blocks for feet, but also a cinder block for a head that comes in useful whenever a ball is in the air. May we present one of the most in-character sendings off you’ll ever see:

Before we go…

It’s my weekly post, so I get to leave by making, or letting, you marvel at Alexis Mac Allister’s goal again. PICK. THAT. OUT.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky

Original source here

#Erling #Haaland #Marcus #Rashford #rough #wild #Premier #League #weekend

About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.