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  • Chris Sobey

Football


All good things come to end eventually and yesterday it was the turn of Premier League leaders Manchester City’s unbeaten league run, against Liverpool at Anfield. The Reds could have been excused somewhat if they lost against City given all their off and on field distractions involving Coutinho. However, manager Klopp is a shrewd operator and he knew Coutinho would leave eventually, thus had already found a replacement in Salah, who has turned out to be a revelation this season. The game itself turned out to be a seven-goal thriller and while Sane cancelled out Oxlaide-Chamberlian’s ninth minute opener just before half-time, the visitors were dealt a crushing blow within 20 minutes of the second-half starting.

Oxlaide-Chamberlain turned provider to set up Firminho for a 2-1 lead and less than ten minutes later the Reds were 4-1 up thanks to strikes from Sane and fittingly Salah. City ensured there would be a nerve jangling end for both the managers, players and fans alike, when sub Sane reduced the deficit to 4-2 and Gundogan 4-3 in injury-time. On this occasion however, it was too little-to-late for the Citizens, who are now 15 points clear at the top, at least until second place Manchester United play manager-less Stoke tonight at Old Trafford.

The Premier League relegation battle continued to heat up at the weekend and with only nine-points separating mid-table tenth place Watford and bottom of the league Swansea, it’s safe to no team from the bottom half is out of the woods yet. There were big wins at the weekend for West Ham, who were really impressive thrashing Huddersfield 4-1 at the Kirklees Stadium. Crystal Palace, who beat Burnley 1-0 at Selhurst Park and West Brom, who recorded their first league since September 2017 beating Brighton 2-0 at the Hawthorns. Finally, in addition to Liverpool’s superb win against City yesterday, the performance of the weekend was arguably by Bournemouth at Dean Court, who came from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1 thanks to second-half strikes from the returning Wilson and Ibe.

While it’s sometimes a controversial and/or unpopular decision to sack a manager mid-season it is becoming ever more common in the Premier League as the financial implications of being relegated are so huge. The Hammers, Palace and the Baggies all sacked their managers after disappointing starts to the 2017/2018 season and so far, it is proving to be the right decision for the Hammers and David Moyes and Crystal Palace and Roy Hodgson especially. West Brom and new manager Alan Pardew are still bang in the middle of the relegation zone with Swansea and Southampton, who both lost vital points after leading their respective matches against Newcastle at St James’s Park and Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday. The Saints faithful will be livid after letting a 2-0 lead slip and how important could that point be come the end of the season?

Relegation threatened Southampton, Newcastle and now Brighton and Huddersfield have all been loyal and stuck with their managers so far, this season. However, the club owners of these teams could be getting a little nervous after seeing West Ham and Palace’s success and return to form since appointing new managers. It will be interesting then, to see how the aforementioned four club’s and their respective owners continue to react and deal with their clubs ever deepening relegation battle. Are the above four club’s going to sit back and let their current managers and fate decide if they survive the drop or not. Or, will they panic, sack their manager and put Premier League survival ahead of everything?

Chelsea’s inconsistent and disappointing season by their standards continued at the weekend as they could only manage a third straight 0-0 draw against Leicester City. All does not seem well at the Bridge at present, especially where manager Conte is concerned, and while it’s not a crisis as of yet, the Italian needs to turn Chelsea’s fortunes around soon as if they end the season without winning any silverware it would deemed a failure and his job could be in jeopardy come the end of the season, if not before. Spurs and record-breaking striker Kane faced Everton at Wembley Saturday tea-time and it was the Londoners who emerged victorious thrashing the visitors 4-0 thanks to an early second half Kane blitz.


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