Questions over Pochettino as Spurs are humiliated twice
Spurs suffered one of the worst weeks in the club’s recent history, as Maurcio Pochettino’s side were humiliated twice in the space of five days. The first disappointment came at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the Germans tearing Spurs apart 7-2 at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry bagged four, to rub salt in the wounds.
Spurs were awful in the second half; Bayern scored three in the space of ten minutes at the start of the half and three more in eleven minutes at the end of the game. Pochettino and his players looked on hapless, a far cry from the team that came so close to winning last year’s competition.
Spurs then had the chance to bounce back away to Brighton on Saturday, only to limp to another embarrassing defeat. Brighton teenager Aaron Connolly scored twice in the Seagulls’ win, with Spurs offering next to nothing throughout the game. To make matters worse, captain Hugo Lloris suffered a dislocated elbow, meaning the unconvincing Paulo Gazzaniga will be between the sticks for the foreseeable future.
These terrible results mean there are now serious question marks over Mauricio Pochettino’s future. Spurs’ away form has been awful for months, and this season is going from bad to worse. While Pochettino has been saying the right things, there are increasing rumours of his distance from his team and the players’ unhappiness. The Argentine has worked miracles at Spurs, but it now looks like the journey may be coming to a sad ending.
Liverpool increase lead as City lose again
Liverpool’s home match against Leicester looked challenging on paper, and so it proved. The Reds went one-nil up in the 40th minute courtesy of a Sadio Mane goal, but Leicester proved resilient and James Maddison equalised with ten minutes to go. However, it wasn’t to be for the Foxes, as James Milner gave Liverpool the win with a dramatic 95th minute penalty.
It was then up to City to respond, only for Pep Guardiola’s team to fall to another surprise defeat, this time 2-0 at home to Wolves. City dominated possession but looked far from their usual selves, conceding to two Wolves counter-attacks in the last fifteen minutes. Adama Traore bagged both goals after Nuno Espirito Santo moved the pacy forward up front alongside Raul Jimenez.
The two results meant Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table is now eight points strong, and though the season is still young, the title is theirs to lose. Jurgen Klopp’s side are yet to hit top gear this season but still have a 100% record, and the hard-fought result against a strong Leicester side felt like one of champions.
Meanwhile, Manchester City are struggling. Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t lose a league game until December last season, but have already lost two this term. The defence is weak and threadbare after Vincent Kompany’s departure and injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, and the team just don’t look the same when Kevin De Bruyne isn’t fit. It’s starting to feel like this may finally be Liverpool’s year.
United go from bad to worse
After labouring to a 0-0 draw against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday, Manchester United endured what was probably their worst performance yet under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, losing 1-0 away to Newcastle on Sunday. Solskjaer’s side have lost by bigger scorelines, but Sunday’s display was one in which any remaining glimmers of hope seemed to evaporate. United were completely abject, offering next to nothing and losing to a 72nd minute goal from 19-year-old debutant Matty Longstaff.
The result leaves United twelfth, just two points off the relegation zone and 15 off first-placed Liverpool, with the Reds up next. A loss in that game could mean United sit in the bottom three after nine Premier League games.
9 – Manchester United have picked up just nine points from their opening eight Premier League matches this season (W2 D3 L3), their worst start to a league season since 1989-90 (8 points) when they went on to finish 13th. Worrying. pic.twitter.com/oV2kDjRkri
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 6, 2019
The likes of Gary Neville and Roy Keane have claimed that Solskjaer needs time, but the Norwegian has now failed to win in ten away games and has a lower win percentage than Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gall and David Moyes. The board placed their trust in Solskjaer over the summer, but there is only so long he can last without results and performances improving.
Juve take top spot from Inter
Sunday’s Derby d’Italia was one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent years, due to the fact that Inter actually sat above Juve in the league table for the first time in a long while. Antonio Conte has revolutionised Inter, the side having won their first six Serie A games prior to Sunday’s match. However, it was Juve who got the better of their former boss.
Maurizio Sarri’s side took an early lead courtesy of Paulo Dybala, only for Matthjis de Ligt to give away a clumsy penalty from which Inter’s Luataro Martinez equalised. It was another Argentine who then decided the game- Gonzalo Higuain was brought on to grab the winner in the 80th minute.
While the result itself is significant in giving Juve top spot, the nature of the match also revealed a lot about each team’s credentials. Juve generally had the better of it, with Inter struggling at times, particularly after Stefano Sensi’s withdrawal due to injury. Much has been made of Conte’s new Inter bringing Juve’s dominance to an end, but based on this evidence the Nerazzuri still have some way to go to match the Old Lady.
Alli left out as Chelsea youngsters earn England call up
Gareth Southgate announced his squad for the next set of Euro 2020 qualifiers last Thursday, and there were a couple of notable calls. The big name player to miss out is Dele Alli. The Spurs man has suffered with injuries lately but is back fit again and has thus far been a shoe in under Southgate. However, Alli’s form has been declining for some time now, and he faces a real test to reclaim his place ahead of impressive attacking midfielders Mason Mount and James Maddison.
The other eye-catching selection was that of Chelsea youngsters Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori. Abraham has impressed as Chelsea’s number nine this season, scoring eight goals in eight Premier League games, while centre-back Tomori has also done well since breaking into the Blues’ defence. A lot has been made about Frank Lampard’s faith in youth, and it’s clear that these two, along with Mount, are certainly reaping the benefits of that trust.
Elsewhere in the squad, Tyrone Mings keeps his place and Fabian Delph is recalled. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jesse Lingard are two other big names that failed to make the cut, while Kyle Walker was left out for the second time in a row.
Rangers go top as Celtic lose
There was a new name at the top of the SPL by the weekend’s conclusion, as Rangers recorded a 5-0 victory for the second league game in a row. Jermain Defoe was the hero, the 37-year-old bagging a hat-trick in the home win over Hamilton.
Meanwhile Celtic followed up last week’s draw with Hibernian with a shock 2-0 loss away to Livingston. In fairness, it was always going to be an uphill struggle after Ryan Christie’s dismissal in the 26th minute, with Scott Robinson and Lyndon Dykes scoring the goals for Livingston. Rangers now sit two points above their eternal rivals and look like they may finally push them the distance this season.