Jose versus Arsene
Jose Mourinho entered Old Trafford for Sunday’s final clash versus Arsene Wenger claiming “the Invincibles made me a better coach.” Arsenal fans heard the comments and felt sad that Arsene was unable to say the same. Mourinho wants to stay in management as long as Arsene, and I am fine with that idea on the agreement Jose becomes a complete parody in his final few years in the exact same way as Wenger has managed. As for Arsene, all he wanted for his last few weeks in the Premier League was a bit of “peace”, not something he is used to in Manchester.
It has to be said that Arsene’s final team selection for a game against his biggest career rivals suggested that he wasn’t too bothered about the result. It was Arsenal’s youngest Premier League side since the last time they sent a bunch of young lambs out to the Old Trafford slaughter and lost 8-2.
The game was a reflection of this new found love between Arsene and Jose. It was all a bit too nice. It didn’t feel like Manchester United versus Arsenal. The biggest concern for Arsenal fans was the fact that the very young Arsenal team played quite well and there was a danger that Arsene might have thought, “they might win the league in three years time so I had better stay”. United probably weren’t even sure what motions they were going through, but they were definitely going through some. The sight of Ander Herrera high fiving everyone on the sideline when he was subbed off for Fellaini after an hour said it all really. Ander, Jose thought Fellaini was going to be better than you. This is not a time for high fiving. And, Jose was right wasn’t he? To make even more of a mockery of the event, Micky-T refused to celebrate his equalising goal for his new club. Why? Were you worried you might offend the club that barely selected you and then chucked you out with the Alexis Sanchez bathwater, Henrikh? It was a perfect opportunity for an Emmanuel Adebayor moment and it was missed. In the end, it didn’t really matter. Arsenal have a much bigger week ahead of them, whereas United get to pretend they are in midweek action with a trip to Brighton on Friday night.
Outside of it being Arsene’s last trip to get abuse at Old Trafford, nobody really cared about the game. This suddenly brought back to life relegation battle is where the real interest is. A matter of weeks ago it looked set in stone that West Bromwich Albion were gone and would drag Stoke City and Southampton under with them. But now? Who actually knows?
Darren Moore – managerial wonderkid?
One thing that must be being mused over at the Hawthorns is, “what if we had given Pardew the boot when we should have done, or even the week after that? Or the week after that?” His temporary replacement, Darren Moore, is unbeaten against two Champions League winners and a Champions League runner-up in his brief management career. WBA’s 1-0 win away at Newcastle United gives them just a teeny-tiny glimmer of light at the end of the very long relegation tunnel. They have a chance and, this bit is key, they are hitting a bit of form.
Form is not something that is abundant at Stoke or Huddersfield, for example. Stoke City will take a point from a trip to Anfield, of course they will, but deep down they know they were not playing a real Liverpool side. They were playing a strange blend of Liverpool reserves plus five others with their minds elsewhere, considering they have a slightly more important match coming up on Wednesday. Even Mo Salah looked distracted as he missed the kind of chance he has scored at least 40 times this season. Winning all those awards seems to have changed Mo. I’m joking, of course – he is still far too humble for a man of his ability.
Huddersfield Town must have had Everton at home down as a game to get something from. If they had highlighted it, then their performance was even more disappointing. Could Cenk Tosun be Sham Allarfarce’s parting gift to the Everton fans? He looks like a player, which is a rare thing at Goodison Park currently as Sham’s tactics continue to smother every other player who looks like they might be half decent. Huddersfield have a horrid run in, they could be in big trouble now.
So much of me wanted Mark Hughes to go down with Southampton having failed to win them a game. But, Bournemouth do have a soft centre and the Saints exposed that on Saturday. If even Hughes is now winning football matches then this relegation dogfight still has some life in it.
Leicester City clearly still playing for Claude
One team that will not get dragged back in is Crystal Palace. Their opposing striker Jamie Vardy was nominated for the most recent “we are backing the manager, there is no story here” interview with Sky Sports and his side promptly went out and delivered a performance that suggested the complete opposite. Mind you, it didn’t help Leicester City’s cause that Wilf Zaha was right up for it, following last week’s refereeing shambles around him. I mentioned in my Friday column that the thought of an angry Wilf running past him will have been giving Wes Morgan sleepless nights, but it looked like Wes chose the first whistle to start taking a 90-minute nap. Zaha tormented the Foxes, who have once again made it perfectly clear where they stand on their current manager. I mean, even Christian Benteke scored – albeit slipping when taking a penalty.
Chelsea decided one goal would be enough to beat Swansea City and drag them closer to the trapdoor, so they scored it early and that was that. Cesc Fabregas joined an exclusive club of players to have 50 Premier League goals and 100 Premier League assists. I won’t bore you with the names of the others.
Burnley are all but confirmed as being European footballers next season which means their idiotic contingency of fans can get out of the Lancashire town once in a while. Booing Bong wasn’t very appreciated by the Brighton manager Chris Hughton, though I have to say the entire 90 minutes wasn’t really appreciated by anyone unfortunate enough to have to watch it.
David Moyes’ tie after 30 minutes was as messed up as West Ham United’s defensive performance. Manchester City really do not need any help scoring goals, so for West Ham to put the first two into their own net was a little unnecessary. City scored their 100th goal in just their 35th game, and it was lovely to see club legend Pablo Zabaleta score it, his 13th for the club. If you just forget he was lining up for the Hammers, then that is a cool story. Personally, I’d advise Gareth Southgate to get Aaron Cresswell on the plane to Russia just to take free kicks after he got West Ham back in the game on the stroke of half-time. Not that they were back in it for long though, right?