Greenwood’s in our Premier League winners and losers again

Date published: Friday 10th July 2020 12:39

Mason Greenwood is indeed United’s best finisher, while Jose Mourinho’s ‘us against them’ attitude isn’t fooling anyone.

Winners

David Silva
The man Phil Foden is tipped to replace next season, David Silva, showed why he will depart as one of the finest players in Premier League history. He completed 106 of his 112 passes against Newcastle, scored a glorious free-kick, and his two assists mean he has now reached ten in all competitions in as many seasons with Manchester City. 

Admittedly it was the perfect game for a slightly ageing playmaker to appear in – Newcastle seemed happy to let him get on with it – but his effortless grace is something we will all miss when he leaves at the end of the season. Enjoy him while you can.

 

Sean Dyche

‘The 1-0 victory over West Ham was Burnley’s seventh victory in 12 games. That 5-0 destruction at the hands of Manchester City in the first game back has been followed by scorelines of 1-0, 0-1, 1-1 and now 0-1 within a fortnight.

‘The ‘be careful what you wish for’ trope is often an ignorant and lazy line trotted out by unimaginative pundits to warn against more limited clubs getting ideas above their station, but Burnley chairman Mike Garlick ought to heed that advice. He would be a fool to lose his manager so carelessly.

‘Yet in truth, it is difficult to see where else Dyche could go. He is far too good for the teams he is linked with – and perhaps even the one he is at – yet too unfashionable and untested to be trusted with a bigger project. Burnley’s best asset is his own worst enemy. They should hold him as tight as their transfer budget.’

That’s it. That’s the piece.

 

Mo Salah
Graeme Souness described Mo Salah as “super selfish” after his eight shots against Brighton on Wednesday. And yes, the Egyptian has always been a bit self-seeking, as Sadio Mane will attest. But the Liverpool fans don’t care and neither does Jurgen Klopp.

He reached 100 goal involvements (73 goals, 27 assists) in just 104 appearances with his brace at the Amex, comfortably beating Steven Gerrard (212), Robbie Fowler (158) and Michael Owen (148) to that mark.

Liverpool’s front trio are often bizarrely seen as a bit of an issue for Klopp, purely because they are so good. And there is some sense to that. Timo Werner, for example, may have opted for Chelsea because there is a clear path to the first team that is very much blocked off at Liverpool.

But that doesn’t mean we need to manufacture ways to disparage the brilliance of the forwards that have led Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League glory. Roberto Firmino doesn’t score loads of goals. So what? That doesn’t make him any less vital to the way they play. A goalscorer couldn’t do what he does, and not having the Brazilian in the team is always to their detriment.

And Salah is a bit selfish. But Liverpool have won the title, and he’s chasing a third consecutive Golden Boot, so why shouldn’t he be?

 

Mason Greenwood
We know, he was in on Monday as well. But we just couldn’t leave him out. What a goal, again.

We made a rule for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back in September…

By that point Greenwood had made seven (mostly brief) Premier League appearances and hadn’t scored. And although we’ve had a number of this didn’t age well comments from United fans, at no point did we suggest he wouldn’t. We’re as excited as anyone to see him prove Solskjaer right. He is indeed Manchester United’s best finisher.

And he’s more than a fox in the box, as his goal against Villa illustrated. He picked the ball up on halfway, drove towards the defence with that somehow simultaneously languid and intense running style, made the right decision by laying the ball off to Anthony Martial before two quick and perfect touches after the return pass, and unleashed an unstoppable right-foot strike into the bottom corner.

Greenwood has admitted that he “slightly” favours his left foot, but he is truly two-footed. Absurdly, he takes penalties with his weaker right after missing one with his left in an Under-13 Manchester derby. That is an almost annoying level of skill. We just need everyone to stop weirdly ‘warning’ him now.

 

Watford
Danny Welbeck’s goal was a wonderful moment. Norwich fans probably didn’t enjoy it that much, which is fair enough. Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham fans could probably have done without it, sure. But for everyone else, it’s just a nice thing to have happened, isn’t it? Dat Guy Welbz just isn’t an absolute arsehole, which is enough to endear him to most.

And that could very well be the goal that retains Watford’s Premier League status. Not beating rock-bottom Norwich at home would have been a real psychological blow heading into the final stages of the season.

 

Kepa Arrizabalaga
Gary Neville is too harsh on goalkeepers. In Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham he had a pop at Lukasz Fabianski for not saving a Willian free-kick that hit the post and went in, and he was quick to blame Kepa for not saving Wilfried Zaha’s rocket on Tuesday night. The way Zaha hit it – with next to no backlift – meant Kepa had very little time to set himself, and the Palace man couldn’t have struck it any sweeter.

The outstanding save he did make wasn’t mentioned in commentary. And as much as I would like to also pin this on Neville’s anti-goalkeeper agenda, it is almost certainly due to the utter chaos ensuing in the Chelsea box in the final stages of the game. There wasn’t enough time for replays. More on that later.

Kepa has cost Chelsea a lot of points this season, not for shocking errors, but for not making saves like this one…

No doubt he’ll need to make a few more if he’s to retain his place.

 

Bournemouth
Eddie Howe and his side may have woken up this morning reflecting on two points dropped rather than one gained after Callum Wilson’s overhead kick was ruled out in the final moments at the Vitality – but that could be a massive point.

It stopped a run of five consecutive defeats, was their first clean sheet since mid-December, and means they can now go level on points with Watford in 17th if they beat Leicester and the Hornets lose to Newcastle this weekend. A defeat would probably have been the end.

 

John Egan
The six foot centre-back rose high above six-foot-five Willy Boly to power home his header in injury time to claim all three points against Wolves on Wednesday. A brilliant goal to win a game after his cracker against Burnley saved a point days before.

Sheffield United really suffer when he’s not playing. The dip in performance after he was sent off against Newcastle was far more significant than it would have been if it were any other player on the pitch. And they were torn apart by Anthony Martial in the subsequent game as the Irishman missed out through suspension.

The combined lack of glamour of playing for Sheffield United and being Irish, not English, means Egan is rarely given the credit he deserves for being one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.

 

Danny Ings
Brilliant goal; even better finger wag.

 

Lucas Digne
What a ball for Richarlison. Digne > Chilwell.

 

Kasper Schmeichel’s arms
“He’s got such strong arms”, said the commentator after yet another brilliant save against Arsenal, like a Disney damsel fawning over their hero.

 

Losers

Jose Mourinho
Tottenham became the first side ever to fail to register a single shot on target against Bournemouth in the Premier League. This Bournemouth. Jose Mourinho had lost all patience after the game…

Replying “no” immediately after someone asks if you can hear them is normally a bit of a give away. At least say “what?” or nothing at all.

Mourinho was very angry with VAR for not giving his side a penalty after Harry Kane was pushed in the area:

“The same referee that was the VAR against Sheffield United. In the world, everybody knows that is a penalty. And I say everybody, I mean everybody. It’s not just my opinion, everyone in the world, everybody knows that is a penalty. And when I say everybody, I say everybody, everybody.”

And yes, it was a penalty. But he then added:

“Like Sheffield, the man of the match was not one of the players. But at Sheffield I could blame myself and the players, today I could not do that.”

You absolutely should blame yourself and the players. This us against them attitude works when you’re a dominant side, playing on the fact that the world is against you, and everyone is trying to knock you off your perch. In that instance it’s a useful motivational technique. But for those Spurs players to go home thinking they didn’t win for any reason other than being a bit s**t can’t be healthy.

 

Aston Villa
Ezri Konsa couldn’t believe Bruno Fernandes was given a penalty for treading on him. Gary Neville gave Jonathan Moss unwarranted leeway for awarding it on the field, and for VAR not to overturn it was madness. What is it for if not for that? The Premier League have admitted they got all three big penalty calls wrong in the three games on Thursday. It’s all very frustrating.

Neville and Roy Keane then both described Fernandes as being “clever” – which in cases where a player wins a penalty is almost always a synonym for diving.

There was the normal apology to Sky Sports viewers following what were presumably some choice words picked up by the microphones from the Villa players or staff following the incident. But in this case it was Neville’s United partisanship, or at least his reluctance to admit he had got it wrong, that constituted the inappropriate language. Just say it’s not a penalty, Gary.

Dean Smith has a right to feel aggrieved, Villa were very much in the game at that point, and arguably had the better chances. But as Seb said in 16 Conclusions, Villa didn’t have much of a puncher’s chance even before kick-off, and they totally lost it after Fernandes converted the spot kick.

Jack Grealish was trying to do too much, they don’t have a threat up front, and why Tyrone Mings ever tries to dribble the ball anywhere is baffling. Crystal Palace on Sunday is their last chance.

 

Chelsea’s defence
In his post-match interview, Frank Lampard said: “There were moments in the game when our game management wasn’t great”.

Wasn’t great? It doesn’t exist. Chelsea always go for goal – no matter the situation. In fact, they appear to be even more gung-ho when they are winning by small margins. Combine this banzai lunacy with Lampard’s other big bugbear – the inability to convert chances – AND their very poor defending, it’s no wonder they concede so many late chances.

Kurt Zouma produced one of the tackles of the season. Those sorts of challenges do not go unpunished unless they are timed and aimed to perfection. It was brilliant. But as is so often the case with sliding tackles, he only had to do it because of a mistake in the build-up, or mistakes as there were on this occasion. Reece James let Zaha get inside him far too easily, Andreas Christensen got drawn out wide for no particular reason, and Zouma actually reacted pretty late to the huge gap that opened up for Christian Benteke right in the middle of the pitch. If it has been almost anyone else bearing down on goal, he probably wouldn’t have got there.

Stop worrying quite so much about Kai Havertz guys. You need a new defence.

 

Newcastle
It’s hard to be too critical of Steve Bruce and Newcastle right now, but not impossible.

The 5-0 defeat to Manchester City ended a run of seven unbeaten in the Premier League, they are just two points short of last season’s tally and they had Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Jamaal Lascelles all missing on Tuesday night. But they’d lost before the game had kicked off.

Compare their performance against City with that of Southampton a few days earlier, and one or both of those teams – given they were level on points before this matchday kicked off – are in something of a false position in the league. Probably both in truth: Saints should be higher and Newcastle a bit lower.

 

Eddie Nketiah
No, he didn’t mean it, but he could have broken his leg, so it was a red card.

Will Ford is on Twitter

 

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