Injuries add to VAR insults: Liverpool could pay a heavy price for Mersey derby madness
Where to start? Four goals, a fifth time out that should have been, a red card that was definitely, another that was surely but somehow was not, a milestone, a majestic leap from Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again, and through it all, more confusion conceived by Stockley Park.
Jurgen Klopp fumed at the exit of Jordan Pickford and then at the computer-generated line that inexplicably ruled Sadio Mane offside. So he wasn’t in the mood to talk about Mo Salah and, he revealed, was also not the man who joined the Reds’ 100 club but saw the achievement overshadowed by a hectic afternoon.
– Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 17, 2020
It shouldn’t be. Slipping Salah’s left foot to push Liverpool back was a generally instinctive way to further solidify their legacy. Only two players – Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson – have reached the benchmark short of the Egyptian’s 159 appearances (in all competitions) for Liverpool and his overall performance was one of many that will have pleased his manager when the mist has cleared.
Thiago was another. In his full debut, he commanded the midfielder with grace and precision and that gazeless inverted ball slipped in Mane’s path deserved not to slip into meaninglessness as crosshairs and calculation points took over. But Richarlison’s reckless challenge on the Spaniard can have serious consequences.
“It doesn’t look good,” the manager said after the whistle, and the same initial prognosis was made for Virgil van Dijk after Pickford slammed his knees with just 10 minutes on the clock.
Shortly after the Dutchman left early for the first time in the league since September 2018, Michael Keane stood up on a corner – poorly delivered by James Rodriguez – with the kind of ease Van Dijk rarely offers. Klopp, having lost Alisson to a shoulder injury, won’t want to lose for long the man whose influence goes far beyond the tangible.
After that aberration against Aston Villa it was a Liverpool performance of quality and goal, but six games are looming in the 21 days – a grueling period reserved by trips to Ajax and Manchester City – and with injuries Added to the VAR insult, Klopp faces an anxious wait. key men.
Aguero’s win and return give Man City a welcome boost
It was a bold move on Pep Guardiola’s part to include Sergio Aguero early on against Arsenal after the forward had been on the sidelines for so long, but it was a timely return for City, especially with a crowded match list and long term doubts. surrounding the physical form of Gabriel Jesus.
The Argentine hadn’t played since injuring his knee on June 22, but it was as if he had never left. In the 65 minutes he was on the pitch, he played a key role in winning City and was a constant threat to Arsenal in what was a performance full of effort and quality.
And his manager was delighted to find him on the pitch. “We’re so happy with Sergio Aguero, he’s been out for four months but he’s a guy who needs some rhythm. I’m so happy for him that he’s back. ”
City game-winner Raheem Sterling was also happy to have the striker on the pitch by his side. “We haven’t been that smooth this season, but in the last two games we’ve shown that the flow is returning and it’s great to keep the momentum going,” said the England international.
“When Sergio is on the pitch you know there can be a goal anytime. It is vital to help us compete on all fronts and great to find it. “
“We are incredibly happy. It’s been four months so he’s still below his condition but we’ve had 60 minutes and that’s good. Wednesday we have another game so it’s important because we need his goals and his performances. “
Matches are fast approaching for City with the Champions League resuming this week, and Aguero will need to be managed very carefully as City look to bring him back to full game sharpness.
But with the return of their all-time top scorer, the defense putting on a solid display and a win over the Gunners helping put their poor start behind them, things are starting to improve for Guardiola and his side.
‘Big Six’ struggles continue to improve Arsenal
The wait continues for Arsenal.
Not only have the Gunners lost each of their last seven league games against Manchester City, but they are now winless in their last 29 away Premier League games against ‘big six’ opponents (D10 L19) for a long time. 2-0 victory at City in January 2015..
However, there are still signs of progress for Mikel Arteta’s side, who showed improvement from their 3-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium in June.
They’ve been solid on defense for much of the game, with City having to show some real-quality moments to break the Gunners’ defense. They also had their chances of getting something out of the game, and without two magnificent saves from Ederson, one to deny the impressive Bukayo Saka and the other to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at bay, they may have. to be obtained a result.
In the end, Arteta was disappointed when he returned to the Etihad. “I’m sad not to get anything out of the game,” said the Spaniard. “I felt that we kept growing and growing, believing more that we could get anything. I am proud of the way we played individually and collectively. It’s not easy to produce a performance in a stadium like this. We need everything to move forward. way to win here. The three or four chances you need to put them away. ”
There is a process going on at Arsenal and there will be a few bumps along the way, but despite the loss the Gunners have shown they are still on the right track under Arteta.
Everton pushes fighting qualities to the limit
Without local representation, there were question marks over whether Carlo Ancelotti’s rejuvenated Everton side could restore much-needed intensity to the Merseyside derby. Their last meeting against Liverpool in June was a dismal, goalless draw in which the two teams each managed just three shots on target, with the visitors holding 70% possession.
And while Everton was unable to end their decade-long winless drought against their neighbors, the way they fought twice to earn a point pleased their manager.
“We could have won, drawn or lost,” Ancelotti said afterwards. “The performance was good because we wanted to compete and in the end we did very well, with a good spirit. When we were ashore we never lost confidence and we had the opportunity to move forward with Richarlison at the post. I am really satisfied. .
“When you concede a goal, you always have to defend better and you have to defend better in certain situations, but against Liverpool, it’s really difficult. They keep a high intensity on the pitch, but we competed well. ”
A perceived mental block has already been debated, but it is a new look Everton that entered the derby for the first time since September 1989 at the top of the table. After several sweet renewals, the ferocity was back here as Richarlison saw red with a savage challenge on Thiago – Everton’s record 15th against their rivals in a Premier League game.
It came after Virgil van Dijk got in the way in the first half with a knee injury from Jordan Pickford, and while Liverpool had to count injuries Everton will take comfort in their efforts against city rivals. Ancelotti opened up about how the derby would test his team’s courage, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin adding to his scoring race at the start of the season, they came out of their toughest challenge still undefeated, providing further indication of the progress made under the Italian.
Werner creates something out of nothing
The whispers were getting louder. If Timo Werner had gone another 90 minutes without scoring in the Premier League, the questions would have arisen.
Does he have trouble settling down? Can he keep pace with the Premier League? Is it played in the right position?
But within half an hour of Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Southampton, Werner had put it all to bed.
They may not have achieved the desired end result, but Werner’s performance on Saturday will spark excitement among Chelsea fans. It is clear that the 24-year-old is a winner of the game.
His two goals were self-taught. The first came from a dummy sublime enough to leave Jan Bednarek in the quicksand, before dancing past a few challenges and picking the perfect time to shoot through a crowded penalty area.
The second was pure confidence. This time around, he got Bednarek’s objective side the conventional way with a smart run, before having the option of lifting him over Alex McCarthy and heading for an empty net.
Werner was racing all afternoon – helped in part by the Southampton press and a higher than usual line – and wasn’t stuck at one position. In fact, Chelsea’s top four had the freedom to move where they saw fit.
Goals aside, Werner showed a determined team ethic in his game, happy to go for a smarter option rather than bursting with the ball in the box. He recorded a 91% success rate, a high for the team with his 22 assists, one of Kai Havertz’s second-half goal after another run behind.