Talking points: Fans of European football and the national team have bemoaned the Premier League’s unique holiday schedule, claiming the games put England at a disadvantage. Jurgen Klopp echoed this view shortly after he took over at Liverpool, but fans do love to see holiday football. That allowed, four games in the holiday period is at least a game too many, and we saw how fatigue can bite Saturday. A trim in the fixture list is in order.
Liverpool FC via Getty ImagesAndrew Powell
Hey look, Arsenal play like champions…
Talking points: There is a saying that good teams win bad games. That certainly applies to Arsenal on Saturday, who saw off a dogged but defensively frail Newcastle side thanks to a goal from Laurent Koscielny. It was harsh on the Magpies, who had the better chances -- and more of them -- but couldn’t score to save their lives. The result edged Arsenal two points clear of Leicester and may stand as a pivotal win for the Gunners.
Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesStuart MacFarlane
…and so do Manchester City
Talking points: Another team that scarcely deserved a win Saturday was Manchester City, who scored at both ends of the field before Sergio Aguero popped up to rescue them. Simply dreadful on the road (this was their first win in seven games) City played quality football for about five minutes, and were aimless for the rest of it. They got lucky, but this also was a key win as it keeps Arsenal in sight ahead of a packed FA Cup calendar.
Getty ImagesIan Walton
Jurgen Klopp’s fury at Liverpool’s effort
Talking points: The German gaffer was furious after Liverpool lost another game, this one well-deserved to a resurgent West Ham, 2-0. “I’m really angry because we could have got more because everybody could see in the moments we play football what could happen. We have to again accept that we didn’t play like we should.” Klopp’s problem, however, is not one of effort but consistency. The Reds remain an erratic side, particularly in the back. Until they clean house, that’s unlikely to change.
Getty ImagesClive Rose
Sign of the times? United celebrate win over a minnow
Talking points: It’s a measure of how bad things are on Salford Quays that a win over a team hovering on the edge of the drop zone was greeted with relief. But, given that United had not won a match themselves in 42 days -- a long, eight game barren streak -- one can see why. United are still in the hunt for a European spot, as unlikely as that sounds, and Louis van Gaal appears to be clinging on. Still, these are not the good old days for Old Trafford. One suspects there are many darker days yet to come.