Another wild weekend in the Premier League saw Manchester City close the gap to Liverpool at the top of the table and plenty of movement below. We get you caught up on the action with the Weekend Review.
JUMP TO: Man City's great weekend | Klopp gets frustrated by Man United | Dele Alli's welcome return | VAR issues continue | Norwich keep a clean sheet | Can Silva be saved at Everton? | Ings the Saints' hero | Praise for Adam Lallana | Hudson-Odoi brings the magic | Chris Wood a January target?
A great weekend for Man City
Make no mistake, Manchester City dodged a massive banana skin at Crystal Palace. Could it now change their season? After their defeats to Norwich and Wolves, it wasn't too far-fetched to consider that a punchy Crystal Palace side could land a mortal blow to their title hopes, particularly when the team sheet showed Fernandinho and Rodri bundled together as an unlikely centre-half duo. (Plus, Palace have done it before: witness Andros Townsend's wonder goal in last season's 3-1 win.)
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But Pep Guardiola's team found a way through on Saturday, scoring a sublime second goal through David Silva in the process, and putting on the kind of performance that suggests talk of "crisis" is overblown.
To his credit, Guardiola himself has never let the highs or lows consume him. "It is always easy when you win because you spend a lot of money and the others are disaster teams," he said in a radio interview regarding the coverage surrounding his team. "When Wolves win, it is because they are exceptional and we are a disaster." Perhaps we should just watch and wait for a while longer before jumping to conclusions.
City now face successive home games against Aston Villa and Southampton; if those hurdles are navigated, the visit to Anfield on Nov. 10 will look seismic no matter how Jurgen Klopp's side have fared in the meantime. Last season City guzzled up the points difference as soon as Liverpool showed signs of faltering; they would be forgiven for smelling blood now as it is very much game on once again.
Man United unsettle Klopp in promising performance
Jurgen Klopp will probably reflect that he was speaking in the heat of the moment when saying Manchester United "just defend" minutes after Sunday's 1-1 draw. It was not a fair comment, and deep down, he probably knew it. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were not exactly buccaneering, they showed plenty of ambition in the first half, to the degree that their lead was deserved. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, in particular, found himself playing virtually as a winger while the peeling runs of Daniel James and Marcus Rashford gave Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip problems they did not look entirely comfortable facing.
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Liverpool, meanwhile, were passive until the second period, their full-backs unable to show their usual initiative and their midfield bested by Scott McTominay, Fred and Andreas Pereira. It's true that after Adam Lallana's equaliser there only looked like being one winner, and that a threadbare United team tired as the game wore on. But Klopp was probably more frustrated with the two iffy VAR calls that went against his side -- more on this later, though their luck has been good this season -- and the way in which his side once again clammed up on a visit to Old Trafford. This was a golden opportunity and he knew it.
For United and Solskjaer, any disappointment at the sloppy late goal they conceded was offset by the fact that this was a good result, and it might nudge the narrative away from speculation about the manager's suitability for the role for one week, at least.
Alli's return offers Tottenham a glimmer of hope
Defeat to Watford on Saturday would have turned up the noise around Tottenham's early-season worries to deafening levels. That was averted through Dele Alli when his goal was finally (and correctly) awarded by VAR; better yet, his contribution, coming in his first Premier League start of the season, made up for one of the many attributes they've been missing of late. Alli is better than most in his position at sniffing out danger in the box and snaffling up a scruffy goal, just like this one.
A draw against the division's bottom side isn't good enough in reality, and the alarm bells continue to ring loudly around a squad whose time may well be up. Yet with Alli back in the groove, there is every chance they'll rescue a few more points from the brink between now and the season's end.
... but it still wasn't the game's biggest story
The fact that Alli's goal was, on the stadium's big screens, incorrectly shown to have been overturned owed to a (presumably) one-off error by those operating the VAR system. These things happen but it caused significant confusion and was a neat example of the way VAR does a massive disservice to match-going fans.
This issue was emphasised again during Manchester United vs. Liverpool, with a lengthy wait to check for a possible foul by Victor Lindelof in the buildup to Marcus Rashford's goal that was evidently not "clear and obvious" given the length of time taken to assess it. The delay would dampen the home celebrations for some time; later in the first half, the traveling Liverpool support then saw the rug pulled from under their feet after another significant delay when Sadio Mane was, correctly under this season's pedantic new handball stipulation, ruled not to have equalised.
Anecdotal evidence from many supporters is that they feel the in-stadium experience is being compromised to a critical level. The suspicion is that VAR is being overused and taking too long: nobody should be surprised that it has come to this. It was instructive to hear Dean Smith, the Aston Villa manager and a man who has suffered more than his fair share of VAR letdowns already this season, opine after their victory over Brighton that the technology had crept into a subjective decision when Conor Hourihane's goal was disallowed for an apparent foul by Wesley. Smith was so annoyed that he said he could not even celebrate Matt Targett's late winner.
It all makes for great theatre if you're watching on television, but this is sport, not a soap opera, and this weekend's events mark another warning that football's essence risks being distorted forever. Is all this really worth it?
Norwich finally stop their losing run
It had been 11 months since Norwich fans were able to pause for breath. Before Saturday's stalemate at Bournemouth, their last 0-0 draw was at Hull on Nov. 27 of last year, coming in the midst of their run to the Championship title. That was 37 games ago and in the meantime, they've soared to a free-flowing promotion and started their Premier League campaign in raucous fashion, defeating Manchester City but leaking goals liberally along the way.
Norwich have been conceding too much in recent weeks given injuries across their back four, so a dull draw at the Vitality Stadium felt like a welcome relief. Above all else, it suggested Daniel Farke's side have the wherewithal to grit out a result against decent opposition and that relegation still looks a fate they should avoid.
Silva services continues for now at Everton
Marco Silva may well have been sacked if Everton had not beaten West Ham 2-0 on Saturday. He might still be in the near future, because there's nothing yet to show that his team can achieve any consistency and the suspicion remains that he's riding on the back of the strange over-hyping of his talents that occurred in his early months with Hull and Watford. But credit where it's due: the Toffees thoroughly deserved their win against opponents who can be almost as infuriating.
Bernard, whose end product has rarely matched his scurrying workrate, scored a particularly fine goal and the out-of-form Gylfi Sigurdsson finished neatly too to put the game beyond doubt in the closing stages. Everton looked smooth and slick while avoiding mishaps at the back; now they and their manager need to show that can be the case on a regular basis.
Ings keeping Saints alive
It's good to see Danny Ings looking the real deal for Southampton after injuries denied him a deserved opportunity at Liverpool. His well-taken strike at Wolves made it three goals in three games -- five in four if you include two Carabao Cup goals against Portsmouth -- and the signs are he will need to keep this up.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl did enough in the second half of last season to suggest a season in midtable should be possible but they're looking like a team destined for a relegation battle this time around. If Ings gets hurt, having scored four of their nine league goals to date, it's hard to see where the firepower to escape danger is coming from.
Man of the weekend
Talking of players connected to Liverpool, Southampton and untimely injuries, the lion's share of weekend plaudits should go to Lallana. It feels a trick of the light that the midfield schemer, who has endured rotten luck in recent years and missed 39 games through injury since the start of 2017-18, turns 32 towards the end of this season. The sense, before those stolen years, had always been that there is more to come but he delivered at Old Trafford, scoring his first goal since way back in May 2017.
"It's been a tough, tough couple of years for me, so it's pleasing," Lallana said afterwards. Here's hoping that such a lovely, deft footballer gets the chance to make up for lost time from here.
Creative force of the weekend
There were some observers who believed Callum Hudson-Odoi's achilles injury would leave him struggling to regain the spring and speed that marked him out as such a devastating prospect. But his return has been outstanding and among five chances the winger created against Newcastle, the lay-off for unlikely match-winner Marcos Alonso showed great poise and awareness.
Christian Pulisic, who had been introduced nine minutes before that goal, was hopefully taking notes.
Long shot of the weekend
Burnley may have lost at Leicester, but Chris Wood, who headed them in front during the first half against their old club, has now scored four goals in four games. He is still only 27, and after scoring nine goals in the second half of last season, too, is quietly becoming the fearsome top-flight striker he promised to be in his youth.
Could one of the bigger clubs, perhaps a Europa League chaser, be tempted to stump up the cash to grab him in January?