News On 6's Richard Clark and News 9's Ryan Welton look back on the weekend-that-was in the Premier League.
Ryan Welton: As the resident Spurs supporter, I had hoped after three matches that Tottenham Hotspur could contend for its first Premier League title since 1961. After bad losses to both Watford and table-leading Liverpool, I'd be delighted with a requalification for the Champions League.
Liverpool 2, Tottenham 1.
And it would have been zero, except for Erik Lamela's score three minutes into penalty time.
And with the number of mistakes Tottenham made throughout the match, it could have easily been 3-0 or 4-0. Spurs were outclassed, and the absences of Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli were evident. I'm not the most knowledgeable soccer fan, but I recall watching Spurs pummel Fulham with an aggressive strategy of getting the ball down low to Kieran Trippier and him working the middle, allowing Lucas Moura to flourish.
Where did that go?
Spurs passed and passed and passed, but a sense of strategy was nowhere to be found.
To me, it never felt like Tottenham was in this match. What did you think, Richard?
Richard Clark: I started off the weekend of Premier League viewing by watching a game involving two teams I don’t support. I used to be a Tottenham fan, but that was back when Gareth Bale played for the team. After he left my growing allegiance to Manchester United hit overdrive.
So why would a Manchester United fan watch Tottenham play Liverpool? Well, the Manchester United game wasn’t on until 11:30. But another reason is because these teams are excellent so I expected a great game and I wasn’t disappointed.
Both teams play attack-minded soccer. That means that wherever the ball is on the field, with only a touch or two the team in possession would be attacking the goal. Very exciting soccer.
Tottenham possessed the ball much more than Liverpool, but as the commentators pointed out that possession did not translate to a win. Liverpool was cruising to a 2-goal victory when Erik Lamela scored a beauty from an impossible angle to the right of the goal about three minutes into stoppage time. Liverpool held on for the victory and stayed at the top of the table. What a game.
Of course, I also watched the Watford vs Manchester United match.
I was busy while the game was on live, but thanks to the miracle of DVRs I got to watch it in its entirety in the early afternoon and somehow managed to avoid finding out what the final score was beforehand.
Ten or fifteen years ago Manchester United would have come into Watford and earned a victory without breaking a sweat. But legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson is gone, and United is trying to earn its swagger back.
Watford is a town on the northwest side of London and Watford Football Club plays in a stadium called Vicarage Road. The club itself was owned by Sir Elton John two separate times between 1976 and 2002. United wore its standard 2018-2019 away kit for this game, which features pale pink shirts and white shorts.
United dominated the first-half of the game, going up 2-0 on goals by Romelu Lukaku and defender Chris Smalling just before halftime. Lukaku used his stomach to nudge a cross from Ashley Young into the goal. Smalling looked like a striker when Marouane Fellaini headed a corner kick into the goal box and he stopped the ball with his chest then pivoted and blasted it into the goal with his left foot.
As the second half began, I felt the nagging worry that United would be unable to put the game away. Sure enough, Andre Gray fired in a goal in the 65th minute, cutting the score to 2-1. David de Gea had to make at least three spectacular saves to preserve the win and United heads back to Manchester with the three points, but the game was much more tense than it needed to be.
It was encouraging to see Paul Pogba fire multiple shots on goal. He didn’t score but the old saw about missing 100% of the shots you don’t take is true. Sure would have been nice if he had scored at least once.
Nemanja Matic received a red card in stoppage time with a foolish foul that earned him a second yellow.
Overall there was a lot to be happy about in United’s play. The team is much more active in attack, the strikers and midfielders just needs to be more clinical and turn those chances into goals.