Aguero and Moses impress again; bad day again for Mourinho, Man United
Iain Macintosh casts his eye over the best and worst of the action from the Premier League this weekend.
Pep Guardiola was happy to rest several superstars for the trip to Burnley, but he wasn't going to leave out Sergio Aguero. Even with a niggling foot injury, the Manchester City striker was put through a late fitness test and pushed up front at Turf Moor. And you can see why. Neither of his goals were classics and there's still some doubt as to how much he knew about the second one, but who cares? He was in the right place at the right time and sometimes that's the most important thing.
When Victor Moses signed a four-year contract for Chelsea last September, it seemed like either the height of optimism from both parties, or something rather more cynical. Was the Nigerian winger simply being treated like a rental sports car, hired out to aspirational punters until he'd paid for himself? Who cares now? Not only did Moses play his seventh league game in a row on Saturday, but he scored the winning goal to down the challenge of Tottenham. How quickly things can change.
It wasn't the best performance Arsenal have offered this season, but you get no points for style in the Premier League. The Gunners' run of draws is over and so too is the much feared month of November. After accepting a gift of an opening goal from Bournemouth, Arsenal seemed a little perturbed that their visitors did not roll over. There have been too many occasions at the Emirates in recent years where the home side have been unable to deal with that sort of thing, but they kept at it and they claimed victory.
Given that Fernando Llorente has battled for the biggest prizes with Athletic Bilbao, Juventus and Spain, he probably can't ever have imagined that he'd one day struggle to get a game for Swansea. But when Bob Bradley thrust the forward into the fray with 24 minutes to go vs. Crystal Palace, he made quite the impact. As injury time began, the Swans trailed 4-3, having led 3-1. Thanks to Llorente's two goals -- and some spectacularly bad defending -- by the full-time whistle it was 5-4 to Swansea.
Let's take a moment to reflect on what Southampton have done in the last four-and-a-half years. They've bounded back into and consolidated their position in the Premier League, lost star players and star managers to richer predators and yet, by and large, their replacements have always been either suitable stand-ins or significant upgrades. Plus, they have a conveyor belt of talent coming through the youth academy, the latest of whom, Josh Sims, set up the winner vs. Everton.
One Premier League win in seven, four straight home draws and another dismissal from the touchline: Jose Mourinho's first season at Manchester United really isn't working out the way he would have hoped. Given that this is the second time he has been sent off and that he was given a one-match ban last time, you would expect a similar or heavier punishment to be handed down. But the real issue is United's form. They're dominating possession and making chances, but they're not winning games.
Southampton supporters were stunned when manager Ronald Koeman left for Everton in the summer. Now they're finding it very amusing. While the Saints are enjoying European football and the sort of progressive, if a little inconsistent, sort of football that hints at more foreign travel next season, Everton are in freefall. Koeman started so well at Goodison Park, but his new team have won just one of their last eight league games.
This column has travelled far and wide and has seen some truly wretched football, so the irony of complaining about the most extraordinary match of the season is not lost but, by thunder, the Swansea and Crystal Palace defences should be ashamed of themselves. This is the Premier League; we are told often that it is the best in the world. These two sides served up what looked like an U-12 game for kids who are only playing football to keep their parents happy. Neither will stay up defending like this.
Oh, Alan Pardew. We will always keep our candle burning for you, even while everyone else snuffs theirs out. But the darkness is closing in now. Six consecutive league defeats do not necessarily herald the end of the season, but it doesn't exactly bode well, does it? Crystal Palace are packed with expensive talent and their investors will have expected rather more. Next weekend's clash with Southampton now seems make or break. If Pardew survives that long...
Who is West Brom's travel planner? It's only 144 miles to Hull from West Bromwich, less than two-and-a-half hours by road. By the time they'd all checked in for their flight, put their toiletries in little plastic bags, taken their shoes off, put them back on again, kicked their heels in the departure lounge, taken off, flown for approximately three minutes, come back down again, waited for their suitcases and queued for a taxi, they could have done the journey in a nice coach. Have they got money to burn?
Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.