Klopp's risk at Liverpool is rewarded, Arsenal's slide almost complete
This was a weekend in which things happened as they were billed. Harry Kane scored, Manchester City versus Liverpool was a thrilling encounter between two terrific teams at the top of their game, and Arsenal were Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger claimed to be surprised at the errors that led to their defeat at Bournemouth, leading one to wonder if he's really been watching his side in the last few years. That defeat was as predictable as night following day, and the legacy-shredding losses continue to diminish a once great manager.
It stopped being funny when Arsenal loses quite a while ago. Now it's just sad, seeing this man, who built a club, reduced to shrugging acceptance after losing to a team who had won one match of their last 12. Bournemouth didn't even have to be very good. Fortunately, there was the rest of the weekend to cheer us up.
Goal of the weekend
The beauty of football is the variety: You can enjoy wildly different things in wildly different ways, not least goals. One of the most intellectually satisfying types of goal is the flowing team move, and Christian Eriksen's strike against Everton was perhaps the ultimate example of the genre. Every Tottenham player touched the ball in the move, ending with a delicious flick by Dele Alli and an emphatic finish by Eriksen. It was football as high art.
Performance of the weekend
There's something quite thrilling about flawed brilliance. Not knowing whether the brilliance is going to arrive makes it even more exciting when it does.
It's perhaps even more thrilling when a team takes a risk and it comes off. Jurgen Klopp has taken a few of those in the last month or so: Selling Philippe Coutinho -- particularly before having secured a replacement; paying £75 million for Virgil van Dijk. Time will tell us whether those risks pay off, but a more short-term risk was to go gung-ho against Manchester City -- a team who had sliced and diced everyone that has come at them to that point.
But maybe it wasn't a risk. Crystal Palace weren't especially reticent against City on New Year's Eve and nearly won; and they don't have Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. What's even more impressive is that Klopp felt emboldened enough to play like that without Coutinho and Van Dijk. That boldness paid off, and in thrilling fashion.
Lone effort of the weekend
Sunday's game against Bournemouth was Jack Wilshere's 13th appearance for Arsenal since the end of November, 52 days in which he's basically averaged a game every four. That's quite a workload for a player who appeared only sporadically before that, and whose fitness has been the main thing holding his career back from the promise his talent.
If Arsenal were in better shape, then presumably Wenger would have liked to rest him at some point in that time. But he could not because there is nobody else. Wilshere was Arsenal's lone bright light on a dark afternoon, and has been good without being undroppable since his return to the team. That Wenger can't afford to leave him out, as much as anything, is an indication of the state of things.
Promise of the weekend
Straight from kickoff, you could see what kind of day it was going to be. Everton passed the ball back to centre-back Mason Holgate, who immediately hoofed a ball that sailed over the heads of his colleagues, the touchline, the 10 or so yards of space in front of the fans, and landed in the fourth row.
That was about as far as the plan succeeded for Sam Allardyce, though. Tottenham proceeded to rip his side asunder, a 4-0 win that could have been a few more. Afterwards, Allardyce almost seemed to relish the opportunity to double-down, that defeat wasn't ideal, but at least it gave him chance to renew the bunker mentality that he harnesses so well.
"I was going to shore it up," he said. "But then again I reverted back to our Liverpool performance ... If you can play like that at Liverpool and just at the death get beat, surely you can come here to Tottenham and deliver the same performance and maybe get a result. Maybe I have a bit of responsibility by playing too much attacking-minded players and not as many defending-minded players. I should have got back to being a bit more boring."
It's a startling notion to discover that Allardyce thought Everton were being adventurous against Liverpool, but this game in which he played a mere two defensive midfielders was apparently far too aggressive. It could be a grim remainder of the season at Goodison Park.
Baffling renaissance of the weekend
Sunderland fans might look at the way West Ham are playing now and wonder who on earth the David Moyes lookalike was that managed their team last season. Then, Moyes was cowed, instinctively negative, pessimistic about absolutely everything and his grim demeanour infected their play.
But to watch West Ham against Huddersfield was to see a side with purpose and confidence: Witness the booming pass down the right flank from Cheikhou Kouyate that ultimately led to Manuel Lanzini's second and West Ham's fourth. It wasn't the sort of assertive ball that you'd associate with a Moyes team. But perhaps he really has turned a corner. Perhaps Sunderland was the exception and Moyes is really that manager that he is now. If so, West Ham should stay up comfortably.
Timing of the weekend
In some ways Abdoulaye Doucoure's goal for Watford against Southampton, shoveled in so blatantly with his hand, was timed perfectly and terribly for proponents of VAR. On the one hand it was a perfect example of the incidents that video technology is designed to eliminate, but on the other it occurred a few days after the trials of this brave new world.
In truth, those sort of clear clangers, a game-changing refereeing decision to defy explanation and on which everyone agrees, are incredibly rare. They probably happen a handful of times a season. Everything else is various shades of grey, and has the potential to bring more confusion. But this weekend, a few days too late, we could have done with a little VAR.
Unluckiest man of the weekend
Spare a thought for Mauricio Pellegrino. Seconds away from a hugely nourishing, important win that might have turned around the season, and it's snatched from him at the very last by a cheating opponent. Some guys just can't catch a break.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.