Premier League review: Mourinho's whining is wearing thin, Fernandes fits at Man United, Burnley get lucky
Another wild weekend in the Premier League is done and dusted. We get you caught up on the action with the Weekend Review.
JUMP TO: Mourinho's moaning | Vertonghen done at Spurs? | Giroud could be key for Chelsea | Fernandes fits at Man United | Arsenal's A+ attack | Lazaro's woe | Leicester's slide continues | Smith unleashes on Villa | Gomes' return a boost for Everton | Burnley get lucky
Mourinho's complaining at Spurs is counter-productive
Manchester United's third goal on Sunday, a bow on a win they had already wrapped up against Watford, might not have much to do with Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur on the face of things. But that goal was scored by Mason Greenwood, his 11th of the season.
Greenwood turned 18 only earlier this season and would not have played so many times for the first team if United's recruitment was in any way competent and had signed a replacement for Romelu Lukaku. But they didn't, and Greenwood was pressed into action, much earlier than was ideal. That thought sprang to mind when Mourinho once again repeatedly highlighted his lack of attacking options following Tottenham's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
Nobody will argue that being without Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min is anything but terrible for Tottenham, but Mourinho's insistence that he literally has no other options is undermined by the existence of Troy Parrott, the highly rated Irish forward who is only a few months younger than Greenwood.
Mourinho insists he isn't ready for the first-team, and that may well be true. But Greenwood wasn't ready. Marcus Rashford wasn't ready either. Or at least in theory they weren't ready; they were thrown in regardless and United waited to see if they sank or swam. (If it had been the former, they would have been quietly whisked back to the under-23s.) As it turns out, Rashford is one of the best attackers in the Premier League, and Greenwood has been excellent thus far. Parrott might well follow suit once he gets his chance, but as long as Mourinho continues his supercharged "woe is me, I'm only happy when it rains" routine, we won't find out.
Of course, it wouldn't be ideal to turn to an 18-year-old with one senior appearance to his name, but why not try him? It seems to sum up Mourinho's demeanour at the moment, reacting to adversity by claiming it's not possible to overcome it, waving an exasperated hand at the remaining collection of internationals from which he's cruelly forced to pick a functional XI and saying it's all hopeless. You wonder how all of this is going down in the dressing room, too: Mourinho is not only creating a defeatist attitude, but denigrating the players he does have at his disposal.
Mourinho has pretty much done what was he was asked to do for this season, stemming the bleeding after the last sad days of Mauricio Pochettino, but his current wailing is in danger of already undoing his good work.
Is this it for Jan Vertonghen?
Having noted the above about Parrott and Mourinho's attitude, it's also worth mentioning that Spurs aren't being helped by some honking performances from their most senior players.
There was a moment in the second-half of Saturday's defeat to Chelsea when Mason Mount knocked the ball to the right of Jan Vertonghen, then ran around to his left, collecting the ball so easily that it looked like the Belgian was moving in slow motion. It was like a scaled-down version of Gary Neville's final game against West Brom, when the starkness of his decline caused him to instantly retire.
It's not that bad for Vertonghen, but he is surely done at Spurs. Thanks for the memories, Jan, but it's time.
Giroud could be key for the rest of Chelsea's season
To look at things in a negative way, Frank Lampard might wonder why he didn't use Olivier Giroud before, preferring the (to put things kindly) erratic Michy Batshuayi as first reserve for Tammy Abraham. But Giroud was crucial to Chelsea on Saturday, and not just because of the terrific goal he scored.
Essentially, the 3-4-2-1 system Lampard deployed doesn't really work -- or at least is only really effective -- with someone like Giroud in the team. We all know his hold-up play is superb, but his smart movement is particularly important. The manner in which he drags defenders this way and that, creating space for the two behind him -- in this case Mount and Ross Barkley -- to run into was on full display for Chelsea's second goal, as well.
Giroud is probably still quite irritated that he remains at Chelsea, having spent most of the past six months or so trying to get out. Lampard clearly wasn't especially keen to keep him around either, but now they're both stuck working together, they might realise how much they can help each other.
Fernandes already belongs at United
His arrival might have been a few months late, but the important thing for Manchester United is that Bruno Fernandes is there now, and he looks like quite a player. Sometimes you can tell from the first few minutes that a player belongs, that he fits at a club or in a league, and Fernandes fits perfectly.
"He has come in from day one and felt like a presence in the group from first minute, demanding the ball," said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after their 3-0 win over Watford. "Some players take some time in warming up, but he has felt confident right away."
It's true that he cost a lot of money, and United's haggling with Sporting ultimately turned out to be pointless, but that will be quickly forgotten if he carries on like this. Not only did he score the opener for United from the penalty spot in Sunday's 3-0 win over Watford, but he set up Greenwood's goal with a clever pass.
"In today's market, I think we got a good deal," said Solskjaer. "[Fernandes] has given everyone a boost."
Arsenal thrill in attack
Not only are Arsenal now potentially just four points from a Champions League place after edging Everton 3-2 on Sunday, but the sheer variety and thrilling nature of their attacking options are things to get very excited about.
Poor old Valentino
Valentino Lazaro's time at Newcastle in numbers so far: three games, zero wins, one appearance as a popular meme after being nutmegged by Saka and, this weekend, one red card after his dismissal for rugby-tackling Wilfried Zaha.
Just remember that no matter how badly things are going for you, there's usually someone worse off.
Are Leicester in trouble?
At what point do Leicester start to seriously worry about a Champions League place that seemed guaranteed a few weeks ago? They have a 10-point cushion between themselves and sixth place, but they're on a run of three wins in the past 11, and against Manchester City on Saturday, they were not only beaten with more comfort than the 1-0 score line suggested, but looked out on their feet in the second half.
Jamie Vardy hasn't scored in eight games, James Maddison seems off the pace, and something happened to Youri Tielemans a few months ago that has made sages of all those big teams that didn't sign him. Ben Chilwell is perpetuating the idea that he's actually pretty overrated, they don't have a holding midfielder to speak of, and Brendan Rodgers said afterward they looked tired, despite very recently enjoying a two-week break.
Leicester's true quality probably lies somewhere between this awful run, and the storming form they showed in the final months of 2019, but if they do manage to let this golden chance of qualifying for the Champions League slip, it will be a colossal missed opportunity for a massively promising club.
Smith lets rip, but is it too late?
Dean Smith is usually relatively measured in his criticism of his Aston Villa players, but after their 2-0 defeat to Southampton on Saturday, he let rip.
"The players will be fairly embarrassed when they drive home," he said. "The thing that hurt me the most was a that lack of fight, particularly in the first half. I'm sitting here and I'm going to have to take full responsibility for that, but that has to be the lowest of the low."
You get the feeling he has been holding that rant in for a while. Villa's players have always had a tough task on their hands this season, but their performances recently haven't been good enough, and Smith probably thought it was time to let them have it in public now that they're just one point above the relegation zone with 11 matches remaining.
The only question is this: Do Villa's players have enough time to respond in the form of good results? Smith had better hope so.
Gomes' miracle return is most welcome for Everton
Most of the attention on Andre Gomes' appearance as a substitute against Arsenal was centred around his extraordinarily short recovery period. Rightly so, too: It was only 112 days ago that he was left screaming on the Goodison Park turf in a barnstorming game against Tottenham, his foot pointing in a direction a foot should not point. Once upon a time that would've been a career-ender, and at the time, it looked like a season-ender, but he's back playing again before the end of February. Remarkable.
His half-hour cameo was incredibly important to Everton, given that their brilliant run under Carlo Ancelotti seems all the more remarkable considering it's been done without a central midfield to speak of. They've been terrific and were ultimately only just edged out by Arsenal on Sunday. They'll be so much better now with Gomes back in the fold.
Luckiest moment of the weekend
Sean Dyche is usually very keen to pipe up when marginal decisions go against his team and play the "little old Burnley, we never get anything" card. But after Saturday's 3-0 win over Bournemouth, he seemed perfectly happy with VAR getting not one, but two decisions entirely wrong.
Dyche confusingly pointed out that the "handball," which saw Bournemouth's first goal disallowed, actually hit Phillip Billing's shoulder, only to claim it was the correct decision. He also said the other officiating gaffe, which not only saw another goal disallowed but a penalty awarded to Burnley -- a penalty when again the ball hit Adan Smith's shoulder -- was "probably the toughest scenario to take" but that, again, "it was a penalty."
In most circumstances, a manager complaining that refereeing decisions cost their team points is a distraction from his own team's inadequacies, but on this occasion, Eddie Howe was entirely justified in crying foul. That could cost his team dear come the end of the season.