MORE: Tottenham showed they are in the conversation for the Premier League title with hard-fought win at Luton with 10 players; Sheffield United are as poor as they are unlucky…
21:19, UK, Saturday 07 October 2023
Forgotten man McTominay rescues Ten Hag from Man Utd spirit
A line from Scott McTominay’s post-match interview was left out. In between he described his two-goal injury-time match-winning spell as “my favorite moment on a football pitch” and how it could be a turning point for a struggling team.
“I’m happy to contribute and show them I can do it.”
Does he mean boss Eric ten Hag and his coaching staff, who left him on the bench during last week’s defeats to Crystal Palace and Galatasaray? Or the Man Utd supporters who spent the summer anticipating the arrival of a midfield solution from the transfer market?
Whatever McTominay’s motivation, it was also interesting to hear him credit Man Utd’s ethos of never giving up and playing until the final whistle as the reason his journey began with United at the age of five.
The inevitability of a Fergie-time comeback win was not the most important feeling as United worked hard to tear apart Brentford on Saturday. Indeed, an own goal disallowed by Christopher Ajer looked like it would be the final act in yet another damaging defeat.
But despite what his detractors say, McTominay has quality. And when this is combined with belief, conviction and determination to fight for victory until the very last moment, it can be a dangerous prospect for any opponent at Old Trafford.
McTominay could find himself in a more prominent role after the international break.
Sterling responded to Southgate’s criticism
Raheem Sterling didn’t just send a message to Gareth Southgate. He grabbed the biro, wrote the words himself, put them in an envelope, drove up to Southgate’s house, kicked open his front door and shoved it down the England manager’s throat. It was a performance full of intention. And full of world-class potential.
Sterling, despite being one of Southgate’s favorites and having 82 caps to his name, was consistently overlooked for the second team, with Jarrod Bowen and Eddie Nketiah now looking ahead in the pecking order. This performance makes that decision look foolish.
Chelsea, a team lacking creativity for large parts of recent football, looked to Sterling in every attack. His direct running and subsequent beating of his full-backs was the driving force behind this latest classy Chelsea performance. He scored one goal and played a major role in the other three goals.
Sterling may have been overlooked but he will not be forgotten.
Spurs must be taken seriously as title contenders
The Tottenham players, in their all-grey replacement strips, stood up and applauded their fans in the Oak Road Stand at the final whistle. In many ways, Spurs were out of touch for the bulk of this crazy encounter. But they found a way to win, as they have already done on several occasions this term.
At home to Sheffield United and against Liverpool last weekend, they celebrated dramatic late wins. Even on the road, they have come from behind to pick up points at Brentford, Burnley and Arsenal.
This can no longer be seen as an accidental phenomenon, but as a trend under the charismatic Postecoglou. It should have been far more routine given Richarlison’s brilliant early sitter, which created a competition among the Tottenham players for the worst miss of the season so far.
Such inattentiveness will be punished against better sides, but it was only after Bissouma’s senseless dismissal for a flagrant dive in front of referee Brooks that we saw the streetwise Spurs make them one of the pace-setters of the early season. .
Before this round of fixtures, 10 teams had faced fewer shots and attempts on target than Tottenham – and here Luton had 12 of their own – but with Maddison, even 10 Even if it’s less than, there’s always a chance.
It was his quick thinking that earned all three points and from that moment on, Postecoglou set his side up to efficiently manage the remaining minutes. Gary Neville claimed that Tottenham are not title contenders, but the evidence against the view is becoming increasingly compelling.
Chef Utd is equally poor and equally unlucky
“The things that could go against us are going against us.”
Paul Heckingbottom may have spent the summer strolling under stairs and passing black cats.
Sheffield United are bottom of the Premier League with one point from eight matches and look to be in trouble.
Fulham fans will argue that the Blades’ equalizer should never have come as the visitors opted to play out when Issa Diop was sidelined with injury and gave up possession deep inside their own half.
United had already lost captain Chris Basham to a horrific accidental injury, before the hosts’ lead was restored by an own goal off the back of Wes Foderingham.
But what is clear is that Sheffield United look ill-equipped to survive at this level. Fulham’s victory may have seemed fortunate in the end, yet they deserved it the least. Own goal is joint top scorer for the Blades this season.
Basham’s injury had nothing to do with the fact that Sheffield United had no shots in the first half or the way Fulham were easily able to counter-attack or consistently expose their right flank.
“You get what you deserve and we’re where we want to be,” Heckingbottom said. And it’s hard to argue with that.
Everton turn corner under Dyche
Sean Dyche was in a somber mood after Everton claimed their first home win of the season by beating Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday. He had not scored twice in a single game at Goodison in 17 previous attempts.
“Now three wins out of four – there’s a cup game but they mention those cup games when you’re losing, don’t they? So it’s fair to mention them when you’re winning.”
“Three wins out of four is not easy at any level,” the Everton boss said.
He is not wrong. The last time Everton managed to score like this was at the start of the 2021/22 season under Rafael Benitez. After this there was a fight of demotion one after the other.
Everton have been a club in disarray over the last two years. Fans will be hoping Dyche can be a steady hand at the tiller at a time of uncertainty. Only Luton spent less than Everton at £38 million in the summer transfer window, yet he is working hard to improve his players to make the team competitive again.
The defeat to Luton last weekend was a reminder of the weaknesses that remain at Goodison. Everton’s troubles are far from over but their situation looks set to worsen against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Murillo dazzles with second Forest appearance
It’s early days yet, but it’s clear that Nottingham Forest have a player in their sights in Brazilian Murillo. On an otherwise dull and dreary evening of football in south London – a stark contrast to the unseasonable but welcome warm weather – the young defender was a shining light.
Murillo is clearly skilled defensively, but it was really in the forward areas that the 21-year-old came alive. She created a great chance in the first half for Morgan Gibbs-White, who then volleyed the ball over the crossbar, and also made a great run that almost resulted in a surprise goal.
The Brazilian upbringing usually equates to class on the ball and Murillo exudes that quality. He has taken no time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and will be a real asset to Steve Cooper as he looks to integrate other new arrivals during this ongoing transition at the City Ground.