It was a defining Premier League gameweek for a number of different reasons. Manchester City and Chelsea overcame stern tests – they can head into midweek’s Champions League fixtures with relish, while Tottenham confirmed a suspicion many already had: without Harry Kane’s goals they are perhaps just one of the crowd, rather than something extraordinary.
There were big wins for Liverpool and Leicester too, while those at the wrong end of the table – Crystal Palace, Swansea, Everton and Bournemouth – were reminded that they are in for a long, hard, cold winter.
So who were the main winners and losers from Gameweek 10?
Winner: Jose Mourinho
Towards the end of Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Tottenham, Jose Mourinho spotted an over-zealous cameraman approaching him. The Special One placed a single finger to his lips in an act of what we could probably define as him silencing his critics.
It was perhaps a signal to those inside Old Trafford who had booed his decision to replace Marcus Rashford with Anthony Martial in the 70th minute. It would be the Frenchman wo notched the winner for the Red Devils, scrambling home from a Romelu Lukaku flick on.
It was a close game not exactly littered with glorious football, but the three points are all that count. That finger-to-the-lips gesture from Mourinho perhaps had a third meaning: Jose knows best.
For every winner there has to be a loser to balance the equation, and Tottenham’s rudderless performance against United suggests there are some underlying problems in Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Their defensive brilliance is not in question, and if you can keep clean sheets regularly then you should win more matches than you lose.
But take Kane out of the side and they are lacking goals and a cutting edge up front. Son Heung-Min battled valiantly on his own up top against United, but he lacks the physical presence to bully defenders in the same way that Kane does.
Pep Guardiola had labelled Tottenham as the ‘Harry Kane team’ in midweek….harsh but fair?
Winner: Jurgen Klopp
‘Three goals, three points and a clean sheet’ was how Jurgen Klopp summed up the victory over Huddersfield on Saturday, although you could argue it meant rather more than that alone.
Defeat would have been unthinkable for the German manager, who isn’t necessarily under pressure at Anfield but for whom eyebrows are starting to be raised after an indifferent start to the campaign.
The fact that he could inspire his side to a comprehensive victory – especially after Phil Coutinho and Dejan Lovren dropped out through injury – speaks volumes of his motivational powers of persuasion, and given the Reds’ attacking prowess it would be fair to surmise the board should stick with Klopp; this is one of the most exciting Liverpool teams in quite some time.
Loser: Crystal Palace/West Ham
This was one of those games where both teams really needed to win….and neither did.
The manner in which Crystal Palace’s players, supporters and coaching staff celebrated their side’s 96th minute equaliser against a bang-average West Ham outfit is indicative of their malaise at present. A lucky point, at home, against a mediocre mid-table merchant suggests the Eagles are deep, deep in the brown stuff at present.
The Hammers led 2-0 at the break against the bottom-of-the-table side, so really it is inexcusable from Slaven Bilic’s men to not claim all three points. They can argue that they were ‘unlucky’ given the timing of Palace’s goal, but they should have been long out of sight by then anyway.
With just nine points from ten games and one win six, make no mistake West Ham are relegation candidates this term.
Winner: Raheem Sterling
Much maligned when pulling on an England shirt, Raheem Sterling is beloved by Manchester City fans for his dynamic performances, and you suspect that those national team fans that criticise his occasionally wayward passing/crossing might be missing the point.
Ask any defender what they hate defending against and the answer is always the same: a quick and direct attacker with a trick or two up their sleeve. Sterling fits the bill, and if his end product could return to the high standards of his Liverpool days then the diminutive winger is as good as anybody around.
After helping Manchester City to a 3-2 win over West Brom at the weekend he took his tally to nine goals in all competitions this term – only Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku have more.
Why doesn’t he turn it on in an England shirt? Who knows, but appreciation rather than damnation from ‘supporters’ would presumably help.