Tempers frayed in a crucial Premier League gameweek in which the composition of the table changed markedly at both ends.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t at Old Trafford where rags were lost in an entertaining but lacking in incident meeting between the old foes of Manchester United and Liverpool.
Troy Deeney was up to his old tricks at the Emirates, but it was actually at the Olympic Stadium where the real aggro kicked off. It’s fair to say that the West Ham fans are not exactly enamoured by their side’s efforts at the moment.
So who were the prime winners and losers in a feisty Gameweek 30?
Loser: Harry Kane, Tottenham and England
The prognosis is not good for Harry Kane, who clattered into Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic in Sunday’s win and had to be helped down the tunnel after appearing to injure his ankle. He was later seen leaving Dean Court on crutches.
The concern is that the damage has been caused to the same ankle that Kane injured last season; resulting in an absence of ten games at the start of last term.
His loss for any length of time will naturally have implications to Tottenham’s hopes of a top four finish – Fernando Llorente, his likely replacement, simply isn’t in the same ball park – and if the damage turns out to be more severe than first feared then England’s preparations for the World Cup will also be dented. It’s bad news all round, basically.
Winner: Jose Mourinho
Okay, confession time: we’ve been pretty critical of Mourinho in this column, with his negative tactics and prickly demeanour a far cry from the Special One who brought arrogance and class in equal measure during his first stint in English football as Chelsea boss.
His preference for parking the bus in big fixtures has been well documented, and there were plenty who expected Liverpool to win handsomely on Saturday if Mourinho was typically negative – indeed, the bookmakers agreed by making Liverpool their favourites for a match at Old Trafford for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
But you have to say that, in the first half at least, United were trying to play on the front foot as much as possible, and Mourinho’s masterstroke – recalling Marcus Rashford and pitting him directly against Liverpool’s inexperienced right back Trent Alexander-Arnold – paid dividends with the England frontman netting twice.
That means that Mourinho has beaten Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea this term, also taking a point at Anfield, and so really we have to hand the Special One his aura back.
Loser: West Ham
You would have to say that for a club with such a proud heritage, Saturday March 10th must go down as one of the worst in West Ham United’s history.
Their team delivered a gutless show in front of an already rankled home crowd, and the 0-3 defeat to Burnley plunges the Hammers deeper into the relegation dogfight.
And the fans, ranging from despondent to apoplectic at the board’s seeming mis-management regarding the move to the Olympic Stadium, amongst other things, showcased their rage in the most unacceptable way, with multiple pitch invasions, scuffles in the stands and some rather aggressive chanting towards Davids Gold and O’Sullivan sat in the director’s lounge, who were escorted away for their own safety.
It’s a toxic atmosphere and one that is simply not conducive to winning football. With a number of injuries befalling the squad too, these are truly desperate times for all at the Hammers.
Winner: Cenk Tosun
He’s taken his time, but it appears that Turkish international Cenk Tosun is finally finding his feet at Everton.
After netting in the 1-2 defeat at Burnley last time out, Tosun was given the nod to lead the line for the Toffees against Brighton and duly delivered an outstanding performance.
He netted a sublime second in the 2-0 win to take his tally to two in as many games, and delivered a fine all-round display; working tirelessly and setting up countless attacking forays. He earned the man-of-the-match award and a big slap on the back from Sam Allardyce, who will no doubt be sighing with relief that his big money signing is adapting to life in England.
While West Ham’s incompetence was met with rage and passion, Southampton’s desperate 0-3 loss at Newcastle was met with bizarre indifference by all in red and white.
Be under no illusion: there is no such thing as being too good to go down, and the Saints are sleep-walking towards relegation under a manager in Mauricio Pellegrino who appears to have run out of ideas to break his side out of their slump.
They have now won once since November in the league, and Pellegrino accused some of his players of ‘giving up’ against Newcastle. Something has got to change at Southampton, otherwise they could fall through the trapdoor and into the Championship without so much as a whimper.