It was a weekend of goals in Europe with Bayern Munich putting six past Dortmund and Tottenham trampling over lowly Chelsea. But what took the cake was Manchester City’s continuously rampant form in the Premier League which saw them cruise at Goodison Park, setting up must-see Manchester Debry where Guardiola’s men could lift the trophy so early in the season!
Manchester United sent an emphatic message to Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea with a 2-0 victory over Swansea – indicating that they will fight for every point to finish second in Premier League. Jesse Lingard was the key man for the Red Devils’ win as proved his worth in the starting-11 player, creating both goals for Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku– showing his prowess of the international break. Man Utd dominated the first period and could have killed off the game in the second, but it looked like fatigue from the two international games took a toll on Mourinho’s men – as they took their feet off the pedal. Swansea clearly struggled to close down Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, and this cost them the points at Old Trafford. Carlos Carvalhal’s forces were not entirely meek in the 90 minutes though – they had two fantastic chances, but were expectedly denied by David de Gea heroics twice.
Manchester City are now only three points away from clinching their third Premier League title in seven seasons. Without David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sané, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, maybe Everton would have stood a chance. Silva in particular was the man pulling the strings for City – fantastic first touches and pin-point passes tearing the Everton defence apart with ease. At one-down, the Toffees could have changed the game with an equaliser through Yannick Bolasie, but he ended wasting his opportunity. In the end, Guardiola’s side were simply too fast and too precise to beat on this night.
If there was one way to describe Chelsea’s loss and their broken 18-year unbeaten home record against Spurs, it’s poor defending. This was beyond a shadow of a doubt when Tottenham got their third goal of the evening while Antonio Conte’s defence looked lost – Dele Alli turned in a loose ball into the net amid a goal-mouth scramble. Questions could also be asked of the visitors’ Hugo Lloris, whose blunder allowed Chelsea to open the scoring via Alvaro Morata, but it was the international break and he must’ve been fatigued. The Frenchman, however, made amends and proved that he’s worthy for both club and country with saves to deny Willian early in the first half and Alonso two minutes from the interval. But Dele Alli is the man of the moment, afresh from his his England exploits the week before, netting twice against London rivals and putting up a notice to Liverpool and Manchester United that they’re gunning for a higher Premier League finish. Harry Kane also made his return, albeit via substitution with 17 minutes to play – indicating that he could be fit for the rest of the season as well as for the 2018 World Cup.
The international break took its toll on Real Madrid stalwarts Sergio Ramos and Isco, who were both rampant in Spain’s exploits the week before and had to sit out the La Liga tie. And even without Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Blancos made short work of Las Palmas’ wretched defence, which conceded two penalties, of which Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale put away confidently. If at all, the home side’s sudden change of tactics via substitutions at the start of the second period – which was meant to do damage-control – was the root cause of them going home without a goal, let alone any points.
Resting Lionel Messi and starting an injured Gerard Pique proved costly for Barcelona, at least until the clock hit the 88-minute mark when they pulled one back, before equalising 55 seconds later. Sevilla took advantage of Barca who were clearly out of sorts without the Argentinean maestro. Pique was also obviously unfit to play, while Samuel Umtiti’s mind was not in the game as he was probably looming on his move from the Spanish side. Vincenzo Montella must have been pleased with the two-goal cushion in the first half, but he was fuming with his players’ tardiness that followed – tons of wasted chances and they should have scored at least three more. Eventually, Barca’s unbeaten run continues and with Messi netting the goal that saved them the blushes, it’s clear that he is the man that makes the team.
What was billed as a cagey encounter, turned out to be training day for Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Dortmund couldn’t blame the international break for their failure to show up – because both sides had players busy with their respective nations. Five goals in the first half for Bundesliga leaders – against their bitter rivals, I might add – just goes to show that they are indeed Germany’s best, and Dortmund really have to work on their defence immediately. Robert Lewandowski continues to prove that he is one of the best strikers Europe has to offer after bagging a hat-trick, and it remains to be seen if he can transfer his form to the 2018 World Cup.
Next week could see Bayern Munich and Manchester City officially win their respective leagues with at least five more games to play. These results are highly likely, considering the form these two sides have displayed this season, but none would compare to City’s league triumph if or when they successfully defeat their rivals, Manchester United. And with the quarter-finals of the Champions League kicking off with four massive fixtures, we’ve got an exciting week of football ahead!