Match week nine of this Premier League season gave us many talking points. From the blockbuster clash between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge to Manchester City’s drubbing of Burnley, here are our winners and losers from the weekend’s action.
Anthony Martial was not even supposed to be here. Or if he were, he might have been representing the other side. Had Jose Mourinho had his way in the summer, it is rumoured that Martial would have exited Old Trafford. It was also reported that he would have wanted to use the money raised from the sale to sign former player Willian from Chelsea.
Had that worked out, the Portuguese might be out of a job today. Martial scored the equaliser as United came from 2-0 down to beat Newcastle United 3-2 before the international break. He was once again instrumental for the Red Devils this weekend, as his two goals helped them secure a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. At this point in time, it is becoming clear that Mourinho needs Martial more than the Frenchman needs him.
Manchester City are not going away. Their targeted ascension to the very top of the game continued last season, when they virtually ran away with the title. If anyone expected that they would tail off this season, they have been in for a rude awakening. Their imperious 5-0 win over Burnley on Saturday was their seventh of the season so far as they kept up their unbeaten run.
It also means that they have scored more goals (26) than anyone else. They have also not conceded a goal in five league games.
Liverpool’s title charge
Jürgen Klopp signed Alisson Becker from AS Roma this summer with the hope that he could be the difference between challenging for and actually winning the Premier League. So far, it is proving an inspired decision. Against Huddersfield, the Brazilian kept his sixth clean sheet. The Reds are alongside Man City as the two teams with the fewest goals conceded (three) so far this season. That is title-winning form.
Chelsea forward line
Antonio Conte’s worst mistake at Chelsea was alienating, and eventually selling, Diego Costa. The Spain striker became so critical to the Blues’ game plan that while he was their go-to man for goals, he was also key for his ability to link play. Under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea are going toe-to-toe with Liverpool and Man City for the title.
Their two strikers – Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud – continue to struggle for form and consistency while third option Michy Batshuayi is on loan at Valencia. They still miss the impact that Costa would have on matches, and it could cost them dearly in the end.
José Mourinho’s feud with his players
Mourinho has made a bad habit of picking fights with his players and often in public. This has played into the crisis narrative that has curbed the club this season, with Eric Bailly, Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba among those who have found themselves on the wrong side of his wrath.
The same occurred last season, with Martial and Luke Shaw among the main victims of Mourinho’s attacks. Both of them have seriously delivered for the manager this campaign, and in the process proven that there is nothing to be gained by airing dirty laundry in public.
Newcastle United seem to be sinking to new lows with every passing week. A promising performance at Old Trafford a fortnight ago was perhaps the only positive thing the Magpies’ fans have enjoyed in recent weeks. A 1-0 defeat at home to Brighton this weekend left them stuck to the bottom of the table, with seven losses and two draws so far.
The prospect of relegation – and all the uncertainty that follows with it – means that Rafa Benitez’s side are truly staring down an abyss right now. If the team cannot turn things around, they are facing the possibility of a third relegation in ten years since Mike Ashley bought the club. The club had been relegated just four times in 117 years before that.