So what happened in the league this weekend?
Arsenal and Liverpool split a six goal thriller on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to the Emirates. The Gooners scored three goals in a five-minute spell in the second half, before Roberto Firmino’s header dashed all Arsenal hopes of a win.
And what sort of a record did this set? Well, Arsenal didn’t fall apart in a big game, after a two-goal deficit. Usually they just go to pieces after they concede in a big game.
Remember the 6-3 defeat of Arsenal by Manchester City? Or the 8-2 defeat by Manchester United?
You can see why some of the stars of the team wanted to leave. Arsenal always had a reputation for losing big games with the top six. And when they lost, player such as Mesut Ozil always got the blame for switching off, and for their poor body language.
Certainly no one could fault Alexis Sanchez for effort. The ____ – bound Chilean hustled for the first goal by nipping in front of the Liverpool center-back and getting back a goal which he really had no business of winning.
And what about Mesut Ozil? Often accused of switching off in big games, he scored the third goal in the five-minute second half blitz.
Incidentally, it looks like Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata has been swotting up on Ozil’s style.
At least it wasn’t this.
Speaking of Chelsea, could Alexis Sanchez be off to Chelsea instead?
Manchester City’s record breaking season continues and continues without Alexis Sanchez, giving the casual onlooker doubts about what Alexis Sanchez could add to that team.
And if Aguero is already unhappy about his playing time in the team then what happens when Alexis Sanchez arrives there? Two sulks on the bench when Gabriel Jesus plays?
In fact the longer it drags on it appears Sanchez might not be City-bound but may consider a move away to another club where he can still win trophies, such as Manchester United, or increasingly possibly Chelsea. Or why not Paris St Germain or Bayern Munich?
Sergio Aguero scored his 100th league goal at the Etihad, Manchester City eclipsed more than 100 goals in the calendar year. And Harry Kane equalled Alan Shearer’s record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year.
Goals. Goals. Goals.
Yet if you looked at the Premier League table, only the top six teams have a goal difference of more than 1.
It tells you how the Premier League teams are playing this year. Like Burnley, playing to scrape points rather than lose games. Aiming to win by 1-0 on 25% possession, rather than playing good entertaining football.
While Sean Dyche’s Burnley team have done well, and are a remarkable side considering what they achieve on their budget, you might well say they deserved to lose 3-0 at Turf Moor against a Tottenham side. When you set out to get a point for a draw, or play for a 1-0 win, as a neutral fan you might prefer it if teams played “who cares about defence” attacking football like Liverpool and Arsenal did.
The gap from 13th to 20th remains at six points, which means win two and you’re out of the drop zone. Which is exactly what Sam Allardyce and Everton have been trying to do. Score goals, don’t concede; but if you’re up against a team like Chelsea, then don’t concede, and hope to score, letting the fans put pressure on the better team. A run of wins and clean sheets has helped Everton rise up the rankings.
Make no mistake. The Premier League developments at the bottom end will be more interesting than at the top end. The bottom three change more often than the seats in the X-Factor’s six chair challenge.