Feeling blue in the City, Pep?

The only reason #ManchesterCity are in the top 6 is because of that blazing start they had to the season that had ‘pundits’ claiming they could go all season undefeated. They could not have been sillier in their claims – this #City side are a million miles from the finished article that #PepGuardiola’s last 2 clubs have been (you could argue that teams that have messrs #Messi #Iniesta #Xavi #Muller #Robben #Lahm et al are damned near finished articles regardless of who coaches them) and their 4-0 loss at #Everton show just how much work still needs to be done for their multi-millionaires to successfully play the Pep way, whatever that really is. (At Barca is was tiki-taka, at Bayern it was some sort of hybrid between that and quick transitions and at City, it’s just really hard to tell what the philosophy is) Regardless, it does seem that are now out of the title race, dropping a whole 10-points behind leaders #Chelsea, who managed to keep all the drama around the massive locker-room bust up between #Conte and #Costa amid rumors of a 30 gazillion billion dollar offer from China for the Braziliaspanard, to thrash #Leicester 0-3 thanks to a brace from #MarcusAlonso and one from #Pedro.

#Tottenham showed yet again that they are the best equipped side to try and catch the Blues at the top after they followed up their win against them last week with a 4-0 thrashing of #WestBrom, thanks to a #Kane hattrick, which isn’t the least bit surprising since Harry wins his #GoldenBoot awards in the 2nd half of the season, anyways. Spurs are compact in defense (the best in the league as of now), have a fantastic midfield that constantly chips in with goals, Kane and a coach, who is rapidly showing the might well be the best young manager in the business.

The game of the weekend though (atleast on paper), was the historically massive derby between #ManchesterUnited and #Liverpool, which ended in a 1-1 draw, with #Ibra’s (who else?) late header canceling out #Milner’s early penalty. The game was surprisingly entertaining and both teams had chances that could have won the game. United’s came early in the first half and #Mignolet had to keep them in the game with saves from #Ibra and #Mkhitaryan and a big giant miss from #Pogba, who had the worst game of his new United career, giving away a silly handball penalty for Liverpool’s goal. Both coaches and their supporters claimed their team played better with #Klopp accusing #Mourinho of using long-ball tactics and Jose in turn accusing the reds of packing the defense. Neither are wrong, nor are they entirely right. Liverpool did defend in numbers but it wasn’t as simple as that. Klopp employed this clever 3 pronged defensive strategy – his front 3 geggenpressed the hell out of United’s build up, nullifying #Carrick’s passing game; when the ball made it’s way through the midfield, #Lallana acted like a ‘shadow’ to Liverpool’s defensive midfielders, often taking the ball of Pogba and Herrera and finally, in their 3rd, making sure most of their 11 players were back and compact, making it near impossible for Pogba and Mkhitaryan and #Martial to make clever runs or put in devastating through balls. Jose did then shift to a long-ball game, especially when he brought on #Fellaini and tactically, it was the clever thing to do, because there was little way through the fantastic defensive structure that Klopp set up. And it worked for United’s equalizer.

#Arsenal beat #Swansea 0-4 to stay 4th; #Burnley beat #Southampton 1-0; #Stoke thrashed a woeful #Sunderland 1-3; #Hull gave themselves a lifeline with a 3-1 win over #Bournemouth and #WestHam beat #Palace 3-0 without #Payet, who is channelling his inner Frenchman by going on strike!

Pep wasn’t the only big name to suffer this weekend as #Juventus saw their lead at the top cut to just 1-point as they were beaten 1-0 by #Fiorentina and in the #LaLiga, #RealMadrid’s incredible 40-game unbeaten run was abruptly halted by a resurgent #Sevilla side 2-1 and taking them to within 1 point of the Madrid giants and ahead of 3rd placed #Barcelona (when was the last time that happened?) who kept pace with a massive 5-0 thrashing of #LasPalmas.

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Poch-marked Conte’s record!

#Conte and his all-conquering #Chelsea side were one win away from setting the record for most consecutive wins in the #EPL after going 13 in a row equalling #Arsenal’s record (there was a time when they were really good, seriously!) until they came up against a fantastic #Tottenham side and their brilliant tactician #Pochettino, who found a way to nullify Chelsea’s potent 3-5-3 (or 3-5-2-1) and come away with a well-deserved 2-0 at #WhiteHartLane with a brace from #DeleAlli’s head.
The Blues still have a 5 point lead at the top, but this win, cheered on by all the other teams challenging for honors, be it the title or top 4, has certainly kept Chelsea from going 8 points clear and running away with it. #Spurs were disciplined in defense and kept #Costa completely out of the game and their midfield gave little or no space to #Hazard #Moses #Alonso and the 2 assists by a very good and constantly improving #Eriksen were top notch.
And while Poch’s reputation as one of the top tacticians in the game continues to grow, one Herr #Klopp and his #Liverpool side must be kicking themselves for not getting all 3 points from their 2-2 draw at #Sunderland, which would have brought them within 3 of Chelsea at the top.

#Arsenal showed just how frustrating they must be to their supporters after they started like rubbish, going down 3-0 to #Bournemouth until a last 20-minute onslaught brought them back to earn a 3-3 draw. As impressive as the comeback was, all it did was highlight how mentally weak the #Gunners can be and just why they will not win the title. After the result today, they have now dropped out of the top 4 and remain only 2 clear of an in-form #United.

#Swansea pulled off a last minute 1-2 win at #CrystalPalace in front of their third new boss of the season, #PaulClemens, who left as #Ancelotti’s assistant at mighty #Bayern to find a way to rescue a team that looks set for relegation. Palace on the other hand, have now lost their first 2 games of new manager #BigSam. #Stoke beat #Watford 2-0 to keep themselves knocking on the doors of the top half of the table.

Over in the #Copa, a #James brace gave #RealMadrid a comfortable 3-0 win (and reminder of his capabilities as rumors of a £60+ mil exit to Chelsea swirl) while #Villarreal were beaten 1-3 at #RealSociedad.

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Pepinho? Mourdiola?

Tetchy, sarcastic, under siege, blaming referees and hissing at the interviewer.

Classy, calm, smiling, humble, gracious to the opposition team and it’s manager.

When you read these 2 descriptions of an #EPL Manager, you probably went #PepGuardiola or even #Klopp to the latter and quite certainly #JoseMourinho to the former. You did, didn’t you? And if you did, you’d have good reason to based on history, even recent-ish history. But you’d be totally wrong. Wrong on both counts. Pep’s last few post-match interviews had begun to reveal a side of him we hadn’t really seen before – one under pressure from his team’s performances and dropping down the table in the type of league he’s never experienced before. It has been said time and again that the EPL is the most difficult in the world to play in and coach. And it’s showing in his answers to journalists. You just have to watch today’s post match interview by him to see just how strained this otherwise calm and collected guy is – blaming the referee, blaming the rules, hissing at the interviewer even though his 10-man #ManchesterCity side were able to beat a visiting #Burnley 2-1 thanks to goals by #Clichy (who?) and #Aguero.

Klopp too, seemed particularly peeved (by his high standards) at the tight schedule (playing 2 games in 48 hours) and a free-kick call against them, as his #Liverpool side dropped 2 critical points in their aim to stay on #Chelsea’s tail in a 2-2 draw at #Sunderland thanks to 2 penalties converted by #Defoe. He has a point – all 20 managers have said the same thing (except #Conte who’s Blues have a 4-day break before they play #Spurs on Wednesday) but all 20 teams have had to deal with this and many have come out unscathed. Liverpool must be especially peeved because this was the week they felt they could close the gap to Chelsea with their visit to the in-form #Tottenham anything but a sure 3-pointer. Instead the 6 point gap might well become 8 and they visit #OldTrafford next week. In current form, that is not going to be an easy 3 or even 1 point to earn.

On the flipside of the Pep/Klopp interviews was traditional offender, Jose Mourinho, who’s interviews more recently are gentle and thoughtful and gracious to his opponents and today was another one of those. His resurgent #ManchesterUnited side recorded their 6th win in a row, thanks to a lucky 0-2 win at 10-man #WestHam, thanks to goals by #Mata and #Ibra (who else?). United have had a lot of decisions go against them all season, including an incorrectly disallowed goal 2 days ago but lady luck seems to be evening things out a little bit because the direct red card awarded early in the game to #Feghouli was utterly harsh and was a yellow at most. The #Hammers still put on a spirited performance with 10 and the #RedDevils had the brilliant #DeGea to thank for keeping it 0-0 until #Mata’s opener and the 2nd by #Zlatan, which should have been called offside, finished the game off. The useless #Lingard and #Valencia are now in competition for the worst miss of the season, which you can watch here and brighten up your day with!

#Southampton continue their wretched form (and run) as they were thrashed 3-0 by an #Everton side that is starting to get their early-season groove back with goals from #Valencia #Baines and #Lukaku, while high-flying #WestBrom came from behind to beat #Hull 3-1. Champions #Leicester continued the weakest defense of a title by playing a lucky 0-0 draw at #Middlesborough, who should have had a clear penalty awarded to them.

#Arsenal play tomorrow as they fend off a United side that is now only 1 point behind them.

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