Football: Weekend of magic, misery and mistakes
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson commits another blunder as the champions collapse
London — Talking points from the Premier League weekend:
Ndidi shows Liverpool midfield what it is missing: Goalkeeper Alisson’s blunder stole the headlines as Liverpool slipped to a damaging 3-1 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday, but the glaring error took the spotlight away from another impressive all-round display from Wilfred Ndidi.
Ndidi controlled things from midfield at the King Power Stadium, with the 24-year-old Nigerian making two more tackles than the entire Liverpool engine room combined could manage in the match, while he also assisted in his side’s third goal.
With Fabinho injured and Jordan Henderson forced to cover in central defence, Liverpool do not have anything like the midfield protection Ndidi offers at the moment, and on Saturday it showed.
Gundogan the surprise of the season? For most of his time at Manchester City, German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been little more than a reliable cog in Pep Guardiola’s passing machine, but this season, at the age of 30, he has been transformed.
Gundogan has scored more than anyone in Europe’s top five leagues since the turn of the year, claiming nine goals in nine Premier League games and 11 in total. He notched just 10 times in 105 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund before joining City in 2016 for whom he had managed only 13 league goals up to this season.
With Sergio Aguero going down with Covid-19 and Kevin De Bruyne injured, Gundogan’s newly discovered appetite for goals has been a timely surprise for Guardiola and a big reason they are sprinting away in the title race.
“I said many times he could play as a striker, like a false nine, and people laughed,” Guardiola said.
Win or lose, Leeds stick to the script: Leeds United have not always been a neutral’s choice but Marcelo Bielsa’s side are proving to be the team to watch for entertainment on their return to the top flight.
They lost 4-2 at Arsenal on Sunday having gone 4-0 down and such is their gung-ho approach that Arsenal manager Michel Arteta looked a little relieved at the final whistle. Leeds’ 23 Premier League matches have featured 82 goals and with safety all but assured they have no reason to suppress their attacking instincts for the rest of the campaign.
“We know what Leeds are, they are great entertainers,” Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness said. “I could watch them every night of the week if they were playing.”
Marvellous Martinez spares Villa’s blushes: Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez pulled off a string of superb saves as Aston Villa managed to hang on for a goalless draw away to a Brighton & Hove Albion side that took 26 shots but failed to score.
Martinez pulled off nine saves, prompting Villa boss Dean Smith to slam his side’s sloppy effort against the Seagulls, and any repeat of that toothless performance will threaten Villa’s European hopes for next season.
Winless Saints unable to build on leads: A sixth straight league loss marked Southampton’s worst run in the club’s history and manager Ralph Hasenhuettl was left wondering how they let a lead slip against Wolverhampton Wanderers after a dominant first-half display.
Southampton, who were in the top four earlier this season, have now dropped 16 points from winning positions — more than any other Premier League team — to fall to 13th. For Hasenhuettl, things are back to square one as he has to find ways to rebuild confidence in his side.
Southampton are not short on quality but they lack the spark that has characterised their successful FA Cup run with wins over Arsenal and Wolves.
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