Home Sport Reds highlight defensive frailties with comedic slip-up

Reds highlight defensive frailties with comedic slip-up

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Virgil van Dijk and Alisson’s comedic mix-up that helped Arsenal to a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday summed up a lamentable weekend for Premier League defenders.

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli (left) scores their side’s second goal of the game after Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk (right) fails to clear the ball during the Premier League match at Emirates Stadium, London. Picture: John Walton

Virgil van Dijk and Alisson’s comedic mix-up that helped Arsenal to a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Sunday summed up a lamentable weekend for Premier League defenders.

The result at the Emirates Stadium meant that 41 goals hit the net in nine games across Saturday and Sunday and with Manchester City facing Brentford on Monday (1-3), the record for a 10-game programme has been tied.

The most goals ever scored in a full round of Premier League fixtures before this weekend is 44 in September 2020.

It continues an upward trend in goals per game in the Premier League this season with 3.20 so far compared to last season’s average of 2.85.

SPURS MUST FIND SOLUTION

Everton admitted it was a major aim of theirs to target Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario at set pieces and apply pressure on him through physicality and whatever legal way they could to put him off his game.

It worked, their first goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park came from a corner that left Vicario flailing under pressure, and he looked uncomfortable all game. Scorer of the Everton equaliser, Jarrad Branthwaite, admitted they had spotted his weaknesses pre-game.

Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou felt referee Michael Oliver’s failure to protect his goalkeeper made for a “free-for-all”, but in truth Vicario looked tentative and keen to make the most of any contact, rather than concentrate on the job at hand.

It is something other teams will have spotted and a potential weak link for Postecoglou as his side pushes for a top-four place this season.

BLUES PROJECT STUCK

Chelsea fans booed their team off the pitch after a second Premier League game in a week where they shipped four goals and pressure is clearly mounting on coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea lost 4-1 to Liverpool in midweek and on Sunday went down 4-2 at home to Wolves with some fans even chanting the name of former coach Jose Mourinho.

“The perception is Chelsea should be in a different position but for different circumstances, we are not. One is maybe because we’re not good enough,” Pochettino said.

It is regularly stated that Pochettino is building a new project at Stamford Bridge but with such a huge outlay in transfer fees – £1 billion since American Todd Boehly took charge – that argument is wearing a little thin.

With an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Aston Villa on Wednesday followed by Premier League games at Crystal Palace and Manchester City and a League Cup final against Liverpool looming, February may well decide Pochettino’s fate.

RED DEVILS’ REVOLVING DOOR OF INJURIES

After being plagued by injuries this season, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag had his squad back at close to full health in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over West Ham – for most of the game.

In only his fourth game back after undergoing foot surgery, defender Lisandro Martinez left the pitch with an apparent knee injury in the second half and while Ten Hag did not give details about the injury, it sounded serious.

“It doesn’t look good,” Ten Hag told reporters.

“He is very sad, very disappointed. We all feel really with him. First of all, it’s a personal disaster when it’s really bad. But for the team, also it is really bad because he brings us a lot.”

Martinez, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire all recently returned from lengthy injury lay-offs.

VILLA ARE BACK

Aston Villa served notice they are not to be left out of the title race conversation with a 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Villa, who went winless in the league last month, became the first away team to score four goals in the opening 30 minutes of a top-flight match in over 12 years. The 4-0 half-time score had pundits wondering if the Premier League record for lopsided scores – 9-0 jointly held by Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester City – might fall before the final whistle.

Bottom side Sheffield United, meanwhile, are careening towards relegation and manager Chris Wilder apologised for his team’s performance.

“We’ve been well and truly pumped,” he said. “We’ve been outclassed and outfought in every department. In this league they put you to bed and take you to the cleaners.”

Reuters

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