What’s sexy, and what isn’t, in football this week…
Simone Zaza, Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew, Jonathan Calleri, Enner Valencia and Ashley Fletcher have all had a go at playing up front for West Ham this season, but the Hammers reached late November with the unprecedented record of having no goals (or even any assists) provided by any of their strikers all season. Sakho’s absence in this period has been the subject of much debate, following his bust-up with manager Slaven Bilic last season and subsequent transfer request. But he seems all right now. It took the Senegalese just two minutes of his second appearance of the season to end the club’s striker hoodoo. His bullet header against Manchester United (that’s Sakho’s head just behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s boot, above) was the first West Ham goal scored by a striker since May. That was also against United, and the scorer was Sakho.
We’re repeatedly told that strikers live or die by it, and that was never more evident than at the King Power Stadium on Saturday. Alvaro Negredo, who had not scored - or looked like scoring - since the opening day of the season, broke his duck with an early strike against Leicester that transformed him into a new man. The spring in his step suddenly renewed, the Spaniard soon scored again with a nerveless finish. Meanwhile Jamie Vardy, who this time last year was on his way to breaking the Premier League record for scoring in consecutive games, had no touches in the opposition box as his run of 15 games without a goal continued.
The metamorphosis is complete. Anyone who has been patiently waiting for Moses to change back into the frustrated on-loan winger who couldn’t get in West Ham’s team last season should give up now. In capping another impressive display on Chelsea’s right flank with the winning goal in a heavyweight bout against London rivals Tottenham, the 25-year-old has confirmed his status a fully fledged Blues first teamer - leaving the likes of Willian, Oscar and Fabregas in his wake. Next, according to Monday’s papers, comes the “bumper new contract”. The movie about his life will be next (they can shelve the one Vardy).
Swansea’s bonkers 5-4 win against Crystal Palace will go down as an English football classic, but what the Premier League history books won’t tell our children’s children about the South Wales thriller is that the vast majority of the goals scored in it were unbelievably rubbish. The first-half strikes from Wilfried Zaha and Gylfi Sigurdsson were quite good, but the seven in the second half were a collection of scuffs, deflections, own goals and tap-ins that would have made a Sunday league team blush. Exciting though it may have been, it would dangerous to suggest that this is the kind of game that makes the Premier League “the greatest in the world”.
Did Tottenham’s manager really “rest” players in the club’s biggest game of the season against Monaco so that he could concentrate on the Premier League match against Chelsea, which he subsequently lost? Because that would be quite the catastrophic error of judgment, wouldn’t it? The Argentine hasn’t often appeared in the ‘Not’ section since arriving at White Hart Lane, but defeat at Stamford Bridge - Spurs’ first league loss of the season - marks something of a low point in his tenure and calls his decision-making into question. Poch seems to be taking out most of his frustration on Moussa Sissoko, who he said did not “deserve” to be picked against the Blues. Some might also suggest Sissoko didn’t deserve the £30m price tag Pochettino happily stumped up for him in the summer.
Another manager who seems to have lost his Midas touch. Not only did the Dutchman’s new side Everton lose to the side he left in the summer, Southampton, they were beaten partly thanks to a man-of the-match display from a young Saint that Koeman said he had never heard of. Forward Josh Sims didn’t get a look-in at St Mary’s last season, which is unsurprising given’s Koeman’s prickly post-match comment that he was “not aware” of the 19-year-old’s existence. Claude Puel threw Sims straight into the starting line-up for his debut against the Toffees, and was repaid with a hugely encouraging display from the latest promising Saints Academy product. Liverpool are already rumoured to be preparing a bid.