What’s sexy, and what isn’t, in football this week…
The Ivorian’s match-winning reappearance in the Manchester City team that beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park was a reminder of just how silly his absence from Pep Guardiola’s squad has been. A club legend, forced into exile for months, all because his agent said some nasty things about the manager. It’s the kind of petty spat you’d expect on the The Only Way is Essex rather than in the corridors of power at the world’s richest football club. Toure’s return was also a reminder that he was once regarded as the Premier League’s most outstanding player, and you don’t lose that kind of ability overnight. Sure, Yaya’s first goal was deflected in and the second was a bit of a scuff, but that takes nothing away from one of the most surprising comebacks since Boris Johnson was made foreign secretary.
A lot of teams were looking for a striker in the summer - West Ham, Stoke and Tottenham to name a few - and you can guarantee there would have been a riot among their fans if they had signed clubless beef merchant Anichebe to lead the line. But that’s what David Moyes did, and his Sunderland side are now reaping the benefits of the gamble. The former Everton and West Brom forward was the epitome of a “handful” against Hull City, but he was also lethal in front of goal - scoring twice in a 3-0 win has left Black Cats fans wondering whether they might actually be able to stay up without sacking their manager for once. Meanwhile, West Ham, Tottenham and Stoke are still dreaming of a striker who can do what Anichebe did on Saturday.
The ease of getting noticed in the Premier League depends on who you play for. If you’re a Manchester United player, you can score one goal and get in the England squad. If you’re at Chelsea, three good performances in a row will mean you are officially brilliant. At Watford, it’s more difficult to make a name for yourself, but it can’t be long before people start taking Pereyra very seriously indeed. The Argentine midfielder’s second goal of his Hornets career was a curling, swerving thunderbolt, but it was his overall performance in the 2-1 win against Leicester that left his manager Walter Mazzarri purring most. So far, the £10.4m signing from Juventus is looking better value than his former team-mates Paul Pogba and Simone Zaza.
The Everton captain has been getting away with a lot of stuff recently. He conceded two penalties against Man City last month, only to see them both missed by Sergio Aguero. Then he went on an alleged booze bender following England’s win against Scotland, only to see his Three Lions team-mate Wayne Rooney get all of the blame for it. But Jagielka’s luck finally run out when he felled Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson in the box at Goodison Park and then watched the Icelander convert the resultant spot-kick. Hopefully that will teach him to stop conceding penalties. No one in the Premier League has given away more of them this season.
The hapless American has now tried officially everything to get his first win as Swansea boss, but he still hasn’t managed it. Changing your entire team (Bradley made eight changes from the side beaten by Manchester United for the visit to Everton) seemed like a last throw of the tactical dice, and it very nearly came off. Swansea were good value for their first-half lead, but you know your luck’s out when you concede an 89th equaliser to a 5ft 10in defender who fires a long-distance header into the top corner without even jumping off the ground. Seamus Coleman doesn’t score many of those. No one does.
The Kiwi defender was West Ham’s best player against Tottenham on Saturday evening. In fact, he was the best player on the pitch. He expertly marshalled Spurs striker Harry Kane, made countless crucial interceptions and even popped up with two assists as the Hammers took a 2-1 lead to put them on the verge of a famous win. Unfortunately, Reid’s defensive masterclass rapidly fell apart in spectacular fashion. In the space of five minutes, his team-mates gifted Kane two goals (one open goal, one penalty), and there was still enough time for the understandably annoyed centre-back to earn two yellow cards in injury time and get sent off. From hero to cheerio. It’s a brutal old game.