There was a stretch last season when Chelsea scored just one goal in five Premier League matches. Graham Potter’s team were as boring as they were bad. Chelsea, sitting smack bang in mid-table with just four wins from 12 games, may still be bad, but they have at least stopped being boring.
Nineteen per cent of Chelsea’s goals this season came in the 4-4 draw against Manchester City on Sunday. So too have 25% of the goals they have conceded. The match at Stamford Bridge showcased the unparalleled madness of the Premier League – you have to go as far back as last Monday’s barnstormer between Chelsea and Tottenham to find a game so chaotic and unrelenting.
There was ultimately no winner between Chelsea and City, but there were plenty of winners (and losers) from Matchweek 12.
Revenge performance of the week
Cole Palmer might look like one of the cast of Superbad, but there’s something about him. Nobody can doubt that after his performance against his former club, Manchester City, on Sunday which saw Palmer convert a stoppage time equaliser and celebrate with a moody shrug. Palmer also mischievously attempted to join a City tactical timeout without anyone noticing. Revenge is a powerful motivator, it turns out.
Palmer – whose good form was rewarded with a first England call-up on Monday – was a transfer market afterthought for Chelsea in the summer, but he has quickly become central to Pochettino’s plans. His willingness to tuck inside off the wing gave the Blues strength in numbers against the Manchester City midfield while his ability to get into the half-spaces offered Chelsea a route into transition.
Stamford Bridge has been a difficult environment for new signings over the last two seasons, but Palmer is proving himself as an exception. At 21 years old, he’s taken on the bulk of Chelsea’s creative burden – and a leadership role with it.
Stat of the week
Ever felt gaslit by a statistic before? Well, you will after hearing that Manchester United are the most in-form team in the Premier League, having collected more points (12) over their last five matches than any other side. That’s the same Manchester United who have spent the last month on the brink of crisis. The same Manchester United who needed Victor Lindelöf to bail them out at home to Luton Town on Saturday to win 1-0. The same Manchester United who are now suddenly reliant on Harry Maguire again.
Erik ten Hag now has a league-best run of form to rebuff the line of questioning about his future at Old Trafford. Numbers, he can argue, never lie – as long as you ignore the ones that have Manchester United in the bottom half of the table for Expected Goals and Expected Points this season (United sit 12th in the what-should-have-happened xG table). Or the ones that suggest United’s good league form is down to a favourable run of fixtures.
Everton are up to 14th in the table, eight points clear of the relegation zone. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images
The ‘Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at himself on TV’ award
Like Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Burnley fans surely recognised the type of football being played by Everton when they caught highlights of the match on Saturday. While Vincent Kompany is trying to become the new Pep Guardiola as successfully as Steve Bruce tried for years to be the new Sir Alex Ferguson, Sean Dyche has recycled an old blueprint to turn around Everton’s season.
Long ball tactics, second-ball battles, a general disregard for opposition shins, James Tarkowski … Everton are a better Burnley than Burnley at the moment. Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace means Everton have already surpassed last season’s tally for away wins and are growing in confidence with almost every match. Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benítez, Frank Lampard – none of them gave Everton a clearer identity than a guy from Northamptonshire who, for some reason, speaks as if he’s from Yorkshire.
Player of the week
The evolution of Darwin Núñez continues. Last week, the Liverpool striker was a danger to the windows of the houses around Kenilworth Road with his wayward shooting against Luton Town. This week, though, Núñez was much more precise, hitting the target on 100% of his shots and providing for others when he couldn’t get an effort away himself.
That last point is crucial. Signed to be the Reds’ version of Erling Haaland, Núñez isn’t anywhere near as clinical in front of goal as the Manchester City striker. To watch Núñez is to watch an athlete go through the full spectrum of inner psychology, from self-doubt to self-belief. Haaland doesn’t do this because he’s not human.
Nonetheless, the chaos Núñez brings allows Liverpool to unlock the full potential of their attack. The 24-year-old contributed two assists for Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s 3-0 home win over Brentford on Sunday with the relationship between the pair a strong one. In fact, all seven of Núñez’s Premier League assists this season have been for Salah. The Chaos King and the Egyptian King make for a powerful duo.
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Goal of the week
BEAUTIFUL BRIGHTON GOAL. SIMON ADINGRA with the strong run, lovely one-two & shot which kisses the post. De Zerbi’s dreams realized in front of our eyes. 💙 pic.twitter.com/yJep6UQHOi
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) November 12, 2023
Despite some competition from John McGinn, Diogo Jota and Pablo Sarabia, Simon Adingra scored the most eye-catching Premier League goal of the weekend. With Kaoru Mitoma on the bench, Sheffield United may not have expected to face much of a dribbling threat from Brighton’s left wing, but Adingra posed that and more, combining well with Facundo Buonanotte after a driving run to finish low off the inside of the post.
It wasn’t quite on the level of Jack Wilshere’s one-touch circus goal from a decade ago, but the way Brighton cut through a packed opposition backline made it somewhat evocative of that moment. It was as much about Buonanotte’s backheel assist as it was about the dribble and shot. This was the highlight of an otherwise dull 1-1 draw.
The Eric Dier award for fan relations
You must take it, but never give it back. All professional players must adhere to this golden rule and those who don’t are defined by the time they squared up to one of their own fans. Kieran Trippier managed to stop himself at the Vitality Stadium after Newcastle United’s dismal 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday, but the image of the right back arguing with a supporter at full-time was reflective of how the Magpies are struggling for consistency. “Are the lads not giving everything?” Trippier said as he confronted his own supporters. Frustration is building. Manchester United are now above them in the table. How embarrassing.
First touch of the week
PABLO SARABIA. WHAT A 1ST TOUCH. WHAT A HIT. 🤌🤌🤌pic.twitter.com/fOtuKgn95H
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) November 11, 2023
Sarabia plays a lot of hacky sack. That’s the only way to explain how he made his equaliser for Wolves against Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday’s early kick-off look so easy. Sarabia didn’t even have to break stride as he controlled a Matheus Cunha pass and set himself up for the near-post volley finish in one motion. It was a moment that wouldn’t look out of place on a Dennis Bergkamp highlight reel.
Premature celebration of the week
Anthony Elanga went big as he celebrated scoring to put Nottingham Forest 2-1 up against West Ham on Sunday. The shirt came off. So too did the strappy GPS tracker which was dumped at the side of the pitch when Elanga failed to quickly put it back on before the match restarted (I bet the Forest data analysts were delighted about that).
GPS wasn’t required to track how many seconds Forest’s lead lasted for, though, as Elanga’s goal was cancelled out just 123 seconds later. And then West Ham went on to win 3-2. A shirt-off celebration with 27 minutes left on the clock proved to be just as premature as the predictions of Elanga as Manchester United’s next big thing.
Passive aggressive email signoff of the week
Just one week after calling every referee in the country a useless wet wipe (to paraphrase), Mikel Arteta flipped the script after Arsenal’s 3-1 home win over Burnley, but in a sort of ‘passive aggressive email signoff’ way that unnerved everyone in the room for his post-match press conference. “VAR was right, the referee was right, really good decision, really positive from Mikel to speak about that,” said the Arsenal manager about the decision to show a red card to Fabio Vieira seven minutes from the end of the match. He was smiling, but the grin had big ‘kind regards’ energy.