Silva service, Silva bullet: fall guy on Merseyside
It was some kind of tough being Marco Silva on Wednesday night in Liverpool. Merseyside derby away to the runaway league leaders? You wouldn’t expect it to end well, despite Everton’s recent good form against their city rivals.
A glorious defeat by the odd goal in three might have been enough to allow the Portuguese to live to fight another day, but to get smashed 5-2 by a side half-full of squad players was too much for chairman Bill Kenwright and humiliated Evertonians to take, and the Silva bullet had all the inevitability of a “Keep Out” sign at the loo after a dodgy curry.
Call it the ultimate punishment for making Dejan Lovren look like Franz Beckenbauer and Divock Origi the second coming of Dennis Bergkamp.
But we digress. On to the housekeeping and the good news that Jaylen Martin held his nerve, just, to sneak The Royal Gazette Fantasy League title for November.
Going into Gameweek 14 with a 21-point lead, Martin’s Haven’t Got a Kalou seemed a sure bet to cling on and did enough owing largely to a technicality. With last Saturday and Sunday straddling the months of November and December, Martin benefited from what points were accrued up to November 30. Which meant that Denzel Simons and Jamal Salaam, who each scored well on Sunday, came up short, but at least had a good start to the new month.
So Martin scoops the $100 voucher or cash prize, by two points, and joins Aprille Gibbons and Charles Talbot, our monthly winners from October and September respectively, in having to pitch up at the RG offices to collect their prize.
Everton v Chelsea
Wouldn’t you know it that Everton, after sacking their manager yesterday, are first up for the Sky Sports crew to give it the big build-up in advance of the early kick-off at Goodison Park. In the bottom three on a three-match losing run, which very well may grow to four despite the traditional bounce factor. Chelsea have goals in them.
Bournemouth v Liverpool
Bournemouth are not so much better than Everton in the form figures, two points above the relegation places, but in a misleading twelfth place.
However, Eddie Howe’s job is hardly under threat — they love him on the South Coast.
There is a lot of lovin’ to go around, as Liverpool fancy these opponents more than any other, beating them by three goals in their past four league meetings. Mohamed Salah, rested for the Merseyside derby, has scored in every appearance against Bournemouth. Oh, the omens.
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley
José Mourinho tasted defeat for the first time as Spurs manager on Wednesday at Old Trafford — and, yes, that had to hurt — but he encounters a confidence-sapped Burnley outfit here. Outclassed at home by Manchester City on Tuesday, Sean Dyche’s men should be playing for second in a two-horse race.
Watford v Crystal Palace
Lies, damned lies and statistics. Watford are a club in crisis, so much so that their three-match winning streak against Palace looks a statistic that gives a lie to any recommendations of the home team here. They had Southampton where they wanted them after 75 but somehow allowed three points to turn to none. Contrast that with Palace turning over Burnley away from home and then on Tuesday winning despite being a man down for 70 minutes.
Manchester City v Manchester United
Derby day in Manchester gained greater relevance with United’s welcome win over Spurs in midweek. But that is not enough to suggest they can replicate the Paul Pogba-inspired 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium two seasons ago.
Aston Villa v Leicester City
High-flying Leicester have found the going tougher when teams have sat back against them, and this should be no different for the counter-attacking specialists at Villa Park. But Brendan Rodgers, as shown with his Kelechi Iheanacho masterstroke to break Everton hearts last weekend, has proven adept at finding a solution.
Newcastle United v Southampton
Two clubs feeling mighty good about themselves — Newcastle winning at Bramall Lane after a rip-roaring home draw with Manchester City, and Southampton an Alexandre Lacazette stoppage-time equaliser away from posting three straight 2-1 wins. And Ralph Hasenhüttl still has his job!
Norwich City v Sheffield United
Watford’s only win this season has been at Carrow Road — that says something! Sheffield United share with Liverpool the distinction of being the only unbeaten Premier League teams away from home. But where the league leaders have won six and drawn one, Chris Wilder’s battlers have won one and draw six.
Brighton v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Buoyed by a first-ever win away to Arsenal yesterday, Brighton face Wolves confident they can maintain a bizarre stranglehold in their brief rivalry. Not one for the highlights reel, these fixtures, with Wolves held goalless in both encounters last season despite owning the ball and getting off 48 shots in total. Alas, Brighton scored the one goal that mattered. Sky are really tempting fate here with this teatime kick-off.
West Ham United v Arsenal
How bad are the Arsenal? Winless in seven, without a manager and with a fanbase that has given up the ghost weeks before the entry of Christmas Past. West Ham’s form is not so much better, but surely they must fancy themselves to at least emulate the 1-0 result last season at London Stadium.
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