It was another eventful weekend in European football, as the commitments (read: distractions) of International football came to a close, and the narrative of some of the biggest clubs in the world charted its due course. T4O looks back to three such big fixtures and determine how it will help them along the way, in attaining their respective end-of-season goals.
Celtic 5 – Rangers 1
[Moussa Dembele 33rd
Moussa Dembele 42nd
Scott Sinclair 61st
Moussa Dembele 83rd
Stuart Armstrong 90 +1:31]
[Joe Garner 44th]
Moussa Dembele Is One Of The Big Bhoys Now
The 20-year-old French striker secured from Fulham spread his wings and soared as Celtic surgically dismembered Rangers piece by glorious piece, with 4 unanswered goals, in one of the most emphatic Old Firm derbies of recent times. The young lad, etched his name in the annals of the Hoops history by registering a left-footed, right-footed, and a headed strike to complete the perfect hat-trick, and becoming the very first player at Celtic Park to score three goals since 1973! Such was his bravado, the lad didn’t relent there, as he went on to lay one off for his team-mate.
Things looked a bit iffy after Joe Garner reduced the deficit on Moussa’s two early goals, but Scott Sinclair’s, Amstrong’s and the icing on the cake from the former PSG graduate, gave Brendan Rodgers’ reign a flawless start.
Questions were posed when the trailblazer from Fulham, after his impressive showings with the London club, turned down a whole host of Premier League clubs to join Rodgers’ project, but on a sun-dried Celtic Park pitch, on an August afternoon, Celtic’s pursuits and Dembele’s choice was emphatically proven right. It was fortune, too, perhaps, that played a part, as if it wasn’t for Leigh Griffith’s hamstring pull, they boy may not have had the chance to announce himself in such style and verve.
But, luck can only take you so far – Celtic, have with them a talent with potential Premier League class, and they’d do well to take up the responsibility to rightly nurture his talents, doing so, will motivate the player to stay on for longer, and facilitate more such halcyon days.
Manchester United 1 – Manchester City 2
[Zlatan Ibrahimovic 42nd]
[Kevin De Bruyne 15th
Kelechi Iheanacho 36th]
Pep Guardiola Is Reinventing The Reinvented Wheel
Gone will be the day that tiki-taka is associated with Pep Guardiola. In fact, he threw the La Liga manual out the window when he stepped into the Allianz Arena and took on the helm of the mighty Bavarian juggernaut of Bayern Munich. Pep realised you can’t emboss the same template of football everywhere, without unsettling the fans and the players, and compromising on the values of his adopted club, and played the team to its strengths, ie, neck-break, counter-attacking football.
Against Manchester United, Pep’s passages of play pandered the primal instinct of playing the ball forward as quickly as possible, and it yielded its desired effect. The first goal was a result of a route one hoof; the second a Jose Mourinho styled counter.
Just goes to show why the Spaniard is regarded as the most cerebral managers of recent times, and why it’s good to be a Manchester City fan at the moment.
Liverpool FC 4 – Leicester City 1
[Roberto Firmino 13th
Sadio Mane 31st
Adam Lallana 56th
Roberto Firmino 89th]
[Jamie Vardy 38th]
The Four Four Two Has Been Found Out
There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong with Leicester’s title chase, but it didn’t. But it seems like the ephemeral nature of footballing fortunes, is catching up. Ranieri’s insistence playing a two-man midfield has finally come undone against the trifecta of Henderson, Firmino and Lucas. Overpowered, out-manoeuvred, over-run, the duo of Danny Drinkwater and Daniel Amartey didnt have half-a-chance to cope with Liverpool’s hounds of war, hunting in packs.
More teams will look to employ the same tactics, and being an experienced customer as he is, he’d know, even with Mendy coming back, it’ll take another man in there to fill the Kante-shaped hole.