x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

West Brom deserve plaudits for 2-1 victory at Old Trafford, Manchester City fans in for a roller-coaster ride, writes Graham Caygill.

West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino, right, celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Phil Noble / Reuters
West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino, right, celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Phil Noble / Reuters

Best display – West Brom

Amid all the howls of derision at Manchester United’s worst start to a Premier League season, following their third loss of the season on Saturday, one thing seems to have been overlooked: West Bromwich Albion thoroughly deserved their win.

United did not put out a full-strength side, rather naively as it turns out, but West Brom were missing a number of players, too, including Nicolas Anelka, Shane Long, Chris Brunt and Zoltan Gera. Scott Sinclair was lost to injury inside the first 13 minutes.

Hardly ideal, yet they took the game to the hosts, created the better chances, were better in midfield and defended well when they had to.

Morgan Amalfitano’s solo effort for the first goal rightly took much of the plaudits, but it was the way that manager Steve Clarke’s men responded to being pegged back by Wayne Rooney’s equaliser that impressed.

They dusted themselves off, kept at what they were doing and scored again through Saido Berahino – his first in the English top flight – for a deserved victory.

Worst result – Fulham

A 1-1 draw with Cardiff City at home was not going to be a great score for struggling Fulham. But it was still a point for beleaguered Fulham manager Martin Jol.

Then Cardiff’s Jordan Mutch stuck one in the top corner from 25 yards in stoppage time to give the Welsh side their first away win in the Premier League. With rumours of disquiet behind the scenes at Fulham, this was not what Jol needed.

The West London side have been winless since their season-opening triumph at Sunderland, a result that has been put into perspective by the dire fortunes subsequently of the side they conquered that day.

Mutch’s goal was fantastic and a real bolt from the blue, but that did not stop a section of Fulham fans from berating Jol as he walked back to the changing rooms at the final whistle.

Tough life being a manager sometimes.

Worst reality – Man City

You hammer your city rivals 4-1 and then get revenge on the side that embarrassed you in the FA Cup final in May by whacking them 5-0 in the League Cup.

All good, right? But then you lose 3-2 at Aston Villa. Not part of the plan.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini genuinely looked perplexed as to how his side had managed to lose to Villa, despite leading twice.

Shoddy defending was at the heart of the problem, but unpredictable City look as if they are going to be a lot of fun this year.

Great going forward, wobbly at the back, a neutral’s favourite. But not so good for their championship credentials.



Best quote

“I think this is the way players should say, ‘I want to play’. Blah, blah, blah is not good. Conversation with you [the media] is not good. The agents blah, blah, blah behind is not good. Good is this, good is the effort he made against Swindon. It is the way he changed the team in the second half.”

Jose Mourinho praises Juan Mata’s impact as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur, having left the Spanish midfielder on the bench for most of the season.

Best statistic – Aaron Ramsey

Eight is the magic number for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side have now won eight away league games in a row, which equals their best record, from the 2001/02 season. And, in the 2-1 win at Swansea City, Aaron Ramsey netted for the eighth time in eight matches.

Best goal – Jordan Mutch

The Cardiff City midfielder scored an absolute beauty at Fulham, cutting inside from the right and bending an unstoppable shot past David Stockdale with his left foot, straight into the top corner. The best thing about it? Mutch’s strike came in injury time and won the game for Cardiff. Perfect timing.