Talking points from the Premier League weekend
Liverpool, who drew 0-0 at Manchester United, gained a one point lead at the top of the Premier League while title rivals Manchester City grabbed some silverware with a penalty shootout win in the League Cup final over Chelsea.
The following are five talking points from the weekend action:
SARRI WAS HUMILIATED BY ‘PLAYER POWER’
Even if one were to accept the explanation for the refusal of Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to be substituted in Sunday’s League Cup final as a “misunderstanding”, the incident remains a remarkable act of insubordination.
Arrizabalaga could easily have headed to the touchline and made his case that he was fit and able to continue in person to manager Maurizio Sarri — instead of his dismissive hand signals from the field.
The keeper is coming in for plenty of criticism but once the hot air has cooled there is every chance that in a few months his boss will be long gone while the keeper will still be earning his massive salary at Stamford Bridge.
Arrizabalaga cost Chelsea a world record 80 million euros ($90.9 million) from Athletic Bilbao in August and they are most unlikely to find a club willing to match that over-priced valuation for him.
‘Player power’ isn’t a trend based on misguided values — it simply reflects the economic realities of the modern game.
PUEL ANOTHER VICTIM OF PLAYER POWER
Leicester City said on Sunday they have parted company with manager Claude Puel, with the club sitting 12th in the league standings.
The Foxes appear to be another club where managers who do not meet the approval of the dressing room have a very short shelf-life, with the search now underway for their fourth manager in two years.
Leicester have been inconsistent under Puel amid constant reports that the Frenchman was close to the sack.
Last month Peter Schmeichel, father of the team’s goalkeeper Kasper, stated on television that: “They’ve got good players, they just don’t have the manager who can get the best out of them.”
It was a comment that hugely undermined Puel and his exit was no surprise. The next man in charge will have to take a long hard look at that dressing room.
DOES LOYALTY PAY?
How many clubs would have sacked their manager after an abysmal 5-1 home defeat by Everton left their team inside the relegation zone? Most, one would suspect.
But Burnley stuck with manager Sean Dyche after their abject hammering by Marco Silva’s side on Boxing Day and they have been unbeaten since, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move to the safer position of 14th and 30 points.
LINGARD INJURY POOR JUDGMENT
If Jose Mourinho had sent on Jesse Lingard as substitute, 12 days after he suffered a hamstring injury and seen him have to go off with a similar problem after 18 minutes, there may well have been an outbreak of pundit rage and media inquisition.
There has been little of that but there is no doubt that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s gamble went badly wrong in the game against Liverpool and his judgement was questionable — especially given Alexis Sanchez was sat on the bench.
DEULOFEU CLASS SHINING THROUGH
For a player produced by Barcelona and viewed as a future Spanish national team regular Gerard Deulofeu’s career hasn’t gone to plan.
Moving from Barcelona to Everton, back to Barca and then to Watford, is not exactly the most positive career trajectory.
But, as his hat-trick in the Hornets’ 5-1 win at Cardiff showed, he is a player of real quality and given he is still only 24, he might yet become the player many expected him to be.
REUTERS/Reporting by Simon Evans Editing by Christian Radnedge