Crystal Palace have many problems but leaving scoring goals, over-relying on Wilfried Zaha and not converting penalties aside, Roy Hodgson’s reluctance to make changes hurt them in the 2-0 defeat by Everton.
Luka Milivojevic’s lazy central spot-kick left Palace flailing, but had Hodgson followed Marco Silva’s lead and switched systems who knows what might have happened.
As it was Jordan Ayew and Jason Puncheon stayed on the bench, while Connor Wickham was only called upon in the 89th minute, while Silva’s changes made impacts. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun both scored, while Ademola Lookman provided an assist.
Palace have now lost three in a row and sit two points above the relegation zone; more proactivity from Hodgson may help arrest the slide.
Spurs reaping rewards for backing Lamela
Erik Lamela has been at Tottenham for five years. In that time he has become a fan-favourite without really reaching his potential.
At the London Stadium yesterday he was Spurs’s key man, finding pockets of space, threading passes together in the final third, getting under the skin of West Ham and flicking a header into the bottom corner to secure a 1-0 win and continue his side’s under-the-radar start to the season.
The 26-year-old has now scored five goals in just eight appearances this season. Spurs showed faith in Lamela in July, handing him a new four-year contract and he is rewarding them now.
With Son Heung-min yet to score, it is Lamela and Lucas Moura who are supplementing Harry Kane.
“We believe in him, we trust in him – he is more mature,” explained manager Mauricio Pochettino. “He is consistent, playing his best. We must manage him in the best way. We need to understand where he is coming from.”
Benitez nearing breaking point at Newcastle
Frustration. That’s the operative word around Newcastle United at present after their disheartening 1-0 home defeat by Brighton yesterday.
Brighton’s winless streak away from home was approaching a year before their trip to Tyneside. Despite losing top-scorer Glenn Murray to a head injury they were still able to come away with the three points.
The result left the Magpies without a victory following their fifth straight defeat at St James’ Park. Rafa Benitez remains convinced he can get his side off bottom spot, but conceded his situation both on and off the pitch was the toughest he’s ever faced in 25 years of management.
Next up? A visit to struggling Southampton – a side who have won just once at St Mary’s since November. No pressure.
Mourinho needs to unshackle United
For a spell in the second half yesterday Manchester United looked motivated, coherent and dangerous.
Having meandered for 45 minutes, United came out after the break with purpose. The handbrake was off and, led by Juan Mata, they cracked Chelsea on the counter-attack with Anthony Martial rifling in twice to take a 2-1 lead.
Although the three points and the headlines were taken by Ross Barkley’s 96th-minute equaliser, the significance of their performance was clear: Jose Mourinho should let his side off the leash more often.
Having come from 2-0 behind to beat Newcastle 3-2 and earn a point at Stamford Bridge in the last two matches, Mourinho needs to be more expansive and extenuate his side’s strengths, rather than allow their weaknesses to take hold.
Jokanovic must change wide-open approach
“We must find a solution to stop this kind of situation, fix our mistakes and concede fewer goals,” said Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic after his side’s 4-2 defeat by Cardiff.
He’s right too. Fulham defence is watch behind the sofa bad, combining individual mistakes with collective indecision and a lack of leadership.
Jokanovic brought the west London side up playing expansive, open football. He promised to stick to his philosophy, which was admirable but naïve.
Fulham have conceded 25 goals in nine games – that’s more than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues, despite spending over £100m on new recruits in the summer. Jokanovic must alter his approach to protect his error-prone back line.