With another Saturday of Premier League fixtures now rounded up, it has once again been quite an educational day for football fans.
Saturday saw a whole host of different narratives, with wonderful solo goals, brilliant long-range efforts, last-minute drama, and goalkeeping heroics.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at five things we learned from the Premier League this Saturday.
Salah is currently the best in the world
Mohamed Salah has been a top footballer for many years now.
Since returning to the Premier League in 2017, Salah has gone on leaps and bounds as a footballer, going from a player who struggled for game time at Chelsea to a player to a player who can now seemingly score whenever he wants – to paraphrase from the ‘he scores when he wants’ chant.
It really says something when the other two Liverpool scorers on the day both achieved something significant, but the headlines are still talking solely about Salah.
Sadio Mane joined the 100 club in the Premier League by scoring his 100th league goal, making him the 31st player ever to do so, only the third African player to ever do so and only the third to do so without scoring a single penalty along the way. Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino scored the second Liverpool hat-trick of his career.
Yet when Salah produced a simply marvellous bit of skill to break out of a three defender circle around him, to then cut back inside and shoot into the far corner, the adjectives to describe the Egyptian began to run dry.
Another Salah goal ? Peter Drury.
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) October 16, 2021
Pictures courtesy of BT Sport
He is simply playing on a level beyond anyone currently in the world, perhaps only matched by Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland. But even that might be a stretch.
Mendy should have been in the Ballon d’Or list
Forget Jorginho for what Chelsea player deserves to win the Ballon d’Or, on current form, there should be an argument for another Chelsea player to be the overall winner.
Edouard Mendy helped to transform a Chelsea defence that had leaked a lot of goals under previous number 1 Kepa Arrizabalaga, and now boasts one of the best clean sheet records in the Premier League. Bettered only by the five held by Manchester City’s Ederson.
Mendy was the saviour for a below-par Chelsea performance. Admittedly they did heavily rotate so a less dominating performance may have been expected, but if it wasn’t for Senegal International’s goalkeeping heroics, The Blues would not have left with all three points.
He produced two incredibly important saves in the dying minutes of the game as Brentford pushed for an equaliser that would have been more than deserved. But that is what sometimes separates a good team from a great team, and a lesser keeper would have crumbled in the same situation.
The 29-year-old made the joint most saves in a game he has made in the Premier League, with two very fine stops near the end. Mendy is without a doubt a top-class goalkeeper, probably number one in England in terms of pure shot-stopping ability, so it beggars belief how he was not included in the Ballon d’Or shortlist ahead of some far less deserving players.
20 – Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy kept his 20th Premier League clean sheet in this game (38th start) – only Petr Cech (26), Pepe Reina (32), Alisson (36) and Roy Carroll (37) have needed fewer starts to reach 20 shut outs in the competition’s history. Saviour. pic.twitter.com/KT14xlFoAG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 16, 2021
Patience is rapidly running out for Solskjaer
A lot has been said about the current form of Manchester United and about the future of current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Regardless, performances have been well below par this season for The Red Devils, and performances are now catching up to them.
While individual errors, chiefly from club captain Harry Maguire who had one of the worst games of his entire professional career, didn’t help in any way, the overall performance of the team was not good enough.
The response to Leicester’s first-half equaliser was poor, and it enabled Leicester to go into half-time on top, after a decent opening half an hour from United. United did respond well to going behind when Marcus Rashford marked his return from injury with a goal, but to then concede just 15 seconds after is appalling for any team.
United are at the start of an extremely difficult period of fixtures. Manager Solskjaer has not managed to find the right blend in his team yet this season, and while United have always been slow starters under him, the expectation and mood has never been so contrasting. The Norwegian has had pressure on him before, but he has also never had this much talent in his squad before.
If results do not improve rapidly in the coming weeks, he could find himself out of a job sooner than he expected. Patience within the fanbase is rapidly running out, as even those who do support him grow more and more frustrated at the state of affairs on the football pitch. Ultimately though it is about patience in the boardroom, and whether or not that will hold out for the rest of the season.
Leicester (2.84) 4-2 (1.01) Man Utd
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) October 16, 2021
Don’t discount Leicester
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Leicester City.
Leicester have had a mixed start to the season, and even following yesterday’s victory only find themselves in 11th place, four points from the top four that they have been so desperate to climb into.
Having not won a Premier League game since a 2-1 win over Norwich at the end of August, you might have been unsure about whether The Foxes could pull a result out of the bag against a supposed title challenger. However, they did not disappoint and proceeded to cut through United to achieve a much-needed victory.
While they are without midfielder Wilfred Ndidi for the time being, the fact of the matter is they now possess a squad that should be strong enough to cope with his absence. Boubakary Soumare and Youri Tielemans did well in centre midfield
If Leicester can now use the United result and get some positive momentum going, they are still more than capable of breaking into the top four this year. Leicester are not to be discounted.
When @Cristiano finished his first spell at Manchester United, Leicester City were playing in the third tier. Mad what’s happened to the club since then. Still find it hard to believe.
— Gary Lineker ? (@GaryLineker) October 16, 2021
Ruben Neves is a clutch player
Wolverhampton Wanderers, like Leicester, have had a mixed start to their season.
In the stats community, Wolves have been likened to the Brighton of last year, creating an expected goals value that exceeds their actual output of goals, causing a great deal of frustration.
However, despite being victims of this on many occasions already this season, they were more than good enough in victory over Aston Villa turning around a two deficit from the 79th minute to win the game 3-2 thanks to a deflected free-kick from Ruben Neves.
That’s not to say this was anywhere near his best free-kick or goal for Wolves, as he has a large collection of screamers at the club, but once again the Portuguese, who is still only 24-years-old, came in clutch for his team near the end of a match.
AND NEVES HAS WON IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
— Tim Spiers (@TimSpiers) October 16, 2021
He is growing something of a reputation for doing that, and while Wolves have him they will always be threat from distance at any minute of any game.
There will no doubt be more interesting narratives to come out of Sunday’s and Monday’s Premier League fixtures, with an interesting clash between West Ham and Everton on the cards, as well as a London derby between former South London club Arsenal and a current one Crystal Palace, that will also see Patrick Viera face his former club.