Talking points: Ziyech, Mourinho, Pickford, Ronaldo and more


fter another dramatic weekend of action, the Standard Sport team assesses the biggest talking points both home and aboard.

Goalkeeper a problem position for England

England convene for their final camp of 2020 next week, with time running out for Gareth Southgate before next summer’s European Championship. While the delay to the tournament has opened the door for the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, the England manager has more problems now than he did back in March. Chief among them is who to pick in goal. Jordan Pickford was punished for a string of high profile errors by being dropped by Everton for Sunday’s defeat to Newcastle after 120 consecutive Premier League appearances. Meanwhile, Pickford’s England understudy Nick Pope conceded three to Chelsea and Southgate’s third goalkeeper Dean Henderson remains behind David de Gea in the pecking order at Manchester United. Dan Kilpatrick

( Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images )

Mourinho showcases Spurs squad again

Jose Mourinho must be purring at the strength of his Tottenham squad after changing the game from the bench in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Brighton. Erik Lamela was rewarded for an important cameo at Burnley with a start against the Seagulls but it was his replacement, Gareth Bale, who made the difference, scoring the first goal of his second spell. Sub Giovani Lo Celso was also impressive. For all Spurs’ impressive options, however, it will be instructive to see Mourinho’s choices against Ludogorets on Thursday after the manager panned his fringe players following defeat at Royal Antwerp in midweek. Dan Kilpatrick

( Pool via REUTERS )

Holding banishes Old Trafford demons in Arsenal win

Before Sunday, Old Trafford had unhappy memories for Rob Holding. It was there, playing in a game in December 2018, that he suffered a serious knee injury that kept him out for nine months. Since then the centre-back has had to fight for his future at Arsenal, but he rose to the occasion on Sunday. Despite training just once ahead of the match due to a hamstring problem, Holding helped his side keep a clean sheet at Arsenal and in doing so banished those bad memories from 2018. “The last time I played here was the ACL injury,” he said. “So it was nice to come here and put that to bed to come away with a win.” Simon Collings

( Pool via REUTERS )

Ziyech comes back to haunt Burnley

Had Sean Dyche got his way, Hakim Ziyech would have been lining up in claret rather than blue on Saturday.  

The Moroccan winger set Chelsea on their way to victory with his second goal in as many starts for Frank Lampard’s side to continue his explosive introduction to English football.  

But Ziyech’s potential was actually spotted by Dyche back in 2016 when he tried to take him to Turf Moor from FC Twente.

He ultimately opted for a move to Ajax, which eventually saw him end up at Stamford Bridge. James Robson

( AP )

Haller struggles to take West Ham chance

Sebastien Haller has had to wait quite a while to get his chance in the Premier League this season.

The French striker has been playing second fiddle to Michail Antonio as the Hammers forward ran defences ragged across the restart last term and into the new season while Haller only had the Carabao Cup to showcase his talent.

Given his chance at Anfield following injury to Antonio, Haller continued to fall well below the level expected of a £45million club record signing.

The 26-year-old failed to register a touch anywhere near the Liverpool box on Saturday, giving Reds debutant Nathaniel Phillips a rather comfortable welcome to Premier League football. It is not easy to hit the ground running at Liverpool having not been a starter for so long, but Haller must do more. Jack Rosser

( Manchester City FC via Getty Images )

‘Big three’ dominance continues at Wembley

They needed 120 minutes, but Manchester City’s superior quality found a way through a spirited Everton side as they triumphed in the Women’s FA Cup Final on Sunday. The two goals City scored in extra-time came from substitutes – Georgia Stanway and Janine Beckie – which highlighted the gulf in depth between the two clubs. Not since Liverpool lifted the WSL title in 2014 has any club other than the modern-day ‘big three’ of City, Arsenal and Chelsea won the WSL, Women’s FA Cup or Continental League Cup. The game at Wembley showed the resources that separate those three clubs and the rest. Jack Rosser

( Getty Images )

Ings injury a potential opportunity for Wilson & Co.

Southampton are not the only ones sweating on Danny Ings’ fitness, with the striker set for a scan on Monday after being forced off with a knee injury in the 4-3 win over Aston Villa. Ings has twice suffered cruciate ligament damage and another long-term injury to the 28-year-old would not only threaten to derail Saints’ promising start to the season but present a problem to Gareth Southgate. Fortunately for the England boss, there is no shortage of goal-scoring English forwards at the moment and if Ings is ruled out for this month’s internationals (and beyond) it could lead to a recall for Newcastle’s Callum Wilson, who scored twice in the win over Everton. Longer-term, Southgate’s has even raised the possibility of recalling Jamie Vardy, while Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford have quickly adjusted to the Premier League. Dan Kilpatrick

( Getty Images )

Milivojevic slide continues

Luka Milivojevic has gone from being captain fantastic at Crystal Palace to rather struggling for his place. The Serbian had been one of the first names on the teamsheet for the majority of last season, until he was struck with illness and without him Roy Hodgson’s side went on an impressive run.

Jairo Ridewald, who was an outcast until very recently, appears to have leapfrogged Milivojevic in the pecking order with the club captain having to wait until the win over Fulham for his first start of the season, only in the side after injury to James McArthur.  

His second start of the season, in Friday’s defeat at Wolves, ended in disappointment with a straight red for a dangerous challenge. Hodgson may protest but the Eagles stand little chance of seeing it overturned. By the time his suspension is up, Milivojevic may find himself well down the pecking order once more. Jack Rosser

( PA )

QPR invoke spirit of the past to beat Cardiff

QPR played in a new third kit on Saturday, a red-and-white-halved shirt inspired by the 1975-76 season when Stan Bowles and Gerry Francis took Rangers to within a point of the First Division title. But manager Mark Warburton insisted it was his side’s character rather than being inspired by the strip as they beat Cardiff 3-2 to end a run of seven games without a win in the Championship. Dominic Ball scored a 92nd-minute winner to move QPR after from the relegation zone and ease some of the spotlight on Warburton. Simon Collings

( AP )

Ronaldo makes triumphant return

Cristiano Ronaldo made a trademark return for Juventus following his forced absence after testing positive for coronavirus.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, who tested positive back on October 13 but was only cleared to return on Friday, was named on the bench by Andrea Pirlo for Juve’s game at Spezia.

Cristiano Ronaldo made a trademark return for Juventus following his forced absence after testing positive for coronavirus.The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, who tested positive back on October 13 but was only cleared to return on Friday, was named on the bench by Andrea Pirlo for Juve’s game at Spezia.

The 35-year-old added his second and Juve’s fourth with a Panenka penalty to move them within four points of leaders AC Milan. Jack Rosser

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