EPL Stoppage Time: Matchday Nine

The EPL returned following the international break and fans of the English game were treated to the debuts of Sam Allardyce and Jurgen Klopp at their new clubs, Newcastle going nuts, a Raheem Sterling hat-trick and Jamie Vardy continuing to defy his FIFA 16 attributes.

After a week of pesky internationals, real football returned to England on Saturday with the resumption of the Premier League. Anticipation was hotter than a World Cup match in Qatar for a high-profile managerial appointment whose personal brand of football looked set to reinvigorate an underperforming northern team.

That’s right, Sam Allardyce took to the dugout for the first time as Sunderland manager, seeing his side lose to a wrongly-allowed goal to West Brom and ending the weekend rooted to the bottom of the table.

If you forgive me the obvious comedic switcheroo, more predictably banal than Michael Owen’s commentary, the weekend’s real story was the Premier League debut of Jurgen Klopp. The new Liverpool manager took charge at White Hart Lane, earning his first hard-earned league point against an in-form Tottenham.

Klopp, the most exciting German import to Liverpool since the Beatles returned from Hamburg, has dominated the headlines in such a way that a goalless draw has been banished to the sidelines quicker than Nemanja Matic after coming on against Southampton.

Borussia Dortmund wished Jurgen Klopp all the best as he thundered across Abbey Road en route to Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s enthusiasm has been infectious. Here, he celebrates Liverpool’s scoreless draw with Tottenham by heading back to Liverpool via Abbey Road.

When the main talking point of the match is which team ran the most, it’s clear we don’t have an instant classic on our hands, but it proved a spirited, fast-paced encounter in which both teams struggled with the realities of Klopp’s gegen-pressing gang.

Elsewhere, “Tactics” Tim Sherwood came up short against Chelsea in an early relegation 6-pointer, a phrase no one, bar Chelsea fans, will tire of trotting out as long as their poor run of form continues.

Newcastle secured the least convincing 6-2 win in the history of association football against Norwich as Georginio Wijnaldum became the first Newcastle player to score 4 in a match since the mighty Alan Shearer and the most scored in a single Premier League game since Sergio Aguero the other week.

A game that saw more goals than hairs on Steve McClaren’s forehead has no doubt come as a relief to the struggling Geordies and gives them a 3-point buffer over bitter rivals Sunderland ahead of the weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby.

In a great week for English forwards not called Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling managed a hat-trick, Jamie Vardy scored twice and even Wayne Rooney managed a goal as Manchester United swept aside an ineffective Everton.