Premier League Winners & Losers: October 21st & 22nd – Bilic on the Brink as Spurs Shine

With just five points separating Everton in 18th and Burnley in eighth, it’s not as if we can start to draw any major conclusions as to how the Premier League campaign is going to pan out just yet.

But once again the fragility of Chelsea, and the complete defensive ineptitude of Liverpool, was laid bare for all to see, and their respective fan bases will be slightly worried about the weeks and months ahead.

The Blues were metaphorical losers this weekend and the Reds emphatic actual losers against Spurs, but who else enjoyed weekend’s to remember and forget last time out?

Loser: Slaven Bilic

The dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ has been lavished upon Slaven Bilic after his side’s abysmal 0-3 defeat against Brighton on Friday, and that is typically the beginning of the end for any beleaguered boss.

The Hammers were woeful in front of their own fans, who naturally became rather angst-ridden with their team’s performance in a match they really ought to be winning.

Since moving to the London Stadium, West Ham have really struggled; finishing eleventh last term after a late rally, and this season all but occupying the relegation zone (they are outside of it on goal difference alone).

The transfer window is still months away, and so Bilic needs to find a winning solution and fast: with Craig Shakespeare gone and Ronald Koeman on the brink, the Premier League managerial merry-go-round is in the process of taking off.

Winner: Antonio Conte

The Italian was a winner on two fronts on Saturday: firstly, his side just about managed to see off the threat of a lively Watford side 4-2 in the lunchtime kick-off, and the architect of the victory was substitute Michy Batshuayi, who Conte bravely threw on in place of summer signing Alvaro Morata.

Batshuayi bagged a brace to haul his teammates to victory, and while the frontman will rightfully take the headlines it was the decision of Conte to send on a striker that has been much-maligned by Blues fans that proved to be the difference between success and failure.

And what if they had lost? Well, it would have been four games without a win in all competitions at Stamford Bridge, and you wonder how that would have sat with the usually trigger-happy Roman Abramovich.

Loser: The Manchester United Starting Eleven

After a fantastic, free-scoring start to the campaign, something has happened at Manchester United that suggests a fear of failure has crept into their game.

They will have taken many positives from the 0-0 draw at Anfield a fortnight ago, but they shouldn’t: it was a performance wholly lacking in ambition and enterprise, and suggests that Jose Mourinho is still fearful when taking on the big six on their travels. Settling for a draw against your biggest rivals does NOT result in silverware.

And the Red Devils were hopelessly short of endeavour and fighting spirit against Huddersfield on Saturday – a point recognised by Mourinho in an unusually magnanimous post-match interview, in which he praised the Terriers and confirmed they were rightful winners.

United’s next two Premier League games are Tottenham (h) and Chelsea (a); they need to snap out of their malaise if their title ambitions are not to be ended at this premature stage of the campaign.

Winner: Sergio Aguero

The Argentine equalled Manchester City’s all-time goalscoring record on Saturday with the first in his side’s 3-0 win over Burnley – if you were wondering who the other party was that has netted 177 times for the Citizens its Eric Brook, whose record has stood for decades.

Aguero has the opportunity to cement his place in Manchester City folklore with just one more goal for the club, and with his side’s next two fixtures being Wolves at home in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, and then West Brom in the league on Saturday, he might just fancy breaking the record this week.

Ironically, his 177th goal for City was controversial – Bernardo Silva going down like he’d been shot under Nick Pope’s negligible challenge, and so he’ll be hoping his next strike is rather more emphatic.

Loser: Dejan Lovren

It’s never nice to be the scapegoat of a woeful team performance, and this week it was Dejan Lovren who was made to be the bad guy in a pitiful defensive display from Liverpool.

The Croat was substituted after just 30 minutes as he struggled to handle the power and guile of Harry Kane, and you have to wonder what that will do to his already low confidence. The fact that Jurgen Klopp decided to move Joe Gomez to centre back, rather than bring on Ragnar Klavan in Lovren’s place, will also have done the latter more harm than good.

In truth, any number of Liverpool’s defensive players could have been given the hook, and Simon Mignolet’s decision to manically rush off his lie for Kane’s opener was yet more evidence of the size of the task facing Klopp.

The Reds’ owners are a patient bunch, but they have handed out P45s in the past and they will do so again.

Winner: Harry Winks

What a week it’s been for the 21-year-old. Just a matter of days after being the best player on the pitch in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Winks showed once again why he is one of the hottest talents around with another eye-catching display in his side’s 4-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday.

It is the maturity that really impresses about Winks, and there’s a calmness on the ball that belies his tender years. That composure in possession surely marks him down as an international player for England for the foreseeable future.

He’s already in to even money with the bookies to be named in England’s World Cup 2018 squad, and it’s hard to disagree: he’s surely jumped the queue ahead of the likes of Jake Livermore, Fabian Delph and the touted Jack Wilshere with his performances this week.