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EURO WRAP: City slip up, Atletico fight back, Bundesliga race on and more!

CIty were held by Southampton, Atletico stunned Valencia with comeback win, Bundesliga giants continue to slug it out and more! Damien Kayat looks back at when weekend’s football action.

Erling Haaland of Dortmund - Bundesliga
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

CIty were held by Southampton, Atletico stunned Valencia with comeback win, Bundesliga giants continue to slug it out and more! Damien Kayat looks back at when weekend's football action.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Some life in the Premier League title race

It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the indomitable Pep Guardiola. His City side snatched a 2nd half equaliser against Southampton, making him the quickest manager in Premier League history to register 500 Premier League points.

But it also left the door ajar for Liverpool to put some heat on the runaway league leaders. And they duly obliged, seeing off Viera’s Palace at Selhurst Park, despite a brilliant Palace showing in the second half.

The rivalry that has defined English football in recent years shows no signs of abating. Will Guardiola’s decision to not go all-in on a quality centre forward come back to haunt him at the business end of the season?

How many times have they snuck by with cagey 1-0 wins this season? They certainly haven’t had anywhere the same fluency as vintage City. I wouldn’t be surprised if Guardiola pulls a Danny Ocean on his old protégé Mikel Arteta, swooping in to nab Dusan Vlahovic in a stoppage-time transfer coup.

The Company Man

It’s funny how much can change in a month of football. Arsenal looked firmly entrenched in that number 4 spot a month back. Their fans were emboldened following their heroic 2-1 defeat to City to open the year.

But it has been a nightmarish little period for mini-Guardiola. They have been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions and dropped points at home to table-propping Burnley.

You would think that the heat would be on Arteta. You would be wrong. The news around the campfire is that the club is about to offer the Teflon Spaniard a new two-year contract.

For what? He has spent a quarter of a billion pounds over his tenure thus far. Aubameyang secured him some early credit with his exploits in their brilliant FA Cup win.

But since then, the club has been mired in mediocrity. Seriously, Unai Emery got fired for finishing in 5th. He has alienated the likes of Guendouzi and Saliba whilst extending the contract of Granit ‘the Terminator’ Xhaka.

What hold does this guy have on this club? I’m not suggesting they should fire him now. They should wait till the end of the season before rewarding lucrative new contracts. It would seem that success at Arsenal is no longer gauged in footballing terms, but rather commercial ones.

Inter create some breathing space

Despite a fairly dour performance, Simone Inzaghi’s Inter did what champions do at the weekend, with Eden Dzeko stealing the three points with a last-gasp winner. It was a mechanical performance that would have hardly sent shivers to their rivals.

But it has given them a four-point buffer against City rivals Milan (with a game in hand). Recently I have been waxing lyrical about how exciting Italian football has become. Milan and Juventus gave us something of a throwback with a soporific 0-0 draw.

Juventus missed out on the opportunity to jump above Atalanta, registering not a single shot on target throughout the match. There’s something almost comforting about this return to tradition.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, AS Roma brought some joy back to Mourinho with an impressive 4-2 away victory at Empoli. Given a certain Romelu Lukaku’s recent travails, I wonder if Thomas Tuchel secretly wishes he had hung on to the impressive Tammy Abraham.

He has been an unqualified success story during his debut season in Italy, netting another clinical brace this weekend.

Simeone saved by Atletico comeback?

This is turning out to be a rather strange LaLiga title race. Real Madrid have gone through a sticky patch in the league, only collecting 8 points out of a possible 15. But Sevilla have completely fluffed their lines in recent weeks, drawing consecutive games when they really had the chance to pile on the pressure.

Still, they only sit four points behind a stuttering Madrid side. Barcelona and Atletico also managed to pick up maximum points this week. Can I spare a moment to focus on Atletico’s crucial comeback victory?

Despite recently celebrating 10 magnificent years in charge of Atletico, one in which the club has broken the hegemony of Barca and Real Madrid, Diego Simeone has never been under the level of scrutiny he now faces.

Tame defeats in both the Spanish Supercopa and Copa Del Rey just exacerbated their woeful league form. And after trailing 2-0 at halftime to Valencia this weekend I thought the unthinkable: could Diego Simeone lose his job this weekend?

It’s hard to think of a single manager in world football more synonymous with the identity of a club than Simeone. But ultimately, it comes down to results. But his team pulled out an absolute miracle, with Mario Hermosa scoring a stoppage-time winner to complete a remarkable 3-2 victory.

Bayern answer Dortmund’s call as Bundesliga race heats up

Dortmund just have to keep on asking the questions and hope that Bayern fluff their lines at some time. It’s certainly going to be a big ask when you look at Bayern’s performance at Hertha.

They won 4-1 without Lewandowski finding the scoresheet. That’s the equivalent of Liverpool winning 5-0 without a direct Salah involvement. Joshua Kimmich was back in the midfield and he absolutely ran the game.

He created two assists and once again showcased his remarkable versatility. Muller linked things together going forward while Leroy Sane looks back to his incisive best.

But it’s probably the injury scare surrounding Erling Haaland that is most concerning to Dortmund at present. He scored in their 3-2 victory at Hoffenheim, taking his Bundesliga goal tally to a remarkable 56 goals in 57 games.

But an abductor injury saw him hobble off the pitch at around the hour mark. Could this prove the hammer blow in Dortmund’s title push?

Player of the Week- Donyell Malan

A former youth prospect of Arsenal, Donyell Malan arrived in Dortmund last year with much fanfare after a brilliant spell at PSV Eindhoven. But things just haven’t quite clicked for the explosive winger since his arrival.

However, he was devastating in Dortmund’s crucial 3-2 win at Hoffenheim, creating all three goals with exquisite wing play. Perhaps this could be the kickstart that Malan needs to rejuvenate his slightly stop-start Dortmund career.

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