The half-life of a good performance in the Premier League is mysterious thing.Some players can leverage a good display into a free ride for quite a while; some barely get the leeway of one poor game before the critics re-emerge.On that basis, if we look at Manchester United’s 2018-19 campaign, the rollercoaster ride that was December is notable for the fact it featured all of Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera’s goals and assists from last season. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? The only other Premier League player who compares, in terms of enjoying just one truly productive month, is Jordan Henderson, in April, but the Liverpool captain can point to pivotal performances in the Champions League in May, which led to him lifting the trophy in June.Herrera, of course, has since moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, so that leaves Lingard as the only true one-month wonder in England’s top flight.With that in mind, a torrid evening against Wolves on Monday was badly timed, largely because Monday Night Football lends itself to forensic studies of a player’s performance in the Sky Sports studios.Lingard failed to have a shot or create a chance at Molineux, which is rarely a good look, but he did have the best pass completion rate of any player in United’s midfield or attack.Subtleties like that, though, may not placate fans reared on raw output, but coaches notice it; coaches notice everything.Did Jesse Lingard score or assist a PL goal?May 2018: noAug 2018: noSep 2018: noOct 2018: noNov 2018: noDec 2018: YES (4G 2A)Jan 2019: noFeb 2019: noMar 2019: noApr 2019: noMay 2019: noAug 2019: no pic.twitter.com/YGP1XOAIOg— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) August 19, 2019If a tree falls over and nobody’s there to hear it, does it make a noise? Hard to say, frankly, but if a player gets into good positions and helps others get into similarly productive areas, should he keep his place in the team?Lingard’s Expected Goals (xG) figure since the start of last season is 4.7, so given he has netted just four times, he is underperforming, especially when you consider positional rival Juan Mata’s three goals from an xG of only 1.6.In the perpetual war for popularity that is Premier League football in 2019, the lucky man outshines the worker. Homer Simpson wins; Frank Grimes does not.Lingard’s true misfortune is to have reached the Manchester United XI in an era that can at best be described as transitional. Utd since Aug 2018 Expected Goals Goals Paul Pogba 16 13 Marcus Rashford 11.9 12 Romelu Lukaku 10.7 12 Anthony Martial 7.6 12 Jesse Lingard 4.7 4 Scott McTominay 1.6 2 Juan Mata 1.6 3 Alexis Sanchez 1.5 1 Luke Shaw 1.4 1 Ander Herrera 1.3 2 His total of 27 goal involvements in 113 appearances (roughly one every four games) is not wildly inferior to that of Paul Scholes (one every three games) but it does help you identify the players who probably didn’t get enough credit at the time.Nani is the best case in point. Seen as a sort of stopgap Cristiano Ronaldo imitation device, the winger’s record of 69 goals/assists in 147 appearances (one every 2.1 games on average) would make him an absolute superstar in the current United team.A glance further back at players such as Ronaldo himself (a goal involvement every 1.7 games), David Beckham (one every 1.9 games) and Ryan Giggs (one every 2.3 games over a Premier League career that lasted more than 600 matches) only reinforces the point.Lingard’s magnified spell without a goal or assist will surely end soon. But even if it doesn’t, the work-rate and application that has earned him the faith of a succession of United bosses, as well as England manager Gareth Southgate, will grant him more opportunities, whether you like it or not. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Luis Suarez set Barcelona on their way to a first away victory of the LaLiga season as they won 2-0 at Getafe on Saturday.Forget the often hare-brained defending from the Catalan giants, Barcelona got what they came for: three points safely accrued ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Inter.For coach Ernesto Valverde, the pressure eases just a little, and the fact they notched this victory without Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele, both sidelined with thigh injuries, is another source of encouragement. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career Suarez lobbed in the 41st-minute opener, and Junior Firpo tucked in Barcelona’s second from close range early in the second half for his first goal for the club. Getafe spurned first-half chances they might have gobbled up on another day and Clement Lenglet’s 84th-minute dismissal for two yellow cards came too late to give them any real advantage.Valverde fielded a front three of Carles Perez, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann. The game largely passed Griezmann by, not for the first time since his summer switch from Atletico Madrid.Getafe were unbeaten in their last eight home LaLiga matches; however, Barcelona had won on 10 of their 14 previous visits to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez in LaLiga, more than any other visiting side. What a beautiful sight! #ForcaBarça #GetafeBarca pic.twitter.com/1I3olRMxOU— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 28, 2019Perez tested David Soria in the Getafe goal early on, before Suarez stabbed a shot wide following a smart throughball from Frenkie de Jong.Barcelona’s defence was then picked apart too easily, with Angel allowed space to shoot from six yards, his strike blocked by the legs of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.Jaime Mata had a close-range effort deflect wide off Junior at the other, with Barcelona increasingly shambolic at the back. Inter will have taken encouragement.But Suarez pounced to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute when a clearance from Ter Stegen turned into a great long ball for the Uruguayan striker to chase, and he lobbed Soria in style.Soria was culpable for Barcelona’s second four minutes into the second half, as he could only push a 25-yard shot from Perez back into play, and Junior had an easy finish.Suarez and Perez almost added to the lead, while Arthur nearly fired past Soria into an empty net after the goalkeeper went walkabout, but two was enough. What does it mean? Barca punish wasteful hostsIt means what we already knew: that Barcelona will typically have too much firepower, if the opposition fail to take their own chances. There was little liquid football on show from the defending LaLiga champions, but a big boot downfield from their goalkeeper and a composed finish from their arch predator defined this game. Sometimes such rudimentary football will do. At other times, they will need to find a greater finesse.Ter Stegen makes historyIncredibly, Ter Stegen’s long kick that set up Suarez resulted in a first LaLiga assist by a Barcelona goalkeeper in the 21st century. It was an altogether un-Barcelona-like piece of playing out from the back.1 – @mterstegen1 has become the first @FCBarcelona’s keeper to provide an assist in #LaLiga 21st Century. Pioneer#GetafeBarca pic.twitter.com/Lzxz9xkCXZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 28, 2019No Messi, yet too messyMessi typically has little direct involvement in Barcelona’s defending, but whenever he is on the pitch the Argentinian hoists up the standards of those around him. Without him on Saturday, Barcelona lacked guile. It was nowhere more obvious than in their rocky rearguard where some laughable interplay played into Getafe’s hands. Inter are unlikely to be as sparing with their finishing as Getafe.Key Opta facts- Barcelona have won 11 LaLiga games at Coliseum Alfonso Perez more than any other side.- Junior has scored six goals in his LaLiga career, all of them against different opponents.- Barcelona have had 10 different scorers in LaLiga this season, more than any other side in the top five European Leagues. – Suarez has been involved in seven goals in his seven LaLiga games against Getafe (five goals and two assists). What’s next?A major test awaits Barcelona as they tackle Serie A high-flyers Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday. Getafe face FC Krasnodar in the Europa League on Thursday. read more