City’s folly

Manchester City bossed the first half of their thriller against Liverpool at Anfield yesterday yet had nothing to show for their efforts. Had they taken the lead - the closest they came was a muffed Phil Foden shot that Alisson smothered after a superb run by Bernardo Silva - it might have required a change to the Liverpool game plan. It might also have encouraged a more conservative set up to their own tactics - but instead Jurgen Klopp’s side came out for the second period with a vigour that had been strangely absent in the opening 45 minutes. Having mused on City’s shortcomings in attack in these pages at the weekend - and the absence of a 20 goal a season striker - it was hardly surprising to witness them struggle to put the ball in the net in that first half at Anfield. It feels churlish to say it in the aftermath of a 2-2 draw but it was nevertheless worth pondering once again whether the presence of a prolific front man might have turned a point into three. Of course, the same could be said for Liverpool - who ended up with the same haul as City and whose two goals came from Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, the kind of deadly strikers that Pep Guardiola’s side don’t have. Yet, it was City who dominated those opening exchanges and then left themselves in the position of having to chase the game.

City spent the whole summer chasing Harry Kane, yet decided not to pursue a deal for him late in the window. It seems an act of folly to have abandoned the signing of the England captain - or a viable alternative - so late in the day.

Hooper's bloopers cost Xisco his job

When there are weeks of relative serenity in terms of refereeing performances, it only makes the howlers seem even more pronounced. But, it's hard to make a convincing argument that Simon Hooper's decision-making at Elland Road for the game between Leeds and Watford was given greater scrutiny because rubbish refereeing is now less prevalent in the Premier League. Simply, Simon was all over the place in the hosts' 1-0 win. First, Watford defender William Troost-Ekong blocked off Dan James' run, then made sure he wasn't going to latch on to a through ball by landing on the Leeds attacker from behind. Hooper's (non-)decision? Play on. Then, Watford appeared to equalise from a corner which Illan Meslier, the Leeds goalkeeper, fumbled then bundled over his own goal-line. Apparently, though, Hooper spotted a foul on Leeds' Liam Cooper by Watford Christian Kabasele before the corner was taken. What action replays actually showed happening was the Scotland defender grabbing Kabasele's shirt, then wrestling him to the ground prior to Meslier's howler. Of course, VAR intervened didn't it? Didn't it? Ask Xisco Munoz who lost his job at Watford following his side’s defeat. The sack had been coming for Xisco but that isn’t really the point. If only referees were as accountable as managers, eh?

Benitez gets a tune out of his wingers

Rafa Benitez is often portrayed as a coach who tends towards the pragmatic but it is an unfair characterisation and winger Andros Townsend gave an insight into the type of manager the Spaniard is with his comments in the aftermath of a stirring Everton performance in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United. “He's a perfectionist,” said Townsend. “If I stick it in the bottom corner, he'll ask me why I didn't put it in the top corner,” was the gist of his words. The Merseysiders arrived at Old Trafford with their chances written off before kick-off due to an absence of starters – most notably their first-choice strike pairing of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. But the term 'lost cause' does not exist in the Benitez lexicon as Townsend – who stuck his equalising goal in the bottom corner – and his fellow wide man Demarai Gray demonstrated. The former was out of contract this summer and the latter was off the radar at Bayer Leverkusen in Germany when Benitez signed them for a combined fee of £1.7m. Against United, they were the standout performers and could enter the thinking of England manager Gareth Southgate if they continue at this rate. Benitez, meanwhile, is slowly silencing the doubters.

Warm, fuzzy moments for Jimenez

How heartening to watch Raul Jimenez slowly rediscovering his mojo over the course of recent weeks. The Mexican almost died after fracturing his skull in a collision with Arsenal's David Luiz last November. He wears a protective headband during games these days, a vital but intrusive item that he was seen tossing from his head after it appeared to contribute to a miss against Brentford last month.

That gesture seemed to provide a form of liberation for the 30-year-old – he scored his first goal since his return in the 1-0 win over Southampton last weekend and, against Newcastle United on Saturday he took on the Adama Traore role, driving at defenders on several occasions, two of which resulted in perfectly executed passes to Hwang Hee-chan.

He was a threat throughout – his beautiful dummy almost set-up Francisco Trincao for another goal – and looked like something approaching the player he was before his accident, far removed from the tentative soul he appeared to be in the earliest weeks of the campaign.

Rodgers in a rut

In the midst of poor bouts of form for Arsenal, Spurs, Leeds, Southampton and some others who have yet to win a match, there has been a strange silence about Leicester City's woeful start to the campaign. It took a 1-0 defeat by Legia Warsaw in the Europa League to raise eyebrows. But prior to the draw at Crystal Palace, Brendan Rodgers' side had won just once in all competitions – against Championship outfit Millwall – and had not kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening game of the Premier League season. They have just one win since then in the league – a fortunate victory over bottom of the table Norwich – which was only salvaged by dint of a VAR call that could have gone either way.

The smart money would say that Rodgers job is safe, what with winning the FA Cup in May but then the same was said about Claudio Ranieri the season after he guided Leicester to the Premier League title – with an inferior, significantly less-costly squad.

Dropping three points from a two-goal lead - as Leicester did at Selhurst Park yesterday - does nothing to help his case.