Still no stopping Zlatan

media

No one was less surprised by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s match-winning performance at Wembley on Sunday than the man himself.

At 35, the Swedish striker is used to scoring goals and lifting trophies.

It is – as he said in his post-match interview – what he joined Manchester United to do.

But while Ibrahimovic is nonchalant about meeting his own exceptional standards, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should not appreciate what he has accomplished in his first season in England.

It has been remarkable.

He has missed only one Premier League game (through suspension), while his 26 goals in all competitions – the most of any player in the country – have put an end to the idea that he was merely a flat-track bully during his time in France.

When prolific strikers from abroad are routinely dubbed myths and frauds, the Swede has proven he is anything but.

Sunday was the seventh occasion this season that Ibrahimovic has scored the vital goal to earn Manchester United a win.

Often compared to Cantona, his influence is actually more similar to Robin van Persie's when the Dutchman moved to Old Trafford in 2012.

Van Persie's goals led United to the title in his first season at the club.

Should Ibrahimovic choose to stay, his second campaign could end the same way.

Give Kane his due

media

The number of players with as many Premier League goals as Harry Kane since August 2014?

Zero.

So when Mauricio Pochettino labels him one of the best in the world - as he did, not for the first time, after the striker's third hat-trick of 2017 and second inside a week on Sunday - we should not be too quick to dismiss him.

Kane does tend to cash in when facing lesser opposition.

This calendar year, he has a winner against Middlesbrough, a brace at Watford and hat-tricks against West Brom, Fulham and Stoke.

But you can be sure that every other top-six club would relish a flat-track bully of Kane's class, a near guarantee of a goal against teams set up to frustrate.

Such a label is unfair, anyway.

He scored the equaliser at the Emirates' Stadium - yes, a penalty, but Kane is prolific from the spot - and scored goals against Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool last season.

Categorising Kane as world-class does feel a little strange, particularly from a league featuring Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku.

But the 23-year-old has more Premier League goals than any of them over the last two-and-half years.

Kane - who has finished second and first in the last two Golden Boot standings, and may well do so again - does not get the wider acclaim he deserves.

The Joy of Cesc

media

On the day Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge, another of their midfielders put in a performance reminiscent of the club legend.

In his 300th Premier League game, Cesc Fabregas netted his fifth goal of the season and laid one for Pedro, in what was just his sixth start of the campaign.

His 19th-minute strike put Chelsea 1-0 up, while the assist was his 102nd in English football.

That, aptly, drew him level with Lampard, while only Giggs has more in Premier League history.

In the absence of Nemanja Matic, Fabregas provided a timely reminder to Blues manager Antonio Conte that he is still capable of an effective performance.

The 29-year-old’s legs have slowed down over the years – the consequence of playing first-team football since the age of 16 – and his future at the Blues remains uncertain.

But his showing on Saturday will have done him no harm at all.

media