We learnt from the Premier League
Advantage Chelsea and Liverpool as Champions League takes its toll ONLY two teams in the top 10 claimed victories this week, and both of them had the week off. Chelsea and Liverpool failing to qualify for European football last season could prove a blessing in disguise for their Premier League ambitions, as Liverpool demonstrated in that famous 2013/14 season.
Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City all looked lethargic in their draws with Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Southampton respectively, while Manchester United were nothing short of abysmal in the 4-0 thrashing by Chelsea on Sunday. All three managers mentioned the impact playing in midweek may have had on their sides.
But for Chelsea and Liverpool, they are only just beginning to reap the rewards. Arsenal, Spurs and City – along with Leicester – have only played three Champions League matches and still have three to go in the group stages, and should they negotiate that they will restart their European campaigns in February with at least another two matches in midweek.
If they want to maintain their title challenge throughout the season, then squad rotation or January reinforcements are a necessity.
Are United really that bad? NOT so long ago, every football writer and his dog was tipping Manchester United to not only challenge for the Premier League title, but to win it. United had bought big in the summer, landed ‘The Special One’ in Jose Mourinho and had young emerging talent like Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard that would help carry the side to the top of the table.
Now, they’re the whipping boys of the ‘big six’, and after suffering a humiliating loss at Chelsea, they no longer have a squad good enough to challenge for top honours. The same was said of Chelsea last season, when just about everyone predicted another title success at Stamford Bridge. Yet Chelsea fell well short of expectations and after sacking Mourinho to bring in Guus Hiddink, they ended the season down in 10th.
What’s the one constant between the two teams? Mourinho.
Wenger takes criticism over transfers, but deserves credit for signing Cech YAYA SANOGO, Andre Santos, Kim Kallstrom. It’s fair to say that Arsene Wenger has made some fairly regrettable transfers over the years, but he deserves much more praise than he receives for landing Petr Cech (caricature) from London rivals Chelsea last year.
Cech has been nothing short of brilliant since arriving at the Emirates, and his talent has helped the majority of Arsenal fans quickly forget his Blue roots. The 34-year-old single-handedly saved the Gunners a point on Saturday in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough, and after costing just £7m, Chelsea’s decision to sell him to one of their main rivals still defies belief.
Liverpool are horribly exposed at set-pieces JURGEN KLOPP has hit out at critics of Liverpool’s defence, but the problem is that they are drawing light to his side’s one main weakness. For all their talents in moving the ball forward and attacking when they don’t have possession, Liverpool are nothing short of dreadful when the ball enters their area via the aerial route.
New goalkeeper Loris Karius (top) looks well out of his depth in the Premier League as he repeatedly flaps at anything that comes near him and shows indecision when given the choice of coming for the ball or not. The young German could yet develop into a fine goalkeeper – we’ve seen something similar with David De Gea at United – but with him currently exposed to the high ball, he needs defenders that can command the space around him and protect their goal.
Klopp knows that the high ball is Liverpool’s main weakness – he said so after the 2-1 win over West Brom after seeing a fourth goal conceded this season from a set-piece – but he doesn’t want to make it so obvious that teams start to pepper his side’s area in a bid to cause chaos.
Luckily for Klopp, not many of their rivals beyond United look to impose via the aerial route, and Mourinho’s side still managed to make a meal of
that last Monday.
How can City players show confidence when they receive none from Guardiola THE END of Manchester City’s 100% start to the season has coincided with their players being drained of confidence, but it’s no wonder why when Pep Guardiola leaves them on edge that their careers at the Etihad Stadium could end at any moment. Joe Hart has already experienced this, despite being one of the form goalkeepers in the Premier League for the best part of eight years.
Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero now look the most at risk of getting the axe, while the less said about Yaya Toure the better.
If Guardiola is happy to chop and change as he sees fit, he must understand that it is going to have a negative impact on this season’s outcome. That may be the sacrifice Guardiola has to make in order to finally fulfil City’s European desire, but it won’t look pretty while he does it.
Last-gasp defeat leaves Sunderland and Moyes adrift WE ALL know how cruel football can be, but you have to feel for David Moyes right now. This Sunderland squad is well short of the calibre required to stay in the Premier League, and with the looming availability of his predecessor, Sam Allardyce, following his acrimonious England exit, the picture looks pretty bleak at the Stadium of Light.
Saturday’s injury-time defeat by West Ham was especially hard to take given that Sunderland only have two points this season – their worst start to a Premier League campaign after nine matches – and they were just minutes away from claiming what could prove a valuable point.
Winston Reid had other ideas though, and Moyes’s demeanour in his very short press conference afterwards displayed his pain. Unfortunately, there’s going to be plenty more of that this season for Sunderland.
New manager, but same old Everton IN Ronald Koeman, Everton believe that they had landed the manager that could finally get the best out of their current crop of players. The Dutchman’s credentials come with justification following his impressive work with Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Southampton, so why have the wheels fallen off Everton’s strong start to the season?
They dominated Burnley, especially in the second half when searching for a winning goal, and yet somehow came out of the short trip to Turf Moor with a 2-1 defeat.
Much has been made of the abilities of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley among others, but right now Koeman is not able to bring the best out of them.
Is that because the rest of the squad are not up to scratch? Maybe. Does it have anything to do with an expectant Everton support? Unlikely – they have a better record at home than away this season. The answer at moment remains unknown, and until Koeman can solve the Everton conundrum, then another season of alsorans will be on the cards. – The Independent
Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero now look the most at risk of getting the axe at Manchester City