Man City su­perb, Mour­inho in chaos

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

Iain Mac­in­tosh runs the rule over the lat­est 2016-17 Pre­mier League ac­tion in this week’s edi­tion of He­roes and Vil­lains.

HE­ROES MANCH­ESTER City have been im­pres­sive in the past. At times dur­ing Manuel Pel­le­grini’s first sea­son, they were very good, but they’ve never been this breath­tak­ing. They’ve never been this beau­ti­ful. They’ve never thrown down this sort of per­for­mances. It’s not just that they’re win­ning; it’s that you watch them and you can­not en­vis­age them not win­ning. How do you stop them? How do you com­bat that sort of move­ment? This is only Pep Guardi­ola’s sec­ond month in charge. How good will City be in a year?

Troy Deeney said that more should be made of Wat­ford’s ex­cel­lent per­for­mance than Manch­ester United’s use­less­ness, and we’re de­lighted to oblige. Across the park, the Hor­nets were faster, stronger and more de­ter­mined. They didn’t fluke their vic­tory; they were worth it, and that’s no mean feat. They’ve had to work quickly to set­tle new sign­ings and to ac­cli­mate to an­other new man­ager with a new for­ma­tion and a new style of play. Peo­ple of­ten crit­i­cise the Pozzo Fam­ily and the ruth­less­ness of their de­ci­sion-mak­ing, but they haven’t got­ten much wrong so far.

We ex­pected Ever­ton to im­prove un­der the more prag­matic lead­er­ship of Ron­ald Koe­man, but we didn’t ex­pect them to im­prove this much. I mean, it’s Ever­ton, isn’t it? They’re so Ever­ton-y. But for all the sum­mer talk of seven ti­tle chal­lengers, is it pos­si­ble that an eighth just made it­self known? Af­ter Le­ices­ter’s suc­cess last sea­son, per­haps it isn’t as silly as it sounds. They have the play­ers. They have the man­ager. They have money to re­in­force in Jan­uary.

Spir­its are high on the other side of Stan­ley Park too. Liver­pool were ex­cel­lent in West Lon­don, as they blew Chelsea away with a fe­ro­cious first half dis­play and then held out to claim all three points. There are still nervy mo­ments at the back, and they haven’t kept a clean sheet yet, but they are dev­as­tat­ing in at­tack, break­ing for­ward at pace with strings of clever, one­touch passes. Liver­pool’s sched­ule was so packed last sea­son that Jur­gen Klopp didn’t re­ally have time to cul­ti­vate his ideas on the train­ing field, but he has that time now, and he is us­ing it wisely.

Like Liver­pool, Arse­nal are one of those teams that can con­ceiv­ably beat any­one and lose to any­one. There were mo­ments in their 4-1 vic­tory over Hull when they looked as if they were go­ing to slip up, but the boost that their con­fi­dence will take from re­sist­ing that self­de­struc­tive urge will be pro­found. Santi Ca­zorla was in par­tic­u­larly fine fet­tle, and if they could just get through 90 min­utes with­out look­ing vul­ner­a­ble, you might start hav­ing dan­ger­ous ideas about Arse­nal mak­ing a proper ti­tle chal­lenge.

VIL­LAINS You can lose by a sin­gle goal to Manch­ester City and put it down as one of things that hap­pens when su­per­pow­ers clash. You can lose in the Europa League and point to a mix-and-match start­ing XI that’s fail­ing to gel. But when you lose to Wat­ford, you’re out­played by Wat­ford and you look slug­gish and un­bal­anced all af­ter­noon, that in­di­cates some real prob­lems. Jose Mour­inho needs to make tough de­ci­sions. Paul Pogba is woe­fully out of form. Wayne Rooney hasn’t played well for months. It’s early days, but this isn’t work­ing.

Who con­cedes four goals against West Bromwich Al­bion? No one ever con­cedes four goals against West Bromwich Al­bion. The idea of it is ab­so­lutely scan­dalous. That’s twice as many goals as the Bag­gies had shots on tar­get last week at Bournemouth. We don’t want to take this away from Tony Pulis, but some­thing is se­ri­ously, se­ri­ously wrong at West Ham, and it has noth­ing to do with their new sta­dium. Slaven Bilic needs to turn this around quickly be­cause teams that con­cede eight goals in seven days to teams such as Wat­ford and West Bromwich Al­bion don’t sur­vive in the Pre­mier League.

What on earth was that, Chelsea? We’ve heard plenty about An­to­nio Conte’s hard, phys­i­cal pre­sea­son train­ing ses­sions, but the Blues looked dis­tinctly lethar­gic against Liver­pool. Even more con­cern­ing is the fact that they were an ab­so­lute sham­bles at the back. Liver­pool’s first goal was borne out of some of the worst mark­ing in re­cent mem­ory, with Gary Cahill try­ing to han­dle Liver­pool play­ers on his own while four of his team­mates chose to mar­shal empty patches of grass.

Stoke City are in trou­ble. They have just a sin­gle point for their ef­forts. They have a dou­ble-fig­ures neg­a­tive goal dif­fer­ence, and they are no longer ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing them­selves at set pieces. Mark Hughes has steadily im­proved the tech­ni­cal abil­ity of his team since he took over from Tony Pulis, but this sea­son has seen all the re­silience seem­ingly drained out of them. Sack­ing sea­son is com­ing, and if he wants to avoid be­ing the first casualty of the sea­son, he needs to turn this around.

No won­der Papy Djilo­bodji played only a minute for Chelsea. He doesn’t look up to the Pre­mier League stan­dard at all. For the sec­ond game in a row, a cat­a­strophic er­ror from the 27-year-old Sene­galese de­fender cost Sun­der­land dearly. David Moyes is work­ing tire­lessly to change the men­tal­ity at the club and im­plant some sort of back­bone to this col­lec­tion of per­pet­ual fail­ures, but you have to won­der what on earth he was think­ing when he spent £8 mil­lion on a player such as this.— ESPNFC.

Mour­inho speaks to Luke Shaw af­ter the left back was sub­sti­tuted dur­ing the hum­bling de­feat

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