Premier League Talking Points: Week 6
Familiarity breeds contempt. Arsenal have long been the Premier League’s entertainers, but years of letdowns, consistent disappointments and being nearly-men has led us to take Arsenal for granted. So far this season, we’ve been salivating at Man City, Tottenham and Liverpool. Is it that we expect Arsenal to let themselves down as they always do? They currently have the same amount of points as Liverpool, they’ve only scored one goal less but their defensive record is slightly better. Statistically and aesthetically speaking then, they’ve both been as good as each other. I guess the novelty has just worn off with Arsenal.
Last weekend however, they were awesome in their 3-0 demolition of Chelsea . The players looked hungrier than they’ve looked in a long time. They have great depth in midfield and attack. That Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud aren’t shoo-ins for the starting XI says it all. Youngster Alex Iwobi has been a revelation and for once, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are in great form at the same time. This weekend they’re away to Burnley. Expect goals.
Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli. These are the defensive pillars on whom Antonio Conte’s Juventus and Italy teams were founded. Fast forward to September 2016 and it’s Branislav Ivanovic (rapidly declining / arse is getting bigger by the week) , Gary Cahill (was never that great) and David Luiz (way down the list of summer transfer targets). That their consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal coincided with the absence of John Terry says a lot. For all their riches, Chelsea are still far too reliant on the veteran defender.
They started off the season in decent form, showing plenty of fight to come from behind but in the past two weeks, there’s been a huge downturn in momentum. Matic and Kante look exposed, Hazard lazy and Cahill utterly lost. Must they find a way to accommodate Cesc Fabregas in the team? Will Conte change the system he trusts?
This weekend they play Hull away from home. Anything less than a bloodbath and big questions will still remain about this Chelsea side’s title credentials.
United Bounce Back
That win over Leicester huge. This time last week, we questioned whether Pogba and Rooney could play together. We wondered if Jose Mourinho would have the nuts to sacrifice one of them. Well he did. Rooney was left on the bench and United looked great. Pogba, aided in no small part by the excellent Ander Herrera, ran the midfield. Mata was wonderful yet again, and Zlatan was Zlatan. The thing that most impressed me, however, was the balance of the team. Jesse Lingard is nowhere near as talented as Depay, Mkhitaryan, Martial or even Rooney, but with him, they looked so much better. He has the willingness to do other players’ work. In a squad filled with such big names and big egos, his selflessness might be crucial.
This Sunday, they host Stoke City at Old Trafford. Stoke have been pretty terrible thus far, with that in mind I expect United to really sink their teeth in. I fear an embarrassment for Mark Hughes.*
*Disclaimer: I’m wrong way more often than I’m right.
West Ham: The Bubbles Have Burst
An excellent 2015/16 season led by Slaven Bilic; wonderful talents discovered in Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, a prestigious move to the Olympic Stadium and an influx of cash. All was well…
One win and five defeats later and things are looking ominous for The Hammers. It really couldn’t get much worse. In the summer they brought in great talents like Sofiane Feghouli and Simone Zaza, players I was excited to see in the Premier League, but how they have disappointed. Slaven Bilic has to find a way to pull them out of this slump. Maybe they’re having trouble settling into their huge, new stadium, maybe they don’t yet feel at home, or maybe they’ve just got complacent. This Saturday’s ‘home’ game to Middlesbrough is massive for them, and I’m not entirely sure they will win.
Come On My Son
We have to talk about Son Heung-Min. The South Korean has been on fire this past few games. Talk of him leaving for cheap in the summer after he failed to adapt to life in England seems foolish now. Harry Kane’s failure to ignite so far this season has almost been completely forgotten, so good has Son’s form been. His goals against Middlesbrough were of a different class altogether. Pace, intelligence and determination are the keys to his game. His finishing ain’t too shabby either. This Sunday Tottenham play at home to Man City – the only two undefeated teams in the league. I fully expect City to win, but don’t be surprised if the South Korean scores given the chance. More of this please, Son: