Premier League Talking Points : Week Five
Words – Sean Campbell
Four weeks too late, but here we are, finally talking about the Premier League. The teams have had a bedding in period and Sport in Saigon has had plenty of time to cast its critical eye over the good, the great and the dreadful. Here are our talking points after gameweek five.
All is not well at Old Trafford
A perfect example of why we were right to wait until a few weeks into the campaign before drawing any conclusions. Until not too long ago, the defensive axis of Bailly and Blind looked solid, Fellaini was firing again, Pogba was threatening to live up to the huge price tag and the Rooney – Zlatan coalition looked dangerous…
Oh what a difference a week makes. Embarrassment at home to arch-rivals Manchester City (who look amazing), followed by a flaccid performance against Feyenoord in the Europa League and then a shocking defeat at the hands of Watford and out of nowhere, the walls look to be crumbling. Suddenly Rooney looks twice his age, Pogba over rated, Bailly shaky and Fellaini the clumsy midfielder of the Van Gaal / Moyes eras, good for little more than general bastardry. We haven’t even talked about Mkhitaryan or Martial yet.
It’s only been a week though, and this is a supremely gifted group of players led by one of the world’s best managers. Can Mourinho stop the rot? Will he have the chops to leave out the likes of Rooney or Pogba who, at the moment, look like they can’t play in the same team? Will Rooney begin to get into the box again and score goals? Dropping deep and slinging balls over the opposite full back looks nice, but it doesn’t get you very far a lot of the time. At the very least, it shouldn’t always be your first choice of pass. If Rooney drops deep he needs to go for the kill and feed his strikers. If he doesn’t, he’s got to get in the box and finish chances off like few others can.
This Saturday they’re at home to champions Leicester. It might be early in the season, but this game is huge for the hosts.
Tottenham’s main man is back
Not Harry Kane, not Christian Eriksen, not Dele Alli. Moussa Dembele is back after suspension for that unsavoury, but (whisper it quietly) well deserved, eye gouge on Diego Costa at the end of last season. The Belgian is one of the league’s best midfielders, using pace, power and a great football mind to run the show. Mr. Pogba, start taking notes. Without him, Harry Kane is laboured and ineffective. The England forward scored just once in the eleven games Dembele missed last season, he netted 24 times when he played.
Spurs have done well enough so far with three wins and two draws. Expect them to improve now the midfield guvnor is back. They play Middlesbrough away this Saturday, it should be a cut and dried win.
Is this the real Liverpool?
Liverpool have emerged from what could have been a disastrous opening five games with 10 points and this week became second favourites to win the league. That four of their games were away from home, that they thumped Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and drew with Spurs says that this side is the real deal. But… they were beaten 2-0 by Burnley; a game in which they had all the ball but no balls. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool can mix it with the big boys, of that there is no doubt. Question marks remain, however, over their ability to simply put the lesser teams away without fuss. Can the players get as hyped up to crunch a David Meyler as they would a Diego Costa? This weekend they have to prove just that at home to Hull City.
Firmino and Mane are on fire in the frontline while Coutinho and Sturridge are showing glimpses of class. Lallana, in his new midfield role, looks to be getting back to the player he was at Southampton and at the back, new signing Joel Matip might just be the defender they’ve needed ever since Sami Hyypia left the club way back in 2009.
Will this side show the consistency required for a top of the table push, or will they collapse in style? For Liverpool fans, this weekend’s game is every bit as big as a top of the table clash.
The irresistible rise of Iheanacho
Manchester City have been awesome. Pep Guardiola has wasted no time in implementing his characteristic style of possession based, flexible attacking football with a group of players that many thought unsuited to the job. Fernandinho has been almost flawless at the back of the midfield, Raheem Sterling has rediscovered his best form on the wing and in Kevin De Bruyne they have the Premier League’s finest player. Away from the big names though, 19 year old Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho is really beginning to bare his teeth. In just 167 minutes of football this season, he has scored 3 goals and completed 3 further assists. He’s often to be found in the right place at the right time to finish off simple chances, that’s something you either have or you don’t. The kid is going to be great.