Cherries Charge On
An unbelievable game on the South coast saw Bournemouth run out deserved 6-1 winners against a rapidly worsening Hull. You have to feel for poor old Mike Phelan - finally given the job full-time, and this is how the squad respond? Talk about coming back down to earth with a bump. I fear for Hull this season with so much instability behind the scenes, and with such a paper thin squad, it will be an uphill slog to avoid relegation.
Bournemouth on the other hand looked terrific, and despite having less than half of the overall possession were clinical in front of goal. Junior Stanislas was one of the players to make a real difference this weekend; the directness and ferocity in his attacking play was absolutely superb - something I feel the national side have lacked for a long time. That’s not to say he’s a guaranteed shoo-in, but 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games speaks of a player on the up. If Stanislas can maintain this purple patch, you’d have to argue that the FA might have to consider him for a potential call-up.
It needs to be said that Eddie Howe deserves a great deal of credit for the way in which he has established Bournemouth as an impressive outfit who seem to be more than capable of holding their own in the big leagues. Another Cherry on England’s radar, but to give him the job now would stunt his growth - just let him weave his magic on the South coast.
Saints Finding a Rhythm
After a bumpy start to the season Southampton look to have finally rediscovered the form that has somehow survived chunk after chunk of management and staff being torn from the body of the club. Their 3-1 home victory against Sean Dyche’s Burnley was an impressive affair that could have been a more flattering scoreline, but for the heroics of Tom Heaton.
Another two Englishmen impressed at St. Mary’s, with both Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond turning in performances of the highest quality. Austin’s brace could be a sign of things to come, especially with the frenetic Redmond causing all kinds of problems for the Burnley defence. When you consider the stuttering form of the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and other forwards who so often are guaranteed a place in the national squad - the emergence of the likes of Redmond and Antonio, but to name a few, is an encouraging sign for our struggling country.
In a similar vein, Sam McQueen made his debut for the Saints out wide at the weekend carrying on the club’s rich tradition of promoting from within. Bale, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaw, Lallana, and Chambers are all obvious candidates while the likes of Targett, Ward-Prowse, Reed, Sims and McQueen continue to impress when afforded time. Southampton’s faith in youth has paid off both on the field and off the field with their youth securing the club’s financial future as well as their Premier League status. Seriously impressive.
Tangle for the Top
After this latest round of games the Premier League stands wide open with five points separating first and seventh. Normally, around this time of the season, we see a clear gulf begin to form, but with so many teams playing so well this season it’s a tricky job trying to decipher who looks to have the credentials.
City, Tottenham, Liverpool, United, and Everton all dropped points this weekend creating more confusion as to who will take the bull by the horns, click into gear and march their way to the championship. Undoubtedly the tricky December congestion will thin the pack, but as of right now the chase is well and truly on.
Alas, Sunderland couldn’t emulate Leicester’s conversion from basement escapees to Premier League titans, yet the league feels a little poorer this year without a dark horse leading the way. It’s over to you, Everton, to show the big boys that the title can’t be bought back again.