The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Whilst the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea continued on their winning ways, murmurs throughout the media are suggesting it could be a three-way battle for the title this season. That being said, this weekend’s performances from Liverpool and Arsenal don’t necessarily lend themself to their inclusion in the hunt for top spot.
Liverpool’s two goal defeat to Burnley while dominating the statistics may have been a one-off, yet its arrival just a week after the defensive nightmare against Arsenal suggests there are some serious issues with Liverpool’s rearguard. How long until Klopp comes under pressure from the Merseyside masses?
The same can be said about Arsenal who’s flat, lethargic performance against Leicester points to worrying signs for the North London club. On the subject of Arsenal...
We all know the story of Arsenal’s perennial woes: finish somewhere in the top four, qualify for Champions League football, win the occasional domestic trophy and repeat. The Gooners have fallen significantly from the days of the invincibles, but surely you would think the fans would be content with their lot? Apparently not.
On one hand it’s understandable, past successes have merited financial gain and while you know the club are doing well financially, you don’t see that business success fully replicated on the pitch. Yet, surely things can’t be bad enough to demand the resignation of the manager who brought you success and stability? Apparently not.
This weekend saw the vast majority of Arsenal’s travelling fans take up the chant, "We want Wenger out." So is Arsene’s time up? Possibly. I understand Arsenal pay the most out of any Premier League fans and therefore they demand some kind of return on their investment, but even after two insipid displays panic stations surely haven’t been reached yet. It’s a bizarre situation and one that looks like it could drag on for some time.
This Season’s Dark… Tiger?
It’s early days, we all know that, yet Hull’s start to the Premier League campaign has been nothing short of sensational. Mike Phelan’s skeleton crew have been fantastic in their approach to what was - and most likely still is - billed as a difficult season.
That being said, the performances of makeshift defender Jake Livermore, Curtis Davies, Robert Snodgrass and surprise package Sam Clucas have offered hope to the previously despairing Hull fans. Once again it’s early doors, but perhaps Hull’s determination in the face of despair can inspire our own threadbare squad to better fortunes.
Still waiting for Brucey to offer his thoughts on the matter, perhaps he’s lurking in the shadows waiting for the first defeat before emerging, sausage roll in mouth, to offer his bumbling opinions on the matter.
In the eloquent words of Big Sam, tiki-taka is a load of "Bollocks." And this weekend was an interesting one in a tactical sense. Both Burnley, Manchester United and Tottenham utilised formations resembling a 4-4-2 whereby they played fast, direct football with destructive effect.
Burnley’s smash and grab at home to Liverpool demonstrated that football can be devastating when a team is well drilled and has multiple options up front. With a meagre 19% possession, completing 207 passes compared to Liverpool’s 852 and managing 2 goals from 3 shots on target, Burnley held their shape and exposed Liverpool’s defensive flaws.
United and Tottenham utilised their own 4-4-2 system with one striker playing deeper than the other, almost acting as an advanced attacking midfielder, again offering more in attack whilst holding a solid shape in defense and midfield. Perhaps Moyes could take a leaf out of this reversion in tactical thinking in a bid to reverse our fortunes thus far. It’s often said that the world is a cyclical place - could this be the re-emergence of an older style of football?
Grappling Not Tolerated
In the City versus Stoke game two penalties were awarded as part of a new directive to try and prevent players from grappling with one another. But the question on a host of people’s lips is whether or not the new rule is overkill?
On Match of the Day, Phil Neville made an interesting point that grappling is a defender’s means of balancing the playing field. When trying to defend against a player coming onto the ball with momentum, Neville argued that grappling was the only means available to help defend against an incoming player with the advantage.
It’s an interesting one, because when interviewed one culprit of the offense, Ryan Shawcross, simply apologised and noted that players had been told this would be an area of the game to come under scrutiny by referees and that he felt he’d let his team down.Two penalties so far this year, but potentially a whole host more to come.