Arsenal Back With a Bang
I’ve discussed before about the discontent that has hovered over the Emirates in recent months, with fans seemingly ready for Wenger to abdicate his throne. However, Arsenal are unbeaten in the league since the opening day and currently sit in third place with this weekend’s dismantling of Chelsea consolidating their return to form.
At times the North London club looked unplayable at the weekend; their second goal was a thing of beauty as the slick passing and movement echoed of years gone by - almost an ode to Highbury football. The three-nil scoreline perhaps a sign of things to come?
Yet despite the win, it feels like a matter of time before the cracks appear once more, and it’s a shame. Do I sympathise with the Arsenal fans? Yes and no. Whilst it must be difficult to watch your once invincible team appear more mortal each year - surely you understand that you are in the top one percent of club’s in the land. Regular top four finishes, consistent European football and domestic trophy successes… it’s not that bad.
Liverpool on the Offensive
Other than Manchester City, Liverpool are the second highest scoring team in the league. Eleven goals in their last three Premier League games, including this weekend’s thrashing of ten-man Hull, has cemented Liverpool as a real attacking threat this year.
Impressive wins against both Arsenal and Chelsea as well as humbling last year’s champions has given hope to the red side of Merseyside that perhaps this year might be their, er, chance to do something. Klopp’s side have most definitely proved their attacking credentials, no one can doubt that.
But their defense must improve if they are to mount a serious title challenge. Liverpool have conceded as many goals as both Bournemouth and Middlesbrough, whilst Burnley have a better defensive record. Klopp surely knows this is an issue that must be resolved and will be hoping to rectify the chink in his side’s armour in order for it to be considered their year.
Eddie Howe and the Bournemouth Experience
Jack Wilshere’s move to the south coast was greeted with many a raised eyebrow this summer, but I for one think the move needs to be applauded by all. A player seeking game time in an effort to come back from multiple injuries, a team looking to resurrect their player’s fortunes and a hungry, young, English manager looking to boost his side’s playing staff - a good deal for all involved.
Bournemouth currently sit in fourteenth position, but this weekend’s win against Everton will undoubtedly raise spirits in the Cherries’ camp and could provide the platform for a successful campaign. Harry Arter earned rightful praise from Wilshere and the media after a fantastic display against the Toffees, whilst Jordan Ibe looked dangerous once more as he strives to justify his hefty price tag.
Another season of safety would be a successful campaign for Eddie Howe’s men, and after this solid start to the season it would be difficult betting against his team achieving survival. The thing that strikes me, and many others, the most is the manner in which Bournemouth play their football: pass, move, patience - it's refreshing to see.
United and the Rooney Quandary
I’ll start this by saying Wayne Rooney was a world class player. But, right now, he is but an average player unsure of his best role in the team. Striker, number ten, wide player, central midfielder, defensive midfielder? Where is Rooney’s best position?
Mourinho’s decision to relegate Wayne to the bench was a bold move, but most certainly the right one. Juan Mata is the more gifted player and offers a lot more than Rooney does at this moment in time. Technically and creatively, Mata offered so much more than Rooney this weekend, whilst Rashford and Ibrahimovic were far more imposing in the final third of the pitch.
So what happens now? Well, Rooney has to either understand his poor performances aren’t good enough and reevaluates his game, or he carries on trundling along the path toward mediocrity. Because, the last couple of years haven’t been good enough. Here’s hoping Wayne can turn it around.