Monday, 26 September 2011

Five Observations from Week 5 in the Premier League

1.) Fernando Torres takes one step forward then two steps back – For the first time in his Chelsea career, and for the first time in 2011, Fernando Torres has scored in two games in a row. It’s fair to say the old Fernando, the world class version is coming back to the surface. However, he seems to eclipse his positives actions with Chelsea with a negative action. His sending off this weekend symbolises this. Torres had no real need to lunge in with two feet up in the air. It was a woeful striker’s tackle. But just when you think Torres is finding his form, sharpness and goals, he commits an act which could possibly affect his consistency. Ironically, consistency is something he has craved for since moving to Chelsea.

2.) Man United gain a credible draw at Stoke – Yes, Man United’s 100% winning record is over. But it’s by no means a disaster. Already this season, Stoke have held Chelsea and have beaten Liverpool at home. Many of United’s league contenders will come to Stoke and will struggle to get all three points. Man United can also learn a lot from this result too. Although United’s defending has been relatively strong this season, at times they have shown their frailties. Peter Crouch’s goal for Stoke highlighted United’s poor defending from the set piece. Perhaps young Phil Jones should have been more tighter and more aware of the positioning of Stoke’s target man Peter Crouch. While just after Stoke’s goal, Rio Ferdinand’s miss kicked his clearance which nearly and should have given Crouch a chance to score his second goal of the game. But Sir Alex, the fans and the players will be even more aware that the champions need to put more focus in their defending, as the defensive lapse could have cost them the game. Indeed, David De Gea stood up to Stoke’s aggressive and direct nature. The new Man United goalkeeper made some crucial saves which helped preserved United from losing. With every game, the young Spaniard looks more confident, more settled and more of a natural successor to Van der Sar.

3.) Man City’ strength in depth is the difference – City had a very tough encounter versus Everton. The Merseysiders were committed, focused and organised in restricting Man City the opportunity to create and finish chances. For most of the game, Everton frustrated Man City. They simply couldn’t find a break through. Everton did a very good job in nullifying in- form players such as Edin Dzeko. However, for all the talent City started in the match, this could be matched by Man City’s quality on the bench. Step up James Milner and Mario Balotelli. Both substitutes scored both of the goals in the game. Everton could not cope with City’s quality on the bench, as a result, the likes of Silva and Aguero’s both stepped up after the introduction of Balotelli and Milner. It’s fair to say, against tough oppositions, Manchester City’s strength in depth could be the potential decider in the title race. After all, they possess many attacking threats, while as the game progresses and the opposition tire, the quality of attacking depth, especially on the bench could prove to be the difference. Just as it proved to be against Everton this weekend.

4.) Liverpool becoming ever more dependent on Luis Suarez – Liverpool were not great against Wolves this weekend. At times they were on top, and created many chances. But there were also periods when Wolves asked all the questions of Liverpool and The Reds didn’t defend that impressively. Offensively, the difference for Liverpool again was Luis Suarez. His movement, energy and creativity often left the Wolves defence feeling dizzy. But at times during the game, it was as if Suarez was the only Liverpool player looking to move in and out of pockets of space. Without his movement, it would seem as if Liverpool’s performance was lacklustre and short of creative ideas. It’s evident the other attacking Liverpool players need to show more intelligent movement in order to create space. But when Luis Suarez is in form, its not surprising a team becomes dependent on him. He is arguably a complete striker, who can create and finish himself, so is it surprising he becomes the focal point of team?

5.) The Newcastle United revolution gets bigger and bigger – Newcastle were widely tipped as the team who would be in and around the foot of the table at the start of the season. Due to the club selling key players such as Enrique, Nolan and Barton. But Alan Pardew and his new look Newcastle side have started the season off very impressively. After 6 games, they find themselves unbeaten, and are in fourth place with 12 points. The new signings seem to have given the club some balance and variation of quality. Attackers Demba Ba and Leon Best have so far consistently provided goals. One could argue that Ba has been rather inconsistent for Newcastle so far and has drifted in and out of games. It’s a fair point, he hasn’t been great. But against Blackburn he was a consistent threat, his pace, strength and instinctive finishing was the difference. His hat-trick will not only give The Toon Army some optimism, it will give them some pride. Furthermore, the return of Hatem Ben Arfa gives Newcastle even more quality and technical strength. Newcastle have rather quietly constructed a very good outfit which is proving to be a decent side.

Five Statistics from this weekend

1.) Fernando Torres has scored against 24/28 of teams he has faced in the Premier League.

2.) Four different players have scored a hat-trick for Newcastle United since the start of 2010/11 season

3.) Peter Crouch has scored for 6 different Premier League clubs in his career.

4.) Tottenham are the only team this season to pass more than 600 times in more than one game.

5.) Aston Villa are the third team in Premier League history to draw 5/6 of their opening games.

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