Monday, 24 October 2011

Five Observations from Week 8 in the Premier League

  1. Manchester City send a powerful message that will resound across Europe – Prior to the Manchester Derby, Man United were viewed as invincible at home. And so they should have been. United had won their previous 24/25 Premier League home matches, a feat which in itself was a key factor as to why United won the league last season. Ahead of the match Mancini said he would be content if he left Old Trafford with a draw. But boy, didn’t he leave with so much more. Manchester City compounded Man United to their worst defeat since 1955. Mancini’s city were sensational. David Silva toyed with Man United’s defence throughout the game. Silva’s movement, passing and creativity was incontainable for Manchester United. City severely frightened Man United. Actually no, Manchester City humiliated Man United. But the result is a massive indicator of how Man City need to be taken seriously. Firstly, the fact Manchester City hammered Man United at Old Trafford demonstrates the sheer monstrosity of this expensively assembled City side. It proves not only does Manchester City have title credentials, they have the belief, quality and hunger to run away the Premier League. Secondly, in England, the press seem adamant to brand Roberto Mancini’s style as ‘calculated, disciplined and defensive.’ But these statements were confounded by this weekend’s result. Manchester City headed to the Champion’s invincible ground. A ground in which United had not lost a league game in over two years. But Manchester City came, saw and conquered. Not only this, City proved Mancini is willing to make his side play adventurous football in order to get crucial wins at away grounds, something he was criticised for continuously since becoming Man City manager. Finally, Man United now know the ‘noisy neighbours’ are no longer noisy. Manchester City are now roaring with hunger, belief and pride.
  2. Liverpool must to learn to take their chances or fourth place will be beyond them – Liverpool have now drawn 3/5 of their home Premier League matches this season. Draws against Sunderland, Man United and Norwich have been agonising for Liverpool fans. All three games could have easily been won. Had Liverpool been more clinical. The simple matter is, Liverpool have been creating the chances. But the team, especially the strikers have failed to finish the chances. This wastefulness has cost them in the short term, as its meant Liverpool have dropped points against teams which they should have easily got three points off. As a result Liverpool find themselves 4 points away from 4th placed Newcastle. But in the long term, Liverpool’s wastefulness upfront could have detrimental effects on their long term goals. The fact Newcastle and Tottenham have been solid and productive at home it could mean that Liverpool could fall away rather dramatically from 4th place because of their rather avoidable dropped points.
  3. Swansea impresses, but show they lack Premier League experience – Swansea played Wolves off the park for 83 minutes. Swansea kept the ball better, they created the better chances and looked far more accomplished against a rather defensively clumsy Wolves side. Swansea quite rightfully went into half time 2 goals ahead. It was utterly deserved. They dominated proceedings. But as the second half progressed, Wolves pressed higher up and looked desperate to somehow claw their way back into the game. Throughout the game, Swansea dealt with Wolves set pieces in a rather unconvincing manner. The team struggled to get the ball away and lost many key tackles and headers during set pieces. It came as no surprise that Wolves goal came from a set piece – be it a scrappy one. But the Wolves goal seemed to give the Wanderers all the confidence and momentum. Two minutes later, Jamie O’Hara made it 2-2. But this result was completely undeserved for Wolves. Who were second best for most of the game. The draw showed Swansea still lack a certain degree of Premier League experience. At the back, Swansea were not very organised in defending set pieces. While after the first Wolves goal, Swansea lost their focus and allowed Wolves to grow in confidence. This weekend’s result will provide harsh evidence to the Swansea players that keeping their concentration and not getting complacent for 90+ minutes is an imperative. As a team can be woeful as Wolves were and can still manage to come away with a draw by simply hanging in there and throwing knock out punches when the opportunity arises for them.
  4. Bolton become softer and softer at home – Last season, Bolton were pretty hard to beat at home. The Wanderers only lost four home games last season. While this season, a different picture is painted. In five Premier League home games, Bolton have lost every single one, thus failing to even pick up a point at home. That is disastrous form. This form is unacceptable in any league in the world. The team have scored 4 at home this season, while conceding a monumental 17 goals at home. But this weekend’s game against Sunderland was supposed to be the game which Bolton bag their first home win of the season. Sunderland was there for the taking. Like themselves, Sunderland’s form has been relatively inconsistent. Prior to this weekend, Sunderland had only won once in 8 games – a hardly impressive feat. But Bolton have looked far too soft this season. In defence Bolton look unoriginally weak, while upfront, Bolton look toothless. Perhaps the difference between the Bolton and Sunderland was that Sunderland were more clinical. Bolton have a lot of improving to do. The team seem to have no real strengths at the moment.
  5. Chelsea’s indiscipline could cost them their title challenge – So far this season, Chelsea have looked rather impressive. Their style of play, along with their attacking nature has made Andre Villas –Boas team very entertaining to watch. However, this weekend, they were the victims of their own downfall. Prior to the match, QPR provided Chelsea with a key chance to go ahead of Man United in the league. Furthermore, QPR’s home form this season has been far from impressive. The Rangers had not won a single home game and had only scored two goals at home prior to the game. But Chelsea’s two red cards which both were frustratingly avoidable and changed the game. Chelsea unsurprisingly with 9 men looked rather shaky at the back, but Chelsea reacted fantastically. Chelsea dominating proceedings with just 9 men. The Blues attacked, attacked and attacked. Perhaps Chelsea were unlucky not to get at least a draw. Chelsea created a handful of chances. However, Chelsea’s finishing was a tad lacklustre. Had they been more clinical, Chelsea could have possibly got all three points let alone a single point. But in 9 Premier League games, Chelsea have gained three red cards. 2/3 of the red cards were strikers (Torres and Drogba) both challenges were reckless and unneeded. AVB must further discipline his players, or Chelsea could be victims of their own downfall.

Five Statistics from this weekend

1.) Man United have allowed the opposition more shots per game than any other Premier League side

2.) 80% of the goals Liverpool have conceded have come in the second half

3.) Robin Van Persie has scored 25 Premier League goals in 2011 – no other player has scored more than that in the Premier League in 2011.

4.) Edin Dzeko has scored 8 Premier League goals this season – 7 of those goals have been scored away from home.

5.) Manchester City have scored the first goal in every Premier League game they have played in this season – Only team in league to have this record in tact.

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