Manchester has all the fun, blues for the Blues, mid-table squads continue to play like aging Sunday Leaguers, and will Rooney Make the Swamp Great Again?
This was the match that the world had their eyes on this weekend, and while it wasn’t a shootout – as some top tier matchups in the Premier League tend to be – it certainly didn’t disappoint. After all was said and done, it was a nervy affair and Man City emerged as the clearly superior team.
Morata can get his kicks in against mediocre sides who can’t keep up with Chelsea’s passing triangles, but in top of the table head-to-heads, he still looks a shadow of a world-class striker. Perhaps this is why other (better) teams than Chelsea passed up on him. Either way, Chelsea are not getting near their expected return on Morata. For a team of that caliber, it shouldn’t be such an inconvenience, yet Chelsea has always depended on a top tier striker at the helm of the team, and that is not at all Morata’s game. Willian came on as a sub and was somehow even more effective. The Brazilian has obviously got talent – as most Brazilians do – yet he complicates the game far too much, and in the Premier League, screwing around with the ball up top will see a diminutive striker tossed around.
Hazard looks frustrated with the state of the team, but he was just as ineffective as he has been all season. As usual, the only person who played with any real grit for Chelsea was Kante, who is sublime at what he does, but will never produce anything more than it.
Chelsea is not quite yet in shambles, but their outlook for the season is relatively poor considering the consistency which saw them take the league last year. Conte will continue to be put under pressure until his team steps up for him in big games. To his credit, Man City are looking like a top European outfit, and that was on full display at Stamford Bridge Saturday.
Sane is the future of football; lanky, skillful, and with a very efficient mindset, he and Raheem Sterling are the lightning in Man City’s offense. Guardiola has managed the situation with De Bruyne and Silva expertly. The two are by no means interchangeable, and both need to freed to play their games. It helps sitting in front of world-class CDMs like Fernadinho or Toure, yet De Bruyne is starting to really come into his own. Another piece of terrible business by Chelsea.
Gabriel Jesus was a standout performer as well. By no means is he easy on the eye, but he gets the job done and plays off the studs in the line-up very well. His assist for De Bruyne is the prime example of the excellent role he can play in Pep’s side. Aguero’s injury has not inconvenienced the team at all, and it is clear they are a force to reckoned with. At this point, it is almost safe to say they are favorites for the Manchester Derby; yet to be fair to Man U, the Red Devils have not played in any big games as have the rest of the top 6 sides.
Chelsea’s pitiful form cannot be overstated. The blues have no plan B. It’s a broken record, but it’s only being said over and over again because week in and week out, they show that they really don’t know what else to do. The sort of defensive-offensive balance they pioneered last year has been imbibed by the meta, and top sides are doing what they do, only better.
Arsenal are building up a bit of form, showing that their draw against Chelsea wasn’t entirely a fluke. By no means, however, was this a test of their overall quality. Lacazette is starting to earn his paycheck, which is good news for fans, but that doesn’t change the fact that the midfield is looking very dicey. Arsene Wenger still can’t decide on his best attacking front. Who knows if Santi Cazorla will ever kick a football again. Ramsey is looking like he is approaching top form, the potential he’s always showed throughout his career, but it’s hard to figure out who to play alongside him. Xhaka cannot do the nitty-gritty clean-up work figures like Viera in the past have done, but should him and Ramsey play CM alongside one another, its the role Xhaka has to play in order to free up Ramsey to push forward. The defense is looking better, though. Arsenal tends to drop easy points to bottom table sides, and it is always a sigh of relief for fans when they can put away a result comfortably.
Brighton are raring to go, and their considerable heart must be commended. Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that Hughton’s men have nowhere to go once they kick it out. If they had a decent strike force, it would have been possible to put something up on the board. In the end, Brighton are going to be fighting relegation all season, and the question lingers as to what are they going to do in order to stay up.
Liverpool have a decent side, but it seems like they just can’t kick it into high gear. Coutinho is producing for them, but unless they start living up to some of last year’s expectations, he will start getting frustrated soon. Klopp is a talented manager, and it’s likely he’ll keep his side in the right mindset. However, the issue is around whether or not they can manage to ensure a Champions League berth while competing in it this year. Sturridge and the strike force need to step it up in order to ensure victory. They were wasteful, and though they did indeed play better than Newcastle, some credit must be given to the home side.
Things are looking up for Rafa and his reinvigorated Newcastle. The city appears resolutely behind him, and St. James Park will not be an easy place to visit this summer, as Liverpool found out. Young Tom Riddle, Voldemort himself Jonjo Shelvey, is starting to look like the rock-solid center of the team, and Mitrovic appears able to play reliably up top in the Premiership.
Harry Kane is really, really good. The man is on pace to break many goal scoring stats this season, and it must be said, he’s earned them all. A few of the things that set him apart: his attacking movement is sublime, and he puts himself in excellent positions very regularly. Kane works hard off the ball and puts pressure on defenders that force passes. Shooting is clearly his greatest skill, and he understands where the goal is very well. The rest of the Tottenham line-up is decent. Heung-Min looks like another reliable South Korean midfielder, and there will always be a place in the league for workhorses. Lamela and Eriksen are fun to watch, but it seems the Danish midfielder could be on his way out considering the talent he yields. The same could be said of Kane, but Levy, the chairman, will not let him go for anything less than an arm and a leg.
Huddersfield need to get it together, and simply rolling over for better sides in the Premier League will see them straight down. It’s tough, but staying in the game is vital to success in the most competitive league in the world.
Its an important result for a Spurs side that was starting to be called into question, but they still have not proved conclusively that Wembley is a place to be afraid of going.
Neither team can be satisfied with this result, because they both need points, and it’s just not going to be enough for either to eke out simple draws against teams that could be beaten.
Firing Claudio Ranieri was honestly a bit screwed up, and the team may be soon regretting it. They managed to hold on to some vital players (Vardy, Vardy, and Vardy) but it seems they are overworking him. The Englishman has foregone a national call-up in order to rest a bit, and it will be interesting to track his progress for the rest of the season leading up to the world cup. He is without a doubt a candidate to get some minutes in Russia next year, but not if his side bow out of the Premier League off of his back.
Bournemouth didn’t spend like some of the lower table teams did, and it’s starting to bite them. 7 games in and they are sitting on one win and the draw from the weekend with not much else to show for it. Something’s gotta give.
West Brom spent considerable money this past summer on a variety of players, and it isn’t quite looking like they’re getting returns on their dividends. Their bright spot has always been keeper Ben Foster. They are going to hoaver around mid-table all year, and probably not much more than that. This is a game they certainly should have won in front of the fans, and conceding the draw hints at what will be another mediocre season from them.
Watford have shown some determination in the opening months of the Premier League, and their team is mostly composed of studs from the lower leagues, so it’s more than possible they stay up. So far, so good for the Wolves.
Southampton, who looked so good last year and came into the season with so many expectations, can take this result as a reality check.
Or they can lose their marbles, and go on a L-L-D-L sort of streak. Their next few matches see them play Newcastle and West Brom at home before traveling to Brighton. These are all points they should be looking to earn against sides that inhabit their rung of the table. The bad news is, Stoke does as well and they dropped points there.
Meanwhile, Mark Hughes’ men are looking like a usual Stoke side, but with a little bit extra. Shaqiri has some of the best chance creating stats in the league, and can feed the giants on the team pretty well. Expect some decent results and maybe a few upsets from them this season – like the one against Arsenal.
Mourinho’s men are starting to look like a classic Mourinho side, which, as he has proven in recent years, is bad news for the rest of Europe. Lukaku has been putting up very respectable numbers, which is to be expected considering the line-up behind him. The team has been pulverizing lower tier teams, and have a stunning goal differential (which should matter more to them than anyone else!). Nonetheless, it will prove interesting to see how he and the Red Devils stack up against top-flight teams. They play Liverpool coming off of the international break, and it will be a game to keep an eye on for a plethora of reasons. Expect Peach and Pitch to tear into the losers.
*Sigh.* Another week, another loss for Crystal Palace. They have 0 points. Roy Hodgson is the king of destroying teams; why this man was ever given the English reins by the FA is beyond me. Crystal Palace has been in the league for 5 years now though, so I guess there is lots of mystery surrounding this team. Staying up this year would be nothing short of mythic.
This was a result the Hammers needed, and they fought to earn it in what was a classic English winner-takes-all showdown. Their relegation future is still cloudy, but they need to continue the good form they’ve displayed. The week before this one, they nearly scraped out a draw against Spurs. They’ve got the players to do it, but by the same token, Joe Hart and Hernandez are anything but reliable.
Swansea should be in full panic mode, as their Welsh flirtation with the English Premier League could well be coming to a close soon. Bony and Routledge are better than this, but points are hard to earn and if they can’t pull out results against comparable teams, then they’ll stay in the bottom 3.
Burnley, more than anything, are showing themselves to be fighters. After earning promotion a couple years ago, they’ve stayed on pace and right now sit in the 6th position. Obviously, this high placing will fade, but it’s curious to see how these two teams, each of whom really should be in the other’s position, stacked up. Burnley is very decent, and Vokes looks like a true Premier League striker; stocky with a decent shot and a hard head, he could do some big things for Burnley this season.
It must be said Everton’s struggles are nothing short of tragic. They have the coach, Koeman – the man, the myth, the legend- and they have the superstar Rooney with some good players around him. The defense just isn’t performing, and Leighton Baines is starting to look a little too old to keep up his usual engine-like running up and down of the field. How to play around Rooney is seemingly a conundrum for this Everton side, a club which has never had anyone rated higher on FIFA than Donovan a couple years back at 82. It is reminiscent of the days when Berbatov was trying to carry Fulham out of the danger zone. Players who far outclass their teammates get frustrated easily, and in the best way possible, are absolute cancer for a team who has no idea what to do other than to pass it to their washed-up legend. With that said, if they can get it going, it would be a lot of fun to watch Rooney booting it around for his hometown side.
Die-hard Arsenal fan since the Thierry Henry days. Fan of the old Cesc Fabregas and vintage Iceman Bergkamp; less keen on Emanuel Eboue and Andre Santos.
If you are reading this and your name is Robin Van Persie or Samir Nasri, you can go shove it up yer mum's clunge.