The season is beginning to bed in now, and given the amount of stalemates we saw this weekend, it seems like many sides will want to bolster their ranks before the end of the transfer window. Manchester City, however, continue to impress and the Chelsea roller-coaster ride continues in full swing!
The Title Chase has Begun
Chelsea have struggled defensively so far this season letting in another two goals in their 3-2 win against West Brom. But they have had two sendings off in the last three games which perhaps paints an inaccurate picture of their performances. Jose Mourinho needs to work some discipline back into his side but must not return to the tactically rigid Chelsea of last season if he wants the side to be considered one of the best in the world. The next stage for him is to implement a calculated, killer instinct, to combine Chelsea’s strength and organisation that helped them win the title last season with a desire to score more goals. We began to see signs of this at the weekend but the team is developing, even though it may seem odd to say this about a title winning side.
Despite losing the game, Albion gained some much needed confidence by scoring twice against a top side. But Pulis’s team still look likely to struggle this season as Chelsea were able to easily cut through their defence, with Pedro having a field day as he continually created danger.
At Manchester City on the other hand, development appears to be firmly complete, after another thumping win against Everton. Kolarov hammered in the goal that made a third straight Manchester City victory inevitable before Samir Nasri tipped off another great team performance to make it 2-0. The Sky Blues looked incredibly convincing yet again and are making it very difficult to look past them as favourites for the title this season.
Everton themselves did not look flat. They threatened to score on numerous occasions, including a Romelu Lukaku freekick that hit the bar. Credit has to be given to City’s defence which is holding up well despite being criticised last season for inconsistency. Another clean sheet for City means that they remain firmly seated at the top of the table.
Someone Please Sign a Striker
Manchester United have had trouble scoring goals, managing just two so far this season. Whilst Schweinsteiger was impressive and the defence is clearly holding out, there is still something missing from this Manchester United side that will keep them from challenging for the title. Depay and Rooney seem to be able to create danger but after being linked with so many top players in the window – it is clear that United need another top finisher.
Newcastle United on the other hand will be happy they managed a draw against the Reds but consider this… both Aston Villa and Spurs came close to getting the same result in the first two games of the season. Louis Van Gaal has not overseen convincing victories.
Arsenal and Liverpool were as equally unconvincing as they met at the Emirates. Both created plenty of chances to score but failed to capitalise. Benteke and Sanchez especially had many opportunities – but as the game went on it looked less and less likely that we would get a goal.
Whilst Rodgers has already done a lot of business in the window, Liverpool haven’t clicked just yet. The big money signings are going to need time to settle, and when they do they may pose more of a threat to the top four sides. At the moment they look flat, but as long as they keep creating chances for Benteke – they’ll do well this season.
On Monday Night Football, there were scenes of Thierry Henry looking perplexed when asked if the current Arsenal squad could win the title. Sure, there’s a lot of creativity in that side and Coquelin provides at least some solidity – but it is clear that Wenger needs a rock in that midfield, someone strong that can make Arsenal a more imposing side. Then that also leaves the issue of needing another quality striker up front, which they’ll surely need if they’re to have any real chance of finishing above Man City or Chelsea.
Struggles and Stalemates
Crystal Palace managed a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa after a Jordan Amavi error with less than five minutes to go. Palace looked dominant at home, especially in the first half and rightfully deserved the victory. Palace look like they’ll be a threat this season, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to the see them in the top half if ‘La Revolution de Pardew’ continues in the same vain. Villa however, will be disappointed after another flat performance. The shining light for them however will be Adama Traore, coming on to influence Souare’s own goal after the narrow diamond Sherwood originally opted for failed to break through a tight Crystal Palace side.
Leicester continued an impressive run of results with a good home point against Tottenham Hotspur in a 1-1 draw. Riyad Mahrez continued his terrific form of 6 goals in as many league games as Spurs still seem to be getting into gear. Leicester continue to impress me but I’m uncertain about how Spurs will do this season – especially if Harry Kane’s struggle to hit his killer form from last season continues. They can however be heartened by another great performance by 18 year old winger Dele Alli who grabbed Spur’s goal.
The newly promoted sides all picked up points this weekend with fellow likely strugglers Sunderland also securing their first point of the season.
Watford secured a 0-0 home result against Southampton but created plenty of chances, with Ighalo once again looking dangerous for them. Southampton looked creatively flat and you just begin to wonder whether the Europa League schedule is going to have a negative impact on them this season. They need to be more competitive especially when sides like Everton and Swansea look like potential challengers in the top half of the table.
Norwich likewise secured a point, this time against Stoke City, who are still searching for their first win of the season. Xherdan Shaqiri made an instant impact for the Potters, setting up Diouf’s goal through a well aimed free-kick but Norwich were able to pound the punches that landed them an equaliser through Russell Martin in the 28th minute. Stoke will take a lot of comfort from Shaqiri’s performance and he looks like he’s going to make a big impact with his quick feet and tidy display of passing. It’s also worth noting how well Jack Butland played against a dangerous Norwich City attack with the International break around the corner.
Bournemouth finally broke off the shackles after failing to score in their first two games, putting four goals past West Ham in a 4-3 victory. West Ham will be unhappy after another unconvincing display especially after clawing back the 2-0 deficit from half time. Callum Wilson buried the Hammers with a hat-trick with Marc Pugh scoring the goal that ripped the Hammer’s confidence just as they looked to be coming back into the game. This was a major confidence inspiring victory for Bournemouth, who just needed that belief they could put the ball in the back of the net.
Sunderland can be happy with a well earned point after conceding seven in their first two games of the season. Swansea are a very difficult side to play against, especially after their tremendous start to the season. Perhaps what made it even more impressive was the fact they came back from a Bafitimbi Gomis goal, which unloaded a sense of Deja Vu onto the Black Cat spectators at the half-way mark. Jermaine Defoe was clinical in his finish after Lens set him up, doing exactly what he was signed to do – put away chances.