5 Premier League learnings from the weekend
AVB struggles again
Whenever we question Tottenham’s new manager, a loyal and surprisingly large swathe of Tottenham fans defend him, with their comments on soccersweep. But this loyalty is surely being severely tested right now. The problem for Tottenham is that their manager seems strangely muted when the chips are down. Having watched the whole game on Saturday, AVB didn’t seem to have a great idea of how to affect the game with his side 0-1 down to Wigan. His decision to take off Defoe was bizarre and he had the look of a hopeful fan rather than a master tactician in the second half. Tottenham face Manchester City and Arsenal away in the next fortnight. I fear for AVB. This said, Wigan were superb on Saturday. Roberto Martinez expressed his pride in the performance and rightly so – this was surely one of Wigan’s best showings under his stewardship. They kept the ball beautifully, attacked with great purpose and looked solid at the back. If Wigan can gain some kind of consistency they can avoid the yearly dogfight at the bottom.
A genuine three horse title race
It’s easy to reflect that Manchester United will pull away after seeing Chelsea and Manchester City draw at the weekend. Manchester City were slightly fortunate with an offside decision which could have lead to a West Ham goal. But while they were a little off colour, they still should have won the game easily and West Ham were hanging on for large parts of the second half. Chelsea weren’t great on Saturday. But both teams have enough quality to take this title race to the wire. Manchester City have world class players all over the pitch and they are just two points off the pace without playing anything like their best football. If they go out of the Champions League they will be even stronger in their title push. As for Chelsea, questions have been asked of the defence but a back five of Cech, Cole, Terry, Cahill and Ivanovic will allow the lofty talents of Mata, Hazard and Oscar to excel. While this title race might not go down to the last few seconds, we think it’s a genuine three horse contest.
Everton can challenge for the Champions League spot
Everton don’t have the squad depth of Arsenal or Tottenham but they are currently playing better than both. Everton traditionally start the season slowly and improve. But they haven’t started slowly this time and if they can keep Fellaini and stay free of injury then they surely have a shout for fourth place. David Moyes is keeping Everton competitive under the strictest of financial conditions. He’s a football genius and is surely drawing more admiring glances by the day.
Manchester United got the better deal
Some questioned the wisdom of Manchester United spending £24m on a 29 year old. Younger options, like Llorente and Lewandowski were available, but Fergie pulled out all the stops to get RVP. With Arsenal struggling up top and RVP on 10 goals already, the argument of who got the best deal is redundant. The Dutchman pulled Manchester United out of the mire several times during their typical early season sluggishness and, now that the team is coming together they look deadly, with their new finisher in sparkling form. The Rooney-RVP axis will only improve and this team is now a serious contender at home and in Europe.
West Ham may well be the only survivor of the promoted sides
Reading score goals but also concede too many, Southampton are entertaining but presently look a little naive for the top flight. This leaves West Ham as the only promoted side that currently looks equipped to stay up. The loan signing of Andy Carroll was a massive coup and, although he was quiet against Manchester City, he will be vital for West Ham this season. Sam Allardyce has down a typically good job and West Ham have the hunger, skill and solidity to avoid the drop with points to spare.
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