Premier League Review so far
Brought to you by our Guest writer – Sean Canning
For football it’s time to get rid of those post World Cup hangovers as the new Premier League season kicked into life over the past fortnight. This season promises to be as exciting as ever as the peerless Man City look to defend their crown. Can big-spending Liverpool push them to the line? Will Spurs ever finish that new stadium? And will Jose Mourinho ever stop resembling that grumpy old man that sits in the pub giving out about everything? These are all questions that will be answered come next May, so let’s take a look at what we learned from the first few games.
City slickers continue from where they left off
Although Pep Guardiola opted not to go down the same route as his big spending rivals over the summer, only adding Riyad Mahrez to his already talented squad, Man City still looked mightily impressive in their first two games. The Citizens dismantled a new look Arsenal in their first game without seemingly getting out of second gear and their 6-1 drubbing of Huddersfield last weekend was even more impressive. Sergio Aguero was back to his brilliant best and David Silva was mercurial as he pulled the strings in midfield as well as helping himself to a wonderful goal from a set piece. The one black cloud hanging over the Etihad last week was news of Kevin De Bruyne’s knee injury which may keep him out for three months. City have a huge depth of talent to pick from but most would agree the Belgian is irreplaceable, how the champions deal with his absence remains to be seen although on Sunday’s evidence they have plenty of options.
Arsenal still lack steel
New boss Unai Emery will have realised how big the task at hand is as Arsenal began life post-Wenger with a lacklustre display against City followed by a narrow 3-2 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday. Arsenal have shown plenty of promise going forward in their opening fixtures and but for wasteful finishing from Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, they might have left Stamford Bridge with something at the weekend. However, the Gunners’ defensive frailties were once again exposed as Chelsea carved open their rearguard on several occasions with the ever willing Pedro and Alonso finding themselves in acres of space due to Arsenal opting to play with such a high defensive line. If Arsenal have any designs on breaking back into the top four this season their new supremo will have to address the much maligned soft underbelly that seems to still be lingering from the previous regime.
New look Liverpool can win ugly
Liverpool were extremely impressive in their 4-0 demolition of a hapless West Ham on the opening day and they followed this up with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Palace last Monday night. In contrast to Arsenal, there seems to be a new steeliness to this Liverpool side and their victory at a lively Palace shows a new-found ability to grind out wins when not at their best. New goalkeeper Allison gives them some much needed stability in goal and this complimented by Virgil Van Dijk’s leadership qualities at centre half which have made him arguably Klopp’s most important signing to date. Another new face, Naby Keïta, has also shone with energetic performances and the former Shakhtar Donetsk player looks to have added some flair to the Reds’ engine room. On the evidence of their opening fixtures Jurgen Klopp’s side have definitely improved from last year and may just be the best of the bunch when it comes to challenging city for their Premier League crown.
New players, new problems
In an increasingly cut-throat league some of the so-called “smaller” teams opted to spend big in the summer transfer window with the likes of Fulham and West Ham both spending in excess of £100m as they looked to copper fasten their place in the top flight. Unfortunately, both sides have found out that new signings take time to settle and find themselves pointless after their first two games. Fulham showed some promise against Spurs at the weekend drawing level through Mitrovic but a tactical switch from Mauricio Pochettino saw his team run out 3-1 winners. West Ham’s new signings have thus far failed to impress as the Hammers went down 2-1 at home to Bournemouth and new boss Pellegrini will be left scratching his head at how his side managed to throw away a lead when in a seemingly comfortable position. Both Pellegrini and his counterpart Jokanovic stressed the need for time as their new players bed in but time is a precious commodity in the Premier League and their teams need to pick up points sooner rather than later.
Jose needs to unite his defence
It has been a dismal start to the season for Man United with Jose Mourinho constantly bemoaning the lack of new signings and rumours of a rift between him and Paul Pogba refuse to go away after a hapless display against Brighton at the weekend. Pogba was quick to apologise for his own performance afterwards but also hinted at a few of his team-mates being below-par in his post match interviews. Mourinho’s biggest problem seems to be in central defence as both Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelöf struggled to get to grips with a hard-working Brighton front two led by the veteran Glenn Murray. The United boss has yet to settle on a tried and tested centre half pairing with United fans hoping that his pursuit of Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld would help solve the problem. Unfortunately, the sides were unable to agree a transfer fee with the Belgian staying put and starring in an assured display against Fulham at the weekend. United are now left in the awkward position of facing a revitalised Alderweireld line out against them next Monday night as Spurs look to continue their bright start to the season, another defeat could see Mourinho come under increasing pressure with a certain former Real Madrid boss lurking in the wings.
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