The Premier League came and went over the weekend and served up some interesting results. London was a mixed bag after Arsenal won impressively, Tottenham battled to a draw and Chelsea lost surprisingly while away in Manchester, things were not as bittersweet.
Both Manchester clubs won, City running riot with a cricket score at home while United got the job done at Fulham. Here are a few things we learned from this weekend’s matches:
1. Chelsea need to do something about their forwards
‘The misfiring strikers of the Bridge’ was the theme at the end of their match against Newcastle at the Sports Direct Arena. The Blues ended the match without scoring
a goal for the second time in the league after the defeat at Everton in September and then, like on Saturday, when their midfield failed to bail the team out, Chelsea lost.
There had been much talk about the revival of one Fernando Torres after his more lively displays against Tottenham, Schalke and more-so Manchester City. The Spaniard was finally beginning to show the form that prompted Abramovich to pull out his chequebook and splash an eye-watering 50 million for him. ‘Atlast’, Chelsea fans quipped, Jose had worked his magic, at-least we thought. Against the Toon though, Fernando was the same old ‘La Nina´ that Stamford Bridge has become accustomed to. He was nowhere to be seen.
Chelsea laboured to create openings against a stubborn, well organised and determined Newcastle side roared on by their vociferous home support. They were blunt, flat and unimaginative especially in the first period. Fernando Torres did not help matters either. He was anonymous for almost the entire time he was on the field of play. Mata, Hazard and Oscar tried hard to find him but it was almost like he did not want to be found. The introduction
of Eto’o and Willian helped matters as the two had late opportunities when Chelsea finally came alive after conceding the opening goal. However, it was a case of too little too late for the Blues. It’s clear as crystal why Jose wanted Rooney at the club. On Saturday’s evidence, he would have been more effective than both Torres and Eto’o put together.
2. Arsenal are more than Ozil
Yes he is being credited with the current resurgence in north London (the red half at least), and deservedly so. The German has brought renewed optimism and belief at the club and his displays have been nothing but what everyone expected from the enigmatic number 11. However, against Liverpool, his supporting cast stood up and was counted.
Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Aaron ‘rambo’ Ramsey and Santi Cazorla were absolutely fantastic against Liverpool. They made Ozil look regular, like a squad player, much like what he normally does to his teammates wherever he has played. They almost took it upon themselves to prove a point to him that he does not have to feel over depended on. Cazorla and Ramsey were particularly eye-catching, the Spaniard grabbing the all important opening goal after a late surge into the box. It’s almost like he felt his position at the club was under threat after the arrival of the German and had to remind everyone exactly what he was all about.
Ramsey continued his red-hot streak in front of goal after scoring another sumptuous goal. He now has ten goals in all competitions and looks likely to surpass former teammate Cesc Fabregas’ tally of 15 goals at the club. Arsenal look more and more like championship material and it is not all down to the 42 million man. With the likes of Walcott, Podolski and Chamberlain
still to return, the German may well be another shiny cog in a gleaming machine.
3. Liverpool are short of quality in midfield
Brendan Rodgers recruited measurably well in the summer, especially defensively but still lacks standout quality in the middle of the park. Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho and Moses are the only quality players they have in that department and that fallibility was cruelly exposed against Arsenal. Gerrard is a hard-worker but does not possess the legs to carry him into
perfect tackles and make lung-busting runs fro deep anymore. Lucas is a willing tackler but is often too slow to read a pass of reach a player, Coutinho and Moses would have offered much more going forward than Flanagan and Cissokho but for some reason were not started.
Brendan Rodgers retaliated to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments in his autobiography by saying if his team needs eight world-class players to win the league then United need ten. Well, United are the defending champions and Liverpool are still yet to win a Premier League. I digress.
4. Januzaj should play more games and Fellaini is still not doing enough
The Belgian who joined United on deadline day for quite a sum has still struggled to impress. Fellaini was ideally brought in to add guile and grit to United’s boiler room but has so far been flat whenever he has been afforded minutes. Fellaini seems overawed by the step up to a much bigger club and has been disappointing. He looks outof place, slow and a step behind everyone else in the middle. He probably needs a bit more time to get to grips with his new teammates but until then, the big Belgian looks like a £27 million square peg in a round hole.
Adnan Januzaj on the other hand looks like he has always been part and parcel of United’s first team. The 18-year-old has been brilliant even from pre-season and has cemented a place in the team ahead of the likes of Kagawa and Young. His two goals and one assist in four games is a pretty decent return for an 18 year old looking to establish himself at the club. It seems like opponents have taken note of the kid going by Sam Riether’s criminal stamping of Januzaj’s left ankle near the corner flag, an act that should, by all accounts, be punished retrospectively by the FA. Adnan, the world is your oyster.
5. Manchester City’s attack still looks most fearsome when in full flow
Despite all the talk about the ‘SAS’ and the ‘double R’ of Rooney and Robin van Persie strike partnerships, Manchester City have shown to bear arguably the deadliest attack when in full flow. Their 7-0 drubbing of Norwich was a masterclass in forward play, finishing and ruthlessness. The City quartet of Silva, Aguero, Yaya and Negredo is good enough to match any other in world football and The Canaries can attest to that. Granted, the opposition was
not of the highest quality and Norwich have been on the receiving end of four score drubbings at Arsenal and United, but the sheer quality of play when City went forward was glorious.
This came from a team that had just played 120 minutes at a difficult stadium in mid-week. The sky blues have impressed on occasion- the opening day win over Newcastle, and their derby demolition of United immediately come to mind- but the annihilation of Norwich tops them all. They may not have a dynamic duo, yet, but collectively, they pack a serious punch.
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