MICHAEL CHAPMAN CONTINUES HIS WEEKLY REVIEW OF THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE.
A commonly heard moan nowadays is that of the football fan struggling through a week without club football. That lonely ache they feel during the early qualifying round of an international tournament surely stems partially because they know their country simply will not win. Those cries of longing strewn across the internet(s) by supporters of club over country. Well, this is the type of weekend, and week following, for which they salivate. A return to three days of furious league play which leads into the most glorious of all club football tournaments, which then is followed by another two to three days of impassioned league play.
The weekend started off with a battle between the contender, Manchester City and the pretender, Tottenham Hotspur. The Sky Blues definitely exposed some of Spurs’ weaknesses, included amongst those is lacking a striker with ice water running within his veins. Roberto Soldado continues to look like one of the biggest bombs the Premier League has seen for some time. The polar opposite appears on the guise of one Sergio ‘Kün’ Aguero, arguably a bargain considering what he has brought to Manchester City. Since joining in 2011 the Argentine has scored 61 goals in 79 league matches, including 9 in 8 so far this season. It was as if the match reflected the players differences as it ended City 4-1 Spurs. Aguero with 4 goals and a missed penalty or it would have been FIVE! Meanwhile Soldado did assist on Christian Eriksen’s goal, but he also failed to convert on a penalty, a sad reflection of his time so far with London club.
Manchester City have scored at least 2 goals in 14 of their last 16 league matches
Southampton’s Dusan Tadic had 2 shots on target, 7 key passes, 1 goal and 4 assists.
Saturday also saw a drubbing of historic proportions as Southampton walloped Sunderland 8-0 in the eighth league match of the season for both clubs. There is certainly a hint of the Eredivisie with the Saints this season as both Dusan Tadic (1g 7a) and Graziano Pellé (6g 1a) have been involved in much of the clubs 19 goals. Equally important, or maybe more so since half of their total scored came in this match, is the lack of goals conceded, only 5 in 8 matches. Sunderland were wretched in the first half by committing an own goal 12 minutes in, and then conceding 2 more by the 37th minute. Yet it got even worse for the club from the Northeast as they conceded another own goal in the 63rd minute! The absurdity wasn’t over though, as they continued to capitulate, and 4 more goals found their way past Vito Mannone.
Liverpool‘s Raheem Sterling has made the most key passes from open play in the league this season with 19
Have Manchester United turned the corner? A comeback draw of 2-2 with West Brom seems to have many thinking so. But I am hesitant to agree, as the Red Devils forced 22 shots, 7 on target and scored 2 goals they allowed 2 goals on only 2 shots on target by West Brom. United certainly dominated possession with 63% but it was only one player for Manchester Red that dominated, and his name is Daley Blind. The former Ajax man had 5 shots, 1 on target, 3 key passes, 93% pass accuracy and of corse the goal that drew them level. Defensively he totaled 4 tackles won, 2 interceptions, 3 clearances and 2 blocked shots. A human dynamo and handsome to boot, Blind was the best player on the pitch for either club.
At the end of the weekend Chelsea still stand atop the league ladder with 22 points, Manchester City a bit behind with 17, and surprising Southampton are in third only one point behind the defending champs. Yes, agreed it is early days but arguably an even bigger surprise then that is the club sitting in 4th place in the league, West Ham!?!