Weekend review: Eriksen & Ozil impress

Christian Eriksen and Mesut Özil's impressive debuts, Juan Mata, and the uninspiring Manchester duo feature in our review of the weekend.

Last Updated: 17/09/13 at 18:17 Post Comment

Christian Eriksen: An instant hit on his Tottenham debut

Christian Eriksen: An instant hit on his Tottenham debut

The perfect match?

After three matches without scoring from open play, the big question for Tottenham was whether Christian Eriksen could provide the subtlety they need in the final third against Norwich.

The answer was a resounding 'yes' as the 21-year-old set up Gylfi Sigurdsson to open the scoring with a perfectly weighted pass and then played a key role in the Icelander's second.

Although he's not yet in Özil's league, Eriksen contributed 44 assists in 113 Eredivisie games for Ajax and created an astonishing 138 chances last season - the highest of any player in the league.

There is plenty of cause for optimism at Spurs despite Norwich's poor showing, and with the Gareth Bale sideshow now over, Andre Villas-Boas can focus on combining impressive performances with an already healthy-looking set of results. Matt Stanger

Appreciating Özil

One cannot draw conclusions from one game, but if Mesut Özil continues in this vein, the impact he could have on the Arsenal side is profound.

He appeared to free up the rest of his team-mates from the state of almost perpetual frustration in which they often find themselves, making them a quicker and more decisive unit.

Özil's probing meant Arsenal should really have been out of sight by the break, creating three clear chances, all in the opening 45 minutes, enjoying a remarkable 73% possession.

One suspects that at some point the German will get bored of artfully presenting Theo Walcott with free runs on goal, only for him to thunk the ball straight into the goalkeeper's midriff.

Özil faded in the second half, but given he probably shouldn't have played due to spot of flu, that is hardly a surprise. Just imagine what he'll be like when he isn't stuffed full of Sudafed. Nick Miller

Number's up?

It still seems that Jose Mourinho isn't convinced that Juan Mata is suited to his preferred counter-attacking system but the playmaker's withdrawal after 57 minutes in Saturday's defeat to Everton coincided with a comparatively subdued final half-hour for Chelsea.

During his time on the pitch, Mata played more accurate crosses than any other player, completed more dribbles than any other Chelsea player, and only Ramires made more key passes for the Blues. His substitution was clearly based on tactical reasoning rather than any evident lack of contribution to a profligate team performance.

In some ways Mata's predicament raises questions about Mourinho's management style.

Although he's obviously one of the best coaches in recent years, the Portuguese can appear to manage by franchise. He turns up at a new club and shapes the team in the Mourinho brand rather than allow the players he has available to significantly influence his methods.

Individuals either adapt - Wesley Sneijder at Inter being a key example - or they risk accepting a peripheral role - a situation that is certainly muddling when it means last season's club Player of the Season is immediately placed in a position of uncertainty. MS

Champions uninspiring

A first win in three matches but a third game in which United failed to score from open play. You would expect the champions to be far more incisive against the 10-man relegation favourites.

Wayne Rooney impressed on his return and his continued importance to the team is underlined by the Opta stat that the striker has scored or assisted 40 goals in his last 44 Premier League appearances.

At the start of the summer, United had the opportunity to replace their wantaway forward, but now they are left to rely on his impact as the midfield and wingers look increasingly ordinary.

That debutant Adnan Januzaj played more key passes in his 23 minutes on the pitch than Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia reinforces the belief that the starting duo are some way below the standard required. The same is true of Anderson, of course, who was indulged by Sir Alex Ferguson to the point of obese embarrassment. MS

Runners-up uninspiring

We were promised so much, but Manchester City are yet to deliver on Manuel Pellegrini's pre-season pledge to play attractive football in the opponent's half. The Citizens strived to take the initiative against Stoke, but hit the target with only three of their 10 attempts.

In truth, City's starting XI never looked convincing. A centre-back pairing of Matija Nastasic and Javi Garcia left much to be desired, while Jack Rodwell struggled to make the most of his first start alongside Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri and James Milner failed to offer cutting edge on the flanks.

The quick transitions on which Pellegrini intends to base his style - and that Fernandinho was signed for - failed to materialise as City toiled but looked nothing more than ordinary against a Stoke side for whom Jonathan Walters should have headed the winner.

Pellegrini hinted that his team selection may have had one eye on Tuesday's trip to Plzen where City must try to turn on the style after three laboured displays.

"(Stoke) is a difficult place to come and it was also difficult because we have a Champions League game on Tuesday and had an international week. So it is a good draw," said Pellegrini after the game.

The right result and right performance against Plzen would provide a timely boost ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby, and that fixture holds enormous significance for two managers who still need to prove themselves to expectant supporters. MS

Work in progress

The fledgling strike partnership between Southampton pair Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo is the proverbial work in progress.

Only twice did Lambert and Osvaldo exchange passes in the area in Sunday's goalless draw with West Ham.

The touch maps below demonstrate in terms of their movement and the spaces they occupy, both players appear to hold pretty similar ideas about dropping off the front. Being interchangeable is no bad thing, but unless you have quick transitions in the middle of the field it can leave sides flailing for a target to hit.

Link-ups between Osvaldo and Lambert, plus touch maps for both players (Osvaldo first)

Lambert was relatively quiet, save for hitting the post with a near-post header and a trademark effort in the second period where he opened up his body on the left flank to bend a right-footed shot that forced a solid stop from the outstanding Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Osvaldo, who scored 17 goals in 31 games for Roma last season, was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance in the first half when a lack of cuteness in his finish from Luke Shaw's pullback allowed Jaaskelainen to make a sprawling save. Of more concern to Mauro Pochettino though will be whether they are too similar to forge an effective partnership.

No substitute for experience

Gareth Barry on his Everton debut was a revelation. Despite having harboured reservations about a lack of football pre-match he lasted 90 minutes and barely put a foot wrong.

Composed and subtly inventive in possession, he persistently drove his new side forward, with his flailing block to prevent Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o from netting into an open goal in the first period typifying his overall performance.

Gareth Barry's pass and touch maps from the weekend defeat of Chelsea

After the game his manager spoke of how his new signing's performance was a 'master class' and how he is 'a perfect influence for Ross Barkley and James McCarthy'.

During his time at City, only Michael Carrick (8125) attempted more passes than Barry (7561) in the Premier League and while both are often accused of being too safe in their choices, Barkley will benefit from being in the company of a man who treats the ball so tenderly.

Around the hour mark, before he got a second wind for the final 15 minutes or so, Barkley lost the ball four times in succession. He'll learn, though, and only a true curmudgeon would begrudge Everton's new poster boy his moment in the sun. Read our full match analysis here Alex Dunn

In praise of Pardew

Back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since the start of February and for only the second time since April 2012. It has been a gruelling 12 months or so for Newcastle, but they deserved their 2-1 win over Aston Villa and have a chance to make it a hat-trick of victories on the spin when they host Hull City on Saturday.

The main advantage for Alan Pardew at the weekend was that he was finally able to stage a convincing return to the 4-3-3 formation that served the team so well in the second half of the 2011/12 campaign. With Loic Remy taking up Demba Ba's previous role on the left and Hatem Ben Arfa playing his way back into form on the right, Newcastle's attacking unit was more than capable of causing problems for Villa and they hit the target on eight occasions - the joint-highest total of the weekend.

Pardew's willingness to show more adventure is complemented by the stat that Newcastle have averaged the fewest number of long balls per game in the top flight this season.

The Magpies may still be some way from making a full recovery, but they should avoid the catastrophic campaign that was predicted after a chaotic summer. MS

Courtesy of Opta...

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys


was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Cup defeat shames Mourinho


reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Footer 365

Capital One Cup: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists Diego Costa does not deserve retrospective action after Emre Can stamp

Jose Mourinho thinks Chelsea's Diego Costa should be left alone to play football after a controversial outing on Tuesday.

Capital One Cup: Chelsea reach final as Branislav Ivanovic's goal sinks Liverpool

Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time goal gave Chelsea a 2-1 aggregate win over Liverpool and a place in the Capital One Cup final.

Three Bears consortium criticise Rangers board over Mike Ashley loan

The Three Bears consortium have criticised Rangers' decision to shun their offer in favour of Sports Direct's £10m loan.

Mail Box

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company