Thank you for your mails, as ever. Send thoughts to email@example.com
Manchester United conclusions
1. What a strike from Valencia! When I see a goal like that I wonder how much the player actually meant what happened – oftentimes I feel like they’re probably hit and hope – but I think that went exactly as he intended it to, which makes it all the more ridiculous.
2. It was a great start, but then the next hour or so was pretty painful. My prevailing thought was “I’m glad we’ve already scored” because we weren’t nearly clinical enough and could have been punished on a couple of occasions. For all his (deserved) recent plaudits, Fellaini just doesn’t offer anything like the same overall quality that Pogba does. He definitely has a role in this team and I have no issue with him starting games in Pogba’s absence, but I think we are really going to miss Pogba’s energy, drive and creativity in midfield for the next (up to) 12 weeks; I worry about starting games against Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and City with that same midfield three.
3. Overall, I thought the scoreline rather flattered us – that wasn’t really a 4-0 worthy performance, and it was only really allowed to happen because of Everton’s profligacy. Replacing Lukaku was always going to be a tough ask but trying to do so with a striker who rarely scores, an (albeit promising) academy product and a couple of young players from the continent was a risky move. They were never going to get a like-for-like replacement, but surely they should have been aiming for better than what they actually got.
4. Once again, whichever of Rashford and Martial doesn’t start scores. I’m not sure they’ll both be kept happy in the long-term by this rotation policy, but it’s certainly proving effective at the moment.
5. That is exactly the sort of use for which Jesse Lingard is suited. As soon as he came on, his extra defensive work lowered the threat posed down our left side, and we looked much more solid at the back. He could have had a goal himself, but his finishing for the easier chances leaves something to be desired – he only seems capable of scoring the more extravagant goals and fluffs his lines on a standard shot from inside the box. No penalty was the right call for that incident.
6. Speaking of which, the penalty that was given was rather harsh. I know Schneiderlin’s hand was out from his body in an unnatural position, but it didn’t look deliberate to me. I would have been quite irritated to see that given against us.
7. Back to our defence, it was slightly worrying to see the number of times that someone was having to make a saving tackle. Jones, though he has started the season well, seems to be slowly regressing back to his old self – getting caught out of position and having to do a lot of recovering from mistakes. Maybe it’s just a blip after the international break, but between him and Bailly, there is definitely some room for improvement.
8. Left-back is also starting to become a bit of a worry. This season we have used Blind, Darmian and Young in that position, while the only other changes to the defence have been in the Champions League and were forced because of suspensions. I know Shaw is coming back from injury, but he’s hardly been a regular under Mourinho even when fit. One way or another, I think that is the next position that needs work in the transfer market – unless Shaw can miraculously turn it around and make that position his own.
9. I loved Lukaku’s celebration after scoring, and the Everton fans had it coming; if you dish it out to an ex-player for pretty much the full 90 minutes then you’ve got to take your lumps when he scores. Though there were a couple of things of concern around his performance: in the second half his movement seemed to drop off a bit, and he does regularly need a couple of good chances to score. It wasn’t a bad performance per se, and those concerns are definitely something that can be worked and improved upon, but I wonder if he would have got the full 90 minutes if Zlatan had been on the bench.
10. That kind of game also proves why De Gea is the best in the world. It’s games where you’re not constantly being worked, where you need to keep your concentration levels high, when the real quality ‘keepers prove their mettle.
All in all, that went pretty much as well as could be hoped. We have kept pace with City in every sense at the top, and have come through the first five games about as well as could be expected. There are much harder games to come, but building momentum and scoring plenty should help put us in a better place to face those teams.
We won 4-0 and we were sh*t…
Another great win for Utd but the scoreline did flatter us somewhat. Everton could have easily made it 1-1 before the 80th minute which would have left for a nervy final 10 minutes to push for a winner (which both sides probably would have done).
In all honesty, I think that is the worst Utd have played this season with a lot of hesitation on the ball and not enough movement off it. The defence seems pretty solid, midfield is solid defensively, they have options up front, I think they just need a bit more time to settle into a more cohesive and creative midfield attacking force with players able to interchange positions more without the team losing its shape rather than like for like replacements. I’d love to see Matic, Mata and Herrera in the midfield three before Pogba returns as I think the two Spaniards would link up well and create chances.
As for Everton… Maybe they didn’t deserve to lose 4-0 but with the money spent and considering they have been around the top four for many years I felt they were very poor. Ronald should be worried for his job if they don’t start picking up points after their tough start to the season – I’ll leave the Evertonians to expand further on their thoughts of their team so far this season as I haven’t watched their other matches. I think Rooney will help the team as he has done so far and good luck to him…Legend!
Jon, Joburg (Man Utd)
United’s squad is soooo much stronger
In a game where United were excruciatingly average for long periods of the game, we somehow managed to walk away with a 4-0 victory. At the risk of sounding like every other United supporter; that would not have happened last year.
With Pogba out, and Herrera left on the bench regretting the time he invited a friend to United’s training ground (??) I expected Mata, Mkhitaryan and Rashford to take that extra step up and create various chances throughout the game but pretty much all of them were left frustrated and not near their best (more so Rashford than the others.) For all of Mkhitaryan’s inventiveness, he does seem to lose the ball a lot more than he should, but with that goal he continues his magnificent start to the season stat wise and should end this season with double figures for both goals and assists.
When Rashford seems below par, Martial steps up, and vice versa. We have two excellent young forwards in our squad, and for now rotating them seems to be working perfectly. Despite only signing three players, United’s squad seems significantly stronger than last season. The fact that Zlatan is almost certainly going to be on the bench when he comes back speaks volumes about Lukaku’s performances thus far.
As for Everton, I think they will come right, but in a league filled with knee jerk reactions and an often media induced panic, Koeman might have to start fearing for his job.
Gaaavie, Cape Town
Arsenal: Better without Ozil
Can I just be the first person (hopefully) to say, how much more balanced Arsenal looked yesterday without Ozil.
I know he puts in the miles and I’m not questioning his attitude but there’s just too many occasions when he’s not putting on pressure off the ball. Maybe we missed him in terms of creativity yesterday but I know that Xhaka and Ramsey would have been under a lot more pressure if Iwobi wasn’t on the pitch.
What I’m saying is, I’ll gladly take a 0-0 instead of a 2-1 loss in yesterday’s game and if that means Ozil is not in our starting 11 in tight games, so be it.
Ankur Ghosh, Mumbai
…I wont dare to claim that I know better but boy that was our performance in ages (it should change the fact that we have regressed and change is still needed).
My point is that, today without Ozil the teaam looked well balanced and we created few good chances without our so called chief creator. I do hope that we get to see this team again with him but with Sanchez, as much as he wont sign the extension, he look now, as the disappointment has sinked in. The other option with Ozil is to play him in this other match but not against the top six and allow him to do well as he always does but against big boys he must just be on the bench or not make a team at all.
Well, Lacazzette, is just a shorter version of Giroud but a better finish I suppose but he is lazy as Giroud, I would play Giroud to hold up the ball and play Lacazette of him. with two chances we had first half, am sure Grioud would have taken at lEAst one.
Our captain was boss today and mustafi did so well…i can only hope this continue.
Lwazi (Kolasinac is Boss and has a sweet left foot) Cape Town
…I know it was only Chelsea, but today’s game felt like a real step forward for Arsene and the team. There was a clear focus on a solid central midfield that gave us a platform to create chances further up the pitch. It seems like Wenger and Bould have finally put together a blueprint for our away days at the top six.
There’s a good player in Ramsey but at times he plays like a child; charging forward with or without the ball. Today he really took on the responsibility that comes with a central role. Alongside Xhaka we saw a glimpse into a fully operational, mature midfield unit. Those two have played mostly as individuals this season but today they adjusted their game to complement each other. It benefitted the team immensely.
Ahead of them Iwobi worked really hard, didn’t do much with the ball but his discipline, positioning and tracking back meant Bellerin was able to dominate that flank. (As a side note I was loving the rivalry between him and Alonso).
There just weren’t any passengers in red today and there’s an argument that Ozil’s injury helped us to achieve that. Everyone worked their socks off and you could see how much they wanted a result by the flurry of cynical fouls to break up Chelsea counters in the closing stages.
This side will always create chances. Having that solid defensive focus coursing through the side gives us a platform to win these types of games . We never lost our heads in the way we normally do, seemed to have a 90-minute perspective of the game and, on the balance of chances, another day we would have won.
Liam Gabriel Hoskins (proud of the team) AFC
Arsenal should have gone for the throat
Chelsea were far from their best and the Pedro chance early on aside, failed to ever threaten in a meaningful way. We had several decent chances that, had they fallen to different players, would have easily seen the net bulge.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the game was Wenger’s changes. You’d think that he could smell blood at half time, and I was expecting Sanchez to make an appearance sooner rather than later, at the expense of Iwobi. Bringing him on for Lacazette was again a strange decision in my eyes and a sign again of an inferiority complex and that he does not see them fitting in the same team – something that all Arsenal fans were hoping for when he signed. Him and Kolasinac have undoubtedly been our best players in the games they’ve played and the Liverpool debacle could’ve been avoided if they had started. The other change eventually replacing Iwobi with Elneny was as depressing as it was telling of his attitude. Elneny, a good but limited player brought on to see out the game, when he had the likes of Theo on the bench was a real sign of the gulf. If the negative move had not been made, and the team stayed as it was with the enthusiastic and energetic Iwobi and Welbeck on the wings, after the sending off, an attacking change could’ve made all the difference.
In truth, all the positive interviews and Instagrams tell enough of a 0-0 against a rival that we are far away from where we need to be. You can’t imagine City coming to the Emirates and beaming the way Rambo and Mustafi have been about a similar result.
PS. Also I expect similar notes – but Ozil is one of my favourite players, and is undeniably top, top quality – he is however a luxury. I have finally acknowledged that however he will flourish in a Germany, Madrid, Bayern, City side who dominate teams, he is a different type of player to what Arsenal need now.
Conte got this so very wrong
Sometimes it’s hard being a Chelsea supporter.
Over the years we have developed a hoodoo over Arsenal, they would turn up and turn tail , we expected to beat them and beat them soundly.
However, that was before Conte was installed in the hot seat, and since he joined the club and previous to yesterday’s game we have played them four times not including pre-season friendlies
And lost three of the four, the first time they destroyed ‘old’ Chelsea causing Conte to go back to the drawing board and change the way we play, then we beat them before they won the FA Cup final and the Community shield.
To put things simply, Conte thinks Arsenal are a better side than they are and afforded them way, way, way too much respect in Sunday’s game.
He should have started with Hazard and Bakayoko, both contributing more than the players they replaced in the time they were on the pitch, every Chelsea supporter I know was stunned to see Fabregas teamed with Kante in midfiel. A combination that has never worked previously and will never work.
Plus the slow but clever Alonso paired with the slow but dim Cahill, especially when this particular delicious pairing was topped with Pedro who played as wide as you’d expect Gerd Muller to and still managed to offer nothing in the way of support to Morata who couldn’t have been more isolated if he’d have turned up for work at the Emirates instead of Stamford Bridge.
Conte doesn’t get much wrong but in securing a 0-0 result against a dreadful Arsenal side this one is definitely on him.
Keeping Hazard fresh for Stoke indeed. Pfft.
It was football with the handbrake on…
3-4-3 vs 3-4-3 where the spare man is always behind you and the only space is behind the opposition full backs. Not exactly a recipe for joyous football.
I’m not sure what the distribution stats were like in the Chelsea/Arsenal game, but they can’t have been good.
Watching David Luiz (or god forbid Gary Cahill) stand with their foot on the ball for five seconds looking for a pass before lumping it long is something I’d rather avoid.
Even the designated distributor for Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas, seemed to have acquired a concrete foot for most of the game, as he was pressed out of existence.
It was only in the last 20 mins when the structures broke down and the A team came on that the football improved. Cesc found his rhythm, and the Arsenal one-touch stuff started to work a bit higher up the pitch, albeit without Ozil’s scapel to make it really work.
And in what world does a Sanchez for Lacazette substitution make any sense if Arsenal want to win?
Football with the handbrake on…not a huge fan.
Well done Rafa
Can I just make a special mention for how good of a job Rafa Benitez and his staff are carrying out at my beloved Newcastle Utd.
All ever read or hear before each game is some ex-player or tipster giving out the same old cliches these pundits have decided to come up with, about how Newcastle will likely lose as they are a Championship team, transfer window was terrible etc etc etc.
Do we have Championship players in our squad? Yes. Is that because we were in the Championship last season? Yes. Did we have the best Championship squad there has ever been? Yes.
Nufc were clearly a Premier League team playing in the wrong league last year. We didn’t even have a great season and still won the thing. We haven’t added many this season but we have still added. More importantly we still have Rafa.
Rafa has this team so well organised and working so hard all over the pitch it is a joy to be hold. This is the best start to a season since 2011 where we unexpectedly finished 5th. With PardewIi might add.
Now I’m not gonna a claim we will do the same this season as the top six is very strong but if you have done any research or analysis into the season thus far, no one can tell me Newcastle look anywhere near a relegation bound team.
We may have some Championship players in our team but so do Bournemouth, Burnley, Brighton, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Swansea to name a few. So get over it.
Well done Rafa. 4th in the league and have Brighton away next…let’s consolidate those Champions League spots. ; D
The Ginger Pirlo
Ten Premier League conlusions
Bournemouth vs Brighton
I like Friday/Monday games the concept will increase the EPL revenue and ensure we have more games to dissect. That said, that was a very crap first half, the worst shower of sh*te football on show since LVG. It’s a good sign that the managers lit up the players’ a**es for the second, which exploded after the first goal. Very exciting game in the second half, with Bournemouth realizing they needed to up the tempo after going down, and Jordon Ibe duly delivered. Jermain Defoe is the true definition of journeyman. 7 different clubs in his career, and not counting he has been to Bournemouth twice, Spurs thrice and Portsmouth twice. And he is still banging them in. Brighton really were poor and contributed a lot to that poor first-half display. Why play Bournemouth like you would play Man City, 11 players behind the ball against Bournemouth. That lack of ambition will surely come back to bite them.
Watford vs Man City
Sexy, sexy football on display from Pep’s boys. I have to say I never fell in love with tikitaka but Pep’s current rendition is absolutely amazing. I totally loved the composed and organized pressure they put on Watford, that led to turn over after turn over. This then led to chance after chance after close chance, exhilarating. Aguero is back. Well he never left but the back page rags would have us believe that Aguero was up for sale and surplus to requirements. The whole team was absolutely brilliant and dangerous going forward. The defense however, still looks shaky but if Pep can keep 13 out of 19 PL teams from exposing the defensive weaknesses, Pep has a real chance of winning the whole thing. Watford have nothing to be ashamed of, they simply faced a far superior opponent. Watford should however work on minimizing the damage, when its 3-0 at half time, just take the L and close shop.
Huddlesfield vs Leicester
Huddlesfield took the lead and looked the more dangerous side in the game. A Penalty for Leicester does not mask the fact that for the first time this season, I think they looked remarkably poor. After facing the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd, Leicester need to be winning games like these. They need to start putting the minnows away and struggle with the top 6, in order to maintain their top 10 credentials. Based on the chances created, Huddlesfield should feel aggrieved that they only got a point at home, encouraging performance none the less. I have high hopes for Leicester, but this performance is damning.
Man Utd vs Everton
The game had started off nicely, Rooney receiving all the love he deserves (I think he gets too much loving, from too many sources TBH). I was just settling in after the CHEARS game, I, however had a Guinness on hand, and was waiting to see the tactics each manager had employed. Valencia decided to knock me off my chair, which subsequently led to a spilled Guinness. That Matic sale will surely come back to bite someone in the ass, he was the best player out there, surrounded by some headless chickens. The game itself felt like a feisty Wayne Rooney testimonial, everybody wanted him to score but not while it was 1-0, after he left the field, the knives came out and Mikhitaryan, Lukaku and Martial killed it off. Speaking of United legends, the Rashford experiment has to come to an end at some point, he is nowhere near the quality of a top-six forward. Speed isn’t equal to skill, just ask Theo Walcott. Everton really deserved more from the game, the silly mistakes including taking off Gana was climinal. Koeman is a special manager,but just like LVG, he has a blind spot. This team is better than this and hopefully he will get it all together.
Liverpool vs Burnley
Midweek team watch, pretty sure the midweek game had a lot to do with how lethargic Liverpool looked, and they become the first team to succumb to an extra midweek fixture. It was a seesaw game that could have easily ended either way, with Liverpool players showing their lack of composure without Mane on the side. I do realize there is no harmony in heavy metal but the defending for the first goal gave credibility to the tin-foil wearing, Liverpool supports, who claim that the illuminati have infiltrated the Liverpool defense. That was both comical and abysmal. As for the attack, someone needs to tell Coutinho to stop all that shooting from far, he is not good at it. Even I would score occasionally if allowed to shoot 50 times in a game. However, Salah picked up the slack and levelled the game before it became a game of who can score the ugliest goal.
Newcastle vs Stoke
Two teams I feel are very evenly matched and the close score line may suggest just that. However, the game itself followed a very different path. Newcastle really should have had 3 or 4 in the game, they were very dominant against Stoke. The resilience and fight shown by Stoke last week was nowhere to be seen this week. It’s a bit odd to be getting pumped to play Man Utd and be lackadaisical against opponents you should be beating.
Tottenham vs Swansea
Tuned into this one soon after watching Liverpool struggle with Burnley and wanted to see how everybody’s “favorite” team would react after their European excursions. Well, they didn’t fare any better, in fact they were worse, atleast Liverpool scored. That 1st half was dour with little pockets of brilliance provided by the quality of Ericson, Kane and Alli. The second half started brilliantly only for Tottenham to run out of steam after the 60th minute. Add this to the list of Wembley disappointments and the evidence is mounting. This will soon become a psychological problem for the players if it hasn’t already. Swansea were well worth their point and showed lower teams how to stop Tottenham after a European game. I had the distinct feeling that the 2015 Swansea side would have wiped the floor with Tottenham today, but this version of Swansea is truly relegation fodder. Renato Sanchez made a very costly mistake by choosing Bayern, his talent seems to be going down the drain.
Chelsea vs Arsenal
There are 0-0, WBA vs WHU and there are goalless draws CHE vs ARS. That first half by Arsenal was remarkable considering I expected a beat down. They not only looked the better side, they really deserved to go in the break leading. They outfought Chelsea on multiple occasions and that mazy run by Ramsey should have ended up in the back of the net, very poor miss from Lacazette, who had a poor game to be honest, still love him though. The second half was pretty dramatic but had the same theme as the 1st , Arsenal were pretty dominant and created the better chances. An opportunity missed by Arsenal but a good showing all the same. Both teams played in Europe this week but one played on Tuesday the other on Thursday, the lack of sharpness from Chelsea is not a good sign.
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Palace managed to look even worse under their new manager. At least with De Boar, the ideas were there but the execution was lacking. Palace, don’t have a clue. They are relegation bound and this has a lot to do with upper management. Southampton are sitting pretty, upper mid table but the performances are no longer convincing. I expect a quick drop down the table as the season progresses, but kudos for scoring 1 goal against a team in crisis.
WBA vs WHU
Nothing to see here…
Dave (You think football officiating is bad, try boxing, Vegas lights robbery against Triple G), Somewhere
New Linear Premier League champions
It may get lost with all the Super Sunday feedback, but Bournemouth have become the new Linear 2017 Premier League Champions this weekend after beating Brighton (who beat West Brom, who beat Burnley, who beat Chelsea). Can they hold onto it when they travel to Everton this weekend?
Mark in Manchester