Six talking points from the weekend’s English Premier League action

The Doc Roar Pro

By The Doc, The Doc is a Roar Pro

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    It was a brilliant weekend of Premier League action, with great goals, red cards, late drama, and shambolic defending.

    Manchester United have made early claims on the title, Manchester City scrounged out three points in a dramatic finish, while Arsenal invited immense scrutiny as they put in an insipid performance at Anfield.

    Spurs’ Wembley woes continued and Chelsea proved their early doubters wrong with a dominant showing against a disappointing Everton.

    Here are some talking points from the weekend’s games.

    1. Manchester United look like the team to beat as Leicester’s setpiece woes continue
    These were the type of games United struggled to win last campaign.

    Leicester City were stubborn and well organised in defence and, while posing little threat of their own, as long as the scores were 0-0 they were always a chance. To then concede from a set piece will have disappointed Craig Shakespeare greatly.

    United went on and sealed a precious three points. They remain the only club with a perfect start to the season โ€“ some will point to the fact it has been a soft start, but you can only beat what is in front of you.

    2. The international break could not come sooner for Arsenal
    There are a number of teams on this list but Arsenal would be top after an insipid display in their 4-0 loss to Liverpool. That they happen to Arsenal on average once a season is beside the point.

    The heat will be on Arsene Wenger, but it is more important how you respond to defeats. The break could be a blessing or curse โ€“ ultimately, it will be defined by their next performance. Sometimes a game shortly after a big loss provides quick redemption, on other occasions it provides a chance to rest injured players, and work hard in training. Only time will tell…

    Crystal Palace deserve a mention here, as Frank de Boer endured a difficult start to his Premier League managerial career, with three consecutive defeats. There is enough talent in this team to do better. You have to feel for them though, a top-ten finish seemed a realistic goal under Sam Allardyce, but his off-season departure has left another club in the lurch.

    Hopefully Palace cope better than Sunderland did.

    3. Slaven Bilic under pressure as Hammers capitulate again
    I like Slaven Bilic’s refreshing weekly columns in the London commuter paper, but his record as West Ham manager is mixed.

    A mid-table finish papered over cracks last season but after spending big in the transfer window and with a relatively soft start, more would have been expected from the team.

    Blame of course does not lie solely with Bilic. Defensively they are a shambles, having let in ten goals this season. Much of this comes from losing possession in dangerous areas.

    The first two goals came off the back of turnovers in their deep in their own half. That said, Joe Hart made some vital interventions to keep the scoreline down.

    Winston Reid is a good defender and he is sorely missed but defence is a mentality and hard work with the right system can achieve great things. Perhaps Bilic needs to peel back the attacking flair and focus on defensive solidarity and minimsing errors in the wrong areas.

    4. Aussie watch: Another good week for Aaron Mooy and Mat Ryan
    Aaron Mooy was excellent again, playing an energetic 90 minutes in Huddersfield’s 0-0 draw with Southampton. After a difficult start, Mat Ryan kept his first clean sheet in the EPL and in the process helped earn Brighton their first point of the season.

    5. Burnley will cause headaches for a lot of teams
    A late Chris Wood goal helped Burnley share the spoils against Spurs, but to say the draw was due to Tottenham’s Wembley woes does a disservice to the away side. They were well organised, guarded the edge of the box well, forced Spurs to shift it from side to side, and blocked any long range shots. Burnley broke well and caused Spurs headaches on the counter.

    Spurs did dominate possession and had several good chances to seal the points, but Tom Heaton continued his brilliant form from last year.

    Spurs are slow starters and last year it ended up costing them the title. The ramifications of dropping early points may be similar again.

    6. Raheem Sterling’s send off was a disgrace
    In a pulsating encounter at Bournemouth, Manchester City came from behind to snatch three points with a 97th minute deflected strike from Raheem Sterling. Sterling proceeded to celebrate near the away fans, which resulted in several moronic fans jumping the barrier to enter the field of play, before security intervened.

    Sterling was subsequently shown a second yellow card for inciting crowd encroachment (at least that is what I believe it was for), leading to his dismissal.

    It is a ridiculous rule and common sense needs to prevail. I for one cannot understand why players get yellow carded for taking their shirt off, and this is an extension. If players cannot celebrate in front of or with their fans, then what has football come to?

    I am sure the security guards have a different view of this, but players want to celebrate with fans and I am yet to see an unsavoury incident as a result of this during my ten years or so following the Premier League.

    From a footballing persepctive, Sterling though has become something of a revelation. Last Monday night he posed a real threat against Everton and on he Saturday scored the match winner.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • August 30th 2017 @ 11:01am
      R King said | August 30th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

      While I’ll agree with you that Man U have had the best start they could of possibly hoped for, it is [in my mind] too early to label them as clear favourites. Jose has them running smoothly but at this stage there is no ‘real’ pressure on them. Lets what for a month or so, when Chelsea, City and maybe Liverpool are also winning regularly, lets wait until they drop unexpected points and external pressure is applied. lets see how they go once they start doubling up on games. 3 games into the season isn’t a guideline on how a season will pan out, just like I expect Huddlesfield to fall away sooner than later, but then again is it too much to hope for another Leicester type season?

      • August 30th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Albo said | August 30th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        I think the good thing from a ManU perspective is that they have convincingly beat teams they dropped points against last season that ruined any chance of a title shot. If you win all the games you are supposed to win you are well in line for a serious shot at the title. But with a team like Man U in Europe , and FA & League Cup competitions they could again be looking at 60 + games this season to avoid injury & juggle players about, to remain on track for the title in May next year. They have a deep squad on paper, but a few injuries can throw all that into chaos. Lets see how things are going around Christmas time ?

      • Roar Pro

        August 30th 2017 @ 7:14pm
        The Doc said | August 30th 2017 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

        Thanks for comment R King. Completely agree. Too early but too tell in what is a long and arduous season. Injuries would be the main factor as they have lots of depth in all positions.

    • August 30th 2017 @ 11:29am
      Gavin R said | August 30th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Its early days but I’d still have Man City as slight favourites, but i think Manchester will sit 1 and 2 at the end of it all. I dont see Chelsea really staying competitive throughout the year with their thin squad, same with spurs and arsenal are just a mess. Liverpool could do well depending how the Courinho saga plays out.

      Loving watching Mooy play but I’d prefer he was this dominating for the green and gold! Great to see him score a cracking goal.

      • Roar Pro

        August 30th 2017 @ 7:17pm
        The Doc said | August 30th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

        Thanks for the comment Gavin R. Agree that it will be a macnhester 1-2 but of course a long way to go. Disagree with chelsea. I think they will push on – bakayoko looks a good signing. Hazard still to come back. Morata is brilliant and the bat can hopefuly provide able back up. I think they have enough depth (just) to fly the flag on 2 fronts (EPL and UCL). yes – loving wathcing Mooy play at huddersfield. Hopefully he can bring that on Thursday night

    • August 30th 2017 @ 11:50am
      Lachie Abbott said | August 30th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      God Tottenham are frustrating. As a fan, I personally hope we gain Wembley experience and win a cup and get Top 4. Currently, I feel our ball movement is a little tentative. It seemed that way at the start of last season also. I still have hope we can turn it around but Wood’s goal hurt a lot. Last week we can understand losing to Chelsea, however, the Wembley curse can be made to seem real if we drop points against Burnley. Personally, I’ve always wanted a bit more pace and athleticism in our side that is not Sissoko. Son is good, but I wish our previous pursuit of Wilfred Zaha had come off. His raw pace and trickery in the wide open spaces of Wembley could really help, especially his one on one ability against more isolated defenders in those open zones.

      • Roar Pro

        August 30th 2017 @ 7:23pm
        The Doc said | August 30th 2017 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

        Thanks for the comment Lachie. I feel your pain my friend. Top 4 + 1 trophy would be a fantastic season.
        I still think we will be ok. They dominated Burnley and did create enough chances in the end to win. It is often the ability to scrounge out points in tough games that makes or breaks a season. I think we have come up against 2 very well organised defensive sides in chelsea and Burnley. Still undecided on sissoko – clearly a terrible panic purchase (buying players off the back of a international championship is always fraught with danger) but now that we have him lets give him a bit of a go in his preferred position – attacking mid/right wing. Love Son and he has been excellent but yes we Could use a real flyer – Rose coming back will help as Davies is a bit tentative and the formation relies on overlapping FB to provide the width. not sure about shelling about the bucks of Zaha

        • August 30th 2017 @ 9:39pm
          Lachie Abbott said | August 30th 2017 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

          Yeah Rose’s inclusion is a big help. Not a huge fan of Davies, although he can hold his own well, he doesn’t break lines and make plays like Rose, mainly because of Rose’s superior athleticism. I do rate Burnley’s structure, however a bit more direct passing could’ve helped. Dembele did this beautifully against Newcastle in the built up of Davies’s goal. However, guys like Wanyama, Trippier, Dier and Davies are very hesitant to make any sort of risky pass, and just pass backwards or sideways. Lamela would add some nice fight out wide if he ever gets healthy.

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