We are down to the final two for the A-League season 2021-22. reigning champions Melbourne City take on cross-town rivals Western United in Saturday…
The top of the table is heating up with Tottenham and Liverpool on the same points and the midtable is equally as congested. It feels like any team barring those at the bottom could win any given week. As we cross the quarter-mark of the season, here are the major takeaways from this weekend’s games.
The Callum Wilson show continues in Newcastle
The points keep coming for Newcastle as long as Callum Wilson is able to score or assist.
Wilson is their star player and any success will be generated from his play. He is talented in multiple facets of the game, whether it is in the air or his clinical finishing. Newcastle have received a massive return on investment signing the striker.
Another bright spot for Newcastle has been their goalkeeper. Although they have only kept two clean sheets in ten games, Karl Darlow leads the league with 44 saves.
Bruno Fernandes gets support in super-sub Edinson Cavani
Last week I mentioned that Manchester United need to provide help to Bruno Fernandes who was doing all the heavy lifting. After they were trailing 2-0, things needed to change quickly.
It wasn’t Anthony Martial or Mason Greenwood, or even Marcus Rashford that saved the day. It was Edinson Cavani off the bench who had an involvement in all three of United’s goals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have some interesting decisions to make. Martial has been poor in the league so far as he hasn’t contributed towards any goals. Cavani could be the man up front to help provide the spark United need to rally and make a surge towards the top of the table. With an extra game in hand, their victory against Southampton positions them nicely to challenge for a Champions League spot.
Nothing changes overall for United, however, as Bruno Fernandes will need consistent support if they are to continue getting results. Last weekend it was Cavani, and now the Red Devils need another player to step up against a red-hot West Ham.
Brighton are no easy opponents
Over the season, I’ve mentioned that Brighton have been very unfortunate and have played well against strong teams.
They have won two games, drawn four and lost four. Their four losses have come against Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton. You could argue that they were unlucky not to get some points against United and Tottenham and perhaps even defeat Liverpool on the weekend.
They are fearless and play inspiring football going forward with Neal Maupay, Solomon March and Leandro Trossard up front. If they have proven anything in ten games, it’s that you will have to beat them with quality performances.
We could be seeing the start of Man City’s revival
We finally got a glimpse of the Manchester City we expected as they tore Burnley’s defence apart. Currently sitting three points outside the top-four with an extra game in hand, City have a favourable league schedule over the coming months.
From now until the start of February, Chelsea and Manchester United are the only ‘Big 6’ teams City play, allowing them to go on a commanding run.
Once Sergio Aguero is fully fit, Manchester City should become formidable once again.
Sheffield have the worst start in Premier League history
After they battled for a Europa League spot last season, Sheffield have had a miserable start to this one. They relied so heavily on their defence last year – which has now regressed – and they continue to have trouble converting on the other end of the pitch.
You could effectively pencil them in to be relegated.
Chelsea and Tottenham should be happy with the direction they’re heading in
Despite engaging in an uneventful game, both teams shouldn’t be too disappointed with one point apiece. Jose Mourinho set his team up exactly as you would have expected, and Chelsea did their best to break them down.
For Tottenham, they are always going to be a threat on the counterattack – so long as they can continue keeping clean sheets and staying strong defensively. Their talented strikers can conjure up goal scoring opportunities despite a barrage of pressure on the other end of the field.
On the other hand, Chelsea continue their defensive transformation with Edouard Mendy wearing the goalkeeping gloves. We all know the talent they possess, and Chelsea will be more likely to cope across all competitions with their deeper squad.
Ultimately, both teams will be major contenders for multiple trophies this season.
Time is ticking for Mikel Arteta to turn things around
Arsenal sit in a dismal 14th place on the ladder, having lost their fifth game of the season against Wolves.
The Gunners are lacking attacking creativity with only West Brom, Burnley and Sheffield United scoring less goals. It seems like Arteta’s side could use Mesut Ozil right about now.
While Arsenal have improved defensively this season, their pathetic goal tally has placed a huge amount of pressure on the players at the back, leaving minimal room for error.
If they were to lose to Tottenham this weekend, the Arsenal manager could be very close to departing the club. There doesn’t seem to be any answers at the moment.
Leicester drop the ball big time
Leicester City have failed to join Tottenham and Liverpool on 21 points after an upset against Fulham over the weekend. They also weren’t able to match up against a weakened Liverpool side which has seen them slip down to fourth place.
You would expect Leicester to bounce back. Yet, they seem to be too inconsistent to be regarded as title contenders.
There have been games where they have kept clean sheets, while in others conceded multiple goals.
It’s no secret that Jamie Vardy is the main-man and the key to holding on to Leicester’s top-four position. Vardy has a similar impact to Callum Wilson for Newcastle. Outside of a 4-2 win against Burnley, every game that Vardy has hit the back of the net has led to three points.
West Ham continue to impress and move up the ladder
Don’t look now, but West Ham currently sit fifth on the Premier League table. It’s an impressive achievement considering they have played Arsenal, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool in their first ten games.
They currently look set for their best season since 2015-16 when they finished seventh, led by Dimitri Payet, Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio and Mark Noble.
Jarrod Bowen has had a breakout season with four goals and one assist, and his partnership with Pablo Fornals has been vital for the Hammers.
Two weeks ago, I mentioned how West Ham would be climbing the ladder. They do have some difficult fixtures coming up with Manchester United at home and Leeds United away. It will be interesting to see whether David Moyes and West Ham can continue to surprise the league.