This Week’s Definition of the Premier League’s Big Five (Gameweek 2)

It’s a late post that describes how the big guys fared in the second MatchDay of the 2017/2018 Premier League season. Scoring 8 goals and conceding 3 among them, I continue from where I stopped last week by reviewing the performances of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Premier League (Gameweek 2)

 

Arsenal: Sloppy and Standing Still

I have chosen to use the words of Steven Gerrard and some other pundit whose name I either missed out on or I’m forgetting to remember. Sounds harsh? Considering the way Xhaka gave the ball away in the build up to the Stoke City goal and how the Gooners failed to convert those chances, maybe not.

The inclusion of Welbeck by Wenger is still a mystery. Playing three at the back (most of which were full backs) is another mystery too. Selling Gabriel to Valencia? I’ll rather not talk about it. Since a defeat in the first game of the season was avoided, I thought it’d probably come later. Now that one L is on the books, hopefully Liverpool won’t rub salt on their injury this coming weekend.

Chelsea: Still a Team to be Feared

In his post-match analysis, Thierry Henry said, “There was something about Chelsea today. We asked them questions, and they answered.” He said this while he was talking about the way David Luiz took the ball off of Wanyama and started off the move that saw Marcos Alonso grab his second of the day.

Yes, there may be some arguments about Tottenham playing on “unfamiliar grounds.” But after losing to Burnley, Antonio Conte seemed to find a way to revamp his side psychologically. While most thought the Burnley loss was the beginning of the end, Conte found his way around and surprised all, me inclusive.

Yes, I expected Spurs to put the final nail in the blue coffin but the champ has refused to die that easily. I’ll pretend I didn’t see that Batshuayi own goal.

Liverpool: Well MANEd

Just like in their game against Hoffenheim where Mane was at the centre of everything that the Reds had going for them, Mane was the centre of attraction in the game against Crystal Palace.

The difference between the two sides was crystal clear as chance after chance fell to names like Firmino, Salah and Sturridge. Maybe they should have been more clinical than they were but they weren’t wasteful.

Yes, before I forget, there’s the argument that they’re missing Coutinho. Maybe in the game against Watford but not against Benteke and co. Mane proved Liverpool are more than just Coutinho.

 

Manchester City: Great but can be Better

Right after the game against Everton, I mentioned something about how Pep Guardiola’s side and Manchester United were the most deadly sides in the Premier League. And one reason why City appears on the list is this: the number of chances they create in games is mind blowing.

See the number of shots? The last time I saw Manchester City this rampant was they played FC Barcelona and Luis Enrique quipped, “City pressed us to the stands.

For the most part of the game, City dominated but were wasteful – a problem that just won’t go away. The Kyle Walker red seemed to wake the sleeping giant as they played like a side on fire. Sterling, Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne were all amazing.

Yes, they survived the first home game of the 2017/2018 Premier League season with a draw. But some other teams won’t balk like Everton did when they come visiting. They will make Pep pay for making that wrong selection.

Manchester United: On the Rampage

Eight goals in the first two games is not a number to overlook. When you consider the fact that Mourinho’s side have not conceded any goals this season, those numbers carry even more weight.

While the Swans were able to keep the Red Devils at bay for the most part of the first half, they weren’t able to complete the job. One way or the other, Man. Utd managed to score 4 goals on the day – 3 inside the final 10 minutes of the game.

Leicester City must be wondering how to stop them from scoring because this Red Devil is one on a rampage!

 

About Author

Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav

 

[BANTER] 6 Talking Points From the Opening Weekend of the Premier League

Banter is a supple term used to describe activities or a chat that is playful, intelligent and original. It is one of the key ingredients for communication amongst rival fans. We all love some good banter, don’t we?

Fantastic Banter

Fantastic Banter

However, just like it is much more pleasurable to give than to receive and not forgetting that givers never lack, I’ve applied same when it comes to banter. One sure thing is that everybody gets a turn and in this article, I take a look at some of those “talking points” from the weekend:

1. Wenger Out?
It can be argued that if the Arsenal team put in the same effort the Arsenal supporters put in during their #WengerOut campaigns, they’d win the league every year. Seven minutes was the time it took from Jamie Vardy’s first and Leicester’s second goal of the night to get #WengerOut trending on twitter barely just 30 minutes to the start of the new season.

After an extraordinary comeback (Arsenal being very good at comebacks don’t mean much), the #WengerOut band would have been delighted again with their manager (except Piers Morgan).

In what could be “their year”, the Arsenal supporters would be happy to finish in the top four, I really mean to win the FA cup and move on.
2. Liverpool Can’t Defend Corners
History merchants couldn’t do the job away at Watford in a display that typifies the club. They conceded after eight minutes from a Stefano Okaka header and conceded the equalizer in added time via a corner.

With the focus being Phil Coutinho’s transfer request, it seems that Liverpool are in need of a Van Dijk (no apologies). Saido Mane says ‘we’ll work harder’ and I’ll say maybe, just maybe next year.

Premier League MatchDay 1 results

Premier League MatchDay 1 results

3. Conte Kante
That would be my answer if you asked me if Antonio Conte could lead Chelsea to a defense of their League title. And with a thin squad and European commitments this season it seems like Chelsea might not enjoy this season.

 

A 2-3 loss to Burnley FC in which captain Gary Cahill and midfielder Cesc Fabregas were given their marching orders and Twitter striker Michy Batshuayi had no impact in the game and was substituted for 70m summer signing Alvaro Morata who immediately helped Chelsea at least finish with some dignity ensured the season started on the right note for Chelsea’s rivals.

With Hazard still not due from injury and suspensions to Cahill, Fabregas and a trip to Tottenham next, one would wonder how much weight Conte would lose.

4. It was just Brighton and Hove Albion
Former Arsenal fans, – sorry I mean Man City fans – shouldn’t get too excited as nobody expected the world’s third most-expensive defense to be breached by Brighton and Hove Albion. It would have been utterly ridiculous and Pep would have been called a fraud. There was nothing to laugh about in their dominant display and maybe the next match against Everton could bring some joy.

5. Mr. Dele
Bantering Tottenham is usually difficult. Not because they are quite exceptional, but you’d have to find their fans first and then get them to speak about any trophy they have won or nearly won or maybe a match day DVD would do then.

On the opening weekend, the verdict is banter postponed, many thanks in part to Jonjo Shelvey as he had to get himself sent off. Dele Alli delivered the first goal after getting on the end of a Christian Eriksen cross in a combination we will see many times this season.

Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku celebrate against West Ham

Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku celebrate against West Ham.

6. Anti-Mourinho United Display
After all summer signings scored on their debuts one would think Romelu Lukaku would feel some pressure. But there was nothing like that as he debuted in red with a brace. In what can be described as an exciting display by Manchester United, fellow new boy Nemaja Matic was equally impressive as Paul Pogba shone against West Ham in a 4-0 victory.

It seemed like an uncharacteristic pattern for Mourinho’s United charges – United under Mourinho have never won 4-0 in the Premier League and the last time they scored four was against Leicester City 4-1 at home last season. There would be plenty of time to laugh and call Pogba a “dabbing Mulumbu” but this week’s banter has been postponed.

Author

Awolope Kolawole

2016/2017 English Premier League Season: 51 Questions To Be Answered (11-2)

Our countdown continues. So far, we’ve had three posts in this series. If you’ve missed any of them, you can catch up on the questions you’ve missed here, here and here.

gun__1381310671_uefa_champions_league

Q11: How Will the English Teams Fare in the Champions League?
Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City aren’t exactly the strongest of names in Europe’s premier competition these days. Of all the teams, City is the only club with a coach that has won it. Will England get a beatinghis time around or will the teams show why the English Premier League is said to be the best in the world?

Q10: Is This Really the Hardest Season To Win the Premier League?
Arsene Wenger has been quoted as saying this year’s Premier League title can be won by at least nine clubs. Tough eh? With names like Mourinho, Pep, Conte, added to the mix, the reasons for Wenger’s prediction is not far-fetched. Will it be one of the regulars to lift the title or will it be hard for every team, making the fans wait until the final day?

Antonio-Conte-679547

Q9: Who Will Be King of the Touchline Drama?
Last season’s champ in this category was of course Jurgen Klopp. His fiery-looking face and his demeanour was always a beauty to behold each time the Reds stepped out. But with names like Conte now in the mix, it’s hard to tell who will be this Premier League season’s best actor cum coach. Will there be a poking of the eyes? Coaches pushing each other? Or will the other British Klopp in the Palace win this category? (Hello Alan!).

3110312_heroa

Q8: Is This Pep’s Toughest Challenge Yet?
This one has a general answer alreasy among the fans of the league: a resounding Yes! Strong teams, high spending power, world class coaches, ahem… no Messi, Iniesta or even Xavi. No Dortmund to buy from and systematically make weaker. Three competitions to play in. But is this really the toughest challenge of a coach who has been quoted as saying, “The big coaches help me reach another level… they’ve made me better.”? Will Pep fare well or will he be forced into another sabbatical, forced to say, “Farewell” early?

epa05011455 Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger before the UEFA Champions League group F soccer match between Bayern Munich and FC Arsenal at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, 04 November 2015.  EPA/PETER KNEFFEL

epa05011455 Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger before the UEFA Champions League group F soccer match between Bayern Munich and FC Arsenal at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, 04 November 2015. EPA/PETER KNEFFEL

Q7: What If…?
What if Arsenal do not have injuries? What if Sturridge is fit? What if Conte’s 3-5-2 does not work? What if Leicester do the double? What if Pogba fails to shine? What if Pep finishes outside of the Top 4? What if…?

Q6: Can We Get Another Leicester?
The Foxes turned a foolish dream into reality. People said it was impossible. Ranieri proved them wrong. Now, can we find another team that can pull it off? That can stun the world? Burnley? Middlesborough? Stoke? I think the answer is no but you can never tell this things can we?

Q5: Is This Our Year?
This is one question that every fan will be asking. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City fans will be asking this in connection with the Premier League title. Fans of Burnley will be wondering whether they can stay up this year? Everton and West Ham fans will be wonderinf if this is the Champions League year

Q4: Formations At the Ready?!
Tiki-taka? Le Professor’s way or Pep’s way? All-out attack or Park the Bus? Who will be the masters of passes this season? 4-4-2? 4-5-1? 3-5-2? 4-3-3? Or maybe an outrageous 2-3-5?

Q3: Who Will Be Relegated?
Predictions are rife already! Many pundits and analysts have churned out predicted standings. So who will stay up and who will be down and out? Names like Hull City, Burnley and Middlesborough are being touted to return to the Championship. But names like Watford and West Brom could go down too, right?

Q2: What Will Be Leicester’s Fate?
Blame us not for concentrating excessively on the Foxes. But the spotlight’s always on the champ. Will Ranieri get another Champions League qualification? Maybe it will be the Europa this time? Will he be able to master-mind another league title win? Or, will they finish in the bottom half? How will they cope without Kante? How will Ranieri’s men thrive?

2016/2017 English Premier League Season: 51 Questions To Be Answered (51-42)

New Season, New Questions: The new English Premier League kicks off on the 13th of August

New Season, New Questions: The new English Premier League kicks off on the 13th of August

With every new football season comes questions begging for answers. And these questions don’t come in bigger sizes anywhere else than in the English Premier League.

The clubs have been heavily involved (regardless of whatever that French Economist does) in the transfer markets. Players have switched allegiances. Some clubs now have new managers.

With all the above, questions arise. Different kinds. That’s why we’ve put together a team of three writers who are already asking questions. Let’s bring them to the front shall we?

Q51: Will Asano and Olivier be Enough To Win the Title?
Forgive me if I seem to have overlooked whichever name maybe coming out of the academy ranks of the Gunners. But, it took Giroud a long time to wake up in the second half of last season, which has consistently been Arsenal’s Achilles’ Heel. Wenger noticed the need for a new striker and brought in the Japanese. Will these two be enough or, in the voice of the Arsenal fans, “Should we expect another?”

Q50: Can Bournemouth Stay Up Again?
With new signings like Nathan Ake (Chelsea), Lys Mousset (Le Havre) and Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Eddie Howe doesn’t seem interested in relegation battles this time. He will depend heavily on Ibe and Lewis Cook who won the Football League Young Player of the Year to keep his side in the top flight. But can they achieve this?

Q49: “Dear Burnley, Business or Pleasure?”
Sean Dyche, during the 2014/2015 EPL season, pulled off some major surprises (still can’t forget that win over Man. City). But it wasn’t enough to keep them alive. They carried their energy to the EFL and finished the season top of the league. Now they’re back in the PL. Are they here to stay or is this just another “top-flight visit?”

Q48: CONTEnders?
Will Conte perform his Italian magic in the EPL too? He went on a roll in the Serie A and he’d be willing to get straight into the mix in the EPL especially with the signings he’s made. Moreover with Roman reigning, there’s no excuse.

Q47: Who Will Pardew Upset This Season?
Alan Pardew may not have the biggest names in his squad. Unbeaten runs may not be his specialty. But one thing Alan know very well is how to beat the big names when it is necessary. And this season, the question remains: Who will be his victim?

Q46: The New Noisy Neighbours: Loud Enough?
Everton, since their acquisition, have silently been punching above their traditional weight in the transfer market. And with a Koeman at the fore, should Liverpool be prepared to have sleepless nights yet?

Q45: Who Will Replace Bruce?
It’s still unfathomable, how Steve Bruce made a U-turn and quit his Hull City position. It shocked all. Helping promote a team from the Championship AND HELPING THEM REMAIN in the top-flight is every coach’s dream. But Steve has left Hull hanging. With barely a few days to the srart of the new season, who will lead the Hull calvary?

Q44: Leicester Again?
Everybody involved and watching the EPL is certain to be curious about where Leicester will finish after they turned a foolish dream to reality. With new tasks of being involved in more competitions, can theynretain their title? Maybe a Top 4 finish? Or Top 10?

Q43: Is This Our Year?
Klopp has been quoted as saying, “this is now my team.” Most of the players around were brought in by him. The questions the fans will be asking now will be, “Is this our year?” “Will Klopp win us a trophy this time?”

Q42: What Will The Philosopher Win For the Citizens?
Pep Guardiola is finally in England. The one who tinkers with all kinds of formation will be out to show he can cope with the pressure and perform in England. But will the Spaniard be able to win the EPL in his first season? Is he even that good?

This Week’s Definition of the EPL’s Big Five

In a Premier League Matchday that had a lot of 90+ mins goals, with some teams getting ripped apart by the Foxes and more, here’s a review of the performances of the league’s Big Five:

Oliver Giroud: A Gunner that can't stop blazing

Oliver Giroud: A Gunner that can’t stop blazing


– Arsenal: Taking Advantage Sticking Around the Top
Before the game, it was sure who was going to win this tie. But after scoring 2 first half goals against Aston Villa, it was even clearer where the three points were headed. Arsenal, made sure ‘this kind of three points’ did not slip through their fingers as you never know the grain of rice that’ll tip the scale come May 2016. Their win sent them to the top – for a while – which is some sort of morale booster for their title ambitions – to be sitting atop the pile, smiling down on the remaining 19, even if it is for only a couple of hours.

Ironically unironic: These days you need to 'scroll down' to see Chelsea on the log table.

Ironically unironic: These days you need to ‘scroll down’ to see Chelsea on the log table.


– Chelsea: Drowning in the Deep Blue
The irony seems to have lost its effect on football fans. The irony that last season’s champs can be competing for a ‘parking space in the relegation zone’ is no longer an irony. It’s like the troublesome cousin that has unavoidably come to stay. It has become a Premier League 2015/2016 season fact. So when they played against the best team of the league, Leicester City, I expected them to lose. I mean, this days, everybody expects Chelsea to lose right? The only argument is: By how much?

And so Leicester City, and Mahrez and Vardy and Ranieri condemned Mourinho to his 9th defeat of the season; a season that’s not even 18-games old. It seems all out of José’s hands. There’s already a blending-in of colours with the Blues drowning in the league’s Deep Blue Sea.

Never say die: The Normal One is making Liverpool contend again.

Never say die: The Normal One is making Liverpool contend again.


-Liverpool: Point Snatchers, Party Spoilers!
I think Liverpool fans should get used to this kind of descriptions now that Klopp is the Head-Ni**a-in-Charge. Liverpool scored the first of the game but conceded two via corner-kicks (a weak spot maybe?). The second goal was conceded in the 73rd minute. It took a while but a certain Origi heeded the clarion call of his master and blasted the ball into West Brom’s onion bag. This was in the 96th minute! You wonder how “pained” – like my Nigerian folks would say – Tony Pulis must have been. They must have wanted all three points against the Reds but instead got only one and Liverpool got the other. The third? To the ref maybe?

Back to winning ways: The Citizens left it late at the Etihad stadium

Back to winning ways: The Citizens left it late at the Etihad stadium


-Manchester City: Back to Winning Ways
Man. City needed to at least garner 3 points against the in-trouble Swans after their “usual” catastrophic away display against Stoke City. Who better to pick 3 points off than a manager-less club?

So they got off to a flying start with a 26th-minute goal and put their noses in front. But for Joe Hart, they’d have suffered another loss. Then, at last, another “usual” happened (Note: No Man. City game this season is complete without them conceding at least a goal. The ones in which they’ve kept clean sheets are incomplete games and will be replayed in the nearest future with them finally conceding). Gomis finally scored against Hart in the 90th minute. 1 – 1. But the Citizens being the team that they are, especially when they’re playing at the Etihad Stadium, had other ideas and they scored again… in the 92nd minute! Drama! Yet again, Man. City have made the most of a “simple” Premier League game. Well, the Premier League in that sentence makes “simple” very hard.

Well well well...: Uncle Louis and the Old Trafford hardknock life

Well well well…: Uncle Louis and the Old Trafford hardknock life


-Manchester United: Louis van Gaal
No definition could be better fitting than this! Take it to the bank. The Dutch gaffer is making Man. Utd seem worse than the Moyes days (no offense Moyes). Meet any Man. Utd fan – a real one – and they’ll kick Uncle Louis’ ass and send him packing the moment they get a chance. Just like Zlatan said, van Gaal is driving this Red Ferrari like a Fiat!

Again, the Red Devils lost, to Bournemouth this time. They’re now winless in 5 games and the only one to blame is the man at the helm of affaira. Not Rooney, not Martial but Louis Van Gaal. He’s doing a terrible job. The interesting part of the story is: He knows that his team is poor but he’s TOO RIGID to become FLEXIBLE enough to adopt other ideas than can move the team forward and make it better than the kind of team it is now: a team that is scared of scoring goals.

Follow me on twitter @rotdav