Welcome back to my review after another 4 games in the English Premier League!
Everyone in the top 8 can be happy with their form but the two Manchester clubs and West Ham United. Let’s get stuck in without further ado.
Chelsea bounced back from their big defeat at the hands of Spurs to record three wins and a draw. Most importantly the draw was against title contenders City. The three wins were a handsome one against Newcastle (2-0), the demolition of Swansea (5-0) and the “special one’s” first ever win at Villa Park, where Aston Villa put up a spirited performance but in the end lacked the quality to take points. Chelsea’s big winter signing, Colombian Juan Cuadrado, made his debut at the end of the game but did little to inspire. Big things are expected of him so let’s give him a few matches to find his feet in the BPL. Points 9/12
City are the big losers in this period. A home defeat against Arsenal will hurt the pride, while the aforementioned draw with Chelsea didn’t do them any harm, draws at Everton (12th) and Hull (19th at the time) will do little to offer comfort to the fans. The AFCON couldn’t have come at a worse time for City. After closing the gap during December their inspirational midfielder Yaya Toure went off to the African tournament and City have been dismal since. James Milner, of all players, saved them from a defeat to Hull City with a goal from a freekick in referee’s optional time. Worst of all, it was a home game. The pressure must be mounting on Pellegrini. Points 3/12
Koeman just keeps getting the best from his squad every week. The Saints are managing to hang on to their top 4 place by scraping wins but it’s not style that counts, it’s points and he is collecting them regularly.
Three wins by the odd goal and a defeat by an odd goal give them 9 points from 12. Away win at Manchester United probably the biggest of the three in the duel of the Dutch. Next was a win against Newcastle, an unexpected loss to Swansea and finally a 1-0 win over QPR, whose manager, Harry Redknapp, only resigned on Tuesday.
Jonjo Shelvey’s late goal was the difference as Swansea battle on without Bony. To be fair to QPR, only Forster’s top form kept them in the game as Austin and co rallied. Points 9/12
LVG continues to deny reason by tinkering with his line-up match after match. He lost the first home match to his compatriot Koeman (Southampton) despite Utd having all the possession and all the chances. Fortunately for United fans there were wins against QPR (2-0) and Leicester (3-1). Neither convincing despite the scores. Leicester are the team who came from three down to beat United early in the season. They seem to have lost their belief and United were able to pounce on some mistakes but were far from convincing. The final game in the sequence was away to West Ham. LVG finally moving away from his 3-5-3 / 5-3-2 formation to field a 4-at-the-back line-up.
I can’t work out if LVG knows what he is doing or just tries his hand at Football Manager during the week and then throws something together on matchday. How he expected to beat West Ham away with only one midfielder in midfield is beyond me. All the other players in the 4-3-1-2 were either defenders or forwards. Strangely, the holding midfielder, Daley Blind, saved him from defeat with a superb volley at the death. Points 7/12
Spurs are the team to watch at the moment. They pay attractive fast paced football and they score goals. How they lost to Crystal Palace is beyond me but from there they had solid wins against Southampton (2-1), a convincing win against WBA (3-0) and topped it off with a superb win in the North London Derby against Arsenal (2-1). It should be added that Harry Kane is on fire. The young man can’t do anything wrong in front of goal. I expect him to be in the England set-up for the next match. Points 9/12
The gunners will be really disappointed to have lost to Spurs but in all honesty the result was fair and they can take heart from the performances of Wellbeck and Özil, both put in solid shifts and showed good work ethic, something not seen from the German in a while. The other three fixtures in this span produced 10 goals for Arsenal, 3 at home against Stoke, 2 against City away and 5 against Villa at the Emirates. Sanchez will return from injury soon and hopefully so will the winning ways. Points 9/12
Teams of interest:
Liverpool were collecting points at will until the Merseyside derby which turned out to be a stale, boring affair. The match was hyped as “Gerrard’s last Derby” and expectations were high that the Reds talisman could get them the points. Sturridge also made his comeback from injury in this span of matches, even scored a neat goal against West Ham and as a result Liverpool are starting to look strong. Points 10/12
West Ham Utd are falling off their early season pedestal but still good enough to take points from Manchester United and Swansea. Unfortunately lost to Liverpool and only winning against lowly Hull doesn’t stop the drop when you’re near the top. Their form is only narrowly better than City in the top 8. Points 5/12