Four match days are complete and with league play off we are forced to find else to do while something called the Nations League kicks off. That’s a bit dismissive of UEFA’s new gambit to ratchet up interest in its international friendlies but we call it like we see it here.
That said the break does provide an opportunity to review where the Premier League stands on early returns. Fans of Liverpool and Chelsea would be encouraged by their respective unbeaten starts while Arsenal supporters lament the familiar disappointments.
So here’s our early observations:
The Liverpool attacking trident looks like the weak link
On its face this would seem a ridiculous statement but without the charity offered to Leicester by their star keeper Allison, the Reds would be the only team yet to concede on the season. One might forget this has all been accomplished without star acquisition Fabinho factoring in the matchday squad.
Notwithstanding their softer schedule, Van Dijk and company lead the way in fewest big chances conceded(2) and shots conceded in the box(15). The solidity also is clear by the eye test.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the field each of that celebrated front three of Firmino (West Ham), Mane (Brighton) and Salah (Leicester City) have been given the early hook after less than inspired play. Klopp has referenced the lack of fluidity from his attack in what could only be deemed a threat through the media.
Sarri was the biggest signing of the season for Chelsea
The whole mood of the club shifted once Conte went though the door clearly. Sarri’s men are yet to drop points and the football definitely is easier on the eye.
The most stark contrast has been seen in the performances of Pedro and even David Luiz who have both been brought back from the cold. It is amazing to note though the same compliments paid to Sarri were paid to Conte just 12 months ago. What a treacherous profession.
Kevin De bruyne’s early recovery just saved City’s title chase
Maybe we’re playing Captain Obvious here. Or maybe not.
Guardiola does have significant depth at his disposal and some pundits have speculated accordingly Silva, Sterling and the like to fill the slack.
But let’s not reduce KDB’s influence either having led the Premier league in chances created(105) last season while playing as a No.6 or deep lying playmaker.
The impact has already been felt given the dropped points on their visit to Wolves. Good news has arrived though with the recent news of the likely early return of their talisman.
Emery will find it difficult to make lemonade with limes!
Perhaps the powerbrokers at the Emirates intended the type of metamorphosis that has occurred at Stamford Bridge. They would have been well disappointed.
The biggest reason the season hasn’t jump started is that Emery is trying to squeeze performances out of players who have proven over a long period of time to be not to the level. He has seemingly identified the tools he needs but refuses to use them.
Bellerin consistently puts in the least defensive effort possible evidenced by him losing the 6th most tackles last season – yet Lichsteiner is rooted to the bench.
Bernd Leno hasn’t had a chance while Cech nearly scores own goals. Lucas Torreira must be wondering what in the hell is going he cant dislodge the arthritic Granit Xhaka
That picture painted of none of the club’s new signings seeing the field despite participating in preseason is really bizarre. It almost feels like Emery is determined to prove he could succeed where his predecessor failed.
Mourinho must be in striking distance of the Champions league places at the turn of the year
Four games played and two losses. Trigger panic.
Unless Mourinho wishes to be sacked three times in England he will need to gather his troops for Watford and future tests. The current debate about any pending sacking is way too premature given the financial hit involved as naughtily pointed out by Mourinho himself.
That said, failure damages the brand and the brand brings the revenue so as such won’t ultimately be tolerated. Any sense that a top four finish is in peril and we have no doubt the Glazers will have that noose ready – especially as the likes of Zidane lurk.