Sergio Agüero has a 5 star performance up his sleeve
A few weeks ago we were claiming that Man City would stroll to the title after a dominant opening five games. However, a couple of defeats to West Ham and Tottenham have brought the rest of the pack within touching distance of the league leaders, and as a result it has been crucial that Pellegrini’s team produce a display worthy of champions before going into the international break.
This weekend’s match against Newcastle seemed to be going the same way as the previous two, with the visitors grabbing the opening strike and piling the pressure on Joe Hart’s goal before Sergio Agüero managed to level things before half-time. What happened following the break stunned everyone, as an onslaught on the Newcastle goal resulted in a humiliating 6-1 defeat, with Agüero grabbing another 4 goals within the space of 20 minutes in a Lewandowski-esque performance.
There are few who would dispute that the Argentine is the best striker the Premier League has to offer even before that goalfest (especially after the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona), but now Agüero seems to be stating a great case to become one of the all-time greats of the English game.
Chelsea are still a shadow of the champions they were last season
There has been a massive turnaround from what was a hugely impressive title-winning campaign for Chelsea last season, as they cruised to top spot throughout the year with very little doubt that they would end up as champions.
However, Mourinho’s men have failed to reproduce such a dominating form this year, and, starting with their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in their Community Shield clash, a slew of bad performances have left them 16th, having already lost half of their matches and leaving them 10 points off the top only 8 games in.
José Mourinho stated in his post-match interview after his side’s 3-1 home loss to Southampton this week (in what turned out to be a seven minute rant) that Chelsea’s aims have already switched from winning the title to gaining a top 4 place this year, but it’s surprising that a Mourinho side has seen so many slips at the back already this season, particularly for a manager who is known for keeping a tight defence.
Chelsea have conceded 17 times this season, making the joint 2nd worst defence behind struggling Sunderland, and have already lost more matches than they did in the whole of the last campaign. There are clearly many problems to be fixed at Stamford Bridge, and Mourinho will need to prove his reputation as one of the world’s top managers if he is to prevent a meltdown and a first absence of European football from the Bridge for many years.
Bournemouth can’t afford any more slip-ups
It’s been a rough week for Bournemouth, who have already lost their form striker Callum Wilson last week to what looks like a long-term knee injury, possibly leaving him out of action for up to 6 months just when it looked like he could lead the south coast team to an unlikely relegation escape.
Add to that the casualties suffered to the in-form Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings, as well as club captain Tommy Elphick also being out for a long time with an ankle injury, Bournemouth have an even tougher job claiming the points necessary to avoid the drop.
As a result, this week’s home encounter against fellow promoted side Watford already looked like a must-win game, and for a while it seemed like their strength in depth would actually carry them through, with newly signed Glenn Murray grabbing the opening goal to capitalise on a first half in charge of the visitors.
However shortly before half-time, in a move now expected from the Polish goalkeeper, Bournemouth’s Artur Boruc misplaced a simple short ranged pass to gift an equaliser to Watford’s Odion Ighalo, costing his team a vital win and leaving them only 4 points off the relegation zone.
The Premier League can be cruel at times, especially to teams that fail to see their victories through to the end, and so Bournemouth will need to take extra care in future lest they find themselves sucked down towards the bottom three.
Arsenal finally seem to look like genuine title contenders
It seems to be a familiar cycle for Arsenal, who always start the season in high spirits before inevitably cracking under the pressure to leave themselves out of the title race before Christmas.
The reason? Most pundits agree that Arsenal have turned up to matches against big opponents with a naïve mindset of late, expecting their tidy style of football to hold up against the greatest of competition before succumbing to a gritty breakdown performance from much more tactically aware sides.
As such, this week’s home encounter against in-form Manchester United looked like it would follow the formula, with the visitors touted as being able to pick up points thanks to the tactical nous of veteran Louis Van Gaal. Instead, viewers were treated to the performance we all expected would eventually come from Wenger’s men, as the Gunners managed to put three past David De Gea within the opening 20 minutes to gain a commanding 3-0 victory.
It was more the nature of the victory rather than the result itself that will leave Arsenal fans reeling, as they subjected a title rival to utter humiliation right from the start, including a quick succession of two goals within a minute of each other. As such, Arsenal now find themselves second in the Premier League table, only 2 points off leaders Man City. Will this be the year for the Gunners to finally keep themselves in the reckoning come the end of the season?
We have our first managerial casualties of the season
It may have escaped the notice of one or two people without access to the internet, TV, or any form of human contact, but a couple of managers have lost their jobs over the weekend, though (if reports are to be believed) in very different circumstances.
Sunderland’s Dick Advocaat looked a defeated man during his side’s 2-2 draw with West Ham at the weekend, despite the fact that they managed to produce some of their best performances from the season. Subsequently we learned that Advocaat had already quit his job (having already pledged to leave at the end of last season), with his side still yet to register a win in this year’s campaign.
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was given his marching orders a mere hour after a 1-1 draw in the Merseyside derby, which left the Reds in an unflattering 10th position in the table. While both weren’t exactly a surprise following a disappointing start to the season, the high profile of Rodgers’ position in particular has left people reeling and speculating over who will take their vacant places (with big names such as Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti currently being linked to the Kop).
A new era could be just round the corner for Liverpool, Sunderland, and the Premier League itself if characters like that are soon to grace the English game…