5 talking points from the Premier League weekend
Another North London derby and the headliner was a familiar face for both the rivals. Emmanuel Adebayor made the most out of the game to be fair, as he took the sting out of the game and decided its result in the span of 20 minutes. What started with an encouraging spell for Villas Boas’ side ended with immense disappointment as Arsenal made the most of the numbers game in the second half, registering the second 5-2 scoreline against their rivals in the same calendar year. It was another one of those games, where the manager could do nothing to save the game for his side, yet AVB will be on the receiving end for most of the week, thanks to a moment of madness from his Togolese striker. But then, there’s a positive side to it, as AVB could temporarily avoid the selection headache in choosing between Defoe and the Togolese newsmaker.
This had to happen someday pretty soon, as United finally didn’t live up to their comeback scripts. They were beaten comprehensively by a buoyant Norwich side, drilled with an effective plan from a hardworking Chris Hughton. It was Crystal Palace in the League Cup, then City with a derby thrashing and a Newcastle mauling in the festive season that woke up a lousy United side time and time again last season. This time around, we saw a similar lethargic effort from the Reds, one of so many this season; only this time they were deservedly punished by a determined Norwich side. The midfield duo of Carrick-Giggs failed to create anything significant for the forwards, while van Persie had an off day on the pitch. With lapses of possession all over the pitch, Sir Alex’s side were always waiting for the inevitable when Pilkington scored a thumping header off a cross from Garrido. With Champions League qualification in the bag, Sir Alex knows where his priorities lie for now, as he will press hard to find the right balance before a host of key fixtures arrive in the festive period.
With the entire hullabaloo regarding the performances being way below par to the price tag always surrounding a Spaniard at the Stamford Bridge, a certain Brazilian centre back, David Luiz is never seen on the radar of the critics. It’s been almost two years now for Luiz with the Blues, having been bought for €25 mn, and one cannot believe how he hasn’t faced the amount of criticism for his consistently poor displays like Carroll or Torres have faced in the past couple of years. Luiz was again in the spotlight when Shane Long scored a header thanks to some irresponsible marking from the Brazilian before Odemwingie scored the winner after Luiz failed to deal with the cross. It’s not the first time Luiz has been the prime culprit for the defensive errors for the Blues and it’s rather surprising to see him retain a place in the starting line-up for the side.
Two games on the bounce, Silva looking comfortable on the ball and City exuding confidence reminiscent of the dominant periods of their last league campaign. Mancini would be relieved with his star playmaker finally spraying some quality passes across the turf – a sight missing for most of this season for the defending champions. With strikers like Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, all Mancini hopes for is a player who could create ample amount of opportunities for these mavericks to smash them in the back of the net. With Mancini having a potent replacement in almost every position in the formation, none could actually replace what Silva could deliver week in, week out for his side. It is certainly a welcome return to form for the Spaniard, especially with the side claiming the top spot this weekend and with Chelsea, Madrid and United next on the fixture list.
A win against Liverpool, one of the best home records in the league so far and add another resounding win over Chelsea – Steve Clarke’s managerial debut has been impressive, if not surprising, for the supporters. With coaching experiences with three major Premier League clubs, Clarke was one of those managers who studied the League patterns better than many before deciding to lead a club all alone; and the results have backed his decision so far, as the Hawthorns looks ahead to a promising season. What stands out in Clarke’s progress with West Brom is his confidence in the club’s footballing principles, laying emphasis on width and possession oriented football. While other managers usually try and impose their strengths on the club’s ideologies, Clarke insisted on adapting to it and coming up with elementary improvements with pressing schemes in the midfield and importance of maintaining the formational shapes off the ball. It’s Clarke’s ability to take his ideas from the tactical boards to the match situations and the benefit of being a good communicator that affirms the quality of football we’ve seen him deliver this season for West Brom.