Top 10 talking points from the Premier League this weekend
Jos Hooiveld now has two own goals and two penalties conceded in his first Premier League season – Certainly not a stat he would be proud of. During his first couple of appearances, he was deemed to be a bit unlucky to have been a part of a chaotic Southampton defence. However, with the Saints conceding a total of 20 goals in the past 7 Premier League games, fingers have been pointed at the credibility of Hooiveld’s ability to lead the Saints’ defence. His positioning was poor throughout the game against Fulham, while his challenges don’t reflect any kind of conviction either.
Tony Pulis’ side did what they set out to do at Anfield – hustle around the field, play direct football and scrape through at least a point. Liverpool on the other hand also did what was expected from them – Play with an attacking intent, create bags of chances and then waste them as usual. The ridiculously poor outcomes at home have had a familiar pattern and Rodgers doesn’t seem to have the answer for it. If only Suarez’s finishing attributes were as good as his on-field theatrics, Rodgers would’ve been a happier manager.
Sir Alex did opt for a bold scheme in the midfield area where they were outplayed in their previous visit at Newcastle. This time though he went for a packed midfield setup, primed to hold the ball for most parts of the game. The plan worked strikingly well as United managed possession of around 70 percent in the opening stages which also got them the first couple of goals. The setup was tested at Cluj in the midweek by United and the boss decided to have another go at it – considering that ball retention hasn’t been United’s forte for quite some time now. United did execute the plan perfectly against Pardew’s men, but one cannot avoid the fact that they still look vulnerable without the ball. For United to win any major honour this season, they’ll have to work on the tackling and intercepting abilities of the side.
As David Moyes rightly said in his post match interview, Leighton Baines was at the heart of everything meaningful Everton created in the attacking third. The left-back was industrious as always at the back but it was his consistent supply of crosses and delightful forward movement off the ball which was crucial to Everton’s recovery in the game against Wigan. Baines has been inspiring over the years for David Moyes and it is heartening to see key figures of his side stand up when the time comes for them to deliver. It won’t be surprising if Hodgson decides to start with Baines ahead of Cole this weekend against San Marino.
Wenger may take some time in replacing Van Persie as a central attacking force, but he admitted the fact that he may have found a Glenn Hoddle in the form of Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard did justify those claims as he found the net with his left foot and created another to cap an exquisite performance for his side. With the early season talks about the playmaking prowess in the league being limited to Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa, Cazorla has been quietly going about his business – and pretty effectively too!
Even when we’ve been treated with some of the most attractive football Chelsea has played since the likes of Zola and Poyet playing in that blue shirt, the quality that Mata, Hazard and Oscar have induced in the attacking midfield is just incomparable. The way Di Matteo’s boys dismantled the Norwich defence in the first half was the best they have played this season – quality of football that if displayed consistently, could win them the title this season. Yet, a lot depends on the possibility of Torres joining the party which is inevitably the final piece of the jigsaw that backs their League winning aspirations.
Michael Laudrup had complained in the past few weeks of the goals being dried up for his side. The Danish manager should be pleased from what he saw against Reading as his side clawed back to get a point out of the fixture. Apart of from the opening stages, when Vorm made an unexpected goal-keeping error, the defence looked pretty much up for the task they had on their hands. Michu was well complimented by Wayne Routledge for most of the game and had it not been for the incorrect calls by the referee on the penalty shouts, Swans would’ve ended up with all three points. Nonetheless, Laudrup could’ve spotted a lot of improvement in his side as he would expect more of the same in the coming weeks.
Four consecutive Premier League victories and coming out of a week unscathed that included trips to Greece and Old Trafford, Andre Villas Boas has every reason to be happy. Spurs under his reign, have improved gradually and his methodologies are certainly creating an impression on the League table in the past few weeks. The midfield led by Dembele has been imposing all kinds of problems for the oppositions while the wing-play has only improved under the Portuguese’s guidance. With Chelsea slated to visit the Lane in their next league game, AVB could certainly bank on his players to help him earn a small piece of redemption.
With Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards back in the defensive quartet, David Silva threading some of the most sumptuous balls and Yaya Toure tormenting with his forward runs again, Manchester City finally looked like the defending champions this season. Probably, it was also due to the inability of the Sunderland side to test the City defence but still this was a kind of performance Mancini would expect every week from his lads. City looked determined to play some result oriented football upfront while the defence was composed throughout the game in the leadership for Lescott. Reports suggest the English defender is no more a favourite pick for Mancini, but it seems a string of performances like these could making him reconsider his options.
Another defeat against a determined West Brom and one would think that it may be time when we see the curtains fall on Mark Hughes’ QPR tenure. Yet, Tony Fernandes comes out and assures that the manager still has a future at the club. Fernandes is looking to induce some stability at the club and even after a bizarre run of form on the field, believes Hughes is the right man for the job. It’s also surprising how the fans at the Loftus Road have remained mum for such a long time, but for now, Hughes would prefer the backing rather than all three points at the Hawthorns.