EPL Matchday 10: One Bore Draw And Many Harry Returns


Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea took another battering, on and off the pitch, over the last few days as this weekend’s Premier League matches saw them defeated, again, this time to West Ham. They followed that up with a penalty kicks defeat at Stoke, in the League Cup, although like most of the other top clubs that’s a tournament they pay little heed to.

A lot of people think Jose is hanging on by a thread, but Chelsea would do well to question whether anyone else could get more out of these players.

Where he might have a problem is with the abysmal lack of discipline that currently permeates the club, and that starts in the manager’s office and filters down.

He sets the example, and so far this season his petulant whining has echoed through the team. For all his talents – undisputed talents – he really is a guy who ought to keep his self-regard in check. Playing the Victim Card is all well and good if it builds a siege mentality and gets players fighting for each other. When it’s plainly not working it becomes destructive instead.

Mourinho, his coaches and his players need to be out there where their jobs are.

None are any good in the stands, which is where their current behaviour is sending so many of them.

The weekend match itself was often scrappy, and the away side were their own worst enemies for much of it. They were already a goal down when Matic was sent off just before half time, and when Mourinho pulled the ref up at the break he, too, was sent to the stands.

They rallied, briefly, equalising ten minutes into the second half, but Andy Carroll popped up with a priceless goal eleven minutes from time to maintain West Ham’s truly excellent start to the season.

They’re third at the moment, after ten games. Outstanding.

In the meantime, over at the Emirates the league season looks to be getting better every week for Arsene Wegner and the Arsenal boys, fresh from that excellent (and to this writer unexpected) win in the Champions League over Bayern Munich.

They too suffered a blow in the League Cup, with Sheffield Wednesday dispatching them by 3-0, but they probably care even less than Chelsea fans; they sit joint top of the Premiership at the moment and all the footballing Gods seem to be smiling on them.

Have there been some bumps in the road? Sure there have. But this looks, at last, like a team that has found its purpose. Their 2-1 win over Everton isn’t ever going to feature on Football Classics, but it was a decent win for all that, with Giroud and Ozil scoring the goals as they did in the Champions League. The victory moved them top for 24 hours, until City and Utd fought out their dull 0-0 draw. Now they sit behind City, only on goal difference.

This site focussed a bit of attention on young Harry Kane after his poor start to the season, but boy oh boy has that lad found his feet now. He was simply sensational against Bournemouth this weekend, bagging a hat-trick in Spurs 5-1 demolishing of the home team, who had actually gone in front via a first minute Matt Ritchie goal.

The Tottenham response was devastating. Within eight minutes they were level, with Kane getting his first from the penalty spot. Within seventeen minutes they were in the lead and they’d extended their advantage before half time with Dembele and Lamela grabbing the goals.

The second half belonged to young Harry himself, as he grabbed two more and finished the man of the match. The win has Spurs in 6th place, stalking those top four spots who’s bottom two, West Ham and Manchester United, are only three points in front.

Before the games actually kicked off, the match between the two giants of Manchester was easily the most mouth-watering tie of the weekend. By the time the full time whistle had gone it had served up only the biggest disappointment. The 0-0 draw wasn’t what we had expected at all.

It has to be said that part of this was due to Manchester United being excellent in defence. Their backline had a superb day, limiting City to only a handful of chances, none of them exactly clear cut. It was United who came closest to getting goals, with one shot coming off the post and Joe Hart making one excellent save from Smalling.

There were a lot of disappointing performances on the day, most notably from Wayne Rooney and the excellent so-far Kevin de Bruyne. These are the sort of players you expect to turn up on days like this, but they were very poor, as was the game.

Swansea won 2-1 at Villa, and in doing so they hammered the last nail into the footballing coffin of the manager Tim Sherwood, who was relieved of his duties shortly after the full time whistle. This has been coming. As sad as it was, it was also inevitable; the club is bottom of the table and that’s unacceptable. The weekend’s loss was their sixth on the bounce, and there looked like no end in sight. The team had been ahead in the game too, with Jordan Ayew opening the scoring just after the hour mark. The lead didn’t last long. Sigurdsson equalised just six minutes later, to ratchet the pressure up. Then, three minutes from the end, Jordan’s brother Andre popped up for his club to give Swansea a dramatic late win and end the haunted reign of the ex-Blackburn midfielder.

West Brom continued their excellent start to the season with a decent 1-0 win away against Norwich. Their £12 million man Solomon Rondon got the goal in this way, powering in from a wicked James McClean cross. This saw them leap five spots in the table, into eighth, whilst Norwich, who had needed a tonic after their 6-2 mauling at the hands of Newcastle, stay at 16th … only one spot behind toiling Chelsea, who’s name looks strange down there.

Stoke, in 14th, had a miserable weekend, although their win over Chelsea in the League Cup will have gone some way towards making up for it. The lost 2-0 at home to Watford, who moved ahead of them in the table on the back of great performances Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who in spite of having played really well this season so far has just bagged his very first Premier League goal.

Ighalo continues to be a revelation. This was a marvellous performance from him, as he assisted in Deeney’s goal and in the strike from Almen Abdi. He has been a revelation and it’s little wonder the club decided to sign him from Udinese on a permanent deal last year.

What a season so far for Leicester, who won 1-0 at the weekend against Crystal Palace, who’ve had their own good start to the league campaign. Leicester’s manager, Claudio Ranieri, is finding stuff in this team even he probably didn’t know they had, and again this writer has to marvel at the excellence of Jamie Vardy, who scored in his seventh consecutive Premier League match.

At full time, Alan Pardew was in no mood to congratulate the winning side; his interview was snidey and spikey and he accused his opposite number of goading his players during the match. He gave the striker no credit for the goal either, putting it down to mistakes from his own team. Ranieri chose to focus on his target for the season; 40 points.

After ten games they are a mere point off being halfway there. Outstanding.

Liverpool, and their new manager Jurgen Klopp, were denied his first win in charge at home against Southampton, when Mane netted a late equaliser. Benteke had put them in front on 77 minutes, in a game where they dominated possession but couldn’t, until that point, turn it into goals. The late goal stunned the home crowd.

The Liverpool performance, especially Klopp’s much vaunted high pressing game, was generally good, but they appear to lack the type of players who can open up defences in the way they need to. The manager has a plan; in the January window we’ll see if he can bring in the right players to get it working the way it ought to be.

Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk was the standout in the game – something that pleases me as a Celtic fan – and will have delighted Ronald Koeman, his boss. The late equaliser sees his team 8th in the table, with the Anfield club now at 9th.

What a dreadful weekend again for Newcastle though, who more and more look a team in serious bother. Sunderland secured a 3-0 victory over the local rivals with a storming performance that lifted them from the bottom of the table and gave their fans renewed faith for the season ahead.

The win proved that managerial changes do sometimes inspire a team, and the appointment of Sam Allardyce, an old warrior who has never been relegated as an EPL boss, was just what the doctor ordered. This victory ended a 12 game winless run; a truly shocking stat which is precisely what he was brought in to remedy.

For Newcastle things could barely be worse. They are second bottom now, with Villa having just sacked their boss. The EPL frequently sees a managerial merry-go-round and a number of bosses have already gone in the last few months. Steve McClaren goes into the next game against Stoke knowing that he simply has to win it. Whatever breathing space he thought he’d bought himself with the win over Norwich in the last league game … it’s gone now.

Player of the Weekend: Harry Kane. He’s back!