Football Ramble – Premier League 2017/18 Round 5

Week 5 of the Premier League is now behind us. The Manchester clubs continued their early domination of the league with a combined 10 goals scored over the weekend, while Bournemouth’s win over Brighton has left Crystal palace bottom of the league as the only team with no points. Elsewhere, David Luiz saw red as Arsenal and Chelsea shared the spoils at Stamford Bridge, while Tottenham continued to drop points at home, this time to Swansea.

 

A long road back

Crystal Palace’s decision to replace Frank de Boer with Roy Hodgson after just 4 weeks of Premiership football is an odd one. De Boer is an attack-minded boss whereas risk-averse Roy is anything but, favouring an organised defence. To bring in such a contrast in styles right after the transfer window closes means that Hodgson must try to build success with a crop of players that may not even be right for his style of football. Palace failed to score against Southampton, where Steven Davis’ early goal condemned the Eagles to the unwanted record of becoming the first ever club to lose their opening 5 games without scoring a goal. To make matters worse, their next 3 games in the league are Manchester City (away), Manchester United (away) and Chelsea (home), so it doesn’t look like their record will be improving any time soon. On paper they have a talented squad, but they are already 4 points away from safety and that just looks set to grow over the next few weeks. It would not surprise me to see them in the Championship next season.

Improvement needed

Putting my neck on the line here: Manchester City will not win the league this year. I think they have one of – if not the most – potent attacks in the league, however I feel that they are still just too weak at the back. City have spent big money at the back in recent years and while I feel that new keeper Ederson will be a big help, there are still too many questions over the men directly in front of him. Vincent Kompany is a top defender when on form but misses too much time through injury. John Stones shows promise but is prone to stupid errors, while so far Nicolas Otamendi and especially Eliaquim Mangala have proven to be expensive mistakes. Against teams like Watford, they may be able to get away with a leaky defence but once they play other teams competing for the title and Champions League places, they will struggle.

Liverpool are another team who will struggle to reach the heights they should because of a poor defence. Against Burnley, the defence made it far too easy for Scott Arfield’s goal and they were lucky to not concede a second following a couple of minutes full of errors: Burnley went for a long throw into the box. With no players in claret and blue close, it should have been easy to deal with, however 2 players both went for the same ball and they ended up giving away a cheap corner. The marking at the corner was almost non-existent and for 2 corners in a row Ben Mee was able to get a free header. At one of the corners his shirt was quite clearly pulled as the ball came in too, so it could have easily been a penalty for Burnley.

If both of these clubs are to reach the level they should, then they need to look at their defence. This does not necessarily mean buying new players, but improving the organisation of the defence so that they are a unit the managers and fans can rely on.

Money can’t buy you wins

September could not have gone much worse for Everton so far. After their 3-0 loss to Spurs in Week 4, they lost 3-0 at Atalanta midweek before going on to lose 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday. They may have lost star striker Romelu Lukaku to United, but they have also spent heavily on their squad and should be pushing for Europe rather than sitting in the relegation zone. Against Manchester United, Rooney and Sigurdsson were unable to get the ball in the back of the net, while recent signings Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Ashley Williams (brought in last summer) all gifted the home side chances with individual errors and Morgan Schneiderlin (signed from United in January) gave away the penalty for the final goal of the game.

 

Week 6 predictions:

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur – Draw

Burnley v Huddersfield Town – Burnley win

Everton v AFC Bournemouth – Everton win

Manchester City v Crystal Palace – Man City win

Southampton v Manchester United – United win

Stoke City v Chelsea – Draw

Swansea City v Watford – Draw

Leicester City v Liverpool – Draw

Brighton & Hove Albion v Newcastle United – Newcastle win

Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion – Arsenal win

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