Football Ramble – Premier League 2017/18 Round 6

It feels like only yesterday we were celebrating the return of the Premier League, but we’re already 6 rounds into the tournament! It is still early days but the table is clearly starting to take shape, with the usual suspects (and Watford) in the top 7, while Crystal Palace are 4 already 4 points away from safety and still looking for their first point of the campaign.

False dawn?

After a 1-0 victory against Stoke on the opening weekend, Everton have gone on a horrid run, with 1 draw and 3 losses from their next 4 league games. They may have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone with their 2-1 win at home to Bournemouth, but is this really the start of the improvement? Bournemouth’s only win so far came against newly-promoted Brighton and they have lost their other 4 games. Going into their match at Goodison Park, Bournemouth had scored 3 goals and conceded 9 so the result is no great surprise. Last week I mentioned that too many Everton players were not playing at the standard they should and once again they conceded a goal that was far too easy for Josh King. Everton must continue to improve quickly and a win at home to Burnley (2 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss) is important for their climb back up the table.

Are you watching, Gareth Southgate?

Where would Spurs be without Harry Kane and Dele Alli? So many of the team’s goals are either scored or set up by one of these 2. Against West Ham, Alli set up Kane for the opener with a pinpoint cross and it was his initial shot that was parried straight back to Kane for number 2. They have such a good connection which makes it so hard for a defence to deal with them. If Gareth Southgate wants the national team to be successful in the later stages of a tournament, he would do well to base the team around these 2, especially considering fellow Spurs players Eric Dier and Kieran Trippier and former teammate Kyle Walker are all also in the squad.

The main man

In the same week that Diego Costa’s return to Atletico Madrid was announced, summer signing Alvaro Morata scored his first Premier League hat-trick.

Some fans were quick to judge after a less-than-perfect preseason, but already the young Spaniard has shown he is a more than adequate replacement for Costa. Already this season, he has shown that he is deadly in front of goal and strong in the air, against Stoke he also showed that has the pace to trouble defences.

He may already have 20 senior caps to his name, but now that he will be the main man up front at Chelsea, a chance that he has never truly had at Real Madrid or Juventus, I can see his international career going to a new level.

Finding the balance

Everton are not the only team struggling to get the results the quality of their squad suggests they should. Slaven Bilic needs to start winning soon or he could be following Frank de Boer out of the league.

Stage 1 to getting results should be playing Javier Hernandez in his right position. A couple of times this season, Chicharito has been played in a wide position, which clearly does not suit his playing style. As his goal against Spurs shows, he is at his best when he gets the ball inside the box, and as such he should be utilised in a central position. Andy Carroll has looked a handful for defenders in recent weeks, so depending on the tactics Bilic wants to use he could be used as either a great partner or change of pace replacement for the Mexican, with Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic supporting them from wide positions.

 

Week 7 predictions:

Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs win

AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City – Leicester win

Manchester United v Crystal Palace – United win

Stoke City v Southampton – Draw

West Bromwich Albion v Watford – Draw

West Ham United v Swansea City – West Ham win

Chelsea v Manchester City – Draw

Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion – Arsenal win

Everton v Burnley – Everton win

Newcastle United v Liverpool – Liverpool win

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