A round up of the weekend’s Premier League actions as we witnessed an eight goal win for Southampton and an absolutely bizarre game at Loftus Road
Koeman’s Southampton is better than Pochettino’s Southampton?
Everyone thought Southampton were going to be in the biggest crisis after a summer that saw so many people leave Saint Mary’s. But it seems like the South Coast club is having the biggest party. They registered an 8-0 win over Sunderland. Graziano Pellè replaced 32 year Rickie Lambert this season and the Italian has made the Saints fans forget about the current Liverpool striker. The fact that Lambert is yet to score for his boyhood club has of course, helped matters. Lambert scored 13 goals last season (and assisted 10) and Pelle already has six in the Premier League.
Whats even better for Ronald Koeman is how the rest of the team is also chipping in with goals. Along with summer additions Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mané, players like Jack Cork, Victor Waynama and Morgan Schneiderlin, who didn’t feature on the score-sheet under Pochettino are also joining the party. The cherry on top is the tight defence. Southampton currently have the stingiest defence in the Premier League and have only conceded 5.
Southampton’s next five games are Stoke City (H), Hull City (A), Leicester City (H), Aston Villa (A) and Manchester City (H). Barring Man City, just going by present form, Southampton can easily take at least 10 points from them. Games against Hull City and Aston Villa could be tricky affairs, but these two are also extremely winnable, especially the latter one. If Koeman’s side can continue their current form, they might become very difficult for the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs to remove from the top 4.
Liverpool get lucky, but seem in big big trouble.
Seems poetic to talk about Liverpool right after Southampton. Liverpool bought three players from Saints and two of them were supposed to be fit in the starting 11 straight away. Last year’s PFA Team of the Year midfielder Adam Lallana; and defender Dejan Lovren were bought for a combine sum of £45m. Lallana was supposed to add to the attacking threat of the side, and Lovren was supposed to provide ‘leadership’ to the hapless Liverpool defence. Yet, the side has only managed 13 goals so far, and whats worse is that they have also conceded 12 goals. While Lallana came into the first team picture later, having missed out on the pre-season and the start to the season with injury, Lovren has played a bigger part for the Reds this season. The Croatian has been very shocking in defence. He has done nothing whatsoever to improve it, and the shocking lack of communication at the back is still there. When you spend £20m on a player, and make him the most expensive defender in the history of the club, the player is supposed to live up to his price. Liverpool’s biggest weakness from last season was the defence (remember the shocking last 15 minutes at Selhust Park). If the defence was sorted, even if the team scored lesser, the situation would not be so bad. The Liverpool back-line that was changed from what it usually is, with Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno getting a breather, was again extremely weak. The Reds were lucky QPR didn’t put them 2-0 or 3-0 down even before the half time whistle. Lovren is not the only underperformer for the Reds, but his addition was a very important one, and so far he has done absolutely nothing to justify why he was bought. Even though Liverpool somehow came back home with three points, they certainly didn’t have any positives to take out of this game. This game was essential for the Reds to not only get a win and move them up the table, which did happen, it was more important because the team needed some confidence as they face Real Madrid on Wednesday. This match would hardly give the Reds anything else other than the relief of three points.
In other news from the match, Mario Balotelli missed a goal…from eight yards…in an empty net. Sigh.
Arsenal somehow draw against Hull
A 91st minute goal from Danny Welbeck rescued a point for Arsenal. The Gunner’s played Steve Bruce’s resilient Hull City and were done for large portions of the game by the visitors. Even though Arsenal enjoyed large parts of possession, their defensive lapses caused them almost three points. Arsenal were playing without Debuchy, Koscielny and Chambers at the back which should bring hope to the side as they are capable of better moments defensively. Hull began very casually and were punished as Alexis Sanchez put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute. But they were not able to hold on to their lead as Mohamed Diame easily scored past Arsenal’s makeshift defence after just four minutes. Record signing Abel Hernández showed why the Tigers spent such a sum on him and the striker scored immediately after the second half began. Bruce was critical of his side after the game as they were unable to hold on to this lead and conceded as late as the 91st minute when Sanchez set up Welbeck and the two new summer signings were able to rescue their side a point.
Wenger was unsurprisngly annoyed after the game. Even though injuries to a lot of their players doesn’t help their cause, Arsenal have got to do better as they still have some world-class players in the team. Arsenal’s goals shouldn’t change from title to top 4 after just eight games, but their results are forcing them to be targeting the top 4 and not the title…again. The Gunners have only won 2 games this season and have drawn 5. Competition for the top 4 places is going to be very difficult this season, and if the lacklustre performances continues, even a fourth placed finish might be tough to get.
Good things come to those who wait- Newcastle register first win of the season
Alan Pardew will have some pressure eased off his shoulders as Newcastle registered their first win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City. It wasn’t a convincing display, but it needn’t be. Gabriel Obertan’s 71st minute goal was enough to give Pardew a breather of sorts. Remy Cabella, Newcastle’s marquee summer signing was dropped to the bench again and the decision to once again go for Obertan did good for Newcastle. While the manager was also not happy with his side’s performance, he was of course relieved as Newcastle can look to build on things from this game. The Magpies face Spurs and Liverpool in their next two games and while these may not be easy games, this win should give the side a lot of confidence. Tottenham and Liverpool have also not been very dominant this season so there is a very good chance that Newcastle can take points from these games.
- Chelsea won 2-1 against Crystal Palace and Chelsea showed that they can win without Diego Costa. Oscar scored a delightful free-kick early on in the match and Cesc Fabregas later gave the Blues the decisive goal. Neil Warnock was, however, in a good mood after the defeat as his side did really well in parts of the game against the league leaders.
- Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all time leading goalscorer in the competition with 61 Premier League goals as he netted 4 times in his side’s 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester City proved that the title will not easily be going to London and that last season’s champions are still very much ready to give a fight. They’re still 5 points behind Chelsea but if Aguero can keep his fitness for the remainder of the season, the Sky Blues might prove to be very difficult defending champions.
- Gary Monk was livid after a Victor Moses dive during the game was wrongly awarded as a penalty against Swansea. Swansea were leading 1-0 at the time when Moses went down easily and Mike Oliver pointed to the spot. Later in the game, Walters converted from an Assaidi cross and Stoke got a much-needed win. The Swansea boss was unfiltered in his post-match critisicm of Moses and the referee. Swansea are now winless in their last five Premier League game.
- West Ham continued their dream season and won 1-3 against Burnley which keeps them in the fourth spot with 13 points, equal as 5th placed Liverpool. Summer signings Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho have added dynamism and class upfront and both got themselves on the scoresheet. Sakho now has 5 goals in 6 league appearances for West Ham
- Manchester United drew West Brom 2-2 and could have easily lost but for summer signing Daley Blind’s late goal. The game also saw Marourne Fellaini score a good goal (yes you read that right) off the bench. Youngster Berahino continued his great run and added another goal in his personal tally. United continue to be in the 6th spot, one point behind Liverpool.