The Manchester United-Liverpool match is always one you don’t want to miss, and the first meeting of the season was no disappointment. This weekend consisted of an American manager making his debut, Tottenham slowly showing weaknesses, and Chelsea flourishing under Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation. Eight matches in, and yet a bit of consistency left to be seen by any club not in the bottom three as they consistently seem to disappoint. The international break was good for some, and feisty for others. What did you learn in this past weekend’s Premier League matches? Here are my top five stories of the week.
1) An American Debut
In the 24 years, the Premier League has existed and not one American has managed any of the 47 clubs that have played in the top flight. The day seemed one that would never arrive, as American managers weren’t considered capable enough of managing amidst the stress and pressure of English football. After the dismissal of former manager Francesco Guidolin, Swansea’s American ownwership made Bob Bradley the first American to manage in the Premier League. Bradley’s arrival to the Premier League marks a major milestone for all American supporters, but for others it raises questions about why he was handpicked by the American ownership without consulting the fan ownership.
Swansea came out strong and confident against Arsenal over the weekend, but in the end they still lacked ability. It’s too early to tell if Bob Bradley has made an effect on his new club yet, but time will tell over the next two grueling months. It will take the players in the locker room to rally behind their American gaffer, or he’ll likely face the same fate as his predecessor.
2)Cherry Picking Tigers
August seems like so long ago for Mike Phelan and Hull. Their opening weekend win over champions Leicester seemed like a good omen for a team recently promoted via the Championship playoffs, but the tide has turned for the Tigers in the last month. Bournemouth aren’t the easiest of teams to fornicate with, and their front three of Jordan Ibe, Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson were proof of that.
A 6-1 win over Hull couldn’t have been more for Eddie Howe’s team, but sometimes even predators show mercy on their prey. Ryan Mason’s consolation goal was not much deserved, but at least it gave Hull another goal to their season tally. As for Bournemouth, they won’t be an easy opponent for any club not able to keep up with their pace. Ibe, Stanislas and Wilson could possibly be one of the fastest attacking forces in England and across Europe. Creativity isn’t their forte, but with speed come mistakes on behalf of the opposing defense. A well deserved win for Bournemouth, and a tall task to overcome for Hull.
3)West Brom Had A Nacer Game
Tottenham looked destined to lose their undefeated season when former Spurs player Nacer Chadli scored in the 82nd minute for new club West Brom. Although not the strongest team on the day, Tony Pulis’ men were resilient and composed against a strong attacking Tottenham squad. It was Delle Ali who saved a point for Spurs in the 89th, but their struggles were obvious as the game wore on. Tony Pulis committed his team to push forward as the second half grew closer to the final whistle, and it was that confidence that provided West Brom the lead. Tottenham dominated the possession game 70-30, but we all know that in the Premier League possession doesn’t even guarantee you a draw, much less a draw.
Chadli was composed in his celebration, but his emotions were internally running high as he scored his fourth goal in five after moving from Tottenham over the summer. The draw did come at a cost for Spurs as Toby Alderweireld was stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury. Always the most consistent player for Mauricio Pochetinno, Alderweireld isn’t likely to feature in Spurs’ upcoming Champion’s League match. Goals are needed quickly for Tottenham if they wish to continue their undefeated run, and lucky for them Harry Kane is coming back to training after being out since last month’s win over Sunderland. His absence wasn’t felt early on after his injury, but even Spurs can only go so far without last season’s Golden Boot winner.
4) Chelsea A Different Club
Back to back wins over struggling Hull City and Leicester City don’t count as signs of re-emergence, but they do count as six points to the league table, and confidence moving forward. Since Chelsea’s back to back losses to Liverpool and Arsenal last month, manager Antonio Conte decided to switch tactics to his preferred 3-4-3 as he used with Juventus and Italy. The switch came a fortnight ago against Hull, and it proved to be brilliant. The challenge was going to be if it could be executed against Leicester, and once again success was the name of Chelsea’s game.
In the new 3-4-3, wingbacks Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso are excelling causing issues for opposing defenses. Their confidence to push so far up is due to a much stronger defending unit in the back, and N’golo Kante shutting down space in the middle. Chelsea dominated the entire match, making Leicester look like a Championship side instead of defending champions. Much was left to desire from Jamie Vardy, and Conte did well to prepare his team. Chelsea fans were also pleased, finally to see the inclusion of more academy graduates, as five of them made the matchday squad. Up next for Chelsea are Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. Mourinho is familiar with defending against the 3-4-3, but does he have the players to do so?
5)Jose’s Bus Lands At Anfield
Hypocritical of a Chelsea fan to bring up Jose Mourinho’s bus right? I actually don’t mind his tactics as it brings results, but even at Chelsea I would criticize his cowardness to play a bit forward when his back was to the wall. Things haven’t changed, and he did exactly what he had too to not lose against Liverpool. The 0-0 draw was the first scoreless match between the two since 2005, and it must have left a sour taste in Jurgen Klopp’s mouth. The fact is if it weren’t for David De Gea, United would have likely lost, and Manchester United fans would have left Anfield wondering just where Mourinho plans to take the club before they hit the cellar.
A trip to Stamford Bridge is next for United, and you can expect the same from the Red Devils against Antonio Conte’s newly emerged attacking squad. Ander Herrera and Phillipe Coutinho were the stars for both sides, but Liverpool continued to be the best of the two throughout the second half. Jordan Henderson’s revenge on Mourinho must wait till the next one, and after today it’s best to be believed that the Liverpool captain will not allow all three points to slip away. Liverpool were the better of the two, and they must feel let down after not being able to breakdown the Mourinho Bus.
Thanks for reading.