You’d be a fool if you didn’t believe Tottenham to be the Premier League’s best overall club after this weekend’s fixtures. What we saw against Manchester City was not only clinical, but also quite possibly the best performance of any club this season. With the international break coming up next week, the weekend’s matches were also important for the strugglers at the bottom and the pretenders in the middle. Another week has gone by, and I find it increasingly difficult to pinpoint the Premier League’s top five stories. The greatness of this league continues to prove itself.
1) The Power Of Payet
In a year’s time, no one will remember that Dmitri Payet once played at West Ham. I made this known over Twitter this weekend, as I failed to remember that the Frenchman is just too good for a club which is too small for it’s stadium and for it’s ” wannabe” status. In journalism, one must remember to keep an open mind, and not let club bias get in the way of the truth. The truth is simply that Payet could be gone as soon as January, but will be gone no later than next summer’s transfer window. It is already amazing that after his Euro 2016 heroics, he has stayed with West Ham as long as he has.
Payet scored West Ham’s lone goal in their draw against newcomers Middlesbrough. Although this was his first goal in five Premier League matches, the intensity with which Payet plays is overwhelmingly noticeable. Quite frankly, he will have to continue to play all-out if he is to single-handedly save West Ham from relegation. Winston Reid was the man of the match for the Hammers for his “assist” on Payet’s goal, but it remains the Frenchman who consistently performs as if his pride depends upon it. Don’t expect Payet to give up by any means. After all, his future at a bigger club is at stake.
2) Wenger’s 20 Years
A fraction of his club’s own supporters hate him, and have been vocal about the need for his exit from the club. Like him or not, there is one thing all fans of the beautiful game must do, and that is respect the manager that is Arsene Wenger. In 20 years as manager of Arsenal, Wenger has won three league titles and six FA Cups, while also appearing in one Champion’s League Final. In recent times, his tactics have been a topic of confusion for the Gooner faithful, but his consistency in keeping his club relevant in England’s top four is definitely something to be noted. “Arsene Out” is a slogan which is very familiar at The Emirates, but on their visit to Burnley the traveling support showed only class towards their long serving manager.
Wenger’s legacy may not be remembered by the time he leaves English football if he isn’t able to win another league title, but his sides have been some of the best the Premier League has ever seen. He did, of course, manage the league’s only ever undefeated side back in 2003-2004, when his Invincibles won Arsenal’s most recent league title. The 1-0 win over Burnley was a sufficient way to honor his milestone, even if the goal should have been disallowed.
3) Stoke Grant-ed A Draw
If not for goalkeeper Lee Grant, Stoke may have lost by what Jose Mourinho said could have been a 6-0 scoreline in favor of Manchester United. Instead, United were only able to settle for a 1-1 draw with 19th place Stoke in a match defined by discipline and will. Grant’s man-of-the-match performance was the the positive upside for Stoke, who were in desperate need of some type of result, having already suffered four losses this season while recording zero wins. For United, the disappointment comes in not being able to fulfill their goal of winning probably the easiest three points they could’ve had so far this season.
Apart from Grant’s, heroics there was also the story of Wayne Rooney’s omission from the lineup for the third straight match. His future at Old Trafford now lies in limbo, as Jose Mourinho was confident enough to drop his club captain once again. This was something David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were never able to do, but in Jose Mourinho you’ll always find a manager not afraid to make a statement to his players. The future is still bright at Old Trafford, but the last ship has likely sailed for the man once named the future of English football.
4) He’s The Man-e
I’ve said it plenty of times before, but here I am saying it again. Liverpool are the complete squad, and if not for Tottenham’s greatness I’d say they are the best in the league at the present moment. Swansea was never going to put up much of a fight against Liverpool, who were looking for their fifth straight win in all competitions. Swansea did score the opener, and it wasn’t until the 54th minute that Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool’s first goal.This was then followed by a second from MOTM James Milner, who was just spectacular on the day. Liverpool’s win kept them in fourth, only two points behind first place Manchester City. Swansea’s loss cost Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin his job after a run of poor performances.
The match once again showcased the multi-dimensional Sadio Mane, who was as hard to catch as the Golden Snitch in a game of Quidditch (note Harry Potter reference.) On the ball, Sadio Mane is one of the league’s best, and even the most talented defenders find it hard to contain him. Mane also provides Liverpool with attacking options they haven’t had in recent years. He enables Phillipe Coutinho and Firmino to play centrally, in turn allowing Jordan Henderson to push up more like Gerrard did in his early years. A lot of Liverpool’s success can be attributed to Mane’s ability to take pressure off the rest of the team, and in a great team this is a mandatory trait to carry.
5) Spurs Continue Marching In
Tottenham’s win over Manchester City on Sunday solidified many things, but none as important as the fact that Spurs are the league’s best by a mile. Manchester City’s flair was shutdown at White Hart Lane, and they were left in disarray by the defensive stubborness of Pochettino’s mad tactics. Granted, the first goal was an Aleksandr Kolarov own goal, but either way you look at it, Spurs had already been the best team since the first whistle. Dele Alli gave Tottenham their second goal in the 37th minute and then Erik Lamela missed a penalty in the 65th. A possible 3-0 gone, but by then the match had already been decided.
Spurs now sit as the only undefeated team in the land, with the league’s best defense. Up next for them is a stingy West Brom, who with former Spurs player Nacer Chadli are a different and stronger side. October will go a long way to determine where Spurs will actually sit, but at this point they can take on anyone who stands in their way. It may be Pep Guardiola, who is considered by many to be the world’s best manager, but on this day he was schooled by a Chilean who also could manage any of Europe’s top clubs. The kicker here is that Pochettino can actually build a team from the ground up, and not have to count on being handed an already established team of stars. Sunday’s match didn’t just showcase England’s top two clubs, but it also showcased it’s top two managers, and it was Pochettino who stood out with his head held high.
Thanks for reading.