Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Premier League Review: September (Matchday 5 to 7)

The second month of the Premier League season has once again brought us its usual entertainment and excitement it is renowned for. Champions Manchester City have regained top spot on goal difference ahead of Liverpool. While Cardiff, Newcastle and Huddersfield prop up the table.

It was a perfect September for champions Manchester City winning all 3 of their matches seeing them topple north west rivals Liverpool who dropped points for the first time this season against Chelsea. City stormed to victories over Fulham, Cardiff and Brighton with an aggregate of 11-0 have seen City begin to capture their title winning form. However, Liverpool are not going away with another strong September after winning their opening 6 games, they dropped points in a hugely entertaining game with Chelsea with the points being shared. Klopp’s men have been excellent so far and the top two kick off October by facing each other at Anfield. Surely neither team dear not lose. Chelsea have also had a very good September under new boss Maurizio Sarri with Chelsea collecting 7 points in their 3 matches. Eden Hazard has sparkled notching 4 goals including an excellent hat trick which secured victory over Cardiff. While two wonderful goals against Liverpool in two separate competitions has shown the Hazard of title winning seasons gone by. Sarri has got a tune out of Hazard and they are firmly back in title contention this season should Hazard continue his sparkling run of form.

It was a very good September for Arsenal, Leicester and Wolves with all 3 sides beginning to click and their seasons have lift off. Unai Emery had an extremely difficult start to the season losing to Man City and Chelsea however, 5 straight league wins including a flawless September has seen Arsenal charge into 5th place and looking a real force to be reckoned with. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech have found some form and Emery will want this momentum to continue throughout October. The two Midlanders Leicester and Wolves have been excellent in September both climbing into 7th and 8th respectively. Puel’s Leicester have been consistently solid winning back to back games since their heavy defeat at Bournemouth at the start of the month. Victories over strugglers Huddersfield and Newcastle have seen Leicester storm into the top 7. Wolves are also flying high after an excellent September which saw them draw at Manchester United and secure solid home wins over Burnley and Southampton. Nuno’s men are flying, and they will continue to entertain throughout October I’m sure starting against Crystal Palace.  

In contrast, it has been a miserable opening couple of months for the bottom 3 teams Newcastle, Cardiff and Huddersfield. All remain winless and are severely struggling to dominant matches and score goals. Newcastle set a new club record of losing their first 4 home games and Rafa Benitez is certainly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Mike Ashley is desperate to sell, and the fans are desperate for him to sell up. On the pitch things are no better with Newcastle struggling for results and goals but Benitez is confident of turning the tide in the Tynesiders favour. Cardiff are also severely struggling after a pointless September and goals being hard to come by. Neil Warnock is a cult hero after the brilliance of last season, but his Premier League record is woeful and no doubt things need to change quickly in South Wales if Cardiff are going to survive. What is startling is that Neil Warnock cannot pinpoint Cardiff’s issues this season and that is a major worry. Something has got to give and fast at Cardiff they need a win from somewhere and fast. Huddersfield are also struggling after last season’s heroics. The Terries are rock bottom after 3 straight defeats in September and while David Wagner is fully backed by the fans and owner Dean Hoyle, things are severely poor on the pitch with the Terries struggling creatively and now their solid defensive backline is showing huge cracks with easy goals finding the net. Huddersfield just cannot score goals especially at home with the Terries being the only club yet to score at home and something needs to give in October sooner rather than later. All 3 clubs are winless, and could the hypothetical axe fall on any of bottom 3 managers only time will tell.

One axe that well and truly could fall is the one lingering over Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. The club has had a September to forget with just one league win over Watford and poor draw at home to Wolves followed by a hammering from West Ham. United lack a style, identity and ideas on the pitch and the pressure is mounting on the pitch. However, things are severely worse off it with an ongoing feud between Mourinho and Paul Pogba dividing the United hierarchy, fans and the players. Criticism on both sides has followed with many fans and pundits alike offering their opinions on a situation that has escalated into a conundrum of who the United hierarchy decide to back. Do they back one of the world’s most successful managers who has won everything the game has to offer or do they back the club’s record signing who clearly has an affect on the whole dressing room. Manchester United are in crisis and the situation needs an outcome sooner rather than later. This is a hugely important week for the whole club before the international break with home games against Valencia and Newcastle to come. Poor performances and results could spell the end with fans, players and Mourinho himself unhappy. Could Mourinho be the first manager to face the chop this season? We shall see.

The Premier League entertained us in September and no doubt October will be the same. There are plenty of tasty games to come including Fulham vs Arsenal, Liverpool vs Man City, Chelsea vs Man Utd, West Ham vs Tottenham, Man Utd vs Everton, Crystal Palace vs Arsenal and Tottenham vs Man City. Some mouth watering games to come and no doubt excitement, joy and pure quality will follow as the season well and truly begins to take shape.

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