Hello and welcome to the winners and losers column where we go over this week’s round of games and discuss the teams, players and coaches that should either pat themselves on the back or take a hard long look at their recent decisions and should perhaps start making drastic life changes.
This column is in the spirit of good fun and your comments and opinions are just as valid as mine.
Winners and Losers Week 1+2
Spurs just keep winning. After last season with no penalty awarded, they have won their last 2 games on penalties. Yes, they have the Bale saga serving as a massive distraction but the new signings have shown promising understanding. The midfield duo of Paulinho and Capoue have combined beautifully with Dembele. Spurs only major concern is a consistent goal threat. I suggest another striker brought in to compliment Soldado who does not get involved in build-up play. He is quite good at finishing in the 6-yard box and Spurs need another striker to serve as Plan B when Soldado is marked out of a game.
2 wins out of 2—and this was achieved without their best player last season’s, Luiz Suarez. Sturidge is showing the potential that saw Manchester City and later Chelsea invest so heavily in him. His last 16 games have resulted in 12 goals but make no mistake, Coutinho and Iago Aspas are proving to be huge creative outlets. It is looking like Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy is taking root and he finally has assembled the pieces to take the team into a top 4 position. Holding on to Luis Suarez should make that goal easier to attain.
I will admit, I wavered quite a bit on this decision. Does the lack of a signing, which he promised United fans mind you, count against him? Or does his resolute stance on Rooney [that could very well change at the time of writing this] deserve commendation? Especially as his Chelsea counterpart has done all he can to ensure this story remains in the news. I ended up deciding to make the decision on purely football decision with one win and a draw, Moyes’ team in undefeated and most importantly, looking like they could mount a challenge. I do have the odd complaint here and there such as why is Giggs afforded THAT much playing time and when does Kagawa feature in his favored position but other than that, Moyes has been solid. Fans will remember how atrocious the defense was last season and under Moyes it appears the team has more intent going forward and is keen to close down spaces. All the pre-season fitness workouts must be playing off. Moyes’ baptism of fire continues away to Liverpool then a derby game against City in week 5. Should Moyes remain unbeaten after week 5, expect commentary about the man tasked with surpassing Sir Alex to change.
One last comment on Moyes, his recent comments about the current squad being sufficient to retain the title has many fans worried but in that same statement, he said a lack of signing will be addressed by pushing players from the academy to fill the need of the first team squad. Not a bad compromise in my honest opinion. United saw some fantastic display from its youngsters and more first team opportunities will do both the club and the players a world of good.
How Paul Lambert convinced the Belgian marksman to stay eludes me but with 3 goals in 3 appearances, this move can be shelved under ‘good business’. The 22 year old could very well be in contention for the EPL young player of the year award and the golden boot. Anyone who watched his play against Chelsea cannot helped but be impressed. Despite Villa holding playing catch-up and chasing Chelsea in their opening game, his left-footed shot from the center of the 6yard box into the bottom left corner of the net was sublime.
As soon as Agbonlahor lost his marker and passed to Benteke, the goal was inevitable. To show such composure in the final minutes of the first half after not having any chance show his quality as a forward. He can hustle, he can play as a poacher or off the last man. He is a phenomenal talent and this season will be the reason Aston Villa will be considered a threat by all teams in the EPL.
Few, except hardcore fans might remember when he was the next big Fergie fledgling. Loans to Hull in the 07/08 season and Spurs in the 08/09 season saw him opt for a permanent move to Sunderland in the beginning of the 09/10 season in search for first team football. He has been a quality player throughout his career this far. His 32 appearances for Hull City saw him contribute 15 goals whiles his 1 appearance and 9 substitute cameos saw him chip in with a solitary goal during his loan season at Spurs.
He is a player who needs consistency to perform and because of his versatility upfront where he is comfortable playing as attacking midfielder or forward, he often does not get to spearhead his team’s attack and have more opportunities at goal. His haul during his time at Sunderland was nothing to scoff at with 6 goals mostly coming off the bench. Signed by Cardiff on 21 January, 2013, the 25 year old forward is his team’s primary attacking option and he has rewarded them with 9 goals in 11 appearances.
My reason for the long career history of Frazier Campbell? It was to highlight that his 2 goal salvo which secured Cardiff their first home win in over 50years in the Premier League was no fluke. The lad’s got the talent and has been missing a coach confident enough to entrust the team to him. In Mackay, perhaps Campbell can live up to the heights he threatened to back when he was in the Manchester United academy.
This week’s round of games saw 3 goalless draws—That happened only twice last season. Whilst more goals are certainly no indication of the quality of a league, it certainly does make for a more entertaining one. The yet-to-be-confirmed signing of Gareth Bale by Real Madrid sees the league lose one of its most prominent players. Should Bale leave the EPL, it is imperative that this season produces a new superstar icon to not only be the face of the league and promote it worldwide but give newcomers an exciting player to rally around.
They just can’t seem to catch a break huh? In their opening game against Norwich, they showed great resolve to cancel out Norwich’s opener in the 61st minute and take the lead 4minutes later only to have Norwich rally and score the final goal of the game in the 71st minute. This week’s game against West Brom saw them none of their 8 shots on target find the back of the net.
West Brom had their goalpost to thank when Marouane Fellaini right footed shot from the center of the box in the 81st minute came of the right-post. Two games played with no win, their next set of fixture will be challenging. First, they face newly promoted Cardiff City who will still be on a high from beating Manchester City then host Mourinho’s Chelsea at Goodison Park. Four games will be too early to predict how Martinez’s boys will fare this season but a win soon will definitely calm the Goodison faithful.
Should calls of Hart’s drop in form be taken seriously? Yes and no. Yes because he made 2 errors and thus essentially lost them 3 points. In a league where the title has been decided by goal difference recently, that is very unforgivable. No because, for all his occasional individual errors, Hart is a solid keeper. City find themselves in the losers section for failing to have enough cover for their center-back position. Javi Garcia may be a solid defensive midfielder but a center-back he is not. For all City’s attacking wealth, especially their recent signings, you get the feeling that a long injury spell for any of their central midfielders and defenders will leave them in a precarious position. Pelligrini has some time to rectify this in the transfer window—how he reacts to this loss will be an important determinant City’s ability to mount a charge for this title.
Teams to draw or win
This is the last place you would expect to find Swansea but after an opening day 4-1 loss to Manchester United, they followed it up with a 1 goal loss at White Hart lane to a Soldado penalty. This concern may prove to be premature as their main striker is yet to play a full 90minutes and he has scored a goal at Old Trafford. His time on the pitch has shown promise as his link up play with Michu and Shelvey is promising. The Swans next face West Brom away, Liverpool at home, Crystal Palace away and Arsenal away. The point haul target should be range from 5pts-9pts for this round of fixtures. For all Swans fans, be patient.
Norwich is the other team yet to win or draw and like Swansea, they should at the very least aim to grab some points in their next 5 round of games as only Spurs in the 4th rounds of matches and Chelsea in week 7 are significantly difficult oppositions. Norwich can hope for a win or draw against Aston Villa, Stoke and Southampton. For any football fan out there looking for a reason to catch the occasional Norwich game, it’s the 19 year old English midfielder Nathan Redmond. His talent and potential suggest he could be a big-named player in the next 5 years and at Norwich, he is an unpressurized environment to hone his skills.
It is tempting to place the blame of Newcastle’s demise at the feet of Alan Pardew but that will be a wayyy to easy solution. On paper, the team should not be a shadow of the team whose performances 2 seasons ago saw Pardew rewarded with a 6year contract. You could cite poor boardroom decisions that are affecting the on-field performance of the team and the alarming lack of depth in the current squad and you will be right. Can Newcastle pull off a top 6 finish? I doubt it and I worry for them because they are sure to lose their best performers should this happen. They are struggling to attract talent and hold on to their own—I dare you to name a manager finds himself in a more inextricable position.