An enthralling series of defensive errors and a Manchester Derby that was anything but dull made for an enticing weekend of football. As usual, there was plenty to talk about and ANTOINETTE MULLER picked out five of the top topics.
It’s hard to believe that the Premier League has had just five fixtures and that after a very dodgy start to the season, it’s Arsenal sitting pretty at the top of the table. Things change pretty quickly in football, and it was a classic weekend of entertainment across England.
Only Sunderland remained winless after five fixtures, while Crystal Palace is struggling to keep up with the pace of top level football. The Gunners are the only side to win four games on the trot this season so far, and United is still trying to adjust to life after Fergie. There was much to talk about after this week’s Premier League fixtures, but we’ve picked just five salient points.
Hold on to your oversized panic buttons
David Moyes hasn’t exactly had the easiest introduction to managing one of the biggest clubs in the world. Sunday’s defeat in the derby will most likely see panic buttons being pressed. Without Robin van Persie and without Nani, United looked lost, if not useless. That’s the problem when one player is so outstanding and just so much better than everyone else. Becoming over-reliant on one or two players creates a false sense of security and when those players aren’t there, weakness are exposed, exploited and look far worse than they actually are. United will recover; they had a particularly bad outing on Sunday and it was a case of everything going wrong that could. There’s hardly a need to call for people to be sacked or new players to drafted in. All it’ll take is a bit of tactical tinkering and since Alex Ferguson was almost certainly watching, it wouldn’t be surprising if United came back swinging in their next match.
It seems Arsene Wenger does indeed know best
Sure, there are still concerns over Arsenal’s depth when it comes to their back four, but Arsene Wenger’s business over the recently closed transfer window has been vindicated just a little bit. Since losing to Aston Villa on the opening day, Arsenal have gone from strength to strength. Mathieu Flamini is proving a fine addition in the already bustling midfield, but it’s another pair of MF initials really proving Wenger right. Marouane Fellaini was due to join Arsenal and play as a defensive midfielder, a position he has not featured in much for the last two years. He joined Manchester United instead and in the Derby on Sunday, he looked like a fish out of water in that exact position. Yes, he’s a class player, but he’s not very suitable to the more defensive option. He looked utterly slack for Manchester United against City and Arsenal fans must have breathed a sigh of relief that he didn’t end up switching to North London in the end.
Juan Mata, the Chelsea outcast
Jose Mourinho keeps on talking about how much Juan Mata has to work at showing that he can adapt. How is a player supposed to adapt if he can’t even make the side? Mata is fast becoming an outcast and when a manager has no faith in a player, their confidence will soon drop. Mourinho’s decision was vindicated in the end as Chelsea laboured their way to a 2-0 win over Fulham. Mourinho put it down to preferring Oscar ahead of Mata, saying the later still needs to change his style of play. If Mata (and his agent) have any sense, the midfielder should be on the first transfer out of Stamford Bridge when the January transfer window comes knocking. With 12 goals in 35 appearances last season, an 85% pass accuracy and a reasonable ability to win tussles in the midfield, Mata could be an asset to any other team. Chelsea still have a long way to go this season and their start has left many wondering just how “special” Mounrinho actually is. Saturday’s win was far from vintage and the Blues struggled for most of the first half, but at least the win will boost their confidence a little bit, for the time being anyway.
Wanyama and Schneiderlin are a match made in heaven
Victor Wanyama is best known as the man who made Rod Stewart cry in public. When the Kenyan scored for Celtic against Barcelona to seal a famous win at Celtic Park, the 22-year-old achieved instant cult status. Since his £12.5 million over the summer, much has been made about it. Kenny Shiels has said Neil Lennon deserves to be “knighted” for being able to sell the midfielder for that much. Perhaps the fee was on the high side, but Wanyama’s partnership with Morgan Schneiderlin has been brutal. The Kenyan suffocates attacks, constantly getting on the ball and ready to go in for tackles any time, while Schneiderlin orchestrates the build up. Southampton is a good club with high ambitions, and while most of those might not transpire during Wanyama’s time at St Mary’s, he’ll be crucial in setting the foundations towards getting there.
How long will Mathieu Debuchy last?
Mathieu Debuchy hasn’t had the best start to his career at Newcastle. He finally looked as though he’d settled when Newcastle played against Aston Villa last week, but against Hull City, he was back to struggled. The defender faded into the background far too often on Saturday and gave Hull far too much space – and Debuchy being completely unaware of Robbie Brady led to the opening goal. He’s only won 65% of tackles in five appearances and it seems everyone in the Toon team is a bit low on confidence. Loic Remy was the one highlight of the day, but he is only on loan from Queens Park Rangers. That spell is due to end in May, but it’d serve Alan Pardew well to try to sign the forward on a permanent deal before somebody else tries to pry him away. DM
Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United
Cardiff 0-1 Tottenham
Arsenal 3-1 Stoke
Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea
Norwich 0-1 Aston Villa
Liverpool 0-1 Southampton
Newcastle 2-3 Hull
West Brom 3-0 Sunderland
West Ham 2-3 Everton
Chelsea 2-0 Fulham DM
Photo: Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany (R) gets hit in his face as he is challenged by Manchester United’s David de Gea during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northern England, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples