Sport

Premier League Naphand: Five talking points, week six

By Antoinette Muller 30 September 2013

Two sides from Manchester lost, Arsenal continue their unbeaten run and Everton sit ahead of Manchester United in the league table with a game in hand. The Premier League is pulling out all the stops as it rolls along at a feverish pace. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks five points from week six.

It was a weekend of Manchester upsets as both United and City suffered defeats. United’s were far more embarrassing than City, though, and those who indulge in the Premier League purely for entertainment purposes were grinning like Cheshire cats. The season isn’t even one third of the way through and already it’s looking like it could be one of the most tightly contested title races – if things carry on this way, at least.

Arsenal are two points clear at the top of the table, an unthinkable prospect after the way their season started off. There is a long way to go yet and the Gunners still have to face the “big teams”, but all the little signs are there that they can mount a title challenge if they manage to keep their key players fit.

After a sluggish two weeks at the start, the Premier League is finally in full swing. We picked five talking points from the weekend gone by.

Chelsea’s misfiring strike force

Chelsea’s strikers are yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season. It’s only been six weeks so there is nothing to press the panic button about just yet, but between Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o, The Blues are misfiring upfront in the League. Torres got the nod over Eto’o on Saturday and he had a brilliant second half; however, a red card for the Spaniard could see him miss a few League games, leaving Chelsea struggling again. He apparently clawed Jan Vertonghen after a rather over-dramatised fall, and now critics are claiming the Belgian faked his injury to get Torres disciplined. Jose Mourinho was appalled at Vertonghen’s behaviour, but Torres was lucky to survive it. Law of the land says hands on the face is a red card and a near gouge should have seen him sent off.

Chelsea will now have to reply on Eto’o in the next game against Norwich and, despite Mourinho’s protests of “wanting action taken” against Vertonghen, the chances of getting away with scratching the opposition’s face is slim. Eto’o certainly is talented, but he hasn’t quite adjusted to the Premier League’s pace just yet. A big test awaits the man from Cameroon.

United in crisis?

It’s funny what is considered a crisis these days. When a team is used to dominance after such a long period of time, it is perhaps shocking to win just two of their last six games. On Saturday, Manchester United’s defence looked like scrambled egg clotted up in the sink. West Brom looked a far better team for most of the game and the Baggies are now unbeaten in their last three games in the Premier League. Perhaps United underestimated their opposition or maybe they are just having some trouble adjusting to change.

Even though he has been groomed to take over from Alex Ferguson for years, perhaps David Moyes should have worked alongside his mentor for the first season. Both to help him get used to handling the side and, perhaps, to ease the expectation and the mountains of criticism. Moyes has admitted that he was slightly concerned about United’s performances, saying: “We never really got going. We had a lot of the ball in the first half and never made many chances from it. We did make some from it and we didn’t finish and they always looked a threat on the break, in the first half especially when they got away, and even more so in the second half.”

Are United in a slump? A little. Are they in a crisis? Well, someone is always in crisis in the Premier League.

Arsenal’s defence looks a bit more cohesive, for now

It’s been a while since Arsenal looked sound at the back. They haven’t been able to defend a lead against a side constantly pressing forward. Laurent Koscielny was a boss in the back four and the midfielders knew exactly what their role was. The midfielders look acutely aware of where the ball is going and constantly dropped back whenever they were needed.

It was a far cry from the Arsenal team who looked panicked towards the end of games far too often. The way roles are shifting whilst on the pitch is magical. Sure, there will be a few worries when the inevitable happens and one of the main four in the back get injured, but for now, Arsenal look like a complete and solid team.

Besides, who cares about defence when you’ve got the perfect combination of creating and scoring goals down to textbook perfection?

How much are Everton fans smiling at the moment?

When David Moyes left Everton, there was a sense of it being an end of an era. While that era was mostly underscored by “what could have been” and a lot of disappointment, there was something to look forward to for the Toffees. Everton got a nice wad of cash with the sale of Marouane Fellaini, all while managing to hold on to Leighton Baines. Baines has been absolutely superb and Everton now sit pretty, eighth place in the league with a game in hand against Newcastle. Moyes had always said that he wanted to get Everton above Manchester United in the table and it’s finally happened, only not in the way he would have liked.

You don’t have to be the best to beat the best

How exactly Aston Villa beat Manchester City on Saturday will still be the question swirling around many heads on Monday morning. City were much better, but Villa were relentlessly tenacious. Even without the injured Christian Benteke, Villa pulled a rabbit out of a hat and caused the biggest upset of the season. At half time, the stats were very much against the hosts as City held 68% possession and had taken 10 shots compared to Villa’s three. The possession stats didn’t change much, but Villa did convert the chances they were given. City’s defence fell apart unusually at crucial times and players were ball watching instead. Small errors were illuminated and ultimately cost City big time.

Weekend Premier League results:

Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea

Aston Villa 3-2

Fulham 1-2 Cardiff

Hull 1-0 West Ham

Manchester United 1-2 West Brom

Southampton 2-0

Swansea 1-2 Arsenal

Stoke 0-1 Norwich

Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool DM

Photo: Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (L) challenges West Bromwich Albion’s Gareth McAuley during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester September 28, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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