Arsenal remain at the top of the table and now sit five points clear, but with fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea to come before Christmas, they'll probably be disappointed to have dropped points against Everton. Even more so with both Manchester City and Chelsea dropping points over a match day weekend that had yet another “wow” factor. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks five talking points.
Two match days have come and gone, faster than you can say Luis Suarez hat-trick, but the same themes keep on recurring. Arsenal remain top of the table, Manchester United continue to remain unconvincing, Chelsea concede goals with gay abandon away from home and Everton might play Champions League football next season.
Luckily, all those recurring themes come with delicate nuance of different complications every week and this really is becoming a Premier League season to behold. Almost every match day, there is a “how did that happen?” result. The match week gone by was no different, and here are five talking points from the weekend.
Does David Moyes feel like his ex his better off without him?
This is awkward. Under Roberto Martinez, Everton are going from strength to strength. They are flourishing and flowing and adapting to a new style of play with great esteem. They’re even doing so without one of their “star” players, Marouane Fellaini. Meanwhile, Manchester United are struggling under David Moyes and he must feel a bit like that moment when you realise your ex is better off without you. United’s struggles in the Premier League continued with a 1-0 loss to Newcastle over the weekend and while the faith should be kept in Moyes, it does beg two questions. Just how good was Alex Ferguson as a manager and just how average might Moyes be? Ferguson clearly managed to do magic with a side that wasn’t all that hot whole Moyes struggled to get the best out of a team who was worth more than their weight in gold. Yes, there have been changes to the personnel at both clubs, but the difference in outcomes are truly fascinating.
Everton on the break and Laurent Koscielny bossing defence
How on earth Arsenal’s game against Everton only ended up being 1-1 is anyone’s guess. It was breathless and relentless from both teams and it took until deep into the second half for Arsenal to break through, only for Everton to respond a few minutes later. In the opening 40 minutes, Everton were in control at The Emirates and made 264 passes, compared to 122 by Arsenal. The chemistry between Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo was magical, with the pair playing lovely little one-twos whenever they could. When Everton broke through, they did so on the break and managed to so against Arsenal, just like they did during their demolition job of Stoke City. Where Arsenal did outperform Everton, though, was in keeping Romelu Lukaku quiet. Lukaku was tasked with trying to get past Koscielny instead of Metersacker. The Frenchman’s job was simple: stop Lukaku from turning. His pace helped him and he outsmarted the Belgian for most of the game. It was an encouraging performance from the Gunners and, compared to their erratic defence from the last two seasons, a massive improvement.
Chelsea’s dodgy goal conceding away from home
Stoke City came from behind to stun Chelsea and beat them 3-2 over the weekend, following the Blues’ 4-3 win away at Sunderland midweek. Chelsea’s style of play has changed under Jose Mourinho, of course, and right from the moment when Andre Schurrle opened the Blues’ account it was clear that it was going to be another one of those days. There was no shutting up shop and parking the bus, perhaps because nobody in the back four knows how to actually drive the bus. Chelsea’s defence is dodgy and their lapses in set pieces have been cringeworthy. It was their third defeat away from home this season and they have now conceded 11 goals in their last seven games. Sure, they might be scoring freely, but a leaky defence isn’t going to take them to the top of the Premier League table.
Andros Townsend on the left wing
He divides debate between club and country and his 16 minute, but Andros Townsend’s cameo for Spurs on the weekend was encouraging. He played on the left wing and he managed to get past his full-back marker twice. He has mostly played on the right this season and while he had success in that position, some of that became somewhat predictable, making it too easy for defenders to put him in their pockets. Although it’d be foolish to judge a player on a mere 16 minutes on the pitch, it was the most convincing Spurs have looked from the left side since the injury to Danny Rose. It might be worth trying Townsend on the left in a game where he starts, to see how he performs and whether he could play a more floating role. There’s no telling whether his style of playing this position will also become predictable, though.
And the Saints start marching on, again
After three losses on the trot, Southampton stole a vital point from Manchester City thanks to a superb strike from Dani Osvaldo. The Saints managed their result without a number of their key players and although manager Mauricio Pochettino looked somewhat disappointed with just a point, he can take heart from his team’s performance. The St. Mary’s club are proving to be a club that can survive the ebbs and flows of the Premier League and remain an all-round “good egg” side who is likable for neutrals and not completely detestable to rivals. Southampton’s passing has been their key asset this season and the mini tika-taka approach ensured the pressure was constantly on City.
Premier League match week 15 results
Photo: Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle (2nd R) celebrates after scoring against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, December 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Andrew Winning)
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