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Premier League: 5 Things

Remi Garde

The past few days have witnessed a marked shift in the DNA of the Premier League; Aston Villa added to their French legion by appointing Remi Garde as manager, Wayne Rooney’s dwindling physical prowess became more obvious than ever, and Arsenal continued their rampant surge towards the summit – here’s five things that defined the top-flight this weekend.

1. Wayne Rooney is no longer a central striker

It’s been obvious for the last couple of years, to anyone with eyes at least, that while Sir Wayne of Roon-shire remains an excellent technical footballer, his physical traits are on the slide.

Despite this, Manchester United insist on using him as a lone striker, with the more dynamic Anthony Martial shunted onto the wing to accommodate the shop-worn  30 year-old, who would be better served as a number ten playing just behind the French starlet.

2. Jamie Vardy could be an ideal foil for Harry Kane

Jamie Vardy nipped in with yet another eleventh hour winner this weekend, scoring for the eighth league match in succession to secure Leicester City’s latest thrilling victory, the Foxes edging a five goal thriller against West Brom at the Hawthorns.

Vardy’s pace, work-rate and close control, aligned with cultured end product, places him among the front-runners for an England forward berth; he’d be a perfect partner for Tottenham’s Harry Kane, with Rooney’s aforementioned transition into midfield allowing this thrilling front two to blossom.

3. Sunderland’s fluky Derby win papered over some large cracks

The Mackems and their fans rejoiced just over a week ago, as they defeated North-East neighbours Newcastle United with assistance from one of the shoddiest refereeing displays in years (courtesy of the incompetent Robert Madley).

Karma was well and truly dished out the following weekend, as Everton destroyed Sam Allardyce’s terrible troupe 6-2, a scoreline that flattered Sunderland who were abysmal for 85 of the 90 minutes. They can’t rely entirely upon inept officials to save them it seems.

4. Chelsea should have strengthened in the summer

John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa are a few of the many Chelsea players whose stars have dimmed strikingly this season. Meanwhile Eden Hazard, the 2014-15 PFA Player of The Year, has become a liability in amongst the chaos.

Controversial events behind the Stamford Bridge scenes, woeful results and a trigger happy owner could combine to spell the end of Jose Mourinho’s second spell with the club any time soon; a 3-1 home capitulation against Liverpool the latest in a string of dysfunctional defeats for the Blues.

5. Remi Garde will need to hit the ground running

The 3-1 scoreline of Aston Villa’s latest defeat, this time at the hands of Spurs, failed to tell the whole story; the league’s bottom side were completely outclassed, looking every inch a second-tier team in the process.

New managers usually enjoy a honeymoon period, and former Lyon boss Garde will hope to witness something better when he officially takes charge of his first match for the club at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon. The opposition? League leaders Manchester City!

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League: 5 Things

A pivotal weekend of Premier League action saw pressure heaped on one of the world’s most successful coaches, while a couple of other situations became vacant. Meanwhile, the shackles were torn off the top-flight’s top striker. Kureen looks at five things we learned from the past couple of days.

1. Aguero is back to his brilliant best

For 44 minutes Newcastle United more than matched Manchester City at the Etihad, leading 1-0 and spurning a trio of gaping opportunities to extend that lead.

Enter Aguero to bag a record equalling 5 goals in the 16 subsequent minutes of play, joining Messrs Shearer, Cole, Berbatov and Defoe in achieving the quintet. Disappointingly for home fans, the diminutive Argentinian forward was subbed off in the 62nd minute with the outright record seemingly within his grasp.

2. Aston Villa are now a club in crisis

The summer signings looked excellent on paper, and an opening day win at Bournemouth built up expectation. One point in seven games since then have provided a reality check for the Midland club, with only Rudy Gestede shining among the off-season acquisitions.

Villa are backed for a narrow away win

Manager Tim Sherwood faces the chop just eight games into a new campaign, with the next eight fixtures unlikely to ease that burden – trips to Chelsea, Southampton, Spurs and Everton, as well as home matches against Arsenal, Manchester City and Swansea are on the horizon.

3. The title race is wide open

The manner in which Arsenal dispatched Manchester United 3-0, coupled with three point hauls for a host of teams near the summit, once again highlighted the lack of consistency in the English top tier this term.

No team looks untouchable, with the returns to form of talismanic South Americans Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero probably sufficient to ensure some sleepless nights for opposing defenders.

4. The manager merry-go-round begins

Liverpool ditched Brendan Rodgers after a 1-1 derby day draw at Everton, with Dick Advocaat stepping away from his role at Sunderland after they let a two goal lead slip in their 2-2 draw with West Ham.

Plenty of other managers are under the cosh; Jose Mourinho, Steve McClaren and Tim Sherwood will all be crossing fingers, toes and tracksuit bottoms that their owners have more patience than the fat cats at Anfield.

5. Leicester and Palace could challenge for Europe

Two clubs that continued their wonderful starts to the season are Crystal Palace and Leicester City, both of whom find themselves in the top five as we head towards another international break.

The Eagles look the more complete group, with Yohan Cabaye pulling strings for the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie to prosper. The Foxes are full of confidence as well, but are less likely to remain as prosperous when they inevitably suffer a couple of injuries and/or suspensions.

Let us know your thoughts on the weekend’s action – should Brendan Rodgers have been given more time? Comment below, and if you’re feeling good natured like our Facebook page.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League Preview: 5 Things

With another weekend of bombastic fixtures, the Premier League season is well and truly taking shape already.  

Number 5

Just over a month in, there have already been a handful of shocks and surprises. We take a look at five things we should know a little more about by the beginning of next week.

City Spurred back to winning ways?

Manchester City were a mite unfortunate not to take at least a point against West Ham last weekend, but coupled with a disappointing display against Juventus in Europe it placed some pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini – you’re only ever two bad results from a crisis when fickle oil tycoons control your destiny!

An emphatic 4-1 League Cup spanking of whipping boys Sunderland was a timely reminder of how dangerous the Citizens can be when wounded. This weekend they face a Spurs team who crashed out of the same cup competition at home to fierce rivals Arsenal.

Tottenham have looked a shadow of their former selves so far this term, but with home advantage and their own burden to bear after the mid-week shambles, I expect them to respond with a decent home display.

Conclusion: Harry Kane to score early, as Spurs dig deep for a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.

Chelsea defeat = McClaren chop?

Wally with Brolly McClaren

Steve McClaren is a man under pressure only 8 matches into his reign as Newcastle manager. Of those only one has resulted in a win (against lowly Northampton Town in the League Cup), two draws and five defeats, the most recent of which was a humbling home reverse against Championship team Sheffield Wednesday.

Chelsea have been hit and miss (as has Diego Costa with his fists), but their 2-0 win against title rivals Arsenal last weekend provided evidence of a return to form. Despite the dough-faced Spanish striker’s rough house tactics, Jose Mourinho’s men were good value for the result.

A Newcastle defeat might be expected, but Mourinho has never won a match at St James’ Park, so it would be another unwelcome feather in McClaren’s already overloaded cap.

Conclusion: Newcastle have stepped up against the better sides they’ve faced, but their toothless team will have no joy today – Chelsea to win 3-1.

Brendan’s last bow?

Another manager under intense scrutiny is Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. The affable Northern Irishman has never really recovered from losing star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona just over a year ago.

On paper Aston Villa provide ideal opposition, having collected only one point from their past five league outings, but the Villains have previous at Anfield, collecting eight points from their last four visits to Merseyside.

Both teams will be desperate to pick up the win, and although on paper The Reds have a far superior group of players, they have yet to gel.

Conclusion: With Benteke seemingly unfit to take on his former club and Daniel Sturridge not match ready, Danny Ings will step up as his side sneak a priceless 2-1 win.

Foxes to finally lose against Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger Statue

Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes have been one of the surprise packages of the season, winning three and drawing three of their opening half a dozen fixtures.

In Jamie Vardy they have a forward brimming with confidence as they continually defy the odds to comeback late in games, their philosophy to outscore the opposition and hit them on the break.

Arsenal haven’t quite reached their apex, with the spotlight firmly placed on a lack of signings. Delectable approach play is too often undermined by profligate finishing… Why didn’t they go for Charlie Austin or Alexandre Lacazette?

Conclusion: Arsenal will click, and as long as their strikers are on song they’ll take three points back to North London: 2-1 away win.

Rooney to end goal drought?

He might be banging the cup goals in, and striking penalties home for England, but Wayne Rooney’s Premier League form has been lacklustre thus far, outshone by the dazzling potential of £40m+ teenage acquisition Anthony Martial.

True, Rooney is playing a number ten role, but he looks bereft of confidence when it comes to burying chances; Alan Shearer’s 260 goal EPL record appears ever more distant with each blank display.

Step up Sunderland, a team conceding goals by the bucket load. Although the Mackems have pigeon-brained Younes Kaboul suspended, the rest of their back-line isn’t much better, so if Rooney is going to break his duck he couldn’t have chosen a more fitting opponent.

Conclusion: United will ram home three goals, two from Rooney, as they complete a routine 3-0 rout.

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.