Many might find it difficult to accept that Nottingham Forest…
The English Premier League is the most watched professional league in the world not because it houses the best defence, midfield or even attack but somehow through its organized chaos, it has become a chocolate bar of surprises and unpredictability that fans love either as those fortunate enough to pour through stadium gates or those who watch with the good old remote in one hand and a bowl of popcorn in the other on a hot Saturday afternoon.
Match Day One served a timely reminder as why that might be. Chaos remained the watchword and viewers got the spoils of it much to their entertainment while the following lessons were picked up.
Same Arsenal but Maybe with a Little Tweak
The Gunners were direct against Leicester City and by full time it felt like the familiar season-tale story of starting strong, falling apart mid-way, then rallying back to get as much spoils to hang on and not stay empty handed. Only this time it was a surmised within 90 minutes.
One positive is Lacazette’s performance not because it took him 94 seconds to open his account but mostly his overall movement and the shape he added to Arsenal’s attack. His quick feet and ability to ghost behind opposition defence will be very valuable as long as those behind him slot in through passes for the former Lyon man to chase.
In Giroud, Wenger is sure of a super-sub that offers his squad a firm plan B should less sophisticated teams decide to put their men behind the ball. Also, for the fact that the Professor could accommodate both French strikers at this same time on the pitch, with Lacazette shifting to the left, offers a hybrid attack line. A valuable weapon for a league as stubborn as England’s.
Coutinho Remains Central to Liverpool’s Fate
Granted, Jurgen Klopp’s attack did a nice job on Saturday, with the defence having a filled dish of blames for their inability to hold-off Watford, limbo habitant Phillipe Coutinho still remains crucial to The Red’s net fortunes this season.
Say what you will about Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren but even the best defences in world football hardly cope if those in front of them fail to sustain pressure on their opposite numbers. Coutinho is the kind of player whose presence compels teams to pay more attention to their back-line, something that abates the tendency to surge forward in droves and leave pockets of space behind.
With Barcelona hell-bent on replacing Neymar with his compatriot and although Coutinho handed in a transfer request 24 hours to Liverpool’s season opener, the absence of a buy-out clause in his contract means as long as the miniature Brazilian does not go rogue ala Diego Costa, the bargaining chip remains in their favour.
They really need to hang on to that guy.
Chelsea are in Bed with Self-destruction
The Abrahamovic-owned club enter this season as defending champions and like Leicester did last time, appear only interested in proving the age long adage that ‘managing success is harder than attaining it’.
One glance at The Blues’ sub-list and you will be forgiven for thinking they were playing in some U-21 NextGen Series cup. The gods of soccer might have favoured Antonio Conte with an injury free squad last season but with the shallow mess of a squad at his disposal right now plus Champions League engagements, the deities’ seemingly washing their hands off his case spells stark doom.
With an injury depleted squad, a callow bench, a reckless captain and undisciplined midfield veteran, Chelsea’s horror display against Burnley was inevitable. Figuring out how a club owned by a happy spender as Abrahamovic can be so passive in the transfer market is like explaining the possibility of a fish dying of thirst.
This is plain old self-sabotage at best.
Mourinho has a “Now Or Never” Squad
They call it the second season spell, Mourinho’s success at the second year of nearly every club he has coached. If you’re a skeptic, you can laugh it off but before you do, check out his records at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea once more.
The Red Devil’s poetic 4-0 hammering of The Hammers on Sunday afternoon might as well have set up Manchester United as a potential candidate for the list above.
United have spent over half a billion pounds in a bid to return to the perch Sir Alex Ferguson toiled for decades to place them yet, it is safe to admit that despite all their transfer expenses, hardly were they complete as a squad. The lopsidedness was always apparent until now.
With Eric Bailly’s arrival last summer and Victor Lindelof’s last month, Nemanja Matic’s scoop from Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku who has proven he can turn the painful draws of last season into wins, Man United now look like a team observers will struggle to point out a chink within its armoury ranks. That is the kind of team that wins championships. It is now or never.
Leonard Uyanwanne is a brooder of life in general, he loves washing it down with a toast of poetry and a heavy dose of psychedelic rock.