Football fans in England came alive again over the weekend as the ‘show spoiler’ called the international break was shoved aside and action resumed in the English Premier League.
(To get a full picture of their reaction over the resumption of the league, click HERE)
As always, the league leaders looked to get back to swatting aside teams and stretching their lead, but things didn’t quite go as planned.
Here are some thoughts:
Pep Guardiola is a fraud, obviously:
After going on rampage and winning the league, as some speculated, in the opening ten games of the season, Pep Guardiola got his first reality check from the unofficial founder of football, Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side before Mauricio Pochetinno gave life to the ‘No Pep without Messi debate’ as his team completely ‘outpressed” that of Pep and handed them a humiliating defeat.
Given all of these, the international break came at a good time for Pep. It gave him a breathing space and time to refresh and regroup.
Back at the weekend, he was facing a former mentor as a player who has drilled some defensive nous into Everton, but still City were expected to win somehow. However, that was not to be as Martin Stekelenburg stood firmly in the way off City’s attackers, saving two penalties, and somehow showing that a 100% pass completion rate isn’t the only way a goalkeeper can influence a game. As is now the case every match day, City conceded their customary goal (eight in eight games) and have now gone three games without a win (although two of those games were away from home).
The thing with being the best manager in the game (aka Pep Guardiola) is that standards are different. Nobody talks about you trying to mould your new team into something you want while blaming your predecessor, like the excuses being made for your ‘arch-rival’ just across town. Nobody cares if you’re on top of the table. You’re not allowed to drop points in the league, you have to only win the league and champions league at every club otherwise, you are a ‘fraud’.
The Champions need to get back some solidity:
Having done the completely unexpected and romped to the title last season, Leicester City seem to have their sights on another bit of history. They’re trying to mount the worst title defence ever. After David Moyes plumped the depths and justified the groans of sane minded people who wondered how he got the Manchester United job, Jose Mourinho went ahead and out did him. Both managers left before the season ended. Both clubs still managed to finish within the top ten.
It’s conceivable that Leicester will finish outside the top ten. Some will say that they would have regressed to the mean but that will make them the worst defending champions in the premier league era. For a clearer picture of their drop in form, they’ve lost their first four away games of the season (played 4, lost 4, conceded 13) in contrast to last season when they lost only two away games all season (played 19, lost 2, conceded 18). So in four games, they’ve already conceded 72% of the goals they conceded in away games last season. Yes, in those four games, they’ve faced Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea but those games yielded two points for them last season with only three goals against. It goes without saying that the ship needs some steadying.
Saints are doing it once again:
Southampton are poster boys of a well-run football club in the Premier League. It used to be Swansea City, but look at where they are now. The Saints have gone from Nigel Adkins, who left in January 2013, to Claude Puel in the space of almost four years. They have consistently improved on their league position while selling players for big money every close season.
Every season, the smart guys collectively known as British football pundits tip them to get relegated as if they have something against the club, and every season the club has improved.
They finished sixth last season. You wouldn’t know it what with how they flew under the radar but they lost their manager once again. This time he went to Everton and they replaced him with another highly rated manager from continental Europe. They didn’t start the season in an impressive fashion as the manger was trying to imprint his own ideas, but after picking up two points from their first four games, they picked up ten points from the next – four conceding only one goal in the process. Now they’re getting settled and the results are coming. Their next test in the Premier League is at the Etihad against a City team that will be likely be looking for a win after what will most likely be four games without one. Promises to be a real test.
This might be the season Sunderland go down:
Two winless teams, two basement dwellers but one team went with the three points. It wasn’t the Black Cats. They’ve not won a game in August or September in what seems like forever. They’ve consistently flirted with relegation since they got promoted from the Championship in 2006/2007 but, somehow, have always managed to stay up.
In the last few years, they’ve followed a simple routine: be awful at the start, fire manager, manage to escape relegation, then be awful at the start again. More than Jim Iyke is to breaking hearts in Nollywood flicks, Sunderland have been faithful to that routine and when they thought they had broken free from that cycle, the English FA snatched Sam Allardyce from them.T
They brought in David Moyes who seems to think the players at every club he manages are awful, even the ones that consistently won the league before he arrived. This time, it feels like they’ll be going down. Even the manager says he doesn’t know what’s wrong (despite being paid to know what’s wrong). They are the lowest scorers in the league and are entirely dependent on Jermain Defoe (he’s 34) for goals.
Although relegation would be unfair on a loyal set of fans and the community, this is a big club on a slow and inexorable march back to the Championship.
Article by Omorogbe Usuomon