Sunday, 28 August 2016

Saturday Premier League Review: The Big Teams

Tottenham Vs Liverpool (1-1)
Although I watched only the last quarter of this lunch time kick off game, but what I saw was not different from what I anticipated earlier in a clash involving two managers whose footballing philosophies are one and the same; high-pressing-attacking-game.
The clash ended 1-1, with Liverpool first to draw the blood through a James Milner's first half penalty that was dubiously won by Roberto Firmino. In the second half, with less than a quarter of an hour to go, Danny Rose delivered a half volley from a Eriksen's cross that evaded all Liverpool defenders for a Spurs equalizer.
While, the Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochetino would feel dissatisfied with the outcome of the result considering that his side are also fighting for the title, Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side would have signed for the result before kick-off coming off the back of a humiliating 2-0 loss to Burnley last weekend.

Chelsea vs Burnley (3-0)
In his pre match press conference, the Burnley manager, Dyche said that his side would not sit back deep and allow Chelsea dictate the game. Well, the 3-0 defeat suffered by his side at Stamford Bridge was the huge price Burnley paid for playing an open game from the first blast of the whistle.
Yesterday, Burnley lined up in the traditional 4-4-2 system. While Conte set up his Chelsea side in a 4-3-3 system. Dyche's formation was made inorder to match words with action. With due respect to Burnley, but when a newly promoted team plays with two strikers, two central midfielders, two wide players and high a defensive line of four players against such a dangerous counter attacking side like Chelsea, well, expecte goals feast. This was what happened yesterday; Burnley were roundly defeated with goals from Hazard, Willian and Moses.
On one hand, Conte and his team will go into the international break on the back of a 100% start to this premier league campaign and top of league table ahead of United on superior goal diference if Man City fail to win against Westham later today. On the other hand, Burnley could be left wondering how a team that recorded a 2-0 win over Liverpool crumbled against Chelsea. Well, such is the hard reality of football; a slight tactical blip could be severely punished by a smart opponent.

Watford vs Arsenal (1-3)
The 3-4 loss to Liverpool and the 0-0 draw in the home of the Premier League Champions, Leicester City, meant that Arsene Wenger's Arsenal couldn't afford to drop early points any more if they were to be considered genuine title contenders. Meanwhile, Walter  Mazzarri's Watford went into the match brimming with confidence having secured a 1-1 away win at Southampton on the opening day of the season, and also narrowly loss 1-2 at home to Chelsea last weekend.
In typical Arsenal style, the Gunners started the game brightly with some breathe taking passing that proved too difficult for Watford to stop. The reward for their hard work paid off as goals from Cazorla, Alexis and Ozil ensured that North London side recorded their first victory of the season away at Watford. With the expection of the last 15 minutes of the game when they scored their solitary goal, Watford didn't trouble Arsenal.
Arsenal must maintain this momentum after the international break if they desire to land their first premier league title in almost two decades. On the other hand, Mazzarri will have to reconsider his 3-5-2 tactics that left his side exposed to a fast paced Arsenal attack because more sides would surely exploit that weakness as the season progresses.

Hull City vs Manchester United (0-1)
With Chelsea's earlier victory over Burnley, it means that United have to win inorder to be levelled on points with the Blues going into the international break. In the late kick-off game, the rainy condition at KCOM stadium didn't help matters, but at the end United got all the three points they needed to remain levelled on points (9) with Chelsea going into the international break.
Jose Mourinho's side started out rather too pedestrian in their build up play which was constantly dealt with by Hull City. Not until the closing stage of the game, there was little or no action to cheer from both sides. Well, Mourinho did what he does when his team needs a goal; threw  in attacking players, and at the end, his team got a 92nd mintue winner through a certain teenager in the name of Rashford.
This was not an easy win for Mourinho's men thanks to lack of creativity amongst his attacking players and cautious approach in the early part of the game. I expect The Special One to find a solution to this since he has attacking players in his team. Hull City would feel hard done-by in a game that they defended for their lives only to concede a 92 minute goal. Well, that is the prize you pay when you tactically set up your team to defend and not attack for the entire duration of a game.

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