Football. Soccer. Whatever your kicks, NewsWhistle sums up the best of the English Premier League, keeping you up-to-date with a fortnightly dose of antics and anecdotes, both on and off the pitch.
SUMMARY OF WEEKS 5 & 6 (September 21st – October 4th):
— Fifth week results included Liverpool losing 0-1 to Southampton; Chelsea winning 2-0 against Fulham; Manchester City beating Manchester United 4-1; Arsenal winning 3-1 against Stoke; and Tottenham winning 1-0 against Cardiff.
— Sixth week results included Manchester City losing 2-3 to Aston Villa; Manchester United losing 1-2 to West Brom; Chelsea drawing 1-1 with Tottenham; and Arsenal wining 2-1 away at Swansea. Liverpool beat Sunderland 3-1.
— Manchester United manager David Moyes’s excuse at the start of the season – that the fixture list (schedule) was unfair – was working until his team lost to little bitty West Bromwich Albion (photo of WBA’s Saido Berahino above). Moyes duly needed another one after that, and that came in the form of stating that United needed another five to six world class players to compete [in the Champions League]. The danger of such a request is not that it will not be sanctioned by the Manchester United board, but that it will irritate the current players, whose record last season would indicate that they are already world class. Moyes should tread carefully – bruised egos, bad results and a refusal to take responsibility do not together go well.
— Manchester City pose the biggest conundrum of the season so far. They should possess the required belief and motivation to win back the title – they finished second last season and they made some strong improvements to their squad over the summer. But just as you think they’re going to take off, they get ruthlessly dragged back. A great performance against Manchester United was immediately followed up by a dramatic defeat to Aston Villa. Manchester City’s defense remains in question, and the jury is still out over Manuel Pellegrini’s capabilities in the Premier league.
— Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Stoke and their 2-1 victory against Swansea saw them continue their strong form. Mathieu Flamini is reveling his holding midfielder role in the center of the park, which Arsenal have been badly missing since Alex Song’s departure the season before last; and Aaron Ramsay is a player transformed. Arsenal are top of the league at the moment, but their strength in depth leaves a certain amount to be desired and there is a long, long way to go.
— Sunderland head coach Paulo Di Canio (above) engaged in a bizarre act of communication with team fans after Sunderland lost 3-0 to West Brom. In case you missed it, Di Canio came onto the pitch at the end of the game and stood facing towards the fans. He then proceeded to nod, frown, shake his head, clap, shrug his shoulders, and gesture for them to keep their chins up. Sunderland fans looked confused, and whatever message that Di Canio was trying to convey, it couldn’t have been less clear. Di Canio was promptly sacked in the morning – but the real question was not why was he sacked so early in the season, but why on earth was he hired in the first place?
— There are some interesting team choices being made by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at the moment. With arguably the second best squad in the league (behind Manchester City’s), two of their best players – Juan Mata and David Luiz – are struggling to get much game time. The reasons are unclear (something about the style of football Chelsea want to play and orders not being followed on the pitch), and Mourinho’s popularity among Chelsea fans remains robust – but with some rather mediocre results and an historically impatient owner, whatever strategy Mourinho has in mind may need tweaking at some point.
— Big games to look forward to in the next two weeks include Manchester City v Everton; Sunderland v Manchester United on Saturday 5th October; and Norwich v Chelsea on Sunday 6th October.
— The weekend of October 12th are World Cup qualifying games, so there’s a two week break before Newcastle play Liverpool on October 19th; Manchester United play Southampton; Chelsea play Cardiff and Arsenal play Norwich.
— Manchester City play Bayern Munich on Tuesday 2nd October – probably the pick of all those Champions League matches, although Arsenal’s game against Napoli and Shaktar’s game against Manchester United aren’t without intrigue.
Charlie Serocold is a fiction, sports and travel writer. Originally from London, he now calls New York home. Charlie can be reached at Charlie@NewsWhistle.com.