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 7 & 8 (October 5th – October 21st):
— Seventh week results saw Manchester City winning 3-1 against Everton; Liverpool winning 3-1 against Crystal Palace; Manchester United winning 2-1 against Sunderland; Chelsea winning 3-1 at Norwich; and Arsenal drawing 1-1 at West Brom.
— Eighth week results included Liverpool drawing 2-2 with Newcastle at St James’ Park; Manchester City winning 3-1 at West Ham; Manchester United drawing 1-1 with Southampton; Chelsea winning 4-1 against Cardiff; and Arsenal winning 4-1 against Norwich.
— Manchester United’s are still enduring a troubled start to the season. Coming from behind against Sunderland coupled with two goals from an unheard-of young Belgian player (Adnan Januzaj) would have evoked fond ‘Fergie-time’ memories, but their 1-1 draw with Southampton two weeks later was a stark reminder that those results are no longer formalities. With only three league wins in eight matches, it is looking increasingly unlikely that United will retain the Championship this season. It will be interesting to see how patient the United board will be with manager David Moyes, especially if losing out on a top four finish becomes a serious possibility. There’s still plenty of time to sort things out, but games are rapidly becoming ‘must-wins’ for Moyes.
— Manchester City’s victories against Everton and West Ham would have helped them to put their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich (in the Champions League) behind them but their inconsistencies continue. There is no doubt that they have exceptional quality in midfield and in attack, but when they are on the back foot and have to rely on goalie Joe Hart and their defense, the opposition has every chance. The biggest Premiership game in the next two weeks is between Chelsea and Manchester City on Sunday 27th October at Stamford Bridge, and that will be one to watch.
— Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, is still struggling to find his best team. A 3-1 victory at Norwich was secured in the 85th and 86th minutes by two of the three substitutes he had brought on at 1-1, and the winning goal against Cardiff didn’t come until after Mourinho had sent on Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior and Fernando Torres in the 60th minute. About five positions are still up for grabs and, at this point, this is five too many. Mourinho will be hoping that the players competing for these places start making their case sooner rather than later as, apart from anything else, it will make his job a great deal easier.
— Arsenal, on the other hand, are playing as well as ever, with midfielder Jack Wilshere (above left) scoring the goal of the season so far against Norwich. The question is how sustainable this form is and, more tellingly, how they will react when something goes against them. Memories of the 2007-2008 season when they capitulated in January after leading the league by five points with only twelve matches to play, is still raw, and manager Arsène Wenger will want to avoid Gallas-esque tantrums and Eduardo-style injuries this time around.
— Striker Luis Suárez (above) has hit the ground running since his return to the Liverpool team but he remains a divisive character. Diving, cheating, and biting (!) are all juxtaposed with performances of sheer class, and there were plenty of viewers nervously holding their breath when, after scoring against Sunderland, he took off his shirt to reveal something written on his t-shirt beneath…phew…it was only a ‘welcome to the world’ message to his newborn son but, hey, it could have been anything.
— Not that Ian Holloway’s managerial skills are held in particularly high regard in the Premiership, but I am all ears to hearing him explain why he was singing along to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ when Crystal Palace visited Anfield on October 5th. I expect he’d try to trivialize it or explain that he was caught up in the emotion, but would you ever see Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger singing along with the opposition? I don’t think so.
— Granted, the World Cup next year will provide some good entertainment (probably more off the pitch than on – if the last seven World Cups are anything to go by), and the prospect of playing in them will inspire the players to perform during the club season – but there’s really no better example of games that feel more like pulling teeth than World Cup Qualifiers. Thankfully these are, bar the playoffs, behind us now, so we can all look forward to those international friendlies again … erm … right.
— There are some really big games in the next two weeks to look forward to including Chelsea v Manchester City on October 27th and Arsenal v Liverpool on 2nd November. On another note, and simply impossible to ignore, is one of the biggest games in the world – Barcelona v Real Madrid (9am EST) on Saturday October 26th – so get that in your diaries tout de suite.
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.