Image from football365.com
We’re seven games into the new season now, and some clubs have certainly set the bar high with champions’ performances already. With Man City so elegantly defeating their city rivals, Liverpool and Arsenal both pulling Chelsea apart with ease, and then Tottenham having the last laugh of the weekend against the league favourites, it’s fair to say that the unpredictability of this league is still very much in tact.
We’ll start with league leaders Manchester City. After six Premier League wins in six games, Guardiola’s men looked unplayable, until Celtic of all teams brought them back down to earth in the Champions League midweek game. If that wasn’t a wake up call for Pep, then Tottenham’s professional and electric dismantling of his team certainly will be. Guardiola looked confused as his team couldn’t cope with the pace of the game, and he’s got two weeks to work out a plan to ensure teams don’t do that again. Let’s not get carried away though, Man City have been excellent until that game, and have entertained us all. Many are singing the praises of Kevin De Bruyne but for me it’s been the influence of David Silva that’s kept Man City playing the stylish football that’s won them games so easily. His presence in this team should not be understated.
In second place it’s the north Londoners who so often go about their business quietly, but Sunday’s result won’t go under the radar and Spurs will have to live with the fact that they are genuine title contenders. Despite a tactical masterclass from Spurs, I strongly believe that playing on a smaller pitch in front of a pulsating atmosphere is key to how Tottenham perform against the bigger clubs, and their performance at Wembley certainly seems to support that theory. Nonetheless they were excellent and that’s the standard they’ve set for themselves now.
Arsenal have surprised us all after a very slow start to the season, but it’s happening for them now. Very lucky to get all three points at Burnley but that won’t matter to them, they dug in and found a way. The most impressive thing for them is the way Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi have settled so quickly, as these are two players the club have badly missed for many years. We all know what Arsenal do though. They raise the bar, probably more than any other team, but fail to meet that standard on a regular basis. I believe their squad is capable this year, but is their manager? I have nothing but admiration for Arsene Wenger, and maybe in this year of all years he may just get it right.
Liverpool have started this season excellently but I have one real issue with their side. Whilst I am a huge fan of Klopp and the style of football Liverpool are playing in this moment in time, I can’t help but think that the amount of goals they’re conceding is only going to come back to haunt them. You can’t score in every game, but at the moment Liverpool have conceded in every game. If defensive issues aren’t corrected, then Liverpool better hope they don’t lose their attacking spark. For now though, they’re probably the team to beat on current form.
Everton are up there but again, I see it being a temporary thing and a flirt for top four. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ronald Koeman is a top manager and this side will grow hugely under him. However it won’t happen immediately. They play great football and have a strong back four to back that up. In Idrissa Gueye they probably have the bargain of the season, and Ashley Williams may be considered for that particular honour as well. As long as Lukaku keeps firing they’ve go every chance of being this seasons surprise package, though we all know Lukaku’s form can be very erratic at times.
Man Utd have been a victim of what I believe has been some fairly unfair criticism. They haven’t had an ideal first seven games, but it’s not been as bad as many think. They were very unfortunate not to beat Stoke on the weekend, and their new players are still finding their feet and blending into a new team with a new system. I believe Jose is trying to find a balance between his philosophy and that of the clubs, but once Jose Mourinho stamps his mark on this team, they’ll be the team to beat in my opinion. Not this season though, there’s still some adjustments to be done.
Chelsea may be a bit surprised by the recent holt in life under Antonio Conte, but I don’t think it should be too surprising for anyone. It’s no secret that Conte didn’t get the players he wanted in the summer transfer window, and he’s not playing his preferred formation, all in order to accommodate big players and their favourite positions. That will change slowly, but one thing he’s getting right is the form of Diego Costa. If he’s scoring, Chelsea always have a chance. I see Chelsea being a side only improving, as long as Terry and Costa lead from opposite ends of the pitch, and Hazard doesn’t switch off as he has in recent seasons.