We’ve decided to bring something new to Fanalysis! ‘Comments on the Week’ will be a short article where we share our thoughts on the main talking points from the last week – including match reports, transfer rumours and any other hot topics in the the world of football.
Everton 4-0 Man City
James: Everton blew Man City away on Sunday. It was a slow performance from City and the scoreline didn’t flatter Everton, as they really took the game to City. The change in formation worked for Everton this time, having been horribly exposed by Chelsea just a few months ago. Holgate and Funes Mori did brilliantly either side of Williams and the wing-backs got forward brilliantly. With regards to City – Sterling has lost his early season sparkle, and Toure hasn’t been controlling the midfield like De Bruyne was when he started centrally. Should Guardiola go back to his old methods?
Guardiola Being Exposed
James: I think it’s far too soon to judge Guardiola. The squad is ageing, and I think he thought he could trust certain players more than he actually can. He had a winning formula at the start of the season, and that wasn’t fluke – the side looked brilliant. I have to wonder, where’s Nolito gone? Nolito, Aguero and Sterling, with Silva, De Bruyne and Fernandinho behind them mirrored his famous Barcelona side in style – why move away from that?. If City add a few younger additions, and Guardiola goes back to the 4-3-3 system he knows and coaches so well, then I think they’ll be back. Guardiola needs to find his fight back though, as he looks very deflated.
Sam: I think that Guardiola has really underestimated this Premier League, especially when you play teams away from home. City won’t get the respect that teams in La Liga and the Bundesliga gave Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively, and this has shown not only against Everton on Sunday, but also away at Leicester and Liverpool in December. I am also stunned to see players like Zabaleta, Sagna and Kolarov still in the side. I think that’s another example of Pep’s stubbornness. He believed that he could take the group of players City had last season and change them completely under his philosophy. City’s title aspirations are over, in my opinion, but on the basis of their performance at Goodison Park, can they really compete in the Champions League?
Man Utd 1-1 Liverpool
James: I think United missed a real opportunity here. They started the game slowly, albeit had some good chances. Liverpool looked reserved themselves, but showed bravery going forward and tried to cause problems when possible. Man Utd couldn’t lose this game, and Zlatan stepped up at the end. I have to say, where were United’s big players on the day? Herrera led the team superbly, and Rojo and Jones did well at the back, but Pogba and Ibrahimovic were awfully quiet on the day. It can happen to anyone, and no doubt Liverpool would have prepared for their threats. However, we’ve seen it with Arsenal when Ozil doesn’t turn up – titles don’t get won if the big players don’t carry you through these games when the going gets tough.
Sam: This game, for me, summed up how different these two teams are; why Liverpool can achieve real success this season and why United will fall short. On paper, and maybe on form, United should have won this game, but all I saw from the Red Devils on Sunday were individual superstars on high wages trying to do things their own way, while the Liverpool players were playing like a team fighting for their teammates. With United, it was like watching the Galacticos of Real Madrid, with players being picked for their reputation and not their form. I was really frustrated to see Marcus Rashford play no part on the weekend. In local derbies, you need a bit of local blood on the field, to give you that extra bite and motivation. And on Sunday, United looked out of ideas, and in my opinion are very lucky to get that point.
Tottenham 4-0 West Brom
James: A superb performance from Spurs, who are the Premier League’s form team at the moment. Pochetino solved many issues with the 3-4-3 formation he’s implemented. He’s managing to fit his best players all in: Dier slots in at the back with Alderweireld and Vertognhen, Walker and Rose can get forward as they love to do without being exposed, Dembele and Wanyama can dominate midfield and Alli and Eriksen can both play centrally and behind Kane as opposed to one of them occupying a place on the wing. Everything solved and everything ticking nicely.
Sam: Spurs were very impressive on Saturday against a team who do not concede many. West Brom put in very astute performances away at Arsenal and Chelsea recently and were unfortunate to lose both those games 1-0. But the Lilywhites cut through their defence like a knife through butter. Despite Kane’s hat-trick, Dele Alli was my man of the match, who really pieced everything together for Spurs. The big blow for them was the loss of Jan Vertonghen, who is set to be out for three months. They have Ben Davies who can cover, but with European exploits on top of this, will that be enough for them to mount a serious title challenge?
Costa and Payet’s Potential Transfers
James: Payet has to go. He’s handled it terribly but West Ham have to accept that he’s not willing to change his stance on the issue and he needs to be shipped out. This isn’t a player leaving a top 4 club and moving to a competitor – this is a player who will leave to a different league, if not a club much higher up the table, so West Ham shouldn’t be scared to sell him. They can get a lot of money from a player like Payet. Cash in! With regards to Costa, I don’t think it’s as dramatic as people are making out. I believe the front three of Pedro, Hazard and Willian is actually more dynamic and dangerous, but Costa can score goals out of absolutely nothing. I think the worst thing for Chelsea is the problems it could cause in the camp. If it takes over, I think the wheels will come off. But their performance against Leicester suggests they’re not going to let it bother them.
Sam: Contracts don’t mean anything in football anymore. Especially with how quick things can change in football. We saw this last season with Manuel Pellegrini signing a new deal at Man City in August 2015, but then come the New Year, it was announced that it would be terminated come the end of the 2015/16 season. Therefore, I’m not surprised at all that Payet has asked to go despite signing a new 5 year-deal in February. Going on strike, however, is such a poor character trait which I have no time for. He should have realised what he was getting himself into when he joined West Ham. Everyone knew that their form would drop in the new stadium. If I were him, I’d carry on until the end of the season, but if I were the bosses at West Ham, I’d sell up today to the highest bidder. With Costa, again I’m not surprised he’s reportedly unsettled. The Chinese clubs are targeting the South American players playing in Europe, such as Oscar, Lavezzi and Jackson Martinez, who don’t come from very wealthy backgrounds, so these astronomical wages can pay for their families as well. Chelsea can’t afford to lose him though before the end of the season, as world-class replacements are hard to come by in January.
Charlie Nicholas Claiming ‘Arsenal Should Sell Coquelin’
James: Complete and utter rubbish. He’s been Arsenal’s most consistent performer this season and always puts his body about. He does the hard work in the game that people don’t rave about. His influence in this Arsenal side is huge and fickle pundits and fans always want what they can’t have. Arsenal were crying out for a Coquelin 2 years ago, and now they have one. Stick to your guns, Arsene, he’s a top player.
Louis Van Gaal Retiring
James: Whatever people think of him and his Manchester United period, he got top 4 first year, missed out the second on goal difference and won the FA Cup. It wasn’t perfect and never looked close to it, but he brought stability to a club that desperately needed it. Darmian, Rojo, Herrera and Martial were all his signings and have been so important to Jose Mourinho this season. He brought through Rashford and made Lingard a regular too. All in all, he’s had a wonderful career and should be considered one of the greatest coaches of the modern football era.
Sam: At the time, I thought it was harsh of Man United to sack David Moyes and bring in Van Gaal. Moyes needed a bit more time to turn United around and the fact that the Dutchman had similar difficulties showed how tough the job was, and still is, following Ferguson’s retirement. While some of his press conferences contained some very strange quotes, he tried to connect the fans and the players which not a lot of people try to do in modern football. People should remember the Van Gaal before United. He did well at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and will be known as the most successful managers of all time.
RIP Graham Taylor
James: Sadly I wasn’t around during Graham Taylor’s time, but the world and England fans especially speak so fondly of him. In an era where top English coaches are at a premium, and English football struggles to compete internationally, he should be remembered as a lover of the game and a real inspiration to young coaches who want to be successful in the beautiful game.
Sam: Like James, I never really witnessed Graham Taylor as a manager, but he came across as a very honest and passionate man in interviews. To get the England job is not something to be ignored, at that time it was a very respected position which needed someone who could be trusted. The reaction of English football to his death speaks volumes of the type of man he was.