SOCCER

Top Premier League Teams Continue To Plow Through Rest Of League

Oct 29, 2021, 12:18 PM

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Conor Gallagher of Crystal Palace is challenged by Isaac Hayden of Ne...

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Conor Gallagher of Crystal Palace is challenged by Isaac Hayden of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on October 23, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – A thunderous round nine of fixtures saw the three true title contenders of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool show the rest of the English Premier League what they’re dealing with.

Norwich were the latest victims of the Chelsea machine and got mauled 7-0 at Stamford Bridge, and whilst they played the last 25 odd minutes with 10 men, the Canaries were already 5-0 down. The EPL yo-yo boys look like they’ll be heading back to the Championship as they sit on two points, in last place.

Add the two goals they’ve scored and the 23 conceded, it doesn’t look good. The reigning champions, City, went to Brighton. I thought it might be a fun fixture to watch as Brighton plays a great brand of soccer, but in all honesty, City strolled through the match and at times toyed with the Seagulls. City finished with 23 shots of which 14 were on target.

The big one of the weekend, Man Utd and Liverpool, didn’t disappoint if you follow the Red of Liverpool, as they throttled United 5-0 at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams has been anything but recently. Liverpool was hardly at their best as well, which is hugely worrying if you’re a United fan. Liverpool beat a disorganized United with ease. When United tried to press, it was as if they had no idea what they were doing and Liverpool punished them, with Mohamed Salah scoring a hat-trick in the process. Pressure is mounting on the manager, and rightly so as the tactics and getting the best out of his stars seems to be plateauing, but in fairness, the lingering doubts about recruitment issues were evident again.

Leicester City v. Arsenal

It’s the early kick-off for you this Saturday morning as we tune into the King Power Stadium at 5:30 a.m. on NBCSN. Ninth versus tenth, but two teams that are just starting to show a little bit of life.

Leicester was tipped to challenge for a top 4 spot again, but a slower start and a few key injuries have hampered the Foxes. A big win over Man Utd and a solid 3 points on the road against Brentford see Leicester trending in the right way, but still plenty of work to be done.

The main midfield man Youri Tielemans will again be a huge influence on the game, as his reputation continues to grow at an alarming rate, and not in a negative way. Clubs in England¬†and Europe continue to keep an eye on the player who has an eye for goal, a technically sound passer of the ball, who works hard defensively and can carry the ball with relative ease.¬†Manager Brendan Rodgers continues to win plaudits with how he’s rebuilt his reputation as a very good attacking coach and Leicester is built in his image. Able to mix it with the best, either in possession and stifling opponents, or being a little more pragmatic, which I think he’s added to his skill set, where he’ll switch formations to be slightly more defensively solid and then use good speed to launch counter-attacks.

The attacking options for Leicester are impressive. Veteran Jamie Vardy is a true EPL legend, but the arrival of Patson Daka allows the almost 35-year-old Vardy to not have to be relied on for every match. Throw in Kelechi Iheanacho and Ayoze Perez and Leicester are one of the more stacked attacking teams in the league.

Arsenal are starting to show some quality over recent weeks, and it’s the young players that have led the way in most respects, Emile Smith Rowe¬†has been outstanding of late and the 21-year-old has to be in the conversation for England at some point. The #10 has stepped up this season once again and his in-game intelligence is, for me, going up another level. His ball carrying at a good speed and then executing his creative ability is even more impressive.

Another positive is captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who looks to be the focal part of the attack, with good movement and goals. Of course, at the age of 32, he’s not the explosive player he once was, and maybe he took a bit of time to adjust his game to that, but his movement is as good as anything and his sharp finishing ability has in no way waned from what it was. Of course, it’s still early for both teams but they have been attractive to watch over the last few weeks.

Prediction: I think this one will have plenty of attacking intent on offer, and I think there will be plenty of goals on offer. The game of the weekend for me, and I think the Foxes will just edge the Gunners in this matchup.

Tottenham Hotspur v. Manchester United

The Saturday KSL 5 premiere match at 10:30 a.m. is one that sees two big teams with managers under pressure. Spurs after a bright start to the season have looked well below par in recent weeks, and United is coming off a 5-0 drubbing at home to bitter rivals Liverpool.

Tottenham is still trying to adjust to their new manager as well as trying to get their main man in Harry Kane to show any kind of form as he did last season for Spurs and England. The much-talked-about failed move to Manchester City and short off-season has clearly hampered the center forward.

Spurs have so much quality throughout the squad that it’s so strange to see them look well off the pace and so different than when¬†Mauricio Pochettino was in charge, Mourinho tried and ultimately didn’t do enough. Nuno Espirito Santo hasn’t seen much change in fortune either. I’m still trying to figure out how Spurs want to play under¬†Nuno. Spurs have a bigger and better squad than he did at Wolves, and I think he’s also adjusting to that, but I haven’t seen Spurs overly dominate a game in so long that it’s hard to see the bright spots. They look anything but a top 6 team. That’s not to say that Spurs won’t be. Nuno is a tough competitor and there is all the quality to choose from, at some point I think it’ll have to click, and I choose to believe it will.

A¬†Competitive Spurs with explosive attack scoring goals for fun is an excellent watch. The defensive lynchpin in¬†Pierre-Emile H√łjbjerg will once again be vital, as he protects the backline and then helps launch¬†attacks with his vast array of passes. One I’d like to see a little more from is¬†Tanguy Ndombele, and whilst he has improved since the departure of former manager Jose Mourinho, I think there is another level or¬†two that he can go up. His strength in possession is amazing and so good under pressure. He’s an attacking threat that could drive Spurs forward and potentially ignite them.

United is in trouble, for all the talent they have in the squad, there is a glaring hole. Organization on the field. Going forward they are quick and explosive, but defensively they are all over the place. Liverpool ran them ragged on Sunday and that set alarm bells off for me. Yes, question marks should be surrounding the manager, but the recruitment was lopsided during the summer. They were desperate for one, probably two defensive midfielders to stop teams running through them. There also needed to be an adjustment of how Manchester United press, as we saw on Sunday, it was disorganized, and Liverpool beat the press every time United tried which left them exposed.

So, let’s focus on the positives. These are two teams that will attack, it’s where their strength lies and I’m here for this. Kane and Son were formidable last season for Spurs, and for United, it was Bruno driving this¬†team forward, and I want to see these guys flying around as they try and spark their respective seasons into life.

Prediction: It will be close and tense as both teams will be wary of their weaknesses and not want to make mistakes. Who will be the bravest of them all? I can’t tell you, but I’m excited to see these two slug it out.

That’ll do it for round 10, keep an eye on the rest of the league as the big 3 look to start pulling away from the rest of the table. I’ll be back next week as we squeeze another round in before another international¬†break looms.

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Top Premier League Teams Continue To Plow Through Rest Of League