Premier League Looks To Build On Thrilling Round 10
SALT LAKE CITY – What a week the English Premier League treated us to last week in Round 10.
Brighton showed their class, along with grit and mentality. They went down 2-0 at Liverpool but roared back to get a convincing 2-2 draw. Man United tweaked their formation and went with three center backs and rolled over Spurs. Spurs then fired manager Nuno Espírito Santo and appointed the man who turned them down in the summer, Antonio Conte.
Meanwhile, Man City lost at home to Crystal Palace, 2-0 after playing the entire second half with 10 men. Laporte was sent off in injury time of the first half. Chelsea got themselves a three-point lead at the top of the league table.
Newcastle finally appointed Steve Bruce’s replacement, and former AFC Bournemouth man will take the reins of the Magpies. Probably too soon for him to take charge this weekend against Brighton, but worth keeping an eye on the game.
Manchester United v. Manchester City
The Manchester Derby is the top game of the weekend, 5th against 3rd respectively. Tune into NBCSN on Saturday for the 6:30 a.m. (the clocks have already changed in the U.K.) kick-off, as City will look to get back to winning ways after their surprising loss against Palace.
For all their brilliance, when it goes wrong for City it really does stick out like a sore thumb just because it doesn’t happen very often. You throw in their immense talent and beautiful style of soccer, and it might make our expectations unreasonable when they do lose. I’ve mentioned it many times, and because of their fluid style positionally. They are one of the most amazing teams to watch in full flow and the interchanging and movement the front three possess, even makes me dizzy watching them on the TV. I mean that in a good way. Phil Foden has come into his own, and quite possibly the best English player in the game right now. His movement and vision have gone to an elite level, add his self-belief and confidence and I think he could be Man City’s main man for years to come. If he starts, I expect him to be in the thick of the action.
United bounced back after their loss to Liverpool with a solid win against Spurs, and credit to Solskjær as he tweaked the formation to have three central defenders, and it worked. I’m extremely interested to see if they stick with it. Previously they used a 4-2-3-1 formation and it made them really open in the midfield, with this switch it has made them more compact with a defensive five Christmas tree type formation between the three central defenders and two holding midfielders. Something that had to change for them, especially with a manager under extreme pressure. This doesn’t change the way United will play though, they’ll look to soak up some pressure and then counter forward. It’s something United will eventually have to change stylistically if they want to challenge for titles, but this formation is something they can use to truly build on. If they can stay closer in games, then the likes of Ronaldo, Cavani, Rashford and Greenwood can score in a flash.
Prediction: It’s nearly always a close encounter between the local rivals. The crowd is going to be loud and ferocious, which just adds to the whole match. I’ll go with City to get all three points, but I am, along with most other soccer fans, interested to see if United will continue with their new formation and how comfortable they are in the new formation against a superior team.
Everton v. Tottenham Hotspur
A 7:00 a.m. kick on NBCSN this Sunday is something we couldn’t pass up. Antonio Conte returns to the EPL, and with it his tried and tested 3-5-2 formation. Something he mastered over the years, using it to full effect at Juventus, Chelsea, and Inter Milan. Spurs are set up for this formation, and if not, then it will be playing personnel that will change, not Conte’s tactics, a man that wants his teams to be defensively solid, and then powerful in the attack. Transitioning fluidly and looking to dominate the midfield, and the use of wingbacks to provide constant width and overlapping runs. This is something that might take a little time to adjust to, but in Pierre-Emile Højbjerg they have arguably the perfect deep central midfielder to build a team upon. Højbjerg’s stamina, along with positional intelligence and solid passing ability, make him a huge piece for the Antonio Conte blueprint.
At Goodison Park it’s been a rough few weeks. Rafa Benítez got off to a hot start and won plenty of praise with the shrewd business he completed in the transfer market, but the injury bug has derailed that hot start in a big way. Everton are looking to end a run that includes three league losses in a row. The Toffees have a solid spine and whilst some of the soccer isn’t hugely attractive, it is effective. Benitez is one of the better tacticians when it comes to drilling his teams defensively. They are often hard to break down, and they’ll need to call upon all that experience to navigate this tough period. Everton has spent large sums over the years to try and break into the top tier of the EPL, and Rafa Benítez was an unpopular choice at the time of his appointment, but, if he can get a few key players back (Dominic Calvert-Lewin) I think Everton will push for European competition qualification.
Prediction: I won’t say this will be easy match on the eye, but it will be two managers looking to find solutions for their stuttering sides. One in Benitez who nearly always finds a way to get the best out of players, and another whose authority will not be questioned, along with his ability to mold a squad and individuals into the upper echelons of their respective leagues. A draw would suit both managers at the end of 90 minutes, but Spurs have the game changers. I know it’s early in his tenure, but the buzz surrounding Spurs might just allow them to steal all three points.
That’ll do it for this week. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Watch as the last international break looms for the last time in 2021.